Thursday, March 10, 2011

William Cross - 55 Acre Grant at Wilberforce

In the process of writing the book ‘Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter’, I puzzled for some years over the ownership of the William Cross grant of 55 acres at Wilberforce, which Paul Bushell bequeathed in his will, written in 1853.
Why was it that, back in November 1804, Paul Bushell had warned trespassers with stock or those cutting timber to keep off his farm known as Robinson’s Lagoon farm, adjoining that of Charles Cross? Paul by now owned the Thomas Lawrence grant, next to the William Cross grant of 55 acres. Paul said his next door neighbour was Charles Cross, so why was the grant in the name of William Cross? The Second Fleeter Charles Cross had no known son named William, and there seemed to be no connection between the Cross families at the Hawkesbury around 1800. Michael Flynn’s standard text on the Second Fleet shed no light on this matter.

Other researchers have skated over and around this issue. Lorraine Prothero does not mention any block of 55 acres in her coverage of the early life of William Cross. 'Her' William Cross, son of First Fleeter John Cross, married at the end of 1819. No sales by William Cross have been located at the Land Titles Office, and none of the transactions by his father John Cross mention an area of 55 acres.

In her book Hawkesbury Settlement Revealed, Jan Barkley-Jack has also struggled to identify this grant. She speculates that William Cross’s acquisition of a second Hawkesbury grant may have been a spot of dummying for free settler Thomas Rose, after the Rose family removed from Liberty Plains and purchased Laurell Farm. Cross registered as Rose Farm on 12 March 1800. However in his book Macquarie Country, Bowd dates the presence of the Rose family at the Hawkesbury later than March 1800, around 1802.

In my opinion, the name William Cross is an administrative error. I believe the grant was indeed made to Charles Cross and it was named Rose Farm after his wife, Rose Hannah Flood, and not named after the Rose family. William Cross had already taken the name Cross Farm for his own 30 acre grant. When Charles Cross died in October 1835 his family members clearly felt they had some claim on the land. They believed the 55 acres had been granted to their family, but were not sure of the name on the title. Charles Cross’ son-in-law (Richard Rose, confusingly) initiated some enquiries in December 1835 and asked for a copy of the deed of grant. This letter contains an office note dated 1 January 1836 – no reason is given for asking for this – told if this person is still alive and a caveat lodged, then the deed may be prepared.

In April 1836 a second letter was written, requesting a deed of grant supposed to have been issued by Governor King in favour of Charles Cross, this time for 60 acres of land at Wilberforce. The deed was required to enable the children of the grantee to establish their rights in a court of law. The writer now believed the deed was issued in the name of Rose Cross, the wife of Charles Cross. An office note on this letter says I cannot find any such deed executed by Gov King – only a deed from Gov Hunter of 53 acres dated 12 Mar 1800 which I think is the one alluded to. This was yet another variation in the supposed acreage of the Cross grant. All the Bushell documents refer to it as 55 acres.

Nothing that is known about the life of Charles Cross helps to identify the date of Paul Bushell’s acquisition of Rose Farm, except that Cross no longer owned it in 1806 and Bushell apparently owned it by October 1820 and definitely owned it by January 1821. For Cross, the 1806 Muster lists only his Burgess Farm of 150 acres, further down the river near today’s Ebenezer Church, with no mention of his 55 acres. Yet Paul Bushell did not count the 55 acres within his holdings in 1806. Someone else obviously did - as a mortgagee perhaps. Perhaps Paul took over that unknown lender’s mortgage after 1806 and allowed Charles and Rose Cross to return to their old home, because they were recorded as farmers at Wilberforce in 1828. If they were living on Rose Farm when Charles Cross died in 1835, his family may not have understood that control of Rose Farm had long since passed out of the family and into the hands of Paul Bushell.

No comments:

Post a Comment