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  1. Food at Elizabeth Farm, New South Wales

    My research question is ‘What food was produced at Elizabeth Farm between 1793 and 1834?’ John Macarthur is a well-known pioneer of the Australian wool industry, and I was interested in finding out what else was produced at the farm, and the role his wife, Elizabeth Macarthur, played in the running of their farm at Parramatta, New South Wales. I decided to focus my question between 1793, as this was when Elizabeth Farm house was built, and 1834, the year John Macarthur died.

    My archive is the collection of the Historical records of New South Wales, which I found through Trove. These seven volumes are a collection of government records which include letters by John and Elizabeth Macarthur. In many of Elizabeth’s letters, she writes to her family and friends in England and describes the climate, variety and quantity of food grown at Elizabeth Farm (sources 2 and 3). Having letters by Elizabeth is important in this research as she was highly involved in the farm’s management. John Macarthur wrote more to government officials and leaders about the number of crops and livestock produced, as well as the contributions of Elizabeth Farm to the colony (sources 4 and 5). Finding sources from both Elizabeth and John’s perspectives was essential as they were both integral in the food production at Elizabeth Farm but had different ways of recording their experiences and wrote to different people about aspects of the farm. Through Internet Archive (, I also found letters by John and Elizabeth Macarthur in the book Some Early Records of the Macarthurs of Camden, which describe food production at Elizabeth Farm (sources 8 and 9).

    I found other sources through the State Library of New South Wales. These included records kept by John Macarthur about the returns and number of sheep and cattle at Elizabeth Farm between 1813 and 1819 (source 7). I also found the original land grant for Elizabeth Farm (source 6). This is useful as it outlines the size of the land and its intended use. Newspaper articles were also useful as I found articles through Trove that reported problems farmers were facing (source 11) and the amount of meat supplied by John Macarthur to His Majesty’s stores (source 10). Source 12 is a book by James Atkinson, a farmer and agricultural writer who gives a detailed overview of the farming practices that occurred during the early years of settlement. This variety of primary sources gives a deep understanding of the food produced at Elizabeth Farm as well details on quantity, care of food and problems that arose. The secondary source Elizabeth Macarthur and Her World (source 1) offered context of Elizabeth Farm through the perspectives and experiences of Elizabeth Macarthur.

    The material and sources I collected help to answer my research question as they provide insight into the food produced at Elizabeth Farm between 1793 and 1834.

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    created by: public:stindall 2018-08-21
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