The Aguilar sailed from Plymouth on 3rd September 1823 bound for Hobart.
The passenger list contained the names of several early Hunter River pioneers, including that of Edward Sparke, his wife Mary (nee Hosking) and family of five sons Edward, John, Andrew, William, George and nephew William Phillips Sparke. Miss Mary Hosking was also a passenger. (Mary Sparke and Miss Mary Hosking were relatives of John Hosking junior).
In Hobart they transferred to the brig Belinda and arrived in Sydney in February 1824.
Various members of the Sparke family received large grants of land at Hexham and other areas in the Hunter.
Edward Sparke and his sons acquired land throughout the district including the estate of William Bradridge a nearby neighbour; and of William O'Donnell, Thomas Godfrey; Robert Aitkenhead; James Cracknell and William Maybury all Veteran's allotments; and Henry Rae which adjoined Edward Sparke's estate.
In November 1830 Edward and Mary's son Andrew Sparke drowned in a waterhole near Maitland. The Sydney Gazette reported on Andrew's death in December: We regret to state that Mr. Andrew Sparke, son of Mr. Edward Sparke, butcher in Sydney was accidentally drowned in a lagoon, about five miles from Maitland on the 21st November. It appears that the deceased had occasion, when proceeding on some business from the residence of his brothers about eight miles from where the unfortunate occurrence took place, to cross the lagoon in question, and, as is conjectured, was thrown from his horse. After an anxious suspense of three days, the unfortunate young man's brothers went in search of him, and having obtained information from the shepherds at Mr. Palmer's station near the Sugar loaf, that he had passed that way, they pursued the road to the lagoon, near to which after some search, they found the horse which the deceased rode. Captain Aubin promptly afforded the assistance of a party of Police, and, on the following evening the body of the deceased was taken out of the lagoon. A coroner's inquest was held next day, at Muir's Inn, Maitland when the jury returned a verdict of 'Found Drowned'.
Two years later William Sparke, nephew of Edward and Mary passed away also.
The Convict Population
Aside from the family tragedies mentioned above, the Sparke family battled floods, droughts, bushrangers, financial difficulties. and recalcitrant convict workers.
Edward Sparke's name can be found on a petition to Governor Bourke regarding the inadequacies of the laws in dealing with the convict population.....
Sydney Herald - 26 August 1833...
Petition from Newcastle and Port Stephens.
To His Excellency Major General Richard Bourke, Governor of New South Wales, etc. etc. etc. and the Honorable the Legislative Council.
The humble Petition of the undersigned Land-holders, and other Free Inhabitants of the Districts of Newcastle and Port Stephen's, Respectfully Sheweth, - That your Petitioners being deeply impressed with the inadequacy of the present Laws for controlling the Prison Population of this Colony, as testified by numerous instances which are constantly occurring within their own experience, consider it incumbent upon them, to submit the same to your Excellency and your Honourable Council, feeling confident, that their representation will receive that consideration which the importance of the subject demands.
Your Petitioners particularly allude to the very limited powers given to the Magistrates of the Territory, by your Act of the 3rd William IV, No. 3, and most especially to single Magistrates ; whereby in a great many instances, offenders escape the punishment due to their offences, in consequence of the extreme difficulty and ruinous loss of time which would be incurred by the Masters in bringing them to justice. Your Petitioners are reluctantly compelled to allude to the instrument by which corporal punishment is now inflicted ; the inefficiency of which, your Petitioners have no hesitation in assuring your Excellency and your Honourable Council, has become a subject of derision among the Prison population.
Your Petitioners desire respectfully to call the attention of your Excellency and your Honourable Council, to the lenient discipline, at present exercised over the Iron Gang at Newcastle, which so far from constituting an exemplary punishment, and acting as a terror to the Prison population of these Districts, entirely fails in this respect, and defeats the judicious intention of His Majesty's Government of deriving a great public advantage from the useful employment of the worst description of offenders.
Your Petitioners could adduce numerous instances of insubordination and contempt of the laws, which clearly appear to your Petitioners to have resulted from the causes above mentioned ; instances in which the authority of the Master has been set at naught, and the punishment inflicted by the Magistrate publicly and contemptuously derided. Without entering into further detail, your Petitioners are desirous of bringing to the notice of your Excellency and your Honourable Council, the well known fact of the increased number of Runaways from private service every where observable of late, which circumstance your Petitioners conceive unquestionably to arise from the inadequacy of the existing law. Your Petitioners beg leave also respectfully to represent to your Excellency and your Honourable Council, as a consequence of the extreme lenity of the present laws and discipline, that a dangerous idea now generally prevails among the Convict servants in these Districts that their masters have hitherto acted towards them with undue severity
- thus creating in their minds a feeling of hostility and insubordination, accompanied by a vague persuasion, that their offences will no longer be visited with a proportionate punishment.
Under these circumstances, your Petitioners respectfully beg, that your Excellency and your Honourable Council will adopt such Legislative measures, as may remedy the defects complained of, and afford due protection to His Majesty's Free subjects in these Districts.
In November 1838 when most of the following emigrants were employed on the estate an official estimate of land under crops in the Newcastle district was produced and included the output from Edward Sparke's estate -
80 acres wheat,
95 acres maize,
1 1/2 acre rye,
one acre potatoes.
Yield: 800 bushels wheat,
1425 bushels maize,
10 bushels millet,
two tons potatoes.
James Boland - Magistrate 1838 Thomas Bourne - Palmyra 1838 Thomas Case - Woodridge 1838 William Frazer - Asia 1839 John Harwood - Woodridge 1838 Edward Kedwell - Palmyra 1838 Alexander Matthewson - Asia 1839 Donald McCrae - Asia 1839 John McDonald - Asia 1839 Duncan McGregor - Asia 1839 Thomas McLaughlin - Magistrate 1838 James McMichael - Asia 1839 William Payne - Magistrate 1838 George Phemister - Asia 1839 Levi Warner - Palmyra 1838 John White - Magistrate 1838
Death of Edward Sparke
As the financial depression of the 1840's deepened the Sparke's used their knowledge of butchering to establish extensive slaughtering and salting premises at Hexham. Although by July 1843, they were already contracted to process 400 head of cattle this was not enough and Edward senior fell victim to the difficult financial times.
Edward Sparke was about 75 years of age when he was declared insolvent in October 1843; he died the following February.