Christmas time at the Russian Orthodox Churches


Golden cupola on the Russian Orthodox Church, Cabramatta & icons inside the St Nicolas’ Russian Orthodox Church, Fairfield.

St Nicholas’s Russian Orthodox Church, Fairfield

With the influx of Russian immigrants after World War II, the Russian people needed a place to worship according to their traditions. In 1952, with the support of the Russian community, a block of land located in Barbara Street, Fairfield was purchased and construction for a new church began. Due to financial constrains, a temporary timber building was erected and the church was finally completed and opened in 1956. The present Archpriest, Fr Nikita Chemodakov has been with St Nicolas since 1978 and still leads the popular Mass services each weekend.

For additional information on St Nicolas’s activities or history, please visit their webpage here

Russian Orthodox Church, Cabramatta 


Midnight Mass at the Russian Orthodox Church, 2007. Photographer Danny Huynh

The Russian Orthodox Parish at Cabramatta was formed in 1949 by a small group of Russian immigrants. In 1953, they enlisted the help of a Russian architect, Mr Michael Miklashevky, who drew up the plans for the construction of the new church on John Street, Cabramatta.

According to an account from the Advance (06/02/1969) – “the ancient Russian style architecture of the church with its unusual design, size and form and the gold coloured cupola and cross has been long a landmark in Cabramatta. The total height from ground level to the top of the cross is 110 ft (33.53 m). There are two galleries, one one either side of the central part. A special large gallery for the accommodation of the choir is situated above the main entrance. The church can accommodate 600 people.” 

The church was officially open on the 1st of February 1969 by Bishop Konstantin. In 1981, the Advance reported that Father Alexis, one of the two priest then at Cabramatta, and commercial artist Tonia Ganin had undertaken the task of “covering every inch of the interior walls” of the church with iconic paintings.

[Source: “Foundation of Faith: Christian churches in the Fairfield area” by Beverley Donald, pp.127-131. & “Rituals & Traditions” by Fairfield City Museum & Gallery, pp 36-42]







Published in: on December 20, 2016 at 4:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

Male Orphan School Part 2

The Male Orphan School Land:


Orphan School land, top of the map.

By 1803 Governor King had awarded a land grant of 12,300 acres to the north of Liverpool to the Female Orphan School, with the object of leasing the land for farming, to support the orphanage.

In 1813, the foundation stone of a new Female Orphan School was laid at Parramatta, but it was not complete until 1818.The female orphans moved there, vacating the building in Sydney, which was then occupied by a new Male Orphan School, opened on 1 January 1819.

After only a few years in the George Street building, it was considered unfit for the School, due to its dilapidated state and proximity to the tank stream.

2A new school was proposed to be built on the Orphan School land at Liverpool which would also operate as a farm in order to educate the boys in farming skills to increase the level of farming knowledge in the colony. The boys were moved to the site on 17 March 1824, travelling up the Parramatta River by boat. On 16 March 1824, the first Master of the School, Thomas Bowden reported they were not able to accomplish the journey as intended, as they did not obtain the boat at daylight:

“…there being little or no wind or rather a head wind, the Boat laid to at the Salt Pans near the Brothers. I was then compelled to procure a Boat and take the Boys on to Kissing Point, in a very wet condition at about One O’Clock where I procured them some refreshment and dried their clothes- It was after four O’Clock when the Government Boat reached the Point, and knowing we could not reach the farm that night I concluded they had better remain and get themselves thoroughly Dry and take the morning to prosecute their journey… I expect to arrive at Bull’s Hill by Dinner time tomorrow.”

Developments on the Male Orphan School Site:


Sketch of Orphan School , 1840 .

The boys were soon put to work to make the farm more productive. Prior to that time the site had only included a small farm and a timber farmhouse constructed in 1806, stockyards and a grindstone erected in 1807 under the charge of the stock keeper Thomas Rose. This was known as the Old Farm and was at the intersection of what is now Cowpasture and Edensor Roads.

