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Paterson River history

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Susannah Matilda Ward

[Cintra] & [Clarendon]

Susannah Matilda Ward was a tough negotiator who eventually agreed to exchange 90 acres of her land grant 'Cintra' at Paterson for a block of land in Sydney to allow the official town of Paterson to be formed on the river, with access to a public wharf.

Susannah's family origins are shrouded in mystery and spiced with rumour. According to Loftus Dun there is the 'rumour of a very close relationship with Royalty - actually, with the Prince Regent (later King George IV), no less! Then, there are other stories'...[1] There is no doubt that she enjoyed the support and patronage of John Charles Villiers, the third Lord Clarendon, and she named one of her Paterson land grants in his honour.

William Gordon Ward and his wife Susannah Matilda landed in Sydney on 28 January 1820 on the Dromedary with their six young children. William and Susannah had been in Portugal during the Peninsular War and their first two children were born there, one at Oporto and the other at Cintra. William died just six months after they arrived in New South Wales, leaving Susannah to fend for herself and her young family.

Sussanah wrote to Governor Macquarie to explain her situation and to request assistance. Macquarie responded by advising that the land promised to her late husband would be granted and held in trust for her children. Governor Macquarie also appointed Susannah to the vacant positions of Supervisor and Matron of the Female Orphan School at Mount Arthur, Parramatta (now Rydalmere), allowing her the salaries of both positions and quarters at the school for herself and her five daughters (her son William was cared for elsewhere). Susannah held these positions until the end of 1823.

Susannah's land grants in Sydney and Paterson are complicated and include some in her own name and some in trust for her children. In terms of Paterson History the most relevant grants are 640 acres named Cintra, granted in 1823 on the river adjoining James Phillips' Bona Vista, and 500 acres named Clarendon or Clarendon Park, granted in 1828 across the river from Bona Vista.

Ward's land grants

Above: Susannah Ward's land grants 'Clarendon' and 'Cintra' on the Paterson River.

Ward's Cintra land grant shaded in light blue, with the Paterson township shaded in pink

Above: Ward's Cintra land grant shown in grey. The 90 acres she eventually gave up for Paterson township is shaded pink (extract from Houghton parish map 1921, digitally shaded).

Not everyone was pleased with Susannah's grants. In 1828 a group of Paterson settlers led by George Townshend of 'Trevallyn' began lobbying the Government to have part of her Cintra grant released for a township, store and public wharf.[2]

Notification that lots are available for sale in the new town of Paterson

At right: Notification in the Sydney Gazette on 17 October 1833 p.3 that lots were available for sale in the new township of Paterson. The lots stood on land given up by Susannah Matilda Ward.

In 1829 several settlers again pressed the government on the issue and the matter was finally settled in June 1830 when Susannah agreed to exchange 90 acres at Paterson for an allotment in Sydney.

Susannah lived in Sydney for many years but moved to Clarendon Park in her later years. In August 1841 she remarried at the age of 54, her second husband being Robert Studdert, the Clerk of Petty Sessions at Paterson. The marriage was not successful and Studdert later deserted her. Susannah died on 4 June 1862 and is buried in St. Pauls churchyard Paterson.

Her family became interwoven with other Paterson families when one of her daughters (also named Susannah Matilda) married Frederick Bedwell and one of her granddaughters married Charles Dun, son of William and Maria Dun. In 1837 Bedwell purchased 52 acres of the Cintra estate and named it 'Valentia'.[3]


1. Dun, Loftus. They Came as Strangers: A History of the Dun and Related Families in Early Australia. Published by the author, 1997. Part B of this book contains details of Susannah Matilda Ward including family trees and information on her descendants. The quote cited in paragraph 2 above is from page 70.

2. Sullivan, Jack. George Townshend 1798-1872 and Trevallyn, Paterson River. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 1997, pp16-21.

3. Boyle, HF. Lieutenant Commander Frederick Bedwell R.N 1796-1853. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 1992.


  • An overview of settlement at Patersons Plains from 1822.
  • Archer, Cameron. The Settlement of the Paterson District. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 1986.
  • Clements, Pauline. Burials in St. Paul's Church Cemetery Paterson New South Wales: Part one, from 1839 to 1900. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 1996.
  • Mitchell, Cecily. Hunter's River. Newcastle, 1973.

External links

Index to the NSW Colonial Secretary's papers - there are many entries for Susannah Matilda Ward.