Annandale House-An Historic Residence, Now Being Demolished.
The Avenue of Norfolk Island Pines.
This Avenue, now destroyed, was tor many decades a Striking Feature in the Landscape of Annandale and Stanmore,
A BIT OF OLD SYDNEY.
AND THE HISTORY SURROUNDING IT.
It must be a matter for never-ending regret, even to those who take the greatest pride in the advancement and progress of Sydney, that the price of that progress must be the sweeping away of so many of the old landmarks, the most tan- gible links that bind us to our early history. Of late years many of these places, surrounded by the most interesting historical associations, have disappeared, giving place to new streets and modern villas. The student of early Aus- tralian affairs even now searches vainly for many old buildings formerly identified with the leading men and the leading events of those times; sometimes it is vain even to try and find their situations. In a few years hardly any of them, will be remaining.
Within the last few weeks a house that for more than a hundred years had been one of the most conspicuous and historically notable fea- tures of Western Sydney -"Annandale House" has disappeared from view: demolished to make room for new streets, in the pretty resi- dential suburb which is being built upon the South Annandale Estate. For a century "An nandale House'' was the home of the family of Lieutenant- Colonel Johnston, whose name is in- timately associated with some of the most stir- ring events of the old colonial days. It was the Colonel who deposed Govornor Bligh, and assumed the government of the territory, at a time when he doubtless believed, rightly or wrongly, that the step was necessary in the in terests of the people as a whole. And he it was whose quick decision and intrepid behaviour resulted in the defeat of a large band of armed convicts who had risen in open rebellion at
Lieutenant- Colonel George Johnston was the eldest son of a captain in the King's Own Regi- ment of Foot. He was born at Annandale, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, March 19, 1764, and en- tered the army when 12 years old. He went to America with his regiment, and took part in the battle of Bunker's Hill, where he dis tinguished himself by seizing the colours, after the standard-bearer had been mortally wound ed, and carrying them into action. During the fight his father received a wound in the breast, from, which he subsequently died. Esteem for the father caused the Duke of Northumberland to become the guardian of the son, and the nobleman retained for him through life a keen personal interest.
The young officer had seen much active ser- vice against the French in the East Indies, and also on the coast of Africa, when he volun- teered as an officer of the First Fleet, and came to New South Wales with Governor Phillip. He then held the rank "Captain-Lieutenant" of Marines, served as aide-de-camp to Governors Phillip and Hunter, and eventually became major in the New South Wales Corps. One evening in 1804, Governor King, having heard of the convict rising at Castle Hill, went out to Major Johnston's house at Annandale to in- form him. The officer at once mustered forty soldiers, and, sending sixteen of them away to protect some stores of grain, started with twenty-four men upon a night march, and met the insurgents, who, to the number of 400, were armed with guns, knives, and reaping hooks, at Vinegar Hill, beyond Parramatta.
Two of the leading convicts came forward, and declared that they meant to have "death or liberty," upon which the Major presented a pistol at the spokesman, and threatened to blow his brains out if he did not instantly surrender, with his companion. The ringleaders were thus secured, but the band of convicts opened fire, and a fight took place, which lasted twenty minutes, and resulted in the defeat of the rebels, who lost 30 prisoners, besides 16 who were killed, and a dozen wounded. The others fled,
and surrendered afterwards.
So pleased was the Governor at the action of the Major that he offered him a grant of about 2000 acres of what was then barren and desolate-looking land on the north side of the harbour, but which now consists of the suburbs of North Sydney and Mosman. Major John
Front of the House.
Part of the Avenue,
The Original Family Vault in the Garden.
This Vault was designed by the Government Architect, by order of Governor Macquarie.
--Annandale House--An Historic Residence, Now Being Demolished.--
ston asked, however, for something more fer- tlle, and was given an equal area at "the Cow pastures (the Camden district). This grant, known now as Horsley Park, was the residence until her death a few months ago (aged 98 yeàrs) of Mrs. Blanche Weston, the Colonel's daughter. It has since been purchased by Mrs. A. F. Smart, youngest daughter of Mrs.