Construction of the New Farm begun in 1824 which was built near Edensor, Smithfield and Boomerang Roads, Bonnyrigg. Timber dormitories were constructed at this time, although the buildings were soon considered unfit and no water was available at the site.

In August 1826 the ‘New Farm’ as the Male Orphan School became known, ceased operation briefly, while the administration of orphans changed from the Orphan Committee to the Church and School Lands Corporation. At this time Government Engineer Alexander Kinghorne selected a new site nearby and the orphanage was relocated. This new site was known as Bull’s Hill. Work began again on the New Farm site by June 1826, and it continued as the agricultural wing of the School, where some of the older boys lived and worked.

By July 1826 tenders were being called to begin work on the Master’s residence and other buildings at Bull’s Hill. By October 1826, thousands of sandstock bricks had been made and fired on the site and the Master’s residence was completed by December 1827. The Master’s residence is attributed to Colonial Architect Francis Greenway and Government Engineer Alexander Kinghorne and built by Thomas Moore. It is the only surviving standing structure on the site today and is known as Bonnyrigg House or The Homestead, on Brown Road, Bonnyrigg. The complex eventually included the Master’s Residence, dormitories, a dining room, school rooms, a probationary school, an infant schoolroom and nursery, staff bedroom and kitchen, watch house, hospital, stable and yard, coach house, offices, tailor’s shop, bakehouse, storekeeper’s house, clothing store and privies.

The water supply at the site was always uncertain. In 1825 John Busby was employed to sink boreholes. At Bull’s Hill, he sank one just ‘a few yards to the southwards of the buildings’ to the depth of 61 ½ feet, but this proved unsuccessful in reaching substantial water. He also sunk bores at the site at which it was proposed to move the School, where he found good sources of water, which must have influenced the move of the school to that site. He recommended that cisterns be dug on the western side of the Bull’s Hill for collecting rainwater. These would be four feet by 12 feet and six feet deep and covered with roofs.

James Busby was appointed farm manager in 1825 and he taught the boys viticulture, and planted a vineyard on the site. The school farm grew grape vines, wheat, barley, hops, maize, vegetables and cotton and the stock included sheep, pigs, beef and dairy cattle. Vegetables continued to be grown in abundance at the farm in later years, with Richard Sadleir ordering ‘600 weight of Potatoes for seed, 4 oz of onion seed, ½ lb of Carrot seed, 2 oz of Cauliflower seed’ and two boys spades, in July 1829. Sadleir also requisitioned white turnip seeds and cabbage seeds in August that year.

Busby recognised the agricultural potential of the land and was one of the first in the colony to attempt commercial grape growing for wine production. He introduced the boys to vine growing and wine making, which was continued at the School farm well after he left the school. The boys were employed in the vineyards, paddocks and cotton crops surrounding the buildings and at the New Farm which was linked to the school by a track.

Land Subdivision and Sale:


Simpson’s land near the Orphan School Creek.

In the 1840s admissions to the School steadily declined and on 30 April 1850 the Male Orphan School was closed and the boys were relocated to the Female Orphan School at Parramatta. The buildings remained vacant and fell into disrepair and the surrounding land was leased to local families. In the late 1870s and early 1880s the Church subdivided the estate for sale. William Stimson purchased a large tract of land along Orphan School Creek for two pounds an acre, and his family occupied Bonnyrigg House for many years. William and his sons cultivated grapes and market gardens along the edges of the creek. Stimson’s land was again subdivided in 1912 and much of the land was taken up by poultry farmers.


Property ad. from Fairfield Champion.


Google Map [-33.891506, 150.877836]

In more recent years, the area has been subdivided further for farm allotments and then housing estates. The photograph from the Fairfield Champion shows the remainder of the Male Orphan School Estate in 2016. Bonnyrigg House can be seen in the centre background (white house) and the Homestead Rd (cul-de-sac), on the left hand side of the photograph.

