Gregory Blaxland

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Gregory Blaxland
Gregory Blaxland.jpg
Portrait, 1813
Born(1778-06-17)17 June 1778
Died1 January 1853(1853-01-01) (aged 74)
New South Wales
Cause of deathsuicide
Known for 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Spurdon ( - 1826)
Children7 - John Blaxland
  • John Blaxland (father)
  • Mary Parker (mother)

Gregory Blaxland (17 June 1778 – 1 January 1853) was an English pioneer farmer and explorer in Australia, noted especially for initiating and co-leading the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains by European settlers.

1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains

The 1813 crossing of the Blue Mountains was the expedition led by Gregory Blaxland, William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth, which became the first successful crossing of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales by European settlers. The crossing enabled the settlers to access and use the land west of the mountains for farming, and made possible the establishment of Australia's first inland settlement at Bathurst.


Early life

Eastwood Brush Farm House built by Blaxland Eastwood Brush Farm House.JPG
Eastwood Brush Farm House built by Blaxland

Gregory Blaxland was born 17 June 1778 at Fordwich, Kent, England, the fourth son of John Blaxland, mayor from 1767 to 1774, whose family had owned estates nearby for generations, and Mary, daughter of Captain Parker, R.N. Gregory attended The King's School, Canterbury. In July 1799 in the church of St George the Martyr there, he married 20-year-old Elizabeth, daughter of John Spurdon; they had five sons and two daughters. [1]

Fordwich town in Canterbury, United Kindom

Fordwich is a remnant market town and a civil parish in east Kent, England, on the River Stour, northeast of Canterbury.

The Kings School, Canterbury co-educational independent school in the English city of Canterbury in Kent

The King's School is a 13–18 mixed, independent, day and boarding school in Canterbury, Kent, England. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the Eton Group. It is held to be the oldest continuously operating school in the world, having been founded in 597 AD. It is Britain's oldest public school.

The Blaxlands were friends of Sir Joseph Banks who appears to have strongly influenced the decision of Gregory and his eldest brother, John, to emigrate to Australia. [1] The government promised them land, convict servants and free passages, in accord with its policy of encouraging 'settlers of responsibility and capital'. Leaving John to sell their Kent estates, Gregory sailed in the William Pitt on 1 September 1805 with his wife, the three children they then had, two servants, an overseer, a few sheep, seed, bees, tools, groceries and clothing.

Joseph Banks English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences

Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, was an English naturalist, botanist, and patron of the natural sciences.

John Blaxland (explorer) Australian settler

John Blaxland was a pioneer settler and explorer in Australia.

William Pitt was a three-decker sailing ship, built in Liverpool in 1803. She made three complete voyages for the British East India Company (EIC), and on the first of these she transported convicts to New South Wales. In December 1814 she was lost in a gale to the east of Algoa Bay while homeward bound from her fourth voyage.

Blaxland and his family reached Sydney on 1 April 1806, where he sold many of the goods he brought with him very profitably, bought eighty head of cattle so as to enter the meat trade, located 2,000 acres (810 ha) of land at St Marys and was promised forty convict servants. Soon afterwards he also bought 450 acres (180 ha) at the Brush Farm (near Eastwood) from D'Arcy Wentworth for £1500, while also displaying some of his future characteristics by commencing litigation against the master of the William Pitt. A further parcel of 2,280 acres (920 ha) was granted for a farm at the South Creek.

Sydney State capital of New South Wales and most populous city in Australia and Oceania

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Located on Australia's east coast, the metropolis surrounds Port Jackson and extends about 70 km (43.5 mi) on its periphery towards the Blue Mountains to the west, Hawkesbury to the north, the Royal National Park to the south and Macarthur to the south-west. Sydney is made up of 658 suburbs, 40 local government areas and 15 contiguous regions. Residents of the city are known as "Sydneysiders". As of June 2017, Sydney's estimated metropolitan population was 5,230,330 and is home to approximately 65% of the state's population.

Eastwood, New South Wales Suburb of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Eastwood is a suburb of Sydney, Australia. Eastwood is located 17 kilometres north-west of the Sydney central business district in the local government areas of the City of Ryde and the City of Parramatta. Eastwood is in the Northern Suburbs region.

D'Arcy Wentworth was an Irish surgeon, the first paying passenger to arrive in the new colony of New South Wales. He served under the first seven governors of the colony. From 1810 to 1821, he was great assistant to Governor Lachlan Macquarie.

Blue Mountains expedition

Exploration of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth Blaxland-map.jpg
Exploration of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth

Early in 1813 Blaxland, who needed more grazing land, obtained the approval of Governor Lachlan Macquarie for an attempt to cross the Great Dividing Range, known as the Blue Mountains, following the mountain ridges, [1] [2] [3] instead of following the rivers and valleys. He secured the participation of William Lawson and William Charles Wentworth in the expedition, which was successful (though the expedition stopped short of actually crossing over the mountains) and enabled the settlers to access and use the land west of the mountains for farming. The crossing took 21 days, and 6 days to return.

Lachlan Macquarie Scottish British army officer and New South Wales colonial administrator

Major General Lachlan Macquarie, CB was a British Army officer and colonial administrator from Scotland. Macquarie served as the fifth and last autocratic Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821, and had a leading role in the social, economic and architectural development of the colony. He is considered by historians to have had a crucial influence on the transition of New South Wales from a penal colony to a free settlement and therefore to have played a major role in the shaping of Australian society in the early nineteenth century. In 1816 Macquarie gave orders that led to the Appin Massacre of Gundungurra and Dharawal people.

