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Cook Claims New South Wales

From Cook's, HMS Endeavour Journal [manuscript], 22nd August 1770:

"before and after we landed Anchor'd we saw a number of People upon this Island arm'd in the same - manner as all the others we have seen except one man who had a bow and a bundle of Arrows the first we have seen on this coast. from the appearence of these People we expected they would have opposed our landing but as we approached the Shore they all made off and left us in peaceable posession of as much of the Island as served our purpose."

drawing of a grass tree"Between 7 and 8 oClock in the Morning we saw several naked people, all or most of them women, down upon the beach picking up Shells, &Ca they had not a single rag of any kind of Cloathing upon them and both these and those we saw yesterday were in every respect the Same sort of people we have seen every where upon the Coast; two or three of the Men we saw Yesterday had on pretty large breast plates which we supposed were made of Pearl Oysters Shells this was a thing as well as the Bow and Arrows we had not seen before"

"Notwithstand I had in the Name of his Majesty taken posession of several places upon this coast I now once more hoisted English Coulers and in the Name of His Majesty King George the Third took posession of the whole Eastern Coast from the above Latitude down to this place by the Name of New South Wales together with all the Bays, Harbours Rivers and Islands situate upon the same said coast after which we fired three Volleys of small Arms which were Answerd by the like number by from the Ship this done we set out for the Ship"

painting of a bay
1789 Taking of Colbee and Benelong

1788-1876 First Fleet, Forestry & Farming

A Map A Map

Mitchell Library First Fleet Images released for Library Hack 2011painting of a tree lined bay painting of cliffs at entrance to a bay A painting of a water with prometoriesA Painting of double masted ship moored in a treelined bay

The arrival of the First Fleet, saw the aggressive dispossession of land, and the introduction of diseases, such as small pox.

Transactions of the Colony, from the Commencement of the Year 1789, until the End of March.
Pursuant to his resolution, the governor on the 31st of December sent two boats, under the command of Lieutenant Ball of the 'Supply', and Lieutenant George Johnston of the marines, down the harbour, with directions to those officers to seize and carry off some of the natives. The boats proceeded to Manly Cove, where several Indians were seen standing on the beach, who were enticed by courteous behaviour and a few presents to enter into

Surgeon John White

John White was the doctor to the First Fleet and appointed Surgeon General of the new colony. He took an interest in the local flora and fauna describing Litoria caerulea, commonly known as White's Tree Frog and distilled eucalyptus oil> (Source: John White, 1757 or 8 - 1832, Free Webbooks, viewed 4 June 2014,

seahorse Hippocampus whitei

White received two grants, before returning to England with a Sydney born son. The first grant of 100 acres was between parramatta road and petersham station and was named Hammond Hill Farm (after his benefactor Sir Andrew Snape Hammond). White received the ajoining 30 acres across Parramatta Road, which he later sold to Edmond Redman. A seahorse was also named after White - (p24, CONTRIBUTED HISTORY PAPER Surgeon John White: Australia’s first surgeon-generalAir Vice-Marshal B. H. Short, AM, RFD (Retʼd) Royal United Services Institute of New South Wales1 , United Service 64 (4) December 2013,, John White, Australian Dictionary of Biography,

In 1790, with the support of subscribers, published "Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales with sixty-five plates of non descript animals, birds, lizards, serpents, curious cones of trees and other natural productions by John White Surgeon-General to the Settlement". Ebooks of White's Journal are available at: and