Bonnyrigg House or Master’s Residence:


Bonnyrigg House stood on the top of a rise with views across the district. The upper floor of the residence was used as a Court House for the meeting of Magistrates. The original building was incorporated within present structure, is the two storey brick section and the original main entrance was probably on the western side. In 1827-1880 a single storey wing was attached and this was replaced at the end of the 19th century by the existing two storied weatherboard section.  A single storey front addition was added c.1914 and a timber verandah and two-storey extension were added to the rear of the building in 1914.

Photographs from c.1950 show a large bunya pine (Araucaria bidwillii) – far taller than the house, and probably dating from at least the 1870s. Also shown in these photographs was a picket fence northwest of the house, and a star picket fence separating the vacant Orphan School site. Oleanders (Nerium oleander) had been planted by the 1950s, and remain on site today. In the 1950s the house was surrounded by vacant paddocks, market gardens and distant produce sheds (Stedinger, 2003).


[Exerpt taken from ‘…vicious and rebellious’?: Life at the Male Orphan School, 1819-1850 by Fiona Starr & Rebecca Wheller]

Published in: on December 5, 2016 at 3:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Nativity House at Horsley Park


Recipe from the Nativity House file collection

Nativity House was the only Christmas Museum in Australia that collected creches and Christmas related objects. It was the brain child of Elisabeth Van Mullekom-Cserep (Hungarian born) who migrated to Australia with her Dutch husband Arnold and children in 1983  and settled in Horsley Park. Nativity House was located at 136-146 Garfield Road, Horsley Park.

As Elisabeth was born on Christmas eve, her love of Christmas fueled her interest in collecting this very unique subject matter ! Elisabeth started her collection of “Nativity scene” in 1977 and by 1990, she had over 600 Nativity scenes that originated from over 60 countries! In September 1990, Elisabeth realised her wish and opened the first Christmas Museum/Gallery in Horsley Park. The Nativity House was opened to the public from October to December each year and by appointment for schools, clubs and tourist groups.

Elisabeth is the proud mother of six children and eleven grandchildren. She was an ex – kindergarten teacher and the author of  “Christmas Nativities & Stories : the Christmas story told with nativity scenes, poems and stories from all over the world, in a most unusual way!

The materials used to constructed and create the Nativity scenes were made of  silk, gold, wood, ebony, maize leaves, straw, wood shavings, embroideries, plasters, terracotta, clay and turtle shells. Other exhibited items include antique Christmas cards, Christmas handicrafts and nativity paintings.

Nativity House has since closed and the entire collection has been donated to Marian Library in the United States. Here is media release from the University of Dayton, Ohio –


“Creches from Down Under:

A noted Australian collector has donated her large collection of Nativity materials, including 600 creches, to the Marian Library.

Christmas is over, but the University of Dayton’s Marian Library is unwrapping a big gift — not from the East via three men on camels, but from Down Under via container ship and freight trucks.

The University of Dayton’s Marian Library, home to one of the largest collections of Nativity scenes in the U.S., is unpacking a container full of Christmas scenes and related materials, the gift of an Australian woman who spent more than 30 years amassing the collection.

It’s the largest single gift ever received by the library, which already has more than 1,600 Nativities, also called crèches, and is recognized as the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of printed materials on Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The Rev. Johann Roten, S.M., director of the Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, said that Elisabeth Van Mullekom-Cserep has donated more than 2,300 items, valued at more than $150,000 to the library.

“It is really a most generous gift and we are honored that when she was ready to part with this precious collection, that she entrusted it to the library,” Roten said.

The shipment of 165 large boxes arrived Thursday, Jan. 8 after a journey from Sydney, Australia that crossed the Pacific Ocean and took several months. Library officials said it will take at least two weeks for library staff and volunteers to unpack all the boxes, and months more to catalogue all of the items.

The gift will add about 600 three-dimensional Nativity scenes from over 60 countries to the library’s collection, utilizing materials that include silk, gold, embroidery, terracotta and turtle shell, Roten said. The collection also includes two-dimensional items such as prints, posters, artwork and even stamps depicting the Nativity, he said.

