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Paterson River history

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James Adair

[Cardoness] & [Creebank]

James Adair arrived in New South Wales on the ship Magnet in January 1827. He was met on board the ship in Sydney harbour by his brother George Adair (who had been in the colony for two years) and as the two were going ashore their boat overturned and George was drowned.[1]

Because of George Adair's early death, James Adair's name appears on parish maps as the first owner of 'Cardoness' although it was initially granted to George in 1825.[2] Cardoness comprised 1,600 acres of land on the Paterson River immediately to the west of John Cory's grant 'Cory Vale' (see map).

map showing Cardoness

View large map

The deeds of Cardoness were eventually issued to James following a determination by the Court of Claims that he was the legal heir.[3]

In September 1827 James Adair was granted 1,280 acres joining Cardoness on the western side, with frontage to the Paterson River. James called this land 'Creebank'. Another brother, Samuel Adair, took up 'Lennoxton' just across the river from Creebank (see map).

Armed robbery

On 29 November 1829 an armed gang broke into James Adair's house at Cardoness. The robbers put a pistol to the heads of James' brother and sister (James was absent) and made off with a considerable quantity of household valuables. Four of the armed robbers were later captured, tried, sentenced to death and hanged. That was not the only drama for the family. In January 1836 the Sydney Herald reported that James Adair of Paterson's River was shot on New Year's Day, but no futher details appeared in the press so it was probably a minor incident.[4]

Prevention of stock theft

In July 1834 James Adair was elected Secretary of the newly formed 'Association for the Protection of Stock of the Upper Districts of Paterson and Williams Rivers'. This body was formed to limit the frequent theft of sheep, cattle and horses on the upper parts of the two rivers. Members had to pay a £1 joining fee and a further £4 if required. The Association offered a £10 reward for information leading to a conviction for stock theft, and appointed a salaried 'Ranger and Protector of Stock' for their district.[5]

Money matters

Throughout 1836 James Adair was involved in raising funds to build a church in Paterson. In January that year he contributed £10 for this purpose. His brother Samuel contributed £5 and his other brother the Rev. John Adair contributed £1.[6]

By early 1843 James Adair was in financial difficulty (along with many other landholders in the Hunter Valley). In February 1843 he advertised 'To Let' several small farms on his Cardoness estate, and in June 1843 the whole of Cardoness and Creebank was advertised for sale (result unknown).[7] From September 1843 to January 1845 he was subjected to several court proceedings for insolvency.

On 8 January 1848 Cardoness and Creebank were advertised for sale 'by order of the mortgagee'[8] and were probably purchased at this time by Henry Ferris. It would seem that James Adair had finally lost his estates, although further research is required.


1. Sydney Gazette, 30 January 1827 p2.

2. Parish of Gresford, County Durham.

3. NSW Government Gazette, 22 November 1837, p.878. (Jack Sullivan's provision of press clippings is acknowledged and appreciated).

4. Sydney Herald, 14 January 1836 p2.

5. Australian, 30 September 1834.

6. Sydney Herald, 21 January 1836 p1.

7. Maitland Mercury, 25 February 1843. Sydney Morning Herald, 26 June 1843.

8. Maitland Mercury, 8 January 1848 p3.

See also

An overview of settlement at Patersons Plains from 1822.

Further research needed

If you are an Adair descendant or have information on what happened to James in the later stages of his life, or know when and where he died, please contact me.