Troy and Reid

David Reid (By Tony Laffan)

It was reported in the papers that before the execution, the children were able to farewell their father but the scene of their parting was a shattering experience for all who witnessed it. Poor little Thomas, aged 9, must have been a distraught little boy. After one year in the orphanage Thomas had to leave his tiny brother in the orphanage for he was indentured out on 2.12.1829 to David Reid a surgeon in the colony who had a large estate in Argyle, at Bungonia, near Lake Bathurst. This would have been way out in the wilderness, not much different to today. Today you find it to the east of Canberra and about 50 miles from Mittagong. He was to serve eleven years until 2.12.1840 to David Reid or on his death to his heirs and successors. He was to be a servant! Not an apprentice, or given a trade, but a servant.

It appears that that was all he did for although Thomas could write his own name in a scratchy way this probably was learnt at his school. He was clothed and victualled by the government at no cost to Dr Reid. He was delivered on the spot to David Reid by W. Broughton and the reverent sadist, Samuel Marsden, and the rev. Thomas Hassall, the son of the rev. gun-runner to Pacific Islanders and seller of grog to them too, Rowland Hassall. David Reid (1777-1840) was from Scotland and he served on the Bellerophon as surgeon at the Battle of Trafalgar. His 2000 grant at Begonia became “Inverary Park,” famous today as a stud farm. He got his first grant of 1000 acres on March 14th 1822. He and his wife Ann had a tremendous enthusiasm in his adopted country. Bungonia probably grew to a larger place than today. He was a magistrate for a considerable time holding court in his own home. He lived for many years in a home described as a “miserable hovel.”(Now Thomas was indentured to him in this period so what was Tom’s accommodation like?

The homestead, Inverary Park, was built in the 1830’s and still stands today. Tom no doubt would have helped in the building of it. There was a school conducted there for many years and the building doubled as a court house. Alexander Harris called him the” old medical gentleman, “much loved by all classes.” It is reported that he had a merciful and benevolent attitude. In the History of Biography he is said to have been on of the best practical agriculturists in the Colony! So this may very well have taught so many skills which he put to great use when he had his own farm at Mittagong. On 25.6.1939 he applied for but was knocked back in getting a military pension. He was probably by this time ailing and it must have been round this time that “carter” Tom may have moved to Mittagong. Reid died 7.7.1840.

We know nothing of Tom’s time there but we can guess that Tom’s time there would have been reasonably pleasant for a “servant.” We know little of what happened to Thomas in the intervening years. We know that 2 years before his indenture there was a large aboriginal attack on one of Dr Reid’s neighbour’s dairy, killing several people. The dairy next door belonged to Mrs Sherwin! Now we know that Thomas made his way to the Bong Bong – Mittagong area and I think we can assume that somehow he came into the employ of the Sherwin’s before his indentures were up for William Sherwin took up residence in this area. (Rumours that Thomas ran away from Dr Reid’s property was a possibility but if this were so, surely Mrs Sherwin would have informed Reid). According to his obituary he probably arrived in Mittagong in 1837 when he was 18 and his early employment was as a carter, something very necessary in the farm so far out in the wilderness.

Thomas in these intervening years seemed to have done very well. There seems to be no doubt he was a hard worker and most likely intelligent and he quickly gained the respect and love of his neighbours. Unlike several of the Hanks girls Louisa and he seemed to have lived a hard working typical country life. As his children grew up, they were able to move further out, mainly to the Cootamundra area. We can only guess that Thomas spent his life on his farming interests and there is little to say that he became interested in racing like his cousin George Taylor Rowe and George Riley (or for Eddie Keith for that matter). It is interesting though for it was said that his son George (my ancestor, was quite the racing man).