1820s Our Campbelltown

Our Campbelltown 2020 featuring 1820 decade


The Dharawal People

The Campbelltown region has a rich Indigenous history, beginning with the Dharawal People. Campbelltown's rich Dharawal history is still recalled by proud indigenous residents who perform at local events. Discover more about our Aboriginal Community.

Aboriginal dancers performing at a local event
(Image sourced from Jeff McGill Collection)

After the Appin Massacre of 1816, surviving Aboriginal people were left as outsiders in their own land. In this Augustus Earle painting from 1826, an indigenous group is depicted camping at Charles Throsby's Glenfield House.

Indigenous group camping at Charles Throsby Glenfield House
(Image sourced from National Library of Australia)

Searching for Fredrick Fisher

The Fisher's Ghost legend began in 1826 with the disappearance of our local farmer Fred Fisher. Find out more about the legend. One of the most important people in the Fisher's Ghost story is Gilbert Namut, an Aboriginal man who was engaged to look for Fisher's body and did so, using his tracking skills. An image of the reward advertisement is shown below.

Newspaper advert for a reward to locate the body of missing person Frederick Fisher
(Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 30.9.1826)

Explorer Hamilton Hume

Locally-bred explorer Hamilton Hume who, with Hovell, forged the way south to the modern site of Melbourne in 1824. A statue of Hume stands at the NSW Lands Department Building in Bridge Street, Sydney, erected 1891. It is the work of sculptor William Priestly Macintosh and the explorer is represented in riding boots and spurs, leaning against a tree, the base of which is etched the year of the overland expedition. A stone monument, near Hume's farm off Appin Road, was also erected by the Royal Australian Historical Society in 1924.

Statue of Explorer Hamilton Hume
(Image sourced from Jeff McGill Collection)

Sarah Redfern- A pioneering woman

She was born Sarah Wills on 23 April 1796 in Middlessex England. She came to Australia with her mother, making the long journey on the same ship as her convict father who had been transported to Australia. Sarah and her Mother arrived as free settlers. At the age of just 14, she married Dr William Redfern. They were granted a very large lease of land called Campbellfield. This area covers much of modern day Minto. They lived at Campbellfield House still seen up behind Minto Mall. Sarah (Wills) Redfern is seen below in this miniature painting. A copy of this painting now hangs in the Minto public school that is today named in her honour, Sarah Redfern High School.

Portrait of Sarah Redfern
(Image sourced from Mitchell Library-State Library of New South Wales)


The Township is named

Lachlan Macquarie founded the town of "Campbelltown" on Friday 1 December 1820 and named it after his wife's maiden name 'Campbell' a famous clan in Scotland. This was the beginning of the 200 years of Campbelltown that we now commemorate in 2020.

Find out more about Lachlan and Elizabeth Macquarie.

Plaque commemorating the naming of the township of Campbelltown by Governor Lachlan Macquarie
(Image sourced from Campbelltown City Library)


Early Map of Campbelltown

Robert Hoddle's 1827 Plan of Campbelltown includes limits of church site and location of Church and School. It is the earliest map of Campbelltown. - Credit Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society

Hoddles Plan of Campbelltown 1827
(Image sourced from Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society)

The Grand Glenlee

Glenlee, perhaps the grandest of Campbelltown's rural Georgian-style homesteads. It was erected about 1824 by William Howe, a veteran of the 1st Royal Scots Regiment, who arrived in the colony as a free settler in 1816. He was granted 3000 acres overlooking the Nepean River near present-day Menangle Park and became a local magistrate and keen horse breeder. Glenlee was known for its lush pastures, producing some of the best milk and cheese in the colony. Listen to David Milliken share his family's history of Dairy Farming at Glenlee.

Photo of the house known as Glenlee and surrounding land
(Image sourced from Nash Family Collection)

Campbelltown's First School

Much of the area now known as Glenfield was granted to James Meehan, the man who surveyed the entire Campbelltown district. He gained over 2,000 acres (800 hectares), named his estate Macquarie Field, and built himself a homestead known as Meehan's Castle. In 1820-22, Meehan rented this house out for use as an elite academy for boys; pupils included the son of Governor Macquarie. This was the first school in the area.

Meehan's Castle in the 1820s
(Image sourced from Campbelltown City Library Local Studies Collection)

Building the foundations of the Township

St Peter's Church marks the genesis of Campbelltown, as the church, school and burial ground sites were marked out by Governor Macquarie when he founded the town of the 1 December 1820. St Peter' Church is the oldest building in town, it was completed in 1823. This was the only building in the township for many years. It is Campbelltown's first church and the earliest building still standing in Campbelltown CBD. This is the earliest available photo. If you are interested in discovering more about our local heritage buildings check out Heritage Items in Campbelltown.

St Peters Church in the 1820s
(Image sourced from Campbelltown City Library Local Studies Collection)

The establishment of Denham Court House

Denham Court House, photographed from the air by Edward Searle in the 1940s. Built between 1812 and 1833, the substantial residence was designed by renowned architect, John Verge, for wealthy sea captain Richard Brooks. Denham Court was one of Sydney's most vibrant social centres of the 1820s and 1830s.

Historical black and white image of Denham Court House and surrounding property
(Image sourced from National Library of Australia)