The Road, the Road Builders and its Neighbours

4.0 Why a Grand Folly

This article discusses the reasons as to why the Great North Road was dubbed a Great Folly. Some of these key reasons were the introduction of steam ship from Sydney to Newcastle, fear of bushrangers along the Road, and difficulties in swimming cattle across rivers. The article delves into some of the issues faced at this time.

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4.01 The Road and its Surrounds as seen by Mrs Felton Mathew

This article is based around the extensive journal kept by Sarah Mathew, wife of Assistant Surveyor Felton Mathew. It covers the period between 1832 – 1834, and was probably written to be sent home to her family. She wrote of favourite camp sites, native flora, convicts, ferries, travels and destinations. Her insights help to support other evidence in gaining an understanding of the period.

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4.02 Some insights of life in a Road Gang

This article is based around various Assistant Surveyors’ correspondence files with a few returns showing the strength of the Road Parties and Iron Gangs, and what various persons were employed at. They provide a snapshot of the work of the road gangs including, the work they undertook and where, the harsh conditions, use and movement of materials, and runaways.

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4.03 Pile Engine or Pile Driver

This brief article describes Pile Engine and Pile Drivers used by Public Works Department.

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4.04 Attempted Convict Escape

This is a letter to the Surveyor General reporting an attempted escape by the convict of notorious bad character, Andrew Morrow. He would be taken to the Penrith Court.

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4.05 Iron Gangs and Road Parties

This very briefly explains one reason for being sent to an iron gang, though mostly unknown, and how convicts returned from settlers were sent to road gangs before re-assignment.

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4.06 The Humble Petitioner: Sarah Hatchman wife of Robert

This article outlines the experience of Sarah Hatchman, whose husband Robert was a convict. She followed his out to Australia and requested to have him assigned to her. On many occasions this was successful but then he would be recalled. This pattern continued, and Sarah fell pregnant with another child. In 1834 she hanged herself, unable to cope with stress of colony life without her husband to support her and her children.

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4.07 William Earp. Convict.

William Earp was born in 1800 in Melbourne, Derbyshire, England. He was tried for stealing clothes from his fathers tailor shop and was transferred aboard the Minerva in 1824 to Australia. He was treated for dystentry aboard the ship. Upon arrival he was assigned to a tailor. He fell into more trouble and was put into Iron Gang No 4. He later absconded, but was caught a week later.

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4.08 Henry Martineer

This article details the life of Henry Martineer, who was tried for counterfeiting banknotes and sent to Tasmania as a convict. He was then transferred to Sydney and had a few masters, before absconding in 1826. He was then sent to a Road Gang working between Parramatta and Baulkham Hills. He collected rations for the gang from Solomon Wiseman, and was recommended for a Ticket of Leave for apprehending two runaways. This was granted in 1830 and he was transferred to be overseer at Prospect. Martineer married, had children, and worked as a coachman, before his death in 1857.

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4.09 Solomon Wiseman and the Exploration of a Myth

This article discusses at length the life and stories of Solomon Wiseman. He came to Sydney as a convict in 1806 but received a ticket of leave in 1810 and became a ship-owner, cedar-dealer and government contractor. His wife died in 1821.He married again in 1826 to Sophia Warner. He supplied provisions to the road gangs through a contract. He died in 1838, after which his wife returned to England. Opinions of Wiseman were varied, some found him very hospitable and others would avoid him. The article goes on to discuss changes around this period to Wisemans Ferry and the role of the Ferry in tourism. The stories of Wiseman have been passed down and myths about his haunted hotel became well known. This article suggests the spread of such stories may have been an attempt at revenge on Wiseman by a disgruntled Henry Martineer who had been threatened by Wiseman.

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