On the 27 April 1788, White noted in the Journal: "We now found ourselves obliged to make a forced march back, as our provisions were quite exhausted, a circumstance rather alarming in case of losing our way, which, however, we met with no difficulty in discovering by the marked trees. By our calculation we had penetrated into the country, to the westward, not less than thirty-two or thirty-three miles.
This day we saw the dung of an animal as large as that of a horse, but it was more like the excrement of a hog, intermixed with grass.
When we got as far back as the arm or branch of the sea which forms the upper part of Port Jackson harbour, we saw many ducks, but could not get within shot of any of them. It was now growing late, and the governor being apprehensive that the boats, which he had ordered to attend daily, might be, for that day, returning before we could reach them, he sent Lieutenants Johnston and Cresswell, with a marine, a-head, in order to secure such provisions as might have been sent up, and to give directions for the boats to come for us the next morning, as it then appeared very unlikely that all the party, who were, without exception, much fatigued, could be there soon enough to save the tide down. Those gentlemen accordingly went forward, and were so fortunate as to be just in time; and they returned to us with a seasonable supply of bread, beef, rum, and wine.
As soon as they had joined us, we encamped for the night, on a spot about the distance of a mile from the place where the boats were to take us up in the morning. His excellency was again indisposed, occasioned by a return of his complaint, which had been brought on by a fall into a hollow place in the ground that, being concealed by the long grass, he was unable to discern.
We passed the next day in examining different inlets in the upper part of the harbour. We saw there some of the natives, who, in their canoes, came along-side of the boat, to receive some trifles which the governor held out to them. In the evening we returned to Sydney Cove. " -

Andrew Douglas White, Australia's only Waterloo Veteran By Steve Brown , viewed 23 May 2014,

Etching of 5 men, in top hats and tails, standing over a woman in a shelter made of a branch Captains Hunter, Collins & Johnston with Governor Phillip, Surgeon White &c. visiting a distressed female native of New South Wales at a hut near Port Jackson [picture]. # [London] : Published by Alexr. Hogg, Aust. 31, 1793. National Library of Australia

etching of men standing over woman and child

Variation on the above etching (State Records NSW:Reel 2786)

In 1822, White's land grants were sold to Edward Redmond. The following year, White's son Andrew, who had joined the Royal Engineers and fought at Waterloo3, returned to his mother in New South Wales. His convict mother Rachel Turner had married Thomas Moore.Source: White, John (1756–1832) by Rex Rienits This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967. viewed 26 March 2014

In 1823, two farms were advertised, one was White's Farm, comprising 30 Acres of cleared land. The contacts were Thomas Moore, Esq of Liverpool and Edward Redmond of Sydney.Source; 1823 'Classified Advertising.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 15 May, p. 3, viewed 23 May, 2014,

The first Roman Catholic services, in the new colony, were held in Edward Redmond premises. In 1820, he joined a committee to build a church. Despite the drought and depression of 1827/8 expanded his activities. Source: Redmond, Edward (1766–1840) by Vivienne Parsons This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967 viewed 26 March 2014

Captain Piper and the Blackbutt tree on Parramatta Road

"In 1799 Captain Piper, E.N., was given a large section of these present suburbs as a Crown grant, while seven years later a land gift was made to Major Johnston, then commanding the military lorces of the new colony. This Major Johnston was a fire-eater of the tiue blue order, and his exploits form an in teresting chapter in the record of Australia's dawn days. The doughty major commanded the troops which fought the first battle on Australian soil. A revolt had broken out amongst the convicts stationed at Castle Hill, and the news reaching the officer at Annandale, he immediately set out at the head of a platoon, and the revolt was over. ...[In 2014, a double decker bus plies the route to Castlehill
At one point along the road in the Petersham-Annandale section there is: a spot of peculiar interest to latter-day residents. Here, there once grew a giant blackbutt tree, the enormous limbs of which overhung the road for many feet. Gaol carts with prisoners condemned to death were driven to the spot, for many a hapless victim of a fiendish convict system was whisked into tho' beyond from a limb of this Blackbut eallows tree." 1922 'SYDNEY'S MUNICIPAL GROWTH.', Sunday Times (Sydney, NSW : 1895 - 1930), 9 July, p. 10, viewed 24 December, 2013,