“The collection was exhibited every year in a special house built by her husband,” Roten said. “They welcomed the public during the Christmas season as well as schools, clubs and tourist groups to come in and see the collection.”

Roten said Van Mullekom-Cserep started collecting the scenes in 1977 when her family lived in Holland and continued when they emigrated to Australia in 1983.

Roten had encountered Van Mullekom-Cserep, is a widely recognized collector, at several international Nativity scene conferences.

The collection was shipped across the Pacific Ocean and landed in Tacoma, Wash. before making its overland journey to the library.

Roten said the staff and volunteers at the library will begin immediately the mammoth task of unpacking and cataloguing the new acquisitions.

To celebrate the gift and showcase items from the Australian collection, the library plans to mount a major show in November, 2009, for the start of the Christmas season.”

To discover more Crèches collection, please visit International Marian Research Institute website.

[Source : Dayton University E-Commons-]

Published in: on December 5, 2016 at 10:35 am  Leave a Comment  

Male Orphan School Part 1


4,980 hectares (12,300 acres) was awarded originally to the Orphan School Estate in 1803 by Governor King. In 1806, tenders were called for the construction of a timber building which later was used as a farm. In 1819, the farm became know as the Male Orphan School Farm and was officially opened by Governor Macquarie.

A brick dormitory was built but was subsequently demolished, the foundation is the only surviving remain. Some of the original bricks, made on the site, were recovered and are now mounted in the Fairfield Council Chambers at Wakeley. After 1822, the Male Orphan School was moved to the southern portion of the Orphans School Grant at Cabramatta.

This is what James Blackhouse had to say when he visited the Male Orphan School in his travels around Australia –

child-2“We next went to the Male Orphan School, about three miles distant, which is under the charge of a pious, retired lieutenant, of the navy. This establishment contains about 160 boys, of from twenty months, to fourteen years of age. They are chiefly the children of prisoners; many of them illegitimate. They exhibit, in numerous instances, the effects of the drunkenness and profligacy of their parents; many of them are unhealthy for two or three years after coming to the institution. They receive a plain, English education, and are taught the rudiments of tailoring, shoe-making, gardening, and husbandry. The premises are on a reserve, of 10,000 acres, in a district that is badly supplied with water, the springs being salt. This circumstance, with the distance from the town, and other inconveniences, renders the removal of the institution to another site, desirable. The buildings are of a very temporary structure. It is inconvenient to have the children from the Factory brought hither so very young; but when they remain longer at that nursery of vice, they learn so much iniquity, that their early removal proves the less evil.” 

Bonnyrigg House was built in 1826 as the master’s residence, and is the only complete example of Alexander Kinghorne’s building design. Kinghorne was a civil engineer whose name has been briefly connected with colonial institutional building programmes at this time. Construction began in 1826. The upper storey of the residence was used as a court house for the local meeting of magistrates. The Male Orphan School was located at Bulls Hill while the agricultural fields were located at Bossley Bush Recreation Reserve.The originally holding was gradually broken up and the church eventually sold this portion as a farm. B0nnyrigg House is now privately owned and still used as a residence.

childThe first master that took up a post at the Male Orphan School was William Walker. The Rev. Robert Cartwright succeeded him for a period of four years, followed by Lieutenant Richard Sadlier, RN, who held the position until 1851. The last master, James Busby was made Farm Manager in 1825 and did his pioneering work in viticulture in the grounds of this institution.

To discover more fascinating facts about the Male Orphan School, please refer to our Museum/Library’s e-publication ‘…Vicious and rebellious’?: Life at the Male Orphan School, Sydney & Liverpool, 1819-1850.” here.

[Source : Backhouse, James. A narrative of a visit to the Australian colonies. Hamilton Adams. London. 1843]

Published in: on November 23, 2016 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Windows Into Wartime


Windows into wartime : home front insights through the lens of NSW government photographers

Windows into Wartime is a new exhibition produced by NSW State Records for the Centenary of Anzac and to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the First World War.

The exhibition presents a selection of images produced by the NSW Government Printing Office Photographic Branch during and immediately after the Great War.

