AUS-PT-JACKSON-CONVICTS-L ArchivesArchiver > AUS-PT-JACKSON-CONVICTS > 2001-09 > 1001339883
Subject: Re: [PJ] JOHN JAMISON's CONVICTS
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2001 23:58:03 +1000
Jamison had a property named Regentville. These large properties were like small villages and almost self sufficient. I think that his place is the reference you see every now and again called Irish Corner. The property had its own graveyard, supplied by Jamison for his workers and eventually taken over in 1839 by the Catholic Church.
>From Penrith Library Site:
The noble mansion of Regentville was built in 1823 possibly to a design by Henry Kitchen, for Sir John Jamison called by some "the prince of Australia". For two decades its luxury and magnificence astounded passing visitors who did not expect such opulence and fine food in the wilds of Australia.
Sir John invested a fortune in his estate constructing a virtual village of service buildings and workers cottages around his verandahed mansion. A leading light in the newly formed Agricultural Society in the colony, he experimented with imported crops and grasses and constructed a huge stone windmill for grinding wheat and Corn. A picture of his household and estate in 1828 can be constructed from the Census of that year when he held 7830 hectares of land with 1150 cleared and 107 cultivated. At that time he owned 168 horses and 1800 cattle, and had 102 persons listed as being in his employ or under his protection.
Jamison took an active role in the affairs of the district serving as a magistrate. He allocated much of his land to tenant farmers.
Regentville, indeed, was the focus of the Penrith district and in the strength of its activities probably lies a reason for the slow development of Penrith itself between 1820 and 1840, as people were attracted more to the wages and enterprises that Jamison was offering than to the tiny township on the highway. A young migrant who found his first employment in Australia at Regentville for six months in 1839 was Henry Parkes, later long time Premier of New South Wales.
Jamison was ruined by the financial crisis of the 1840's and his great estate was offered for sale in 1847, three years after he died. Its buildings were used as stone quarries for Penrith over the following decades and many of his workers probably moved across to Penrith as did his wife and family who re-established themselves at Hornseywood close to the Great Western Road after his death.
Today, the remnants of his enterprises; stone foundations, fallen in cellars, old fence lines, dams and vineyard terraces, provide an outline of the former finest establishment in the colony as well as a melancholy comment on the way fortunes can fluctuate in New South Wales.
ABOUT SIR JOHN JAMISON CEMETERY
Sir John Jamison's cemetery is closely associated with Regentville the estate established by Thomas Jamison and his son Sir John, which saw its heyday in the 1820s and 1830s. The cemetery originated as a burial ground used by Sir John's Irish convict servants located on a hill popularly known as "a little piece of Ireland". Sir John later donated it to the Catholic Church, and an additional portion was given by another wealthy settler Charles Thompson of Clydesdale. The ground was consecrated by Archbishop Polding in 1839 and some Catholics were reburied there subsequently; this fact and the cemetery as a whole underscores the importance attached to burial according to denomination.
In these generous donations, Jamison and Thompson, both Protestants, were demonstrating their status and power in the accepted manner of the day. Wealthy and prominent settlers habitually lent support to churches, usually in the form of small allotments of land, and it mattered little what denomination. Ironically, the cemetery, although neglected and derelict, and containing the graves of ordinary folk, mostly Irish Catholics, is the only extant link with Sir John Jamison (apart from his own grave.) His fabulous house Regentville was in a state of decay in the late 1840s after he was ruined by the depression of that decade, and it burned down in 1869.
On its elevated site, the cemetery was the focus of many impressive and elaborate Catholic burial rituals and processions. The procession following the coffin of Thomas Donohoe, who died at 15 in 1898, comprised thirty six buggies; when well-known Irishman Tom Meade, a Penrith coach proprietor died in 1898, "thirty Druids in regalia headed the procession from the Roman Catholic Church followed by some 55 vehicles and about seventeen horsemen". The ground has the graves of members of the pioneering Rope family - Margaret and her child who died in 1855 at 21 and 5 months respectively. (2)
The cemetery appears to have suffered more than most from both neglect and vandalism in the wake of surrounding modern suburban development, and has lost its original setting.