EARLY SETTLEMENT - Mudgee, P.3
Allan Cunningham, explorer and botanist, was one of the first to settle in Mudgee.
First settler names in the district and properties Mudgee becomes a village
George Cox married Eliza Bell, a daughter of Archibald Bell of Richmond, in 1822. He built a home on the Burrundulla Flats and in 1830, added sheep from his Mulgoa home, Winbourne, on the Nepean River in the Mulgoa Valley. George appointed his son, George Henry, to live and oversee the Burrundulla property. George visited his Burrundulla home twice a year from Mulgoa.
Edward Cox, who lived at Fernhill near St Thomas’ Church Mulgoa (George and Eliza’s first home) settled a property at Rylstone where his main flock was pastured.
In the 1820s, settlers began to arrive—Fitzgerald, Jamison, Rouse, Blackman, Dulhunty, Ashcroft, Bowman, Steele, King, Hayes, Lowe and Walker, up through the Cudgegong River, through the Capertee and Glen Alice Valleys and up the Turon over Razorback. The first land grant was to Captain Henry Steel, granted in 1823 for services during the Napoleonic Wars.
LV Dulhunty was granted 2,000 acres of river frontage where Putta Bucca homestead now stands, with William Lawson granted 717 acres beside him. Henry Cox was granted Cullenbone, Robert Fitzgerald was granted Dabee near Rylstone and Edward Cox adjoined him on Rawdon. James Walker was granted Lue in 1823 and William Hayes took the present Havilah property. Robert Lowe received Wilbertree and his stepmother, Sarah Lowe was granted Goree. William Bowman took a grant at Mullamuddy.
Henry Cox continued to farm the land around The Camping Tree on Wilbertree Road he was granted in 1825, the first site for the town before it was moved to its present site, 3kms upstream, because of constant flooding.
William Lawson was the first grantee of the land on which the market gardening took place. Initially its size was a 1000 acres and the property was known as Bumberra. It took its name from a small rising hill to one side of the acreage, which is still known today at Bumberra Hill. The land is close to Mudgee and has the Lawson Creek, named after William Lawson, flowing through it.
Hugh Caughey had arrived from Scotland in the 1860s and commenced share farming with William Lawson. By 1900 High Caughey had acquired 640 acres of this holding near Mudgee. The Caughey family rented land to the Key family, a Chinese family, on the north side of the Lawson creek to market garden. The family lived and worked here and become good friends with the Caughey family. Some time later Hugh Caughey offered and sold 12 acres to the Wah Key and his family, on the other side of the creek, so that they could settle permanently. It was here on the 12 acre lot that the Key family built the house (circa 1946) that still stands today.
William Lawson was also officially granted a pre-lease of 640 acres over land in the vicinity of what later became the Birriwa Homestead area in the 1840s.The next known owner was James Francis Plunkett (1825-1911) who was born in Rosscommon, Ireland, and arrived in Sydney in 1841. In 1849 he travelled to California and on his return was ship-wrecked on one of the Fijian Islands. Upon his return he purchased "Billaroy'. Although they extended the property the Plunkett family failed to prosper, and between 1872 and 1874 sold Birriwa to J. De Vlliers Lamb and P. Roberts.
In 1834 the present site of Mudgee, east of the Camping Tree and west of George Cox’s Burrundulla, was proposed for a village. Blackman was among the first to buy land at the new site in 1838, when 20 allotments bound by Douro, Market, Court and Mortimer Streets were auctioned in Sydney. He owned the first hotel in Mudgee and the first slab hut store, which he built on the site where Bleak House now stands, which at that time had a deep waterhole on the creek used for many purposes.
The new site of Mudgee was gazetted as a village on January 12, 1838. Mudgee was declared a municipality on February 21, 1860, making it the second town settled west of the Great Dividing Range.
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Early settler Richard Rouse Photo thanks to Gulgong Museum
Early settler Bessie Rouse, Richard Rouse’s daughter. Photo thanks to Gulgong Museum