As society mobilised on the home front in support of Australia’s military effort overseas, government photographers were on the ground in Sydney and across the state shooting the image. They photographed a raft of activities and produced an extraordinary body of work that not only documented, but promoted and shaped how the people of NSW responded to the impact and upheaval caused by the First World War. The images captured advance – ments in public health, volunteerism, the organising of recruitment campaigns and patriotic fundraising events, the Red Cross movement and soldier support schemes. This collection of historic images—reproduced from original glass plate negatives—provides us with a unique insight into the NSW home front during the First World War.

Windows into Wartime is a free exhibition held at the Western Sydney Records Centre from 17th October 2016 to 9th September 2017. You can also view the online exhibition or visit the NSW State Records for further information.

Published in: on November 11, 2016 at 2:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Biographies of Male Orphan School Staff


Edward Gray

In 1817 Edward Gray came to Australia from England as a free settler aboard the Lord Melville. In 1818 he was appointed Overseer of the Orphan School Farm.

“The members heard with much pleasure, from the Minutes of the Local Committee that an engagement had been entered into with Edward Gray the Overseer, for the recovery of Strayed Cattle, at the rate of two Cows for every ten, not calculating any under one year old.”

On 17 December 1820 Edward and his wife Emma had their first child, Charlotte Emma. Gray was in charge of the cattle on the land and also responsible for the School building and a number of apprentices working on the farm. Gray continued working at the Orphan School Farm until 1825, then left to settle on his land grant of 600 Acres at Sutton Forest. He named his property Spring Hill where he later became the inn Keeper of The Black Horse. Edward died on 25 June 1868. His gravestone apparently read: ‘Edward Gray, Gun maker, aged 83, parents unknown, born in UK per Lord Melville 1815, unknown whether he had children.’

Descendant: Nicole Kelly, Wishart, QLD (great, great, great granddaughter)    Researcher: Russell Kelly

William Sadler

William was a convict assigned to the Male Orphan School between 1819 and 1832.82 There, he met Mary Lillis (Lillace), whom he married in 1823 and together, they had a son named Richard. Mary had a son from a previous relationship, named James Lillis, who had come with Mary to New South Wales from England, and was admitted to the School in 1822.

Descendant & researcher: Lesley Cash, Charmhaven, NSW (great, great, great, great grandaughter)

Isaac Simpkins

Isaac Simpkins was born about 1779, probably in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1824 Isaac stood trial at the High Court in Edinburgh, charged with housebreaking in Albany Street, Edinburgh.84 Isaac had five children and was reported to be a good man, but was sentenced to 14 years transportation to Sydney.

He sailed on the Minstrel on 17 April 1825 and arrived in Sydney on 22 August 1825.85 That year, he was included in a list of convicts being forwarded to Liverpool for distribution and assignment to the Male Orphan School. Simpkins was a gentleman’s servant or valet so may have been a servant to the Master of the School at the time, Edward Sweetman. In 1827, the Sydney Gazette mentioned his appointment to the police force, and in 1838 he received his certificate of freedom. In 1847 Isaac Simpkins married Margaret Hays or Hayes. Isaac died in Bathurst in 1851 at the age of 72.

Descendant & researcher: David Mackay Millan, London, UK (great, great, great grandson)

Edward Sweetman

Edward Sweetman and his wife Sarah came from Isle of Wight, England, and were sent out by Lord Bathurst in London for Sarah to be Mistress of the Female Orphan School at Parramatta. Sarah Sweetman was to receive a salary of £100 and her husband would receive £50 for managing the household, farm and garden.

They sailed on the convict transport Albion with their three daughters, and arrived in the colony at the end of 1823. Both immediately fell ill and spent the year at the school ‘languishing under their confinement to their room’.

For a change of air, Governor Brisbane transferred them to the Male Orphan School Farm in early 1825. Sweetman resigned from the Male Orphan School post in March 1825 due to the illness of he and his wife.

