William Ogilvie was born in 1782 at Holborn Hill,
He arrived as a free settler in 1825 on
the convict ship Grenada
with his wife and four children.
Soon after arrival,
and accompanied by ship surgeon
Peter Cunningham, William
Ogilvie sailed up the coast to Newcastle before travelling
further up the valley to select land. After making his
selection, he brought his family to Newcastle while he
returned to Merton to establish a dwelling for them.
William Ogilvie served as Magistrate for the district
and many convicts were assigned to him at Merton over the
next twenty years. Peter Cunningham described William
Ogilvie's Merton in his publication 'Two Years
in New South Wales; a Series of Letters, Comprising Sketches
of the Actual State of Society in that Colony; of its
Peculiar Advantages to Emigrants' : -
Ogilvie possesses here six thousand acres, consisting of
alluvial flats and lightly timbered forest land backwards,
bounded by a moderately high ridge. A plain of fifty acres
of rich land (without a tree upon it) is situated in the
middle of the grant, overlooked by a beautiful swelling
hill, equally clear, of the finest sort of garden mould, and
covered with luxuriant grasses. The Goulburn River enters
Hunter's River opposite to the bottom of Mr. Ogilvie's
grant, the plains on each side being hemmed in by woody
ridges of moderate elevation, toward which the back land
gradually rises. Contrary to what is generally found in
other parts of the country, the ridges upon the upper part
of Hunter's River are almost uniformly flattened at the top,
forming little miniature hills and valleys covered with fine
soil of moderate depth, and bounding in grass, which makes
them the great resort of the kangaroos and cattle in the
winter season.' ......
.....and in Dawn in
the Valley, W. Allan Wood records the description of
Merton by Ellen Ogilvie (Bundock), daughter of William:
The house which our father had prepared for us at
Merton was a small four roomed cottage, whitewashed nicely,
as pipe clay was found close by - white and buff. Our mother
was greatly pleased and very happy at Joining our father in
this little house, which was charming. Small as our home
was, there was room to receive constant visitors. Our mother
had the knack of making all around her charmingly pretty and
picturesque, as well as fresh and clean. At first, we had
only earthen floors made by Irishmen, who broke up the earth
until it was powdered and then, when whitewashed, it made
good firm flooring but was very troublesome to keep clean.
Subsequently the floors were laid down in wood and by
degrees the house was added to.
Castle, George Farwell describes the relationship between
the Ogilvies and the Aboriginal tribe of the district -
The area was heavily peopled with Aborigines at that
time and the Ogilvies treated them well and encouraged their
children to do the same, a habit Edward (Ogilvie) throughout
his life. It was here that he learnt the natives' language,
a fact that was to save his life on at least two occasions.
Peter Cunningham, in the volume mentioned
above, described an incident in 1826 in which the intrepid
Mary Ogilvie confronted the natives........
The Ogilvies were acquaintances of
George Wyndham and his wife
Margaret and often visited them at Dalwood in the early
Wyndham kept a Diary in the years 1830 - 1840 and there
are many mentions of the Ogilvie family. e.g., ...On 12th
September 1830 George Wyndham and William Ogilvie embarked
on an excursion from Merton to Holdsworthy Downs and then to
the Burning Mountain at Wingen. They returned via Segenhoe,
St. Heliers and Merton and George Wyndham remarked that he
was home at Dalwood by the 18th September 1830.
William Ogilvie died 10 March 1859 at Wooloomooloo and
Merton passed into the hands of the White family....
Find out more about Merton Homestead at