In 1794 and 1795 a large part of what is now the municipality of Petersham was given by Acting-Governor Grose as grants to the follow ing, persons:-John White, 130 acres; William Beckwith, 100 acres; James Bloodsworth, 100 acres; Thomas Bolton, 30 acres; John Brown, 50 acres; Thomas Brown, 30 acres; Sarah Bellamy, 20 hores; Michael Griffin, 25 acres; John Han non, 25 acres; Neil M'Kellar, 60 acres and 40 acres; besides a few other smaller grants. At about the same time 146 acres a little nearer to Sydney was granted to Captain George John ston. This is what has ever since been known as South Annandale, named after the captain's birthplace. Later on North Annandale, extend- ing down to Johnston's Bay, was included in the grant, the whole area, of which was then about 500 acres., North Annandale, however, was some years ago sold to Mr. John Young, by the late Commander Johnson, R.N., son of the Lieuten-
The house which the original grantee built upon the land had for its site a hill which the Parramatta-road crosses, and stood just oppo- site what is now the end of Johnston-street, Annandale. Visible from miles away in each direction it was a prominent feature of the landscape, as also was the avenue of tall Nor- folk Island pines-perhaps the oldest in the col- ony-leading to it from the carriage entrance. Annandale House was really a large cottage, with a wide verandah and grand hall, after the comfortable early style. Though it was built in 1799, the hardwood pillars were found to be, in many instances, perfectly sound, when being pulled down recently, after 106 years service. It is unnecessary to describe the old place, as the illustrations published in this issue afford a much better idea than any de- scription could do.
The bricks used in the building were made upon the estate, from clay taken out of the seam which extends into Camperdown, and which is still being used for pottery works. The work was mainly done, of course, by as signed convict servants, which the quaint old red bricks mutely testify. Besides the main building, there were erected extensive store houses and stabling, and provision was made for the housing of a number of soldiers. These were two-storey red-brick structures, square, and without any attempt at ornamentation, and altogether they covered a large area of ground, As a matter of fact, these out-buildings were really more conspicuous than the house, as seen from the railway line in the vicinity of
At one time there were an extensive orangery and vineyard adjacent to the house, but these disappeared many years ago, and in recent times only the garden immediately surrounding the residence was left. The orange trees are said to have been of great size, and to have yielded excellent fruit. But after the clearing of what was known as Johnston's Bush they graduallly died, and were rooted up. The loss of the Wind-shelter that had been afforded by
---Scene in the Garden in Front of the House.---
the gum trees is supposed to have injuriously affected both orangery and vineyard.
Stories have been told of convicts having been hanged to the trees in front of Annandale House, and of the subsequent uncompromising refusal of the grass to grow under those par- ticular trees. Rumour likewise has told of prisoners having been immured there, in dun- geons deep. But such stories are the creation of Fancy only. From the earliest days, the gibbet had its regular place in the city-though the site was altered from time to time-and bad as "the System" may have been, it was never quite so bad that gentlemen could hang convicts from their garden trees, even had they so desired. As for the dungeons, nothing re- sembling a prisoner's cell has been found un- der the old house, though there were iron barred cellars, which apparently were designed for the storage of goods (and possibly of drink ables), and which it was no doubt in those times highly desirable should be thief-proof. The building for the assigned servants certain- ly afforded very good accommodation, having fine large rooms. Under tbe eaves of one of the out-buildings there hung a large, deep-ton ed bell, which, until the seventies, used to toll at 6 a.m., and at other hours during the day,
to summon those about the estate to work or
It was to Major Johnston, at Annandale House, that Governor Bligh sent in perplexity under the circumstances which led up to the coup d'etat by the New South Wales Corps. "His Excellency, under particular public cir- cumstances which have occurred, desired me to request you will see him without delay," wrote the private secretary, Edmund Griffin. Major Johnston, who had recently received a fall from his chaise, returned a verbal message, "that he was too ill to come to Sydney, and that he
was unable to write."