“During nearly the whole of the time… our health was such as to incapacitate us from the performance of the arduous duties it involved…. my own health has been so indifferent as to prevent that attention to its Interest…”

Sarah died from her illness in July and Edward in August 1825. They were buried in the cemetery at Liverpool. Their three children thus became orphans, less than three years after they arrived in the colony to administer the Orphan Schools.

Descendant & researcher: Margaret Hatfield, Normanhurst, NSW (great, great, great granddaughter)

James Busby

untitled-design-5Born in Edinburgh on 7 February 1801, James Busby studied viticulture in France and arrived in the colony with his parents on 24 February 1824. He was the son of John Busby who built bores that provided early Sydney with its much needed water supply. Soon after their arrival, James was appointed to teach agriculture and wine making to the boys at the Male Orphan School, and to run the school farm, and the age of only 24. Although not the first to plant vines and make wine in the colony, Busby was a pioneer in colonial viticulture, being called the prophet of Australian viticulture. Among other publications, Busby wrote A Treatise on the Culture of the Vine and the Art of Wine Making, published in Sydney in 1825.

The first wine made at the Male Orphan School was tasted by Busby in March 1830 and he considered it to be excellent. In 1826, when the Clergy and School Lands Corporation took over management of the School, Busby’s agreement of £100 per year and one third of the farm produce, was considered too favourable to Busby, and he was dismissed from the position. Under the later management of Richard Sadleir, the School continued to produced wine. Ten gallons of the 1829-30 vintage were given to Busby, which he took to London in 1831, where it was pronounced very promising. At that time Busby toured vineyards in France and Spain, where he collected hundreds of vine specimens, which he donated to the colonial government who shipped them to the colony. Many of the vines were planted in the Botanic Gardens in Sydney and made available to wine makers, while 365 others were planted at ‘Kirkton’ in the Hunter valley. From 1833 Busby lived in Auckland New Zealand and returned to England where he died in 1871.

Descendants: Busby family, Sydney, NSW and NZ

Reverend Robert Cartwright

Born in 1771 in Wellington, Shropshire, Reverend Robert Cartwright was curate at Bradford for fourteen years, when visited by Samuel Marsden, who told him of the need for chaplains in New South Wales. With some reluctance, Cartwright consented and sailed for Sydney with his family, arriving with the Reverend and Mrs Marsden on the convict ship Ann on 27 February 1810. He was appointed to the Hawkesbury and the new town of Windsor became the centre of his chaplaincy. He remained there with his wife and children until December 1819, when he was transferred to Liverpool. Cartwright was an early advocate of Governor Macquarie’s measures to protect Aborigines and for reserves for Aboriginal settlement.

During this post at Liverpool he became Master of the Male Orphan School, where he lived in the Master’s Residence with his wife Mary Boardman, whom he had married in England in 1796, and their eleven children. Cartwright remained Master between 1825 and January 1829 during which he won the commendation of the Archdeacon Scott. He resigned from his position due to ill health, but secured the position for his son-in law Richard Sadleir, who had married his daughter Anne. He remained as Chaplain for Liverpool until 1836, when he was posted to St James Church, Sydney and in 1838 moved to Collector (Gunning) where he remained until his death on 14 December 1856. He was buried in Liverpool Cemetery near St Luke’s Church, Liverpool.

Descendants: Martin Carney, Stanmore,

Robert Cooper

Robert Cooper was born in 1760 in Newbold, Derbyshire to George Cooper and Faith Stephenson. In 1781 he married a Hannah (Susannah) Martin, but in 1783 he was drafted into the British Army, and his regiment was sent to fight the French in the West Indies during the Napoleonic Wars, never to see his wife again. Cooper also served on Grenada and St Kitts, and in 1796 he returned to Plymouth. In 1798 Robert married Ellen (anonymous) and they had a daughter they named Ann. Robert was then posted at Cornwall, then on prison ships. In 1806 Robert transferred to the New South Wales Corps. He then transferred to the 73rd Regiment and in autumn 1809 he travelled to Sydney on Ann 2, with his wife Ellen and their three children.

