In June/July 2019, following my productive Archival visit to Sydney in February, we decided to drive to Sydney and stay for a month at Agnus Banks, a suburb on the Nepean River. This river is a tributary of the Hawkesbury River and close to all the early colonial settlements outside of Sydney in New South Wales.
Agnus Banks is a beautiful lush rural area with many large properties and elegant homes.
My plan for this Archival tour was to visit the New South Wales State Archives, the Hawkesbury public Library, Campbelltown public Library and Ebenezer historical church. I wanted to locate and visit original P[r]endergast properties at Kurrajong, Richmond, Cornwallis, Windsor, Lower Portland and Mulgrave Place in the Hawkesbury. I needed to research John Prendergast’s Airds land grant as well as the Campbelltown region. There was also P[r]endergast property at Wollombi in the Hunter Valley.
Link for Prendergast Land on Google Maps
In order to familiarize ourselves with the area, we drove around the Hawkesbury district on our first day. I had lived in this district years ago, but of course things had changed.
When I popped in to the information centre at Richmond to collect some pamphlets, I picked up a brochure “Hawkesbury River Towns, Heritage Highlights” and was surprised to learn that the name Mulgrave Place had been replaced by the name Pitt Town Bottoms. I later discovered that Lachlan Macquarie had changed the name in 1815.
Agnus Banks is a short 20 minutes’ drive to the New South Wales State Archives in Kingswood. I planned to learn more about the Prendergast properties. I wanted to discover who owned them and when by examining the Chain of Title of each property. I also wanted to learn where the properties were located in the Hawkesbury and Hunter regions so that we could visit the properties and walk on the land of my forebears.
When I visited the NSW State Archives and Records, after much research and assistance from the kind staff there, I was able to locate a Primary Application and a Map that showed 3 parcels of land purchased by Mrs P[r]endergast. This transaction occurred between 1800 and 1802. There were 2 blocks of land with Mrs Pendergast being owner and John Pendergast being occupier and a third block of land with Mrs Pendergast being owner and James Clark being occupier. James Clark was an Irish Rebel who was transported to Australia on board the Minerva with John Prendergast in 1800.
Enquiring from John at NSW State Archives and Records if there would be a document further back regarding the sale of land between the original Grantee and my Grandmother, Mrs Pendergast, he replied “No, you have struck gold if it shows both the name of the Grantee and the owner, this is the first record in the Chain of Title.” I was delighted! This proves that Catherine purchased the blocks of land from James Ruse and Samual Pickett. There is a record of the land grant occurring in 1797 but I have since learned that there were no Land sale/purchase transactions registered in NSW prior to 1802. I couldn’t wait to walk on the land at Pitt Town Bottoms!
During my stay, I was invited to give a talk about John Prendergast (Snr) and join the Dharug and Lower Hawkesbury History Society for a picnic at Half Moon Farm. This was to be followed up by a newspaper article for the Hawkesbury Gazette.
Saturday 29 June, 2019
So, on a very foggy cool but sunny morning we set out for Half Moon Farm. We met the Dharug and Lower Hawkesbury History Society at Wiseman’s Ferry Park for morning tea and then drove in convoy to Half Moon Farm. We were greeted by the lovely Melissa Medo of Echo Bush Regeneration there and enjoyed a delightful picnic where we all laid out rugs and sat on them to enjoy a packed lunch.
Following lunch Bernadette gave a talk about “Branch Jack” and another member talked about his Sullivan family in the early colonial days of the Hawkesbury district. I gave a talk about the life and times of John Prendergast and the family who lived at Half Moon Farm for over 100 years before the property was sold.
Whilst there, we paid a visit to the historical Half Moon cemetery and then explored some of the 80 acre property. Melissa gave a talk about the endangered species of animals living on the property and showed us the remains of a road made of large boulders. It was a very enjoyable day.
Photos of Half Moon Farm picnic
Monday 1 July, 2019
We drove to Campbelltown to conduct Archival research at the Campbelltown Public Library. I met with Librarian Andrew who retrieved for me a number of interesting books and other publications about the Prendergast family who were first settlers in the Campbelltown region.
John Prendergast Snr was granted 50 acres of land at Airds, near Campbelltown by Lachlan Macquarie on 20 June 1816.
John Prendergast Junior purchased many parcels of land at Campbelltown and married Elizabeth Dwyer in the newly consecrated St. John the Evangelist Catholic church Campbelltown on 1 June, 1824. Sadly John buried his wife Elizabeth at the Catholic cemetery, in 1847 just one year after he and Hugh Byrne were granted land and financed the construction of the cemetery. I have yet to discover how Elizabeth died but their son died just one week later. Family stories have suggested that they both died as a result of a fire but I have yet to find any details. If anyone reading this blog has any knowledge of this terrible accident, I would be interested to hear the details.
