Elizabeth Macarthur (1766-1850)
Born on the 14 of August in 1766 in Devon, England.
Elizabeth married Captain John Macarthur in 1788 and just over a year later sailed from England with their baby son, Edward.
On her arrival she found life in the colony difficult. Food was scarce and so rationed. Even so Elizabeth remained cheerful and busied herself with various studies including botany, astronomy and piano.
John Macarthur was granted 40 hectares at Parramatta in 1793 naming it Elizabeth farm. Elizabeth remarked that the house they built there was ‘a very excellent brick building’.
Together John and Elizabeth had seven more children Elizabeth (1792-1842), James (1793-1794), John (1794-1831), Mary (b. 1795) James (1798-1867), William (1800-1882) and Emmeline (b.1808).
Her husband was twice absent from the colony between 1801-1805 and 1809-1817. During this time Elizabeth showed great fortitude and resilience as she controlled the farming operations and making many improvements. She made sure that stumps were cleared to make ploughing easier; sold hay and won the respect of the farmhands the majority of which were convicts.
In 1850 Her Grand daughter wrote of her “Through all the difficulties and trials that beset her path, her Christian spirit shines forth, and in all her letters to her children, with whom she corresponded regularly until her death, there is found no complaining or ill-natured word.
Elizabeth Macarthur died her son-in law’s house at Clovelly on the 9th of February 1850. She was buried at Camden Park.
Australia’s First Lady by Lenn Bickel, 1991
The Australian Encyclopedia p1963
Australian Dictionary of Biography