George Johnston

In May 1793 Johnston received an initial grant of 100 acres which would become Annandale Farm in the Parish of Petersham from Lieutenant-Governor Grose. Johnston papers include a letter from England dated 2 September 1803, conveying to Paterson the commander-in-chief's permission, previously refused, for the officers to engage in farming. By 1801 Johnston had 602 acres (244 ha) at Annandale and... (viewed 23 February 2012)

Johnston's land was now bounded by two Creeks (now known as Johnston's Creek and White's Creek, Port Jackson and Parramatta Road passed through it. George Johnston, a Marine who had supervised the transportation of convicts on the Lady Penrhyn in the First Fleet. George re-named the area Annandale after his birthplace Annan, Scotland, in the tradition of another Scottish emigre. A century earlier, Col. William H. Fitzhugh had named Annandale, Virginia, USA.

etching of a mans head and shoulders
Captain William Bligh (State Records NSW, Reel 2786)

1835 Map

July 1835 Map show Bligh's grant, Johnston's Creek and "new turnpike" on Grosse Farm (Glebe) Parramatta Road upto George Street.
Digital Order No. a928466
Call No. M2 811.182/1835/2
Online at the State Library of NSW at;

Camperdown Land Grant

Camperdown, from the Eastern bank of Johnston's Creek to Parramatta Road was granted to William Bligh by Governor King on August 10, 1806.

The Rum Rebellion

By 1800 Johnston was commanding officer of the NSW Corps. When Bligh threatened six of his officers with treason, Johnston responded by leading the Rum Rebellion against Bligh who "needed to be removed from office for his own safety and for the good of the Colony"

Two years later, when Bligh as Governor, threatened to charge members of the NSW Corp with Treason. Johnston lead a mutiny and arrested Bligh, on 26 January 1808 and administered the colony until 28 July.

On the 26 January 1808, Lieutenant Colonel George Johnston arrested Governor Bligh and assumed Lieutenant Governorship. He administered the colony until 28 July 1808 -

"The public peace being happily, and I trust in almighty God, permanently established, I hereby proclaim the cessation of martial law." Proclamation issued by Major George Johnston on the day after the deposition of Governor William Bligh, proclaiming the cessation of martial law in the colony, dated from Head Quarters, Sydney, Jan, 27, 1808." -

painting three men in red jackets, pulling a fourth man from under a bed The arrest of Governor Bligh, 1808 (Mitchell Library State Library of NSW Call Number Safe 4/5)

"On 26th January 1808, officers and men of the New South Wales Corps marched to Government House in Sydney in an act of rebellion against Governor William Bligh. Bligh was arrested and the colony was placed under military rule..." -

In 1806, Governor King granted a parcel of land to William Bligh. The land was adjoining Johnston's Annandale Estate.([Grant to William Bligh, 10 August 1836 [i.e. 1806] 240 acres / P.L. Bemi, Surveyor

Court-Martial of Lieut.-Col. Geo. Johnston in England

In the course of the Court Martial, the role of the allocation of this land on the Parramatta Road was raised in the examination of Mr Grimes, the Surveyor General of the Colony.

"By the Prisoner[Lieut George Johnston]. "Do you know of any other ground, cleared at Government expense, being granted to Gov. Bligh? - There was a piece of ground, but I think that was cleared by Gen Grose, I do not apprehend itt was cleared by Government; it was cleared prior to my coming into the colony.
Where was that - Within about two miles of Sydney, on the Parramatta road, called the Orphan Ground.
Was that ground marked out by Gov. Phillip as the Orphan Ground? - Certainly it was, for the schoolmaster; there was the church land and schoolmaster's.
Ist it a large piece? - I think it is 1000 or 1500 acres the whole, but it has been dividied into a variety of parts since.
But that of Gov Bligh's? That of Gov. Blighs is not large, I think it must be under 100 acres; it is but a small tract of ground.
Examined by the Court.
Do you know for what reason Gov. Bligh deprived Mr McArthur of his leashold? - No, I do not.
Might not Mr McArthur have named various other situations beside the three you have mentioned? Why, he did not do it to me, when I pressed him to point out situation; but the Governnor wished me strongly to urge him to have a lease somewhere in Pitt's Row, which he strongly objected to for many reasons.
Might he not have named some others?
There was certainly a vast variety of situations unoccupied, but none perhaps that he deemed eligible. But were there no other good situations besides the three which he mentioned?
O! certainly, there were a great variety of other unoccupied situations in the town...."

