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THE LATE MRS. EMMA OXLEY.
Another link, connecting the past with the present, has been severed by the death of Mrs. Emma Oxley, whose existence has of late years been quite forgotten, except by her relations and a few intimate friends. In the year 1818 the late Mr. James Norton, the father of the present Postmaster-General, left England for this colony as a kind of pioneer on behalf of his father, Mr. John Norton, and the rest of the family, including the subject of the present memoir, who was his youngest sister, and was bom at Fairlight, near Hastings, on 4th October, 1797. His report being favourable they fol- lowed him and settled at Fairlight, Mulgoa, where grants of land were made to the father and some of his children, and subsequently larger grants were made to them at Kanimbla, in the Vale of Clywd, the former being turned to account for the production of maize, tobacoo, wine, and other farm produce, and the latter for the production of wool. In August, 1822, Miss Emma Norton became the wife of John Oxley, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, who had been Surveyor-General of the colony since 1st January, 1812, and had made several expeditions into the interior, in consequence of which his name has been conferred on one of the outlying counties, and on various features of the country. On 11th August, 1824, Mr, Oxley was appointed a member of the Legis- lative Council, and died on 25th May, 1828, leaving two children, the eldest of whom was John Norton Oxley, who in 1856 became the representative of the West Camden electorate in the first Parliament after the establishment of responsible government; but in consequence of his having succeeded in passing the Broad Gauge Act with the view of preserving the public roads by encouraging the use of waggons with broad wheels instead of narrow-tired drays, he became un- popular with the farmers and carriers, and lost his seat. Later on the same was filled by his brother, Henry Molesworth Oxley, who ultimately died after several years of suffering, from an injury occasioned by a fall from his horse startled by the gold escort as it passed through Berrima. The father became entitled under the rules of the day, to a grant of 1000 acres of land, which he chose at the Cowpastures, and called by the name of Kirkham, and he also selected some larger blocks near Berrima, which he called Wingecarribbee; and having died before the payment of the purchase money the same was remitted by the Government on account of his valuable services, and the land was granted to his widow and children. On part of this land stands the Bowral railway station, and the first iron house erected in the colony, the whole of the materials having been imported ready fitted, with the view of saving expense, but in consequence of break- ages and various difficulties the experiment turned out a very troublesome and unsatisfactory one, and little or no saving on the cost of erecting an ordinary brick building was effected. After Mr. Oxley's death his widow went to reside with her eldest brother, Nathaniel, who had been a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, and his captain having been killed at the taking of Batavia from the Dutch he succeeded to the temporary command of his ship, with the not unreasonable expectation of retaining it permanently; but in those days of favour- itism through influence in high quarters he was doomed to be disappointed, as a young officer, who he thought had no claims but his high connections or political influence, was promoted over his head, in consequence of which he retired in disgust, and took up his residence at Fair- light, and ultimately he was placed on the list of retired commanders. Mrs. Oxley afterwards went with her two sons to reside at Kirkham, and when their education had been finished under the Rev. Robert Forrest, accompanied them on a visit to England and France, and on their return the elder son carried on farming operations on a large scale, working energetically and scientifically, and superseding the old windmill by a steam flour mill. But the rise in the price of labour, consequent on the gold discovery ultimately made farming unprofit- able, and the spread of rust having made it impossible to grow wheat in the district, the mill became almost worthless, and when it was unfortunately burnt down
it was not thought worth while to repurchase the neces- sary machinery and re-establish it. In the meantime the second son had been engaged in sheep-farming at Wingecarribee, which produced a very small income, and so the two brothers determined to take up and stock a run beyond the then borders of civilisation in Queensland. This led to the sacrifice of the greater portion of Wingecarribbee and the whole of Kirkham, after which the widow, out of the small amount saved from the wreck, purchased a house at Hunter's Hill, where her surviving son and his family ultimately joined her and soothed her declining years until her death, which took place on 11th April. The old lady was much beloved by all who knew her, and was fond of a quiet retired life, taking great delight in her poultry, cows, and garden. She was always active, and being endowed with a more than usually good constitution, succeeded last year in effecting a surprising recovery from a broken thigh, and afterwards enjoyed even better health than before her accident, until she passed peacefully away after a short illness at the ripe old age of 87 years. The only survivor of her numerous brothers and sisters is Miss Rebecca Norton, who returned to England many years ago, and is now in the 97th year of her age and still in good health, though somewhat afflicted with the infirmities almost necessarily atten- dant on such an advanced age. Mrs Oxley was interred quietly and unostentatiously in the peaceful and prettily situated churchyard surrounding St. Ann's Church, Ryde, the solemn and impressive service of the Church of England having been performed by an old friend of the family, the Rev. William Lums- daine.