Did Parramatta have Bushrangers?
A letter from England arrived at Hambledon Cottage asking the question – did Parramatta have bushrangers? The research team of Parramatta and District Historical Society which meets every Tuesday in the Coach House has swung into action to provide details. Every week the Society receives requests to supply the family history of distant relatives, or perhaps details of business houses which served the community in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Nearly every woman arriving in the settlement of New South Wales in the early 19th century lived for a time in the sandstone buildings of the Female Factory at Parramatta. The buildings offered security, a place to give birth, shelter and employment. One lady, Elizabeth Somers, delivered a son in 1836 who was destined to write a chapter in the story of bushrangers – his name was Ben Hall.
Ben Hall, who was described as “a rather tall, robust-looking man with a fine, frank-looking face and who walked with a limp”, led a gang of men whose reign of crime began in 1863. A bank was robbed at Carcoar in July and also the home of the gold warden and police magistrate, Henry Keightley, 48 kilometres from Bathurst, in October. The area where the Hall Gang operated was around 200 kilometres west of Parramatta. The following year the gang moved their operations south along the main road linking Sydney and Melbourne. On January 26, 1865, the hotel at Collector, a village near Lake George, was held up and the local policeman was shot dead. Vigorous police and civilian efforts either captured or killed the bushrangers, Ben Hall falling to a bullet on May 19, 1865. Between 1862 and 1867, twenty men were shot dead or died from wounds inflicted by bushrangers, and 23 bushrangers were killed or hanged in the same period.
A guided tour of this heritage-listed museum gives you a thought-provoking unique view of the lifestyle of early Parramatta.
The pretty colonial cottage is complete with furniture and artifacts from the 19th century. A two-acre reserve surrounds Hambledon which was named by governess Penelope Lucas who lived here from 1825 to 1836. Lucas taught the daughters Elizabeth, Mary and Emelline Macarthur the social graces expected in the settlement of New South Wales.
Lucas Gallery – Female Factory Exhibition included in cottage guided tour.
Cost: Adults $8, Concession $6, Child $2 payable on site.