Taken from pages 284/5 of Proceedings of a general court-martial held at Chelsea hospital : which commenced on Tuesday May 7, 1811 and continued by adjournment to Wednesday 5th of June following for the trial of Lieut.-Col. Geo. Johnston, Major of the 102d Regiment, late the New South Wales Corps, on a charge of mutiny ... for deposing, on the 26th of January, 1808, William Bligh ... /​ taken in short hand by Mr. Bartrum. National Library of Australia (viewed 6 February 2013)

"The ‘Rum Rebellion’ – a title later conferred on the event by Governor Thomas Brisbane; referred to as the ‘Insurrection’ by contemporaries – was an overthrow of the government, a mutiny against Governor William Bligh’s imperially sanctioned authority. It was not a rebellion over rum nor a popular rebellion by the people, but a forceful removal of a governor from office by sections of the colonial elite and the military." -

In 1811 George Johnston returned to England to face a Court Martial for his part in the Rum Rebellion. His journey co-incided with the passage of the newly appointed Governor Macquarie in the opposite direction. The two had been fellow officers and friends since the American War and it would have been awkward for Macquarie to have arrested Johnston.(Horsemen of the First Frontier (1788-1900) and The Serpents Legacy By Keith Robert Binney pg 27/28)

On 17 July 1812, Johnston wrote to Earl Bathurst:"I trust your Lordship will excuse me troubling you upon this occasion, which is to solicit from your Lordship an Order for a passage to New South Wales, for myself, my Daughter[probably Julia], and a Servant in the Ship Fortune.
I have spent much and the most active part of my life in the Service of that Colony. I have a numerous family there, and all that I possess in the World now, to enable me to provide for that family, is in that Country.
I therefore hope your Lordship will permit my return to my Family as a Settler, By the Fortune. - Transcript of Letter Book containing copies of correspondence between Major George Johnston and the Duke of Northumberland, 1811 - 12 Presented by Mrs E.C. Johnston ["Jeir"?] Nelson St., Lindfield. (This book was formerly among the papers of Mrs. Weston of Horsley, then passed into the possession of her daughter, Mrs. Smart, who presented it to Mrs E.C. Johnston.) HW. 1926.

IN spite of a certain weakness of decision, Johnston's character was an admirable one. He was "a well disposed good natured man." He had few if any personal enemies, and was popular with all persons he came in contact with. In his routine military administration he was methodical and just, and was the idol of the rank and file. His very good nature made him the easy tool of conspirators, and this was his undoing."....Mutiny; and the Trial of Lt. Col. Johnston
Author: Ned Overton (as editor),* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook, eBook No.:, Language: English, Date first posted: February 2013, Date most recently February January 2013

Johnston Returns to Sydney

On 30 May 1813, Johnston eventually arrived back in Sydney as an ordinary Settler. On 12 November 1814, he formalised his marriage to the mother of his three sons (George, Robert and David) and four daughters(Julia, Blanche, Isabella and Maria) at St John's, Parramatta. (Johnston, George (1764–1823) by A. T. Yarwood

Ester Abrahams

'Two hundred and seventeen years ago tomorrow, a 16-year-old girl, Esther Abrahams, was arrested in London for "feloniously stealing 24 yards of black silk lace, value 50 shillings".' - Online transcripts illuminate world of First Fleeters (July 26 2003)

Enroute to Australia, Johnston met Esther Abrahams, one of the convicts he was supervising.

