Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mr Thomson’s selection

One of the odd byways of my of squatting landscapes in the Canberra region is the case of the selection of William Ferguson Thomson.

On the 13th October 1862 Leopold De Fane Salis leasee of the Cuppacumbalong squatting run (situated on the west bank of the Murrumbidgee river near the current village of Tharwa)  wrote to the Chief Commissioner of Crown lands complaining of that a William Thomson had selected land on his run right where one of the lots de Salis had applied for as part of his pre-emptive right was located. 

Thompson was a married man who had worked for de Salis in 1861. Indeed de Salis was summoned to Court by Thompson’s previous employer Pemberton C. Palmer under the Masters and Servants Act for allegedly inducing Thompson to breach his employment contract with Palmer.  From the account of the court case in the  Queanbeyan Age and General Advertiser  (27 Jun 1861: 2) it seems Thomson was trying to improve his circumstances by raising stock (on a system of half share with Palmer) as well as cultivating land. A dispute with Palmer about pigs seems to have resulted in Thompson leaving.

Thomson’s application was made on 4th September 1862 and his address was gardener at Cuppacumbalong. This address immediately raises the prospect that Thomson was “dummying” for de Salis. except for de Salis’s outrage and that the de Salis family did not begin extensive dummy selections until the 1870s.

There appears to have been some confusion in the Lands Department concerning whether Thompson had selected some of de Salis’s pre-emptive purchase. A note on the folio comments that “by the application”... and the maps we have” that the application is for land beyond de Salis’s land (18th October 1862). A second note mentions “Since writing the above Mr de Salis has called and says that it is within the above section”. In a second letter dated 18th October 1862, de Salis claims that despite Thompson’s description in his application of land “more than a mile distant”, Thompson had in fact occupied the pre-emptive land.

The advice to the Surveyor General from the Lands Office was that they agreed with de Salis and that the Surveyor be authorised to withdraw Thomson’s conditional purchase and the Police Inspectorate was authorised to move him however the Surveyor General requested the District Surveyor to measure the land and proceed from there.

Licenced Surveyor Thompson was urgently directed to survey the land on the 27th November 1862 but didn't get around to it. William Thomson wrote to the Lands Department requested that the description of the land be amended so that it didn't intrude on de Salis’s land. This seems to have been done as can be seen on the plan of Portion 22 which was surveyed in September 1864 by which time it seems Thomson  had abandoned the selection.

The land remained a portion until 1883 when Licenced Survey Lester accidently included it in Portion 115 and the portion had to be obliterated at Lester's cost.

I have georeferenced the original plan and overain modern drainage and contours.

Thomsons Land

You can see that both Thomson and De Salis were occupying flats adjacent to the river with steeper ground behind.

Apart from a mention in a court case in 1869 nothing more is known of Thomson.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Digitising Naas

Over the last two weeks I have returned again to the work I originally did for my thesis on squatting landscapes. I was always unhappy with how my analysis of the landscape worked out feeling that with Geographical Information Systems I should have been able to do more. in the end my GIS analysis was pretty pathetic.

However twelve years on (is it that long???) I am up and digitising Parish maps again and trying to make the Parish maps fit the topography of the area. This time instead of digitising paper maps with a special machine in a room at Uni  I am sitting in the office digitising scanned images of the Parish Plans using ArcGIS on my computer. I also have digital data for the ACT landscape in the form of contours and watersheds …etc. If things need to be clarified most Crown Lands can be ordered on line and delivered in about 5 min (I did this on Saturday night).

Things are progressing I have now got the Parishes of Tharwa and Naas done so I am about 1/3 the way through.  

Naas 1885 Cropped

(above is a section of the Parish of Naas)

One of the other things I can do now is search some of the selectors in the Australian Newspapers so once I finished Naas I searched some of the selectors like James Patrick Tong. He turns out to be Irish and to have has several court cases which are fully reported in the Queanbeyan papers giving colour to the people whose properties I have digitised.