John Blackman 1795-1860

John Blackman
John Blackman became a farmer of "Rosedale" and publican of "The Australia Arms" Inn, he also owned "Nugal" Station on the Castlereagh River north of Coonamble NSW. He married Elizabeth Morris, but it is said they had no children. They nevertheless adopted Phoebe Peacock.

Castlereagh Pioneers. 

Sir, — I must again crave a little of your valuable space to have a bit of a yarn with your Goulburn correspondent, Mr. Swanson, and others interested on the above subject. 

The text of this controversy is whether or not Mrs. Blackman was the first white woman to come to the Coonamble district, and in what year did she come. 

My contention is that during the year 1839, Mr and Mrs Blackman left the Hartley district in search of country, and travelled to Gilgandra, where Mrs. Blackman stopped. Mr Blackman and James Morris went on to Coonamble, and after deciding to take it up went back to Gilgandra for Mrs. Blackman and their bag and baggage; but, on their return to Coonamble, they found that George Gibson had pushed on down with pack horses and took possession of it for James Walker. Thus finding their claim jumped, the Blackmans went on down the river and took up Nugal. All this happened prior to June, 1810, and to prove it I have a living attestation in Mrs. Blackman, with certain dates and other fixed circumstances that bear me out beyond question. 

If Mr. Swanson, or anyone else, can show reasonable proof of any white woman being at, or near Coonamble before the year 1810 I will shut my book, and not till then because I look upon the pioneer's who braved dangers and privations in developing this country as worthy of the everlasting honor and gratitude of the present and coming generations, and I think that honour ought to be bestowed where it is due. 

The visit of Mrs. Blackman to Youlundry referred to was on the occasion of her second trip to Nugal, some five years after having taken it up. Nugal was the first station taken up on the Castlereagh, below Coonamble. 

Henry Bayly and party were the first whites to go down the river They camped at Nugal waterholes for a short time, but for some reason decided to go farther, and went on down to the Barwon, then followed it up to the junction of the Namoi, then up the Namoi, and settled at Kercago. The Blackmans then shortly afterwards took up Nugal. 

Tom Spicer took up Gidgen ten miles lower down. 

The people mentioned by Mr Swanson as parrot buyers were named Niel , they afterwards kept a dairy at a place near Coonamble , called Maratti, or what is now Youie Station. He was best known to the old hand as ' Muviti Jack'. 

Mr Swanson shows by his own letter that these people didn't come to Coonamble till after 1810, and gives as their reason for not going on that there was no place further out ; but I can assure him that Nugul was very much in evidence at that time. 

The choice of stations in those days depended entirely on the water supply . Mr Blackman now saying the reason they passed so much good country between Coonamble and Nugal was because they did not consider the water supply good enough to settle on till they reached the Nugal water holes. These holes are now taken up and useless. Bundy was taken up by Lawson, not Masin , but anybody may be liable to this mistake. Tyrone was not taken up when the Blackmans passed it. 

Mr. Walker having sheep at Coonamble in 1840 is a very open question. I am led to believe that Mr. Bennett was the first man to have to have sheep near Coonamble, at Curban, and that was some years after 1840. Apologising for trespassing on your space, and hoping that these statements will be sufficiently clear and convincing to end this controversy.

I am, yours, etc., Joe Peacock. 
Combogolong, April 15, 1899.

The Sydney Stock and Station Journal

Phoebe Morris Blackman Millar
John Blackman and Elizabeth Morris's adopted daughter Phoebe Morris Blackman Millar appears to have been born Phoebe Peacock. But its not as simple as that.

