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Paterson River history

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George Townshend & Elizabeth Manning


George Townshend was born in Wales in June 1798 and served some time in the Royal Navy as a youth. He appears to have been well educated, with a sound knowledge of agriculture and horticulture. He presumably lived at Trevallyn in the Gresford area of northern Wales after his father purchased the Trevallyn estate there in 1810.[1]

In August 1825 George Townshend wrote to the Colonial Office in London seeking a grant of land in New South Wales, and approval was granted. Later that year he sailed on the ship Prince Regent along with Charles Boydell and Alexander Park who would become his neighbours in the Gresford area of NSW. He arrived in Sydney in March 1826 and a few months later received a grant of 2,560 acres of land on the Paterson River (see map). He named his grant Trevallyn after his father's estate in Wales.

In June 1827 George Townshend was appointed as a Justice of the Peace, a position which at the time carried with it duties as an honorary (unpaid) magistrate. Townshend thus sat as a magistrate on the Patersons Plain Bench along with James Webber who had been appointed two years earlier. By the end of 1827 Townshend was also deputy chairman of the recently formed Paterson River Farmers' Club.

watercolour of Trevallyn by Emily Manning c1839

Watercolour of Trevallyn by Emily Manning c1839 (State Library of NSW). The smaller house at the right is fascinating. Is this possibly Townshend's original c1826 dwelling?

By the end of 1828 Townshend had cleared 50 acres of his grant and had 40 acres under cultivation. His stock included 7 horses, 130 cattle and 655 sheep. His workers comprised 25 convicts assigned to him, a ticket of leave man and an overseer. By 1830 Townshend had cleared 120 acres and was running 150 cattle and 1,400 sheep. By 1832 he also had 2 acres of vines.

On the 18 June 1833 George Townshend married Elizabeth Bottrell Manning, daughter of John Edye Manning.

Buying land

In 1834 Townshend purchased the property "Penshurst" from its original grantee John Phillips Webber. In that same year Townshend also purchased "Emral" from John's brother, James Webber. Both Penshurst and Emral were on the Paterson River upstream from Trevallyn. Part of Emral is now under the waters of Lostock Dam.

In 1835 Townshend went on a land buying spree, purchasing many blocks of government land that had been recently surveyed and released for sale. Four of these blocks were on the Allyn River upstream from East Gresford, in the Eccleston area, while two of the blocks were on the Paterson north (upstream) of Trevallyn including the land where Cawarra stands today. In 1836 he spent even more money on government land, including the locations of Wallah, Orindinna, Clevedon and Seven Oaks, as well as the site of present-day Gresford (west) and Brinkburn. His 1835 and 1836 purchases included Halton, Colstoun, Eccleston and Belgrave (see Jack Sullivan's book, cited in references below, for maps and details regarding these land purchases).

Trevallyn Homestead

In about 1836 George Townshend built the stately and impressive two-storey homestead at Trevallyn (now demolished) that features in Emily Manning's watercolour shown above. What is very likely to have been his far more modest, original residence prior to completion of the homestead appears in the right foreground of the painting.

Trevallyn Homestead

Trevallyn Homestead, demolished in 1948 (photo: Paterson Historical Society).

Financial troubles

As early as 1836 Townsend began disposing of or mortgaging sections of his land. Towards the end of 1840 it was obvious that Townshend was suffering financial difficulties, and he mortgaged many more blocks of land. Jack Sullivan concludes that "Townshend had lost all his vast empire, with the exception of Trevallyn and 150 acres opposite". Trevallyn itself escaped attention as it had been made over to his wife as part of a marriage agreeement. By mid 1841 Townshend was insolvent and his estate was assigned to trustees. In April 1842, by order of the trustees, his livestock and farm equipment were sold to recover some of his debts. In that same year his third surviving daughter, Susan, was born at Trevallyn (in all there would be six surviving children of whom four were daughters).

By 1849 Townshend had subdivided portion of Trevallyn into small farms that he advertised for lease. For his part Townshend become to focus on horticulture and in May 1861 he advertised he could supply any quantity of oranges up to 20,000 dozen packed, if required, in regular fruit boxes. In 1862 George and Elizabeth Townshend and two children salied from Sydney bound for Wales, leaving two of the older children (George jnr and Mary) at Trevallyn. Of the four travellers, only George would return to Australia, arriving in Melbourne in 1866.

George Townshend died in May 1872 and he was buried in St. Peter's Church of England cemetery at East Maitland. Elizabeth died in Wales in 1888 and was buried at All Saints, Gresford (Wales). Trevallyn Homestead (NSW) was demolished in 1948 and a second residence was constructed on the site which incorporated the original cellars.


1. Most information on this web page is taken from Jack Sullivan's book on George Townshend, details of which are shown in 'references' below.


Sullivan, Jack. George Townshend 1798-1872 and Trevallyn, Paterson River. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 1997.