Convict James Squire

Convict James Squire who was transported to Australia, is credited with the first successful cultivation of hops in Australia. Squire is also considered to have founded Australia’s first commercial brewery in 1798, though John Boston appears to have opened a brewery making a form of corn beer two years earlier. Squire was convicted of stealing in 1785 and was transported to Australia as a convict on the First Fleet in 1788. Squire ran a number of successful ventures during his life, including a farm, a popular tavern called The Malting Shovel, a bakery, a butcher shop and a credit union. He also became a town constable in the Eastern Farms district of Sydney. As a testament to the rise of position in society (from shame to fame), his death in 1822 was marked with the biggest funeral ever held in the colony.



Convict Mary Reibey, was born on the 12th of May 1777 in Bury, England. Following the death of her parents, she was reared by a grandmother and sent into service. She ran away, and was arrested for stealing a horse in August 1791. At the time, she was disguised as a man and was going under the name of James Burrow. Sentenced to seven years’ transportation, she arrived in Sydney, on the Royal Admiral in October 1792. On the 7th of September 1794, 17-year-old Mary married Thomas Reibey, after he had proposed to her several times; she finally agreed to marry the junior officer on the store ship Britannia. Reibey also used the surnames Raiby, Reiby and Reibey interchangeably, but the family adopted the spelling Reibey in later years.

Thomas Reibey was granted land on the Hawkesbury River, where he and Mary lived and farmed following their marriage. They built a farmhouse called Reibycroft, which is now listed on the Register of the National Estate. Thomas Reibey (1769-1811) commenced a cargo business along the Hawkesbury River to Sydney, and later moved to Sydney. Thomas Reibey’s business undertakings prospered, enabling him in 1804 to build a substantial stone residence on a further grant of land near Macquarie Place. He acquired several farms on the Hawkesbury River, and traded in coal, cedar, furs and skins. He entered into a partnership with Edward Wills, and trading activities were extended to Bass Strait, the Pacific Islands and, from 1809, to China and India.

When Thomas Reibey died on 5 April 1811, Mary assumed sole responsibility for the care of seven children and the control of numerous business enterprises. She was no stranger to this task, having managed her husband’s affairs during his frequent absences from Sydney. Now a woman of considerable wealth by her husband’s businesses, Mary Reibey continued to expand her business interests. In 1812 she opened a new warehouse in George Street and in 1817 extended her shipping operations with the purchase of further vessels. In the same year, the Bank of New South Wales was founded in her house in Macquarie Place. By 1828, when she gradually retired from active involvement in commerce, she had acquired extensive property holdings in the city. Like many others, however, she was on occasions somewhat economical with the truth. In March 1820 she had returned to England with her daughters to visit her native village, and came back to Sydney the next year. So in the 1828 census, when asked to describe her condition, she declared that she “came free in 1821”. In the emancipist society of New South Wales, she gained respect for her charitable works and her interest in the church and education. She was appointed one of the Governors of the Free Grammar School in 1825. Reibey built a cottage in the suburb of Hunters Hill circa 1836, where she lived for some time. The cottage, situated on the shores of the Lane Cove River, was later acquired by the Joubert brothers, who enlarged it. It is now known as Fig Tree House and is listed on the Register of the National Estate. On her retirement, she built a house at Newtown, Sydney, where she lived until her death on 30 May 1855. Five of her seven children had predeceased her.

An enterprising and determined person of strong personality, during her lifetime Mary Reibey earned a reputation as an astute and successful business woman in the colony of New South Wales. She is featured on the Australian twenty-dollar notes printed since 1994.



In October 1861, Frederick Ward was arrested for horse theft and imprisoned on Cockatoo Island. The Island was said to be impossible to escape from as the men were chained and the harbour was inhabited by man eating sharks! Despite the danger, Ward’s girlfriend, Mary-Anne Bugg, swam to the island with a file for Ward to cut through his chains. After freeing himself, Ward swam to Balmain and with Mary, moved to the Hunter Valley.



Convict Francis Greenway was born near the English city of Bristol, where he became an architect. In 1809 he became bankrupt and in 1812 he pleaded guilty “under the advice of his friends”, to forging a financial document and was sentenced to death; this sentence was later commuted to 14 years transportation. Why he pleaded guilty is unknown; he may have been told it was the only way to save his life. Whilst awaiting deportation to Sydney, Greenway spent time in Newgate Prison where he completed paintings depicting trials and scenes within the prison. Greenway arrived in Sydney, New South Wales on the transport General Hewitt in February 1814 to serve his sentence. On board the ship was the surgeon Dr. John Harris who was to give Greenway his first private commission in the colony which involved extending his residence on his Ultimo estate. Between 1816 and 1818, while still a convict, Greenway was responsible for the design and construction of the Macquarie Lighthouse on the South Head at the entrance to Port Jackson. After the success of this project he was emancipated by the governor Lachlan Macquarie, and in the role of Acting Civil Architect and Assistant Engineer, went on to build many significant buildings in New South Wales. Greenway’s works include Hyde Park Barracks, the Government House and what is considered to be his masterpiece; St James’ Church, Sydney. There are still 49 buildings in central Sydney attributed to Greenway’s designs. Greenway died of typhoid near Newcastle in 1837, aged 59. The exact date of his death is not known. He was buried in the Glebe Cemetery at East Maitland on the 25th of September 1837, but his grave is unmarked.

Francis Greenway was on the old $10 note.



On this day …….. 12th of January 1912

On this day in 1912, a bull was being driven down the Main Street of Mendooran, NSW, went wild and charged some schoolchildren, badly injuring one. Next it attacked the local mailman, who saved himself by knocking the beast down with a brick and killing it.



Australia is home to more than just a couple of big things. The big country, it has been said, has a love of similarly-oversized objects. The Big Murray Cod is only one of a loosely related set of about 150 sculptures and large structures sprinkled across the country. Most of these, the Big Murray Cod included, serve as some of the country’s top tourist traps and can be found along major roads and highways or between prominent travel destinations. The Big Murray Cod in Tocumwal, New South Wales, is one of the earliest big things anywhere in the country. Installed back in 1968, the cod – or Goodoo, the Aboriginal name for the fish – represents what this area of Australia is most famous for. In 1967, the Women’s Auxiliary of Tocumwal Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture decided that the town needed something to put it on the map. Several of the women held dances, card nights, and more to raise the money to build and install the giant fish.

On this day …….. 8th of January 1938

Robert Auswild sustained a fractured skull when a car he was travelling in with three friends crashed into a tree on the Main Street of Yanco, NSW, in the early hours of the 8th of January 1938. After the accident, it was discovered that Auswild’s name was caved into the tree.


A young man James Carter who escaped from the Geelong gaol a few months earlier, was recaptured at Cooma, New South Wales, where he underwent sentence for larceny, was brought back to the Geelong Gaol on this day in 1899 to complete his sentence.12243790_222305821433887_247471097_n