Bligh, already unpopular with a large and in- fluential section of the community through his efforts to put down the immensely profitable trade in rum, had given offence to Mr. John Macarthur (a man of commanding ability and great tenacity of purpose, who had formerly been a captain and paymaster of the New South Wales Corps, but had retired and become a merchant), by an adverse judicial decision, and a refusal to reopen the case, in which a matter of Equity, as affecting a promissory note, was involved. Soon afterwards, Mr. Macarthur had a difference with the authorities over the re- turn of two copper stills, which were ordered
--Front Portion of the House.--
--The pillars shown in this picture are of hardwood, and have stood 106 years. They are still in good preservation. --
--The family group shown Includes the late Mrs, Fanny Johnston (second from right side), widow of Commander Johnston, R. N., Mr Percival Johnstone
her son (now of Manly), and the late Mr. R. P. Johnston (on the extreme left). --
to be reshipped to England. By raising tech nical objections, and insisting at every step upon his legal rights (about which he knew more than the Governor and his advisers), he forced them more than once into false posi- tions, of which he took the fullest advantage
to humiliate the officials.
Then matters were complicated by the arri- val of one of Mr. Macarthur's schooners, upon which a convict had made his escape. The authorities endeavoured to exact a heavy pen- alty, and Mr. Macarthur abandoned the vessel and dismissed" the crew, whereupon he was summoned by the Judge Advocate, Richard At- kins, for, having ordered the crew ashore-a breach of the port regulations. As he de- clined to attend, warrants were, issued, and he was arrested by force on the Second, after, at first contemptuously refusing to obey. The court to which he was taken consisted of six officers of the New South Wales Corps, and the Judge Advocate. The latter official, Macar thur, in an able accusation, denounced as an enemy, and as his prosecutor, and he protested against his sitting on the Bench.- The six officers sided with Mr. Macarthur; Governor Bligh, who was appealed to by Atkins, sup- ported the Judge Advocate, holding that his presence was necessary to the constitution of
Complications arose, too, as to the custody of the prisoner, and in the midst of the trouble the following memorial, signed by a number of leading citizens, was presented, to Major Johnston:
"January 26, 1808.
"Sir,-The present alarming state of the colony, in which every man's property, lib- erty, and life are endangered, induces us most earnestly to implore you instantly to place Govornor Bligh under arrest, and to assume command of the colony. We pledge ourselves, at a moment of loss agitation, to come forward to support the measure with our fortunes and our lives. We are, with great respect, sir,
"Your most obedient servants,
"To Major Johnston, Lieutenant-Governor,
etc., Commanding the New South Wales
The arrest of Bligh is a matter of history, and so well-known as to need no repetition. It took place on the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of the colony, and, Major Johnston became Acting-Governor. It was not until over a year had elapsed that dispatches were received from Lord Castlereagh, disapproving his action; and, under orders, the Major (now Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston) left for England in March, 1809, accompanied by Mr. Macarthur, to stand a court-martial for mutiny. When England was reached, however, the matter would probably have lapsed, owing to change of Government, had not the Lieutenant-Colonel himself forced it on. But it was two years later before a hearing was reached, and most of the witnesses for the accused had returned to Aus-
tralia. That there was no ill-feeling between Bligh and Johnston was shown in a statement by the former that he would rejoice at the latter's acquittal, If it would be consistent with the vindication of his own honour and re- putation. Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston, how ever, was found guilty, and sentenced to be cashiered, a verdict which occasioned general
After the trial he returned to Sydney, and continued to reside at Annandale, which he greatly improved, and cultivated, until it be came known as a model farm. The Duke of Northumberland sent out many valu- able gifts, from time to, time, of thoroughbred horses, sheep, and cattle, besides agricultural implements, seeds, etc, and the old colonel dovoted much of his time to the breeding of stock. There are still in the pos-
(ContInned on page 24.)
(Continued from page 21.)
session of Mr. Percival Johnston, of Manly (grandson of the colonel) fully 100 letters written hy the Duke, in one of which is con- tained interesting references to the Battle of Waterloo, news of which had just then been received.