Photos of Elizabeth Dwyer’s Vault
*Since visiting the Campbelltown Public Library the wonderful Librarian Claire has emailed me information regarding the South Australian Newspaper dated July 1848. It advertises the large herd of horses bred by John Pendergast (of Campbelltown) and brought overland to be sold in South Australia in July 1848. This must have been prior to John Jnr. leaving Campbelltown and relocating to the Monaro district of NSW.
Wednesday 3 July, 2019
We decided to visit Wollombi in the Hunter Valley and Cousin Mark was only too happy to come with us and show us around the district. Along the way we visited a lovely Orchid Nursery at Peats Ridge and viewed exquisite blooms. These Orchids are very different from the tropical orchids that I grow in far North Queensland but just as beautiful.
The Wollombi cemetery where a number of P[r]endergast family are interred is within walking distance of the township. We visited the cemetery and then the very impressive museum before indulging in a spot of lunch at the Woollombi Tavern famous for its Doctor Jurd’s Jungle Juice. I was designated driver for the day so for fear of being over the legal alcohol limit, did not partake in this famous brew as I have been told that it has a high concentration of alcohol in it.
After lunch we drove to Millfield where we viewed the historic Rising Sun Inn. Thomas Prendergast, half-brother of John Prendergast Jnr. was the second licensee in 1840.
Wednesday 10 July, 2019
Today we drove up to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains and enjoyed a wonderful “Christmas in July” with 60 fellow Probians from the Rouse Hill Probus Club.
The event was held at the beautiful and historical Carrington Hotel. I had hoped that it might snow but although it was very cold, it was a crisp sunny day in the Blue Mountains.
Link to Carrington Hotel Website
We were greeted at the hotel by the President and escorted into the beautifully decorated hotel decked with the largest Christmas tree to greet us that I have ever seen. Just magnificent!
The lunch was a traditional Turkey, baked Ham and vegetables with Plum pudding and custard for dessert. A glass of Gluhwein and some traditional shortbread added to the occasion. Traditional Christmas carols were played by the Pianist as we enjoyed the delicious lunch. It was truly a lovely day.
Monday 15 July, 2019.
Our holiday at the base of the Blue Mountains would not have been complete if we had not enjoyed a visit to the Norman Lindsay Art Gallery in Faulkinbridge.
Norman Lindsay was famous for his still life paintings, his book The Magic Pudding and his love of Cats featured in his art. I love the way his art studio has been kept in the way he left it at his death. I could have spent hours looking at his lovely home, art studio and the grounds. It is such a lovely place to visit.https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/norman-lindsay-gallery/
Photos of Norman Lindsay’s place.
Tuesday 16 July, 2019.
We finished the research visit by booking a Christmas in July celebration on a Paddle wheeler that traversed the Hawkesbury River. It was a very enjoyable lunch and even better knowing that we were cruising up the same river my 5x Grandfather John Prendergast skippered the river boat Hawkesbury on in 1805.
But that is another story for another time.
8 thoughts on “June 2019 Archival visit to the Hawkesbury.”
Hello again John,
Thank you for your comment. I am glad I was able to clarify our ancestor’s history re transportation. It does in deed look like his arrest was a set-up.
I would love to see a photo of your grandfather John Michael Prendergast rounding up Brumbies in the Muswellbrook/upper Hunter area.
Francis Street seems to crop up a lot in the Prendergast family history. My parents house is in Francis Street.
Looking forward to revealing more in the quest to find Prendergast ancestry.
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Hi again Jenifer thanks for the email!
Sorry I cant help out re any photos from the places I mentioned I was only a child when I worked on the family farm before it was sold around 1970 and when I lived at Blaxland ridge rd I was a teenage hippy and didnt have a camera sadly!
I do have an old photo of my grandfather John Michael Prendergast when he was a young man involved in rounding up the young brumbies in the Muswelbrook/upper hunter area!
I found it interesting that our ancestors home in Ireland was in Francis st as the my grandmother Stellas was in Francis st Richmond an my fathers sister also lived next door so its a funny coincidence reading the original ancestors home had the same name!
I liked your last post that clarified our ancestors history re transportation I did find a piece of info that clarified that he was indeed a rebel and it seemed to me as he was arrested prior to the Wexford rebellion that he was setup with the trumped up robbery charges that were used to remove him and fellow rebels from Ireland the whole robbery account seems very suspicious to me!
Anyway thanks for your information and best of luck in revealing more!!!😊
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Thank you for reading my blog and for all this wonderful new information. I would love to have a copy of any photos that you may have taken of your time in Mulgrave Place, Blaxland Ridge Kurrajong area and Pittown. Do you still have some?
Because a number of people have asked me if John Prendergast was a rebel or a convict, I will post a blog today presenting what information I and other more eminent academics and genealogists have discovered to explain why John Prendergast was transported to Australia.
Warmest Whitsunday Wishes,
Hi Jennifer my names John Michael Charles Prendergast son of Norbert Prendergast I’m based in Leura in the Blue Mountains I must say I was delighted to find your blog recently!