Her surname:
  1. Peacock: The marriage record from NSW BDM index gives what is, presumably, her maiden name at marriage in 1875 at Walgett as "Phoebe M B Peacock". Her BDM death record in 1879 Walgett gives her parents as: "Fathers Name: William H Peacock; Mothers name: Ann"
  2. Blackman: Her adoptive father's surname is listed at her marriage to James Barclay Millar in the Sydney Morning Herald of 15 Feb 1875: "MILLAR—BLACKMAN—Feb. 15, by registration, at Walgett, James Millar, of Stewarton, Scotland, to Phoebe Morris Blackman, the adopted daughter of the late John Blackman, ofHartley." John Blackman according to BDMs was married to an "Elizabeth Morris".
  3. Morris: Her daughter's birth record of 1877 gives her as "Phoebe Morris". This might refer to her second name, not surname, but it did briefly suggest she was previously married. and although there was a marriage in 1866 of a Phoebe Morris to a James Morris, same surnames, at Hartley, this Phoebe Morris died much later than 1879, on 17 Nov 1935 at Dee Why, had lots of kids and has different parents names. So it seems there were two Phoebe's from the small town of Hartley. Phoebe Morris Blackman and Phoebe Morris.
  4. Millar: As a result of her marriage to James Barclay Millar, her death record is for "Phoebe M Millar". She died in childbirth on 3 Feb 1879. Her son Hugh Livingstone Millar lived until, at 16, he had a fall from a horse. A Coroners inquest on 17 Feb 1879 determined that Phoebe "died of natural causes" but it gives no information on the circumstances of her death and to this point I have not located any newspaper reference to the inquest, nor the coronial inquest itself. Best I can find is in Australian Town and Country Journal 15 Feb 1879: "MILLAR.-February 3. at her residence, Wyanbun, near Walgett, the wife of James Millar". and "MILLAR.-February 15. at Wyanbon, Phoebe Morris Blackman, the beloved wife of James Millar, auctioneer, Walgett".
Source: Ancestry
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  • Long Family Tree

Bathurst Settlement
The Bathurst area was originally occupied by the Wiradjuri Aboriginal peoples. The government surveyor George William Evans was the first European to sight the Bathurst Plains in 1813.

Bathurst was founded in 1815 on the orders of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, and is the oldest inland town in Australia. The name Bathurst comes from the surname of the British Colonial Secretary Lord Bathurst. It was intended to be the administrative centre of the western plains of New South Wales where orderly colonial settlement was planned.

Local Wiradjuri groups under leaders such as Windradyne resisted the settlers until the Frontier Wars of the early 1820s ended the open conflict.

The initial settlement of Bathurst was on the eastern side of the river in 1816]. It is in today's suburb of Kelso. Each of 10 men were granted 50 acres (200,000 m²), five were men new born in the colony and five were immigrants. These men were William Lee, Richard Mills, Thomas Kite, Thomas Swanbrooke, George Cheshire, John Abbott, John Blackman, James Blackman, John Neville and John Godden. In 1818 Governor Lachlan Macquarie stated in his diary: ''This morning I inspected 10 new settlers for Bathurst. I have agreed to grant each 50 acres (200,000 m²) of land, a servant, a cow, four bushels (141 litres) of wheat, an allotment in the new town, and to provide for them for 12 months from the King's stores.''

Bathurst's economy was transformed by the discovery of gold in 1851. It later became the centre of an important coal-mining and manufacturing region. The Main Western railway line from Sydney reached Bathurst in 1876.

  • Chesher Family Tree 
  • Long Family Tree

Sir,— Please sir grant me space to publish the following extract from the “Royal Australian Historical Society Journal”. Rev W.G. Maconochie's contribution re the discovery of Mudgee was submitted to Mr. H. Selkirk, and his reply was as FOLLOWS : —In view of the weight of the documentary evidence bearing upon the discovery of Mudgee, upon which I have based my contentions that James Blackman junr., was the original discoverer, I am somewhat surprised at the different view taken by the Mudgee Historical Committee, resulting as it has in placing Lieutenant Lawson in the principal seal of honor which it seems to me should belong to the man who blazed the trail, and so made it easy for the rest to follow .

Having carefully reviewed my notes, I feel myself unable to retract in any one particular from the conclusion previously arrived at after a minute and searching investigation approached and carried out with a perfectly open mind. There can be little doubt, though he failed in the first attempt, that Lawson would have ultimately succeeded in reaching the Cudgegong River, but the fact remains that it was Blackman who showed the way, and, to use Allan Cunningham's words, 'Discovered . . the Cudgegong. . . and fine grazing country in the immediate vicinity of the native station called Mudgee. 