A heavy blow fell upon the colonel three years before his death, when his eldest son, George, then 30 years of age, was thrown from his horse, and fatally injured at Camden. The young man had been educated in England, and had given promise of a brilliant career. In a letter, of condolence to his father, Governor Macquarie wrote (on February 20, 1820): "Your son was an honour to his name, his family, and to the country that gave him birth, of which he was one of the brightest ornaments and the most promising and respectable youth that New South Wales ever gave birth to, or, perhaps, ever will give birth to. . . . His equal I never expect to meet again in New South Wales."
The remains of young Johnston were laid to rest in a family vault which, in accordance with the custom of those days, had been established
in a corner of the garden, until 1878, when its contents were removed to a large family mauso- leum overlooking the sea at Waverley, the old vault could be seen, shaded by trees, within the grounds. lt was designed by the Colonial Architect of Mcquarie's day, under the Gover- nor's instructions-a mark of his respect and sympathy for the family. When the colonel died, at Annandale House, on January 3, 1823. he was also interred in the family vault.
The Colonel's family consisted of three sons and three daughters. The second son was Com- mander Robert Johnston, R.N., the first Aus tralian to enter the British Navy Commander Johnson, who died September, 1882, was the father of the elder members of the family who are now living. He was born in Sydney in 1792; was taken to England by his father to be educated when he was 7, and was a midship man on H.M.S. Malabar (50 guns) before he was 14. There is a portrait of him, painted at the age of 16, in our National Art Gallery. He saw active service both in Europe and America; was at the blockade of the French and Dutch fleets in the Texel; took part in the Battle of Corunna, and the bombardment of Cadiz, and, having risen to be lieutenant, was present at the taking of Washington, the blockade of Baltimore, and the attack upon New Orleans. When peace was declared in 1816 he obtained leave; came to Sydney to visit his parents, and did not return to the sea.
Commander Johnston did good service as an
explorer, and among other achievements he discovered the Clyde River, up which he sailed for over 30 miles, and, he traced the Cox and Warragamba -Rivers to their source. He once did good service to the colony, too, by taking the ship Queen Charlotte to South Africa for a cargo of, grain when the food supply was low, owing to droughts. But he devoted most of his time to pastoral pursuits, in which he took a keen interest. He never engaged actively in politics, though offered the first seat in the first Legislative Council of the colony. - At his death, aged 90 years, he left a widow, seven sons, and two daughters; His widow, Mrs. Fanny John- ston, died only five or six years ago, at the
ripe age of 85. Of the sons, three still sur- vive-Messrs. Leslie and Percival Johnston of Manly, and Mr.. B. C. Johnston, of Enmore. The two daughters who still live, though both are widowed, are Mrs. Samuel Dickenson and Mrs. G. A. Murray.
In 1891 Mrs. Fanny Johnston presented a
number- of interesting family relics to the Art Gallery. They Include; Colonel: .Johnston's military cane,: his: sword, his field glass and a
bullet mould. Commander Johnston's: pistols and a valuable cup, sent out to the Colonel by - the Duke of Northumberland.
During the last twenty years the estate has been gradually subdivided and sold, aud where once were smiling fields of barley, wheat, and oats, which Governors would frequently drive from Sydney to admire, are now neat terraces of cottages and well-formed streets. The garden and broad carriage drives are hidden by debris, and the material of the old house is in heaps, awaiting removal by speculative purchasers.
Officers in the earlier days were permitted to make their own selections of land, and as one of the first arrivals, and an aide-de-camp to the Governor, the Colonel, favoured by circum- stances and entitled as a reward for his public services, was enabled to secure one of the best
and most advantageously situated grants that, the Crown made. And in retaining the property for more than a hundred years, his family has been preserving, as already stated, a landmark that many will be sorry to have had disappear. ---------------------oOo---------------------
The townsmen of Leipsic, Saxony, boast that in ten years they will have the biggest railway station in the world. It will be spanned by seven immense arches, each 140ft wide, and its 13 train platforms will each be more than 1000ft long, while 20 different lines will run into it. It will cost £6,500,000 to build. Marble, gran ito, bronze, and stool will be lavishly used. The walting and refreshment rooms are to have gi gantic frescoes of famous German landscapes on the walls, and the beer taps are to dispense 20 different sorts of beer.