"The life of Esther Abrahams may read like fiction, but these events did, in fact, take place, and are part of the historical record"..Esther Abrahams - convict 'first lady', ABC Radio National, Tuesday 27 January 2015 11:05AM

"Yesterday morning a Native from Botany Bay brought an account of a large ship having anchored there: As the wind was fair for her getting into this Port, the reasons for her going into Botany Bay could be in no other way ac- counted for than the probability of its being some ship with hostile intentions... Major JOHNSTON immediately set off to reconnoitre..she was the ship Mary of Boston.. bound to Manilla" - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (about) Sunday 22 January 1804

The turpentine and iron bark forest was cleared, to make way for agriculture and, any remnants of the original vegetation, were subsequently wiped out by urbanisation. The Rozelle Bay Community Native nursery is now undertaking projects to recreate pockets of original forest in public spaces.

George and Esther developed their estate to eventually include a bakery, smithy, slaughterhouse, butchery, stores, vineyard and orangerie. In 1799 they built Annandale House south west of the present intersection, of Parramatta Road and Johnston St.

When Annandale house was demolished, it was discovered that it was made of prize cedar which had been growing within a mile or two of the building. In its place, Norfolk Island pines had been planted. The Cedar rafters, joists, "other scantling" and joinery were shaped with an adze [a tool used for smoothing or carving rough-cut wood in hand woodworking.] as saw-pits were scarce - 1914 'PROGRESS OF THE SUBURBS.', The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), 14 March, p. 8, viewed 6 March, 2013,

John M'Longhlen, a labouring man, on Monday night last gave, information at the Police Office of his having about seven the same evenin been knocked down by four ruffians between Gross Farm and Annandale - The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser Saturday 8 October 1814

George Johnston Jnr

In July, 1819, Governor Macquarie appointed George Johnston Junior as Superintendent of the Government Herds and Flocks.- 1819 'GOVERNMENT AND GENERAL ORDERS.', The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), 17 July, p. 1, viewed 28 January, 2013,

"We reported with great regret in our last paper that GEORGE JOHNSTON, jun. Esq. had met with a very serious and alarming accident, by the falling of his horse at Camden, in the Cow-pastures; ...Mr. Johnston's funeral took place on Tuesday last at Annandale, the seat of his father, where a vault had been long since consecrated for such solemn purposes. ... almost every person of rank or consideration in the Colony, amongst whom were HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR and his Staff; the Lieutenant Governor, and several of the other Officers of the 48th Regiment ; together with the Civil and Naval Officers and Gentlemen of the Colony ; all of whom manifested the deepest sorrow and sincerest sympathy with the feelings of this regretted Gentleman's Parents and Family; indeed it has seldom been our lot to record an event that has been so universally felt and deplored." The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803-1842) Saturday 26 February 1820

Julia Johnston

Julia was probably the daughter who accompanied Johnston to England to face Court Martial. A daughter is mentioned in his correspondence with the Duke of Northumberland - P75, George Johnston letterbook, being copies of correspondence between Johnston and the Duke of Northumberland, 1811-1812. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales, viewed 6 March 2013.

In 1816 Johnston received land grants in the Illawarra. The Illawarra Historical Society has one of Julia's Dresses, perhaps made while she was in England with her father. Julia was born at Annandale in 1796 - and a pair of Boots possibly also from the same trip. 85/434 Boots, pair, women's, leather/silk/cotton, [Australia], c. 1860:

More Information

Titled in pencil 'Johnston's Estate, Annandale' below signature Note in pencil on second sheet along lower edge of view 'finished Wednesday 18 April 77'...Johnston's Estate, Annandale, 1877 / Samuel Elyard

Lt. Col. George Johnston, 1810 / watercolour portrait by R. Dighton

First Fleet Art Collection (Natural history, Ethnography, Topography, History)

This page last updated: 3 December 2016.