AN OLD FAMILY.
THE MILSON STORY.
(BY R. H. G.)
Tho death recently of Mr. Arthur James Milson at his residence, Walaya, Milson's Point, removes another link connected with the early days of New South
Wales. His grandfather, James Milson, ar- rived in Sydney as a free settler in 1804 with letters of introduction to Governor King from several influential friends in England. On ar- rival he built a small cottage on the North Shore opposite to Dawes Battery and here cultivated extensive gardens and an orchard at Castle Hill for the supply of vegetables and fresh fruit for the ships in Svdney Cove. On receiving a 'promise of the land fronting Sydney Cove" he remarked that the area was not fit to grow anything as it was nothing but sandstone. The Governor reasoned with him that although he would not be able to grow much then the stone on the ground would certainly be valuable in years to come for building purposes. A prophecy that was
James Milson held the position of conn- dential land steward to Governor Macquarie, and had the superintending of the Govern- ment Farm (now Botanic Gardens). Governor Brisbane having known Milson in England, they were fast friends, and he held a similar position in Sir James's household. James Milson married Elizabeth, a daughter of David Kilpack, a member of the New South Wales Corps, and one of the first grantees of land in the Paramatta district, and an early sheep breeder of the colony. "King's Despatches" mention tho number of sheep in the colony in 1805 to be 20,617, and the sheepbreeders were S. Marsden, John Macarthur, R. Hassall, Ed- ward Lamb, T. Rowley, David Kilpack, Edward Robinson, James Sheppard, and Thomas Arn- dell. Milson's house on the North Shore was the rendezvous of many such gentlemen as Dr. McLeod, Dr Ivory Balcombe, Brabyn, Sir James Brisbane and Judge Bent who would be found there on Sunday afternoons.
In 1826 bush fires raged over the whole of the North Shore and Milson's house was de- stroyed. Everything was lost including some valuable mares he had recently imported. The occupants were rescued by officers and men from H.M S. Warapite. An account of the disastrous bush fires that occurred on No- vember 28, 1926, appeared in the "Monitor" on December 8 of that year and was recorded as follows;-"It Is our painful duty to record a melancholy instance of the mutability of human affairs. There dwelt upon the North Shore a reputable family named Milsham the heads of whom had long held confidential posi- tions in the households of Governors Mac- quarie and Brisbane. Having acquired an easy competency they had retired to this se- questrated spot to enjoy the fruits of their labour, a comfortable neatly-furnished dwel- ling; a garden, cattle, and a well-known resort of Sunday-goers known as 'The Milk House,' which produced a considerable weekly rental, constituted their possessions. Milsham was absent, and his wife and daughter saw with fearful solicitude the distant smoke rising o'er the hill; towards the set of sun the blazing heath presented to their view an ap- palling prospect. Two male domestics then on the promises made active endeavours to cut off the communication of the flames by clearing a space as ample as time would ad- mit to check its destructive progress, but the attempt was vainly made. The impelling breeze wafted ignited masses through the air. and the only recourse now left was to remove the most necessary and valuable portables. The house contained apparel, beds. etc., which wore hastily conveyed to a distance; but the unfortunate-owners were compelled to witness the demolition of their peaceful habitation. The small remaining hope of sav- ing tho residue of their property was not for long. The destructive element made rapid pro- gress towards the depository of their mov- ables, and quickly was the wreck complete." The "Monitor," December, 1826, reports other serious bush fires:--"The northern point or the hemisphere presented a vivid glare from the conflagration." A similar fire took place at Woolloomooloo. -
Governor Brisbane having taken up his re- sidence at Rosehill (Parramatta), he offered Government House to James Milson until he rebuilt. His new home he called Brisbane Cottage, erecting it on the former site, situ- ated just above the new cutting recently made to the Milson's Point vehicular ferry. The late Mr. Arthur Milson, when speaking of the old days of Milson's Point, recalled the small creek that ran through the gardon to the west of Brisbane Cottage, emptying itself over a waterfall into this part of the harbour (known then as Cockle Bay), where ships' boats used to fill their casks when getting supplies of milk, fruit, and vegetables. On the cliff near the waterfall there were several round holes in the rock, and his father told him that the natives in the early days used these holes to mix up a punch, and get intoxicated with the mixture. In these grounds there used to stand three headstones under some lemon trees, marking the position of the re- mains of the chief officer, surgeon, and one of the crew of the ship Surry (belonging to Cap- tain Raine), who succumbed to smallpox on August 12, 1814. The authorities would not allow the interment In a public burial ground, and hearing this, Mr Milson allowed the inter- ment to be made in his grounds.
James Milson was one of the original mem- bers of the first Boating Club formed In 1836; Mr. Burton Bradley was the commodore. His Son, James Milson junior, was one of the founders of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1862. When the late Mr. Arthur Milson came to reside in Sydney he, like many other members of this old yachting family, took a great interest in yachting. He built the yacht Mischief, which was named after the old boat of the same name owned by his father, and which was well known as far back as the early 'fifties. Mr. Milson did not take an active part in yacht racing, but held office in the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, first as rear- commodore, afterwaids as vice-commodore, and finally as commodore.b He retlred from the latter position to offer the position of
commodore to Lord Forster.
Referring to the naming of the proposed new railway station at Milson's Point (Kirribilli), by the Railway Commissioners, the late Mr. Milson never ceased, up to the time of his death, to draw attention to the obviously unnecessary alteration of the name of Mil