(To the Editor)
Sir, — I was astounded to read the many errors of dates and facts in the article by Mr. Walter E. Bethel, entitled '.Windsor Days,' which you reprinted from a Sydney 'daily newspaper, with acknowledgment, in your issue of September 19. The errors concerning- the history of Windsor and the Hawkesbury district generally are all so amusing to me, that perhaps I may be per mitted to touch on at least one of them — the one in reference to the Forresters.
Mr. Bethel went up to the Hawkesbury for a one day's flying jaunt in an automo bile, and like so many others (Gold .help us!) attempts to write of falsify history as it is actually recorded in inscriptions, more par ticularly those in St. Matthew's churchyard. .Let me inform Mr. Walter E. Bethel that no Forrester ever lived to the age of 109 years. For some years past I have posses sed copies (verbatim) of all the inscriptions on headstones in St. Matthew's churchyard, and am therefore in a position to refute such inaccuracies. The 'Sun's' historian (?).said that Rob ert Forrester lived to the age of 109 years, and with another old soldieir pioneer (whom he named) ''were the forerunners of that hardy Hawkesbury stock that were notably very slow in dying.' All of that statement I endorse, except the praise and misrepresen tation of the age of the pioneer, Forrester, the founder of the family bearing that name. For the information of Hawkesbury folk and those desiring true and accurate history, I wish to record that Robert Forrester (I.) died in 1827 at the age of 69 years, as re corded on his tombstone — not 109 years, as erroneously stated by Mr. Bethel. He died at "Argyle Farm,'' which was situated between Windsor and Richmond, somewhere in the locality of Cornwallis or thereabouts. Ro bert Forrester was an ex-convict who, af ter his emancipation, - was granted a small farm shortly after the Green Hills was set tlor in 1794.
In those days the. blacks were numerous around, the area between theRichmond Bot toms and Windsor until 1810, and many of the first settlers in the Hawkesbury treated them, very badly. There was no difference in degree between their conduct towards the blacks of the first five free settlers, of whom Edward Powell (I.) .was one. He came by the Bellona in 1793, and, married 'Bellona' Thomas Rose's niece, Mrs. Elizabeth Fish. It is true that the Forresters can, be said to be Hawkesbury pioneers, since about 1795, and to support this statement I will refer to the first note anent the' founder of the fam ily (the one to whom Mr. Bethel, particu larly refers) published in, David Collins 'The English Colony in New South Wales,' in 1798: Let me here remark that David Collins, in the work referred to, and Dr John White, R.N in his book, The Jour nal of a Voyage to New South Wales, pub lished in January, 1790, are recognised wri ters, and I challenge contradiction. In his book Collins, referring to the onslaught' on the blacks of , the Hawkesbury by some set tlers, says, on Page 407, 'No doubt remained of the ill and impolite conduct of some of the settlers towards the natives. In revenge
eneed, the blacks threatened to put to death three of the settlers at Windsor — Robert Forrester, Michael Doyle and — —Nixon— and had actually attacked .and wounded two other settlers — John Akers and George Shad rach— whose farms they mistook for those of Forrester and Doyle. These particulars were procured through the means of ~— Wilson, a wild young man, who, with his term of transportation being expired preferred liv ing among the natives in the vicinity of the river (at Windsor) to earning his wages from the settlers. This Wilson (Bunboe) and William Knight, later of 'Knight's Retreat Farm,' at Sackville, for many years acted the part of 'Comboes,' preferring the association of blacks and their company to white associa tions. From records I have of some Hawkes bury pioneer settlers I don't wonder in the least that many of the emancipists were shocking in their conduct to the assigned servants in their employment. They, in many instances forgot or denied that they them selves had once been assigned Government men and women. I have many other notes of Forrester's coduct towards assigned servants, but at this juncture Collins will do as an authority. It may here be said that some of the la ter Forresters deserve much credit as pas toral pioneers of the Liverpool Plains and on the Barwon River, chiefly in the Bre warrina and Walgett districts. One was the pioneer's eldest son, Robert Forrester (II), who is interred, at St. Peters cemetery, Richmond, where a stone says — Sacred 'To the Memory of ROBERT FORRESTER (II.— G.R.) Died December 11, 1870 Aged 69 years. When another son of Robert Forrester (I.) died at Yarraman Station on Liverpool Plains, his body was brought back to the church of his native town and lies in the Forrester vault at the north west end of St. Matthew's churchyard, the inscription ' stating: — Sacred to the
- ? . memory of GEORGE FORRESTER Who died August 15, 1878, Aged 57 years.
There are many other Forresters in the same vault, which must not be confused with the five Forrester gravestones all in a row. One female member of the family changed the spelling of her father's sur name to Forster in the grave now referred to. Then there were the two Forresters of a later day, great horseracing men and cou- . sins, known respectively as 'Red Bill' and 'Black Bill' Forrester. The latter was also a pastoral pioneer of the Barwon River at the time of his marriage to a Windsor girl (January 25, 1873), Miss Emily Maria Dar gin, who was a. daughter of James Dargin and Sophia Ezzy. William Forrester was the owner of Bundarina Station, near Wal gett. As everyone should know, the Dargins are ' a very old-time free settler family of Wind sor, The first generation of Thomas Dargin's sons were great fighters, and descendants were 'horsey' men. Yours, etc., GEORGE G. REEVE. Annandale, 1/10/1930