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Paterson River history

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Penshurst is on the Paterson River above Gresford. It originally consisted of 2,560 acres granted to John Phillips Webber in 1827. He named it in honour of his first cousin who had recently become the first Baron of Penshurst in Britain. (A detailed explanation of the name is provided at the bottom of this page, below the satellite photo).


Satellite image © Google Earth Pro.

John Webber named Penshurst in honour of his first cousin, Percy Smythe, who had recently been given an English peerage by King George IV as a reward for extraordinary diplomatic services. Percy Smythe was the sixth Lord Strangford, having inherited this Irish peerage upon the death of his father in 1801. Then in 1825, as a result of the King's gratitude, Strangford became the first Baron of Penshurst.

Lord Strangford joined the diplomatic service in 1803 as a junior member of the English Legation to Lisbon in Portugal, and within a few years became Head of Legation. This was during the Napoleonic wars, and Strangford had the delicate task of convincing the Regent of Portugal, Prince John, to remove his court to Brazil (then a Portuguese colony) as the French army advanced on Lisbon. Britain sent a naval expedition to rescue Prince John, but initially he decided to stay and align his country with France.

At the last moment, with the French army only a day's march from Lisbon, Lord Strangford went ashore under a flag of truce and convinced the Regent to 'direct all his fears to a French army, and all his hopes to an English fleet'. When the French army entered Lisbon in December 1807, the Prince and Lord Strangford were together on the high seas with the Portuguese Court and the country's archives, en route for Rio de Janeiro where Prince John re-established his court in exile.

In 1817 Lord Strangford was promoted to the post of Minister to the Court of Stockholm, with the special task of smoothing difficulties between Sweden and Denmark. He was most successful in his efforts, and was rewarded by the English Prince Regent with the posting of Ambassador to Constantinople (now Istanbul) as a royal favour for restoring tranquillity to the north of Europe.

Strangford reached the peak of his career while in Constantinople. After intense diplomatic efforts, including several private interviews in 1822 with Emperor Alexander of Russia, Strangford managed to avert a war between Russia and the Ottoman Empire. In 1824 the Russian Emperor formally requested the King of England to reward Strangford for his diplomatic services.

This is how John Webber's first cousin gained an English peerage and why a property on the Paterson River still carries the name 'Penshurst'.

Other owners

In 1834 Webber sold Penshurst to George Townshend. In about 1843 Townshend sold it to Alfred Kenyon Holden. One of Holden's tenant farmers on Penshurst was John (Johannes) Horn and his wife Anna Barbara (John Horn purchased Cory Vale in 1877).

Locality map Penhurst 1855

The area shaded in red is Penshurst.

Penhurst subdivsion 1855

Plan for 1855 subdivision of Penshurst (which did not happen). [zoomable version of poster].


Horn, Collin. Great Oaks - The Horns of the Upper Paterson. Published by the author, 2016.

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

Walsh, Brian. James Phillips Webber - The Man and the Mystery. CB Alexander Foundation, 2008.