Great Dividing Range mountain range in the Australian states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria

The Great Dividing Range, or the Eastern Highlands, is Australia's most substantial mountain range and the third longest land-based range in the world. It stretches more than 3,500 kilometres (2,175 mi) from Dauan Island off the northeastern tip of Queensland, running the entire length of the eastern coastline through New South Wales, then into Victoria and turning west, before finally fading into the central plain at the Grampians in western Victoria. The width of the range varies from about 160 km (100 mi) to over 300 km (190 mi). The Greater Blue Mountains Area, Gondwana Rainforests, and Wet Tropics of Queensland World Heritage Areas are located in the range.

Blue Mountains (New South Wales) Region in New South Wales, Australia

The Blue Mountains are a mountainous region and a mountain range located in New South Wales, Australia. The region borders on Sydney's metropolitan area, its foothills starting about 50 kilometres (31 mi) west of centre of the state capital. The public's understanding of the extent of the Blue Mountains is varied, as it forms only part of an extensive mountainous area associated with the Great Dividing Range. Officially the Blue Mountains region is bounded by the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers in the east, the Coxs River and Lake Burragorang to the west and south, and the Wolgan and Colo rivers to the north. Geologically, it is situated in the central parts of the Sydney Basin.

In February 1823 Blaxland published his Journal of a Tour of Discovery Across the Blue Mountains (London, 1823) in which he wrote:

"On Tuesday, May 11, 1813, Mr. Gregory Blaxland, Mr. William Wentworth, and Lieutenant Lawson, attended by four servants, with five dogs, and four horses laden with provisions, ammunition, and other necessaries, left Mr. Blaxland's farm at the South Creek, for the purpose of endeavouring to effect a passage over the Blue Mountains ..." [4]

In recognition of the successful crossing, all three explorers were granted by Macquarie 1,000 acres (400 ha) of land west of the mountains. [5] [6]

Other activities

Blaxland is also noted as one of the first settlers to plant grapes for wine-making purposes. He was engaged during the next few years in wine-making. He had brought vines from the Cape of Good Hope and found a species resistant to blight.

Blaxland's diaries show that he had a clear grasp of the scale upon which agricultural and pastoral activities would be profitable in Australia. [4] In 1814, like many others almost insolvent because of drought and depression, he tried to persuade Governor Macquarie to sanction a scheme for the exploitation of the interior by a large agricultural company similar to the later Australian Agricultural Company of the 1820s. Macquarie would not agree nor would he allow Blaxland land in the interior for his own flocks. Blaxland then had to dispose of his livestock, and joined the colonial opposition to Macquarie, and in 1819 sharply criticized his administration to Commissioner John Thomas Bigge.

Blaxland visited England in 1822 taking with him a sample of his wine. While in England he published in February 1823 his Journal of a Tour of Discovery Across the Blue Mountains. Later the same year, Blaxland was awarded the silver medal of the Royal Society of Arts for the wine he had brought to London.

Later years

His wife died in December 1826. [7] In January 1827 Blaxland was elected by a public meeting with two others to present a petition to Governor Darling asking that "Trial by jury" and "Taxation by Representation" should be extended to the colony. Still opposed to the governor's authority, he made another visit to England, taking a petition in support of trial by jury and some form of representative government, and again carried samples of his wine, for which he won a gold medal of the Royal Society of Arts in 1828. [8] [9]

He successfully petitioned the Colonial Office for a drawback on the import duty on brandy imported into the colony and 'actually used in the manufacture of wine'. Always a man of moody and mercurial character, Blaxland devoted his colonial activities almost entirely to the pursuit of his agricultural and viticultural interests.

He suffered great personal loss with the early and untimely deaths of his second son, youngest son and wife along with others quite close to him in rapid succession, which bore very heavily on his heart. He committed suicide on 1 January 1853 [10] [11] [12] in New South Wales and was buried in All Saints Cemetery in Parramatta.

His son John was a prominent businessman. He was appointed to the New South Wales Legislative Council and served there from 1863 until his death in 1884.



Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson memorial, Luddenham Road Explorers cairn.JPG
Blaxland, Wentworth and Lawson memorial, Luddenham Road

In 1963 he was honoured, together with Lawson and Wentworth, on a postage stamp issued by Australia Post depicting the Blue Mountains crossing. [14]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 Conway, Jill (1966). Blaxland, Gregory (1778–1853) in Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. "History since colonisation". Blue Mountains National Park. NSW Parks and Wildlife Service. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  3. Clark, Manning (1962), A history of Australia (1 ed.), Melbourne University Press ; London ; New York : Cambridge University Press, p. 277, ISBN   978-0-522-84008-7
  4. 1 2 3 "The Journal of Gregory Blaxland". State Library of NSW. - digitised copy
    "The Journal of Gregory Blaxland". - html text
  5. "William Lawson". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 27 May 2013.
  6. Boardman, Alan; Harvey, Roland, 1945- (1997), The crossing of the Blue Mountains, Scholastic, pp. 29–30, ISBN   978-1-86388-707-6 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. "Family Notices". Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser . XXIV (1272). 30 December 1826. p. 2 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "No. I. WINE FROM NEW SOUTH WALES". Transactions of the Society, Instituted at London, for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce. 1 January 1827.
  9. "Gregory Blaxland - Blaxland Wine Group". Blaxland Wine Group. 2 April 2014.
  10. "PARRAMATTA". The Sydney Morning Herald . XXXIV (4880). 4 January 1853. p. 2 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "Sydney News". The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser . XI (889). 8 January 1853. p. 4 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "Family Notices". Colonial Times . XLI (2510). Tasmania, Australia. 20 January 1853. p. 2 via National Library of Australia.
  13. Google Maps display of Frankston Reservoir
  14. "Image: 0007540.jpg, (378 × 264 px)". Australian Stamp and Coin Company. Retrieved 2 September 2015.