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FOUNDER OF WOOL
Centenary of John MacArthur.;
, The wool industry in Australia has grown to such, enormous proportions, arid .become of such vital importance, that it is not meet that April 10th, the- centenary of the death of its founder, V- Macarthur, of Camden, should go unremarked, and the Royal Society of Australia will hold a sym- posium at Canberra to commemorate
the occasion. ;
- John .Macarthur was born near
Plymouth, in Devonshire, in. 1767, and joined the British" Army as an ensign in 1782, but being placed on half pay the following: year went to live on a farm near Holsworth on the borders of Cornwall and Devonshire, where it is said he took a great interest in rural occupations, and also spent much time in .reading: books on legal subjects. He intended retiring from the army with the object of 'being;
called to the Bar. > * . | *
However, in 1789 he was appointed\ a lieutenant in the New. South Wales Corps and came out to . Port Phillip." Even while still engaged in soldiering he became interested in.- agricultural pursuits, .and it is recordedthat/he received small . grants of land as! a reward .for attempts , ."to raise food
from the. land."
: Much- information :? concerning Mac arthur is to be gleaned from the - let ters of his wife, and it is in one of these that the. first mention: of ^ sheep is made, "Our stock of cattle is:large; we have now .fifty head, a dozen horses and about a 'thousand sheep.l'
In 1794' Macarthur had purchased
some - hair ? bearing- sheep ; .from >the Cape, and - soonv . aft'er. some coarse woolled Irish sheep, and, to. quote his own words,"By crossing the two breeds I had the satisfaction to see the lamb.s of the Indian ewes bear a mingled^fleece' of hair rand wool-this circumstance originated the idea of producing .fine .wool,;;!:in:..-:-..iNewv;-::South AVales.'.'So t in 1796 .he . obtained from the Cape four Merino ewes and two ramSj - ".which ' were jcarefully- guarded against- an Impure mixture* vand in 'creased'in number and improved in, . the- quality of their: .wool,'': and a year
or' two' later 1,200 sheep of the com mons,Gapei'breed; were purchased*^ Colonel Foveaux,' . ^
Macarthur visited England in. 1801, taking1 specimens of the pure Merino wool, arid of the best of the crossbred, and submitted,; them 'to a Committee of = Manufacturers; /who reported that the Merino was equal to any Spanish Wool, and the crossbred of consider able value. Thus encouraged he pur chased rams and a ewe from ; the Royal Flock at Kew, and it was from these; foundations that his . flock was built up.
Great difficulties Were ' experienced by Macarthur. in his endeavours to promote the .fine wool industry;- Meat Was dear, and; most of the other.; sheep breeders were more interested in sel ling: . for mutton than;.,in wool growing-, ?and resented the: introduction. of the
Spanish breed. This: was: not the only .: difficulty lie-* had; to -- contend; with;' There were seemingly -endless' ''ob stacles before he obtained grants of sufficient land : and the- labour neces sary for his increased flocks.
-Although in 1804, after a personal appeal to the Privy 'Council for en couragement in his enterprise; Lord Camden,: Secretary for State ordered Governor King to grant - liim 5,000 acres in the. Cowpastures (now Cam: den), and: promising another similar grant, it was not until . 1825 that- the second grant was actually, made.
Macarthur stillhad -to make a wod niarket for his wool; and there is re corded ? much .correspondence on this matter: with his son John, a barrister inV^Liondon, -Avho- supervised the sale; of the wool. ; The fine wool from the Electorate' of Saxony appears to have been in great demand by buyers, and young* .Maqarthur made- an extensive study of the . Saxoni methods- of,sheep husbandry and getting up- the, wool
for market' with the -object of':eauall-/
irig the Saxon jvool: How wejl he suc
ceeded is evidenced ;by-= a gold -medal
issued to him by :tlie Society .of Arts: for importing fine ' wool;;; eaual T: to> the best Saxon, from New South. Wales..
Great strides have .been -made in the breeding of fine woolled.. sheep, isirioe the days of Macarthur,. but' Australia owes a debt of gratitude to the main who founded -and devoted his. life -to the industry: i. tv -
He died at Camden on April 10th; 1834, just a hundred years ago: '
Amy: "Why did Miss Antique dis 'charge her butler?,'' i Mamie':-i "He* boasted that he had'1 grown; grey-,in .her' service."