I think I may have been the last John Prendergast to live in the ‘Mulgrave Place’ district i.e the Hawksbury the last time I lived there was around 1978 I also lived in the Kurrajong area at Blaxland Ridge rd and I notice you have land marked on a map that the family owned back in the day!
I remember working on what I think was the last piece of land that our family owned down at Pittown helping harvest potatoes in either late 6os or early 70s and I also remember when all the Clan gathered close to that time to sell the last remaining Prendergast property which was very interesting, I think it was the Half Moon Farm, I remember it was close to the river and had amazing alluvial soil and the potatoes we harvested were very nice and large!!!
Sadly I don’t recall seeing the cemetery there but I was quite young!
I notice that my cousin Catherine has commented here and there are a few things that I know are incorrect re my Grandfathers death as as far as dad told me the accident was near the farm at Pittown they lived on and it involved my Grandfather rolling the car during a chase to catch up with either a baker or butcher that made deliveries to the farm and as for the children not being injured my Dad Norbert had a life long injury to one of the vertebrate in his neck and experienced life long pain from it and had to have regular chiropractic treatment and always complained about his pain!
I noticed on the death notice for my great grandmother that she died at Pittown and was buried by my Nana Stella in the same year as my Grandfather
I can supply you with my fathers contact details if you like and he can maybe fill you in on more details he’s quite old now so it would be good to pick his brains asap!
One more thing I’m a bit confused about the facts of John snrs transportation as I’ve always thought he was transported for being a rebel and then I noticed you had a piece here from an Irish print archive about him being involved in a robbery and that’s why he was transported so I’m hoping that you could clarify that bit for me please?
Probably shouldn’t mention this but I cant help myself, Dad had an old book when I was a kid about the history of Ireland that had a really long piece about our ancestor Maurice and his chivalrous behaviour when he was escorting an Irish warlord to a meeting with the Normans and was ambushed by fellow Normans who he fought off as he was a man of his word!
Sadly my younger brother Leonard lost that book while he was at Uni in Armidale!
I wish that book was still in the family!!!
Anyway enough of my ramblings hope to here from you soon!
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Thank you for your email. I am glad that your family is delighted to be learning more about Catherine Prendergast(nee Fitzgerald). Like you, I was surprised to see how many large old vaults were damaged. I was advised by the Hawkesbury council that although they take care of the grounds, it is up to each family to maintain the vaults. In 2019 I made enquiries regarding coordinating a go-fund-me or grant to repair John Prendergast’s Vault. I even consulted some Hawkesbury and Irish experts regarding holding a P[r]endergast family reunion. Sadly, COVID put paid to any plans that I had. Hopefully by 2025 we might be able to hold a P[r]endergast celebration to commemorate 225 years in Australia.
Thanks to all your amazing efforts, my siblings and I know more about Catherine Fitzgerald, the ‘wife’ of our mutual ggg Grandfather John Pendergast and mother of John Pendergast jnr.
I have been on the geni website looking at Maurice de Prendergast and Philip de Prendergast, the Knights. The Fitzgerald family is in there.
The Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169 1st May. To think this is just after The Viking era.
Also doing a bit of Google research for personal interest.
You would have been delighted to find your ggg Grandmother through your side. I am enjoying this history as well!
Regarding the run down Windsor Cemetery, when we visited it along with Half Moon Farm, my late Mum and I were surprised so many large old grave sites were broken and the holes full of water. We just assumed this site would be looked after by the Council. We know Half Moon Farm is though.
Catherine Prendergast ________________________________
Thank you for reading my blog and for adding such interesting information. I was sorry to hear that John Michael, having survived being a POW was then killed in a car accident just 6 months later. It seems so unfair. It was lucky that everyone else in the car was not hurt.
I am hoping in the future to coordinate a project to restore the family vault at Windsor. I have spoken to a local family member in the Windsor district who is very knowlegable and also the heritage people. Once this Covid crisis has settled, I intend to continue with the planning with the help of all the experts.
I would love all our Prendergast/Prendergast family to get together for a reunion once the vault is restored.
My GGG Grandfather is John Pendergast, an Irish Rebel who arrived on The Minerva in 1800. This is through my Fathers side Leon Rhone Prendergast. His Father John Michael Prendergast was killed in a car accident in Richmond, 6 months after he arrived back home after being a POW for 3 years in World War 2. My Dad Leon, 8 year old and his brother Norbert 12 years old, were both in the car and survived fine. It meant that their Mother, my Grandmother Stella (nee Mullins) had to go out to earn an income and send the boys to boarding school. She was the Matron at the Home for the Infirmed in Windsor. I used to accompany her on school holidays to help with the food and medicine trays. 11 years ago my family and I took a road trip to Mulgrave Road, Mulgrave where we lived until 1973, then to Richmond and Windsor, visited the Pendergast vault. We visited Half Moon Farm and the cemetery there.