Troy and Sherwin

William Sherwin (by Tony Laffan)

William Jamison Sherwin, father of William Sherwin, the surgeon, was fortunate that Joseph Foveaux, a short time governor of NSW after the “Rum Rebellion,” took a fancy to Sergeant William Sherwin’s wife Ann (Bennett) and whisked her from under his nose otherwise there would have been no W.J Sherwin. Ann Bennett by the way married W. Sherwin sn in 1784. She came from Kirk Langley, Derbyshire, and in 1813 Jane Austen wrote in her book “Pride and Prejudice,” about the Bennet sisters of Derbyshire, possibly relations? Perhaps she didn’t really fancy the red haired Sherwin or it may have been that the loss of their son, John Noble, who had died aged only 7 years that broke up the marriage. Whatever the cause the more nobly bred and superior officer, Foveaux had him bundled off to Norfolk Island where at one time he nearly got himself into serious strife with some industrial action. Foveaux was soon to come to Norfolk Island as governor so no doubt poor William had to hold his tongue. William by the way had arrived in the colony with other members of the NSW Corps on the Pitt. Bill and Ann had married at Derbyshire, in February 1784. Sergent Sherwin had once been a marine and had risen to become a sergeant quickly. Now had he been an officer he could have sued for a formidable sum for being wronged but being only a sergeant he received nothing.

Sherwin left Norfolk Island and returned to the bright lights of Sydney in 1801. He left the Corps and settled down with his consolation prize, Irish Colleen, Mary Duggan, (he continued to sulk over his lost wife). She was the daughter of a Corps soldier and by 1808 he was ensconced in Parramatta as a corner grocer (appointed by governor, Major Johnson). Willy Jamison Sherwin was born July 1804, the second child after Mary. Siblings Sarah, Elizabeth, John and Eliza followed.

Young William probably enjoyed a happy childhood at Parramatta until at age 13 he was spotted by William Bland, a London born medical practitioner of about 27 years. He probably attended Bland’s wedding to Sarah Henry that year (yes daughter of Rev Henry who started up the church that Ann Colpitts attended at Ryde). Sarah obviously was no shrinking violet for shortly after she raced off Richard Drake, an officer of the East India Company. Unfortunately for her, Drake did a bunk when Bland successfully sued him for pinching his wife and was awarded 2000 pounds which he never received. (Poor old Sherwin wasn’t as lucky for he wasn’t an officer and couldn’t get such retribution).

Probably with Willie in tow, Bland got the dirt’s on Macquarie and started leaving “pipes” all around Parramatta in 1818 complaining about Macquarie’s edifice complex of having his name and statues plastered everywhere. He finished up in the clink for 12 months. Soon after he had served his 12 months sentence he was very involved with the Benevolent Society and in 1823 William Sherwin, now 19 arrived in London to do a medical Degree at Cambridge thanks to the benevolence of Bland who must have financed the venture. The elder Sherwin had died in 1822 leaving only a legacy of 50 pounds. Sherwin, before he left England round 1826, sought out his old guvna, the man who had cuckolded his father, Foveaux, now living in England. Possibly because he was feeling some remorse for what he had done to Willies family he sent off an epistle to the Colonial Office informing them that Sherwin was the first man born in NSW to qualify as a “Quack,” and recommended him for a land grant. (Foveaux to Hay, 10 July 1826; C.O. 201/178 Pro pp 450-50a).

Well when William Sherwin returned, he wasted no time practicing pharmacology and no doubt surgical work (He was not officially recognised until 1844). He quickly acquired grants, mainly out in the country. Two are of special interest to me. The first was one at Lake George which boarded another property owned by E.J. Keith! It was served on 27th January 1838 exactly to the day a century before my birth). So it appears that by this time Sherwin was possibly a friend of Keith and his mistress Louisa! Another intriguing grant prepared on 13.4.1836 at Lake Bathurst at Meriga Creek next door neighbours to Doctor Reid! This may very well have been the grant memorialised to a William Sherwin back in 1823 at Lake Bathurst or it may have been an extension. Well we can imagine that William may have often hopped aboard his horse and visited his fellow doctor, the distinguished Dr Reid for a discussion about bleeding patients or the best saws to use, or whether the pink pills were better than the blue ones. Of course Sherwin was a lover of horses (to ride not to eat), and as the transport out south west of the colony was almost as bad as it is today in Bob Carr’s transport circus, he probably was a not infrequent visitor for in 1838 he listed his residence as Argyle. He then bought property in Mittagong in 1840 Lots14 (100 acres cost 132 pounds) and 15 (245 acres 147 pounds) in Mittagong dated 11.3.1840 and sent 4.5.1840. We suspect that William had struck up a friendship with Thomas Troy for 3 years later. He was to be Tom’s best man at his wedding, and he would have known Louisa, so it stands to reason that when Sherwin moved to Mittagong he probably persuaded an ailing David Reid (who had loads of assignees) that he could use a lad like Thomas to look after one of his properties in Mittagong. So for me this is probably how Thomas Troy arrived at Mittagong (on horseback with Sherwin).