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George Blaxland

Wollun - Map 6


George Blaxland was born in Kent, England in 1802.

His parents were Elizabeth Spurdon and Gregory Blaxland who was to become one of Australia's most famous explorers.


ARRIVAL IN AUSTRALIA

George Blaxland arrived with his parents and siblings Eliza and John on the William Pitt in 1806.



LAND GRANT

His grant of land at Co. Durham, Parish of Althorpe and known as Wollun was confirmed on 11 December 1838. This land had formerly been granted in 1824 to George Turnbull. [4]




ALLAN CUNNINGHAM NEAR WOLLUN IN 1825

George Blaxland must have been in possession of the land prior to 1838 however as when Allan Cunningham passed through Blaxland's land in April 1825 he noted that Blaxland's farm was the furtherest north at the time...............

Thursday 14 April 1825 - Clear, fine morning after the showers of the night. Upon quitting our encamping ground on the margin of the small chain of ponds, we proceeded  next thro' the  forest and immediately my pack horses came upon the line of marked trees leading to the farm of Mr. Blaxland the most distant land taken possession of and in actual occupation on Hunters River.
 
My course was W.N.W. by N.W. about 3 1/2 miles over moderately rising forest hills and fine grazing valleys very indifferently watered, nearly every gully grooved by the rains being dry at the season and the soil being of that nature to take up all waters that may fall in moderation or ordinary rains. The timber was small, of iron bark and box with a blue gum all of ordinary dimensions. Sterculia and ? appearing in every part of the forest,  of robust growth and at this season of the year laden with its chestnut capsules with which I furnished myself with, which I am informed are gathered by the Aborigines who roast and eat them (like) maize and which the grains have some distant resemblance
. [3]



MARRIAGE

George Blaxland married Mary Loftus Rees, a neice of Governor Darling in 1843. [2] They had two sons Charles Ralph and Gregory George and two daughters Catherine Ann and Mary Cornelia who was born after the death of her father.



PUBLIC LIFE

George Blaxland was trustee of the Merton church and burial ground where he was later to be interred. He had worked to establish the building, attending meetings and calling for tenders etc in the 1840's.

In 1843 he was on the first district council for Merton and Muswellbrook along with William Ogilvie, Francis Forbes, David Scott, David Forbes, John Robertson and John Pike.

He was on a committee for improving roads and inspected, with other gentlemen of the district, the new line of road from Chain of Ponds to Muswellbrook which was finished a few months before his death in 1849. 



DEATH

George Blaxland died from wounds received in an accident at his estate Wollun in August 1849. The Maitland Mercury gave the following account of the inquest into his death -

MELANCHOLY AND FATAL ACCIDENT - An inquest was held at Wollun House, six miles from Merton on the 13th August 1849 before John Boucher West, Esq., coroner for the district on view of the body of George Blaxland Esq., J.P.

It appeared from the evidence that the deceased gentleman had left the residence of John Bettington Esq., J.P., at Martindale, about sunset on Friday evening, last for the purpose of proceeding to his residence at Wollun, a distance of about eight miles. On Saturday morning about eleven o'clock, one of the servants at Wollun went with a water cart down to the crossing place of the river, near Wollun House, when he saw his master's carriage upset, and the horse lying there; he then went across the river, and found Mr. Blaxland a little distance from the carriage, quite dead; the carriage had turned off the main road, and gone down a steep bank, and had turned over more than once from where it first upset, and the deceased had evidently fallen out of the carriage on his head as the neck was dislocated. The jury returned a verdict of 'Died by injuries received by the accidental upsetting of his carriage, in descending the bank of the river near his own residence, on the evening of Friday the 10th instant.'

On Tuesday the 14th instant, the deceased's remains were removed from Wollon, followed by his near relations, the magistrates of the district and a numerous train of gentlemen and the body was interred in the burial ground of the Merton Church. The deceased gentleman was a native of the colony, and a very upright, impartial magistrate; he was 47 years of age, and has left a widow and three children to lament the loss'
. [1]


Wollun was advertised for lease by George Blaxland's widow in 1852. The estate was described as having more than 5000 acres with a frontage of some extent to the river. There was an excellent dwelling house and other buildings including a woolshed and everything need for a farming or sheep establishment.  



NOTES AND LINKS

1). Australian Almanac 1831.

2). Merton Cemetery Restoration Group - Facebook  

3). George Blaxland Papers

4). Letters to Lady Darling from Mary Loftus Rees




REFERENCES

[1] Maitland Mercury 18 August 1849

[2] The Armidale Express 7 September 1926

[3] Colonial Secretary's Index. Special Bundles, Reel 6035, SZ21 p.87; SZ17 pp.14, 17 State Records Authority of New South Wales.

[4] State Records Authority of New South Wales; Registers of Land Grants and Leases; Series: NRS 13836; Item: 7/457; Reel: 2548