Robert’s discharge certificate describes him as 5 foot 6 ½ inches, with light brown eyes and a fair complexion. Robert and his family arrived at Sydney Cove on Tuesday 27 February aboard the Ann 2 in 1810. Cooper was part of a detachment of the Royal Veterans who set up headquarters at Parramatta in 1814. The Veterans were disbanded in 1823, but it appears Cooper stayed living in the area. In 1820 he wrote a petition on behalf of the son of Ann Thomas for admission to the Orphan School, but the child was reported to have a father-in-law and mother alive and therefore not an object for the Male Orphan School. In 1824 he was working as a blacksmith/whitesmith at the Male Orphan School, where he worked until 1826 and was transferred to Liverpool. During work at the school he was probably involved in teaching the blacksmithing trade to the boys. Robert Cooper later settled in Wollombi, NSW, and died in 1837.

Descendant & researcher: Ralph Hawkins, Thornleigh, NSW (great, great, great, great grandson)

Lieutenant Richard Sadleir RN

Richard Sadleir was born on 6 May 1794 in Cork, Ireland. The British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar inspired Richard to join the navy, which he did in 1808 at the age of 13. He spent many years on the British naval ships and spent time at Portsmouth, Spitzbergen, Halifax in Newfoundland. In 1819 he was awarded the rank of Lieutenant. He was eventually transferred back to England and then to Ireland and became involved with helping Irish families to migrate to Canada. Inspired by W.C. Wentworth’s writings, he migrated to Australia, sailing on the Thames, and arrived on 11 April 1826. In 1829 Sadleir took the post of Master of the Male Orphan School, and was paid £150 per annum. and remained at the school until its closure in 1850. At the same time he took the post of catechist to the Liverpool Parish. On 12 December 1830, Richard Sadleir and Anne Cartwright, the daughter of Reverend Robert Cartwright, were married by her father in St Luke’s Church, Liverpool. Anne gave birth to their children in the Master’s residence, including Mary (1831), Robert (1833), Matthew (1836) and George(1835) and Richard(1838).

When the Male Orphan School was closed in 1850, Sadleir worked at Liverpool as a road surveyor and engineer, and in 1853 he was made Justice of the Peace and Magistrate. He then became Secretary to the Benevolent Society, Sydney and was a long-standing committee member of the Bethel Association. He purchased land near Liverpool in 1864 and lived in the original Warwick Farm house,  where Anne died in 1870. In later life he moved regularly and was involved in many community organisations. He became Liverpool’s first mayor in 1872. Richard died at Liverpool on 6 March 1889, in his 96th year. He is buried with his father in law, Rev Robert Cartwright, and wife Anne in the Pioneer Cemetery, Liverpool.

Descendants: John Sadleir, Glebe, NSW;

[Exerpt taken from ‘…vicious and rebellious’?: Life at the Male Orphan School, 1819-1850 by Fiona Starr & Rebecca Wheller, pp. 19-22]


Published in: on November 1, 2016 at 3:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

Masters of Male Orphan School


Published in: on October 21, 2016 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Westacott Cottage


Westacott Victorian Cottage

Westacott Cottage is a fine example of a late Victorian period, rendered masonry cottage that is rare in the Fairfield area. It has an unusual combination of parapet and verandah form in the one building. It is still in good condition and with much interesting original timber and rendered detail. It has a historical and local significance for its association with William Westacott and the close by railway station at Canley Vale.

Physical descriptions of Westacott Coattage:

westacott-plan-1A Victorian period cottage with rendered brick walls. It has a corrugated iron roof and gable at the north end and a hip at the south end with close eaves. It also has a wing walled verandah to street façade, rendered brick chimneys with cornices and an original tile decoration to the faces of the wing wall at the ends. The verandah has two chamfered verandah posts and three pairs of French doors, with highlights.