 One the main counter arguments relied on by Mr. Maconochie, secretary to the Mudgee Historical Committee, is that according to Cunningham, Blackman only reached a point on the Cudgegong seventy-seven or seventy-six miles distance from Bathurst, while Mudgee cannot be reached by any available route in a journey of that extent, the present road being some ten miles longer. Cunningham, in a table of distances at the end of his journal, gives the distance from Bathurst to the Cudgegong River nine and a half miles. Personally I do not rely on the distances quoted either by Cunningham or Lawson as being anything more than approximations. And Lawson's method of arriving at his mileages is disclosed when he writes: 'I calculate that Mudgee is about 80 miles from Bathurst.' And again, I calculate the distance by time.' It must not be overlooked that at the date of his report, Cunningham, though he had travelled over the country between Bathurst and the Cudgegong, had not been down that river towards Mudgee, and so could only give an estimate of the distance between the two places based upon information obtained from either Blackman or Lawson. As a further evidence of the unreliability of actual mileage obtained by such a rough and ready method, I find that according to Lawson's journal of his expedition of November 1821, the total of his daily distances recorded indicates that his route from Bathurst to Mudgee was no less than one hundred and forty miles, while a plan carefully plotted from his recorded compass bearings and estimated distances, and then applied to an accurate modern map on the same scale, would at no point place his route within thirty miles of Mudgee. Mr. Maconochie also relies on the traditions of early settlers and, inter alia, in a statement by a grand-niece of James Blackman’s, who as a mere child of nine or ten, claims to have seen and read the journal or his expedition (supposed to have been since destroyed), and remembers from its (contents that Blackman was prevented from actually reaching the immediate vicinity of Mudgee by extensive reed beds along the river. Old settlers are, however, by no means agreed on the vexed question of the discovery of Mudgee, and two at least there are whose memories as placed at his disposal lend support to the opinion that I have formed in favor of Blackman.

Mr. J. T. Blackman, of Cooyal, a grandson of James Blackman, junr. informs one that, he heard the story of the discovery of Mudgee from his grandfather's own lips, and that his grandfather and his black boy Aaron were not only the discoverers, but they were also responsible for the adoption of the local aboriginal name, pronounced 'Moo-gee' or 'Moudgee -' Mr. Blackman further states that his grandfather indicated River Park as being the spot where he camped on the occasion of his discovery of the locality. I also learn from Mr.H.W.Nevell. one of the early pioneers of the Mudgee district, but now a resident of Queensland, that he was born at Bathurst 82 years ago, and always understood from his grandfather, parents, and other old Bathurst residents who were personally aware of the facts, that James Blackman and no other, was the original discoverer. Mr.Nevell very logically argues that as my people were among the first ten settlers at Bathurst. I have no doubt they knew the correct details. He also mentions that between fifty and sixty years ago James Blackman wrote an account of his discovery of Mudgee (pronounced 'Mou-gee'), which contained a statement to the effect that on his return journey he met Lawson, to whom he told his story, with the result that Lawson and the Cox brothers promptly, took up all the best of the land before he had an opportunity to secure any. This account was, according to Mr.Nevell, published in the Mudgee paper of the period, which was subsequently merged with the “Western Post.”

It is much to be desired that a copy of this paper may yet come to hand.  'I attach a good deal of importance to Blackman's definite statement in his memorial to the Governor in 1829, that in or about the year 1821, with a party of four persons, he discovered the road to Mudgee, etc. In making such a statement Blackman would naturally have been very careful of his words, as he must have been fully aware that the Governor would, in the first instance, refer the memorial for Lawson's report as to the facts. In reporting for the Governor on the claims set out in Blackman's memorial Lawson writes: ‘He was the first person who marked a road to Mudgee. I further recommend him to Sir Thomas Brisbane, who promised me that he should have a grant. Mr. Maconochie incorrectly quotes 'who marked' as 'to make,' and then ''educes that it refers to the construction of the road: J. T. BLACKMAN, The Drip, Cooyal. (To be continued).   (Thomas b 1857.Grandson of James Blackman and Mary John)

The Discovery of Mudgee. (1921, October 3). Mudgee Guardian and North-Western Representative (NSW : 1890 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved October 12, 2015, from