The parapet wall to the southern half of the street façade with a shop-front has a panelled entry door with highlight, there is also projecting architrave and segmental arched on the top frame to the shop-front. There are two matching four-pane sash windows with raised rendered architraves (triangular at top) to the north façade and four pane double-hung window with segmental arch to the south façade. A picketed balustrade and side fence skirts the property.

westacott-stable-planModifications and dates:

The southern or parapeted part of the building is possibly a later addition to the northern half of the building, with the verandah. In any case, both parts of the building were constructed in the late nineteenth century. A recent major modification is the skillion roofed addition at the rear. The picket fence is also new.


The Cottage was built by William Westacott in 1886, eight years after the creation of the nearby railway station. It was the home of Williams Westacott, his wife Ellen Mary and their children. Bill Westacott conducted a wood , coal and coke business for many years (on the site of the present car park). The two daughters also turned the front of the house into a thriving little sweet shop. Bill Denton then used the premise as a hairdressing salon and then it became a general store. In 1979, the cottage was purchased by Fairfield City Council. It was later renovated and transformed,with the assistance of a grant from the Cultural Division of the Premier’s Department, into the permanent home for the Fairfield City Arts and Crafts Group, at a cost of $30,000.

The Westacott Cottage provided a venue for the Cabramatta and Districts Art Society, the Cottage China Painting Group, the Westacott Potters Group and the Hand Spinners Weavers and Dyers Guild to meet and create art works and handicrafts. It also enable the public to purchase some of these finished handcrafted goods from the cottage.

Visit the Westacott Cottage Arts & Crafts Centre and discover programs and classes that are on offer!

[Source: Office of Environment and Heritage – Westacott Cottage ]

Published in: on October 14, 2016 at 1:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

Westacott Family


William Westacott

William Westacott, the son of James and Elizabeth Westacott, was born in about 1855. He married Ellen Mercy Smith at Glebe in 1881. There were six children registered to William and Ellen M. , three registered at Waterloo, between 1881 and 1885, of which only Victoria was mentioned as being alive in 1920, and three registered at Liverpool between 1887 and 1893, with William J and Bessie mentioned in 1920.

In 1886, William Westacott built a house in Railway Parade directly opposite Canley Vale railway station. Several generations of the Westcotts resided in this property and the house became a distinctive landmark. William Westacott was a timber merchant who owned and operated a sawmill in Canley Vale, opposite the railway station.

William Westacott was elected to council in February 1893 and took his place in council in March. He was absent in October and November 1893. He served on the finance and works commitees from 1894 to 1897, being chairman in 1984. When works was separated from finance in 1898 he continued on the works committee from 1891 to 1900 and served on the parks committee in 1899.

westacottHe contacted influenza during the epidemic of 1919 and never recovered completely. He was confined to bed for the last seven months of his life and died on 19th November 1920 at the age of 65. The funeral moved from his home in Railway Parade, Canley Vale for the new Methodist cemetery at Liverpool, where the rev. CE Godbehear conducted the service. Ellen Mercy Westacott stayed at the family home and died there on 8 March 1923 at the age  of 62.

Three generations of the Westacott Family



[Source: Shaping Fairfield: the aldermen of Fairfield and Cabra-Vale Council 1889-1948 / Beverley Donald]



Published in: on October 4, 2016 at 2:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

National History Week 2016


3-11 September 2016  |  #HistoryWeek16

The theme of neighbours is crucial to our understanding of the past’s impact on the present. It includes stories of individuals, families and communities living near one another and links between adjoining suburbs, regions and countries. As the success of the Australian television program Neighbours shows, the theme has long been a significant component of popular culture. It shaped imagination and memories, created identities and was a source of both conflict and friendship.

How important were class, the economy, gender, governments, the media, race, religion and sport in the formation of ideas regarding neighbours? How have attitudes regarding a nation’s geographic neighbours determined defence, foreign, immigration, refugee and trade policies? Did new types of communication and transport from the nineteenth century onwards radically alter how neighbours and neighbourhoods were perceived? In 2016 History Week focuses on these and other related questions.

To discover events held across New South Wales during History Week, please visit History Council of NSW 


Published in: on September 5, 2016 at 3:30 pm  Leave a Comment