Due to the interrupted research of the last year, I am refreshing my recollections of possibles on the Melinda Trail.
Was she ever at the HILLS’ Wollombi home. MILBRODALE?
An interesting slant on the Rev Richard is this one.
Hunter Valley Settlers 1837
Hunter & Central Coast Region, New South Wales, Australia
THE REVEREND RICHARD HILL AND “MILBRODALE”
It was in the year of 1782 that Richard Hill was born in London. The Bishop of London
ordained him as a Church of England clergyman in 1813. In 1818 he was appointed to a
chaplaincy in New South Wales.
Taking the office of clergyman on board the “Hibernia”, carrying 160 male convicts
bound for Van Diemen’s Land, Rev. Hill and his wife, Phoebe Sapphira, eventually
reached Sydney from Hobart on 18 June 1819. A man of compassion, he was appalled
by the cruelty, disease and dreadful conditions witnessed.
Ship’s surgeon Charles Carter was not partial to clergymen and involved himself in
disputes with them. Rev. Hill complained that Carter had prohibited him from visiting
the ship’s sick bay without his permission and had ridiculed his efforts at religious
instruction to the convicts. After complaints from other ministers during voyages, the
Governor recommended that Carter should never again be employed.
Rev. Hill soon won the good opinion of Governor Macquarie and Rev. Samuel Marsden.
His initial appointment was as assistant to Rev. William Cowper at St. Phillips, the only
church in Sydney. In 1821 he was given charge of the new district of St. James, and
when the church was consecrated in February 1824, Rev. Hill became its regular
minister. It soon became the chief church of the Colony. Rev. Hill worked hard at St.
James, visiting convict barracks and ministering to the poor. He had advanced ideas
about educational methods, and his contemporaries were to remember him chiefly for his
work with children. Governor Darling considered him a most zealous and reputable
clergyman, but believed that his labours much impaired his health.
Rev. Hill took an active part in humanitarian organisations. He was a founder of the
NSW Society for promoting Christian knowledge among the Aborigines, a director of the
Natives’ Institution, and joint secretary of the Australian Auxiliary and the Church
Missionary Society. His interest in the Australian and Pacific natives was greater than
the average clergyman.
Suburban lots of land were acquired by Rev. Hill near Darlinghurst. Then on 30
September 1825, he was promised Grant No. 224 of 1,200 acres of land and an 800 acre
grant by purchase adjoining it on Saint Patricks Plains. In 1833 when quit rent was to
commence, his 1200 grant was described in the NSW Government Gazette (p. 398)
REV. RICHARD HILL, 1,200 Twelve
hundred Acres, Parish unnamed, on the West
Bank of the Wolombi Brook; bounded on the
North by Williams’ purchase, commencing at
the confluence of Parsons’ Creek with the
Wolombi, and bounded by that Creek and a
line West 54 chains to Williams’ South-west
corner, and by a continued West line of 53
chains; on the West by a line bearing South 80
chains; on the South by a line bearing East
155 chains to Wolombi Brook; and on the
East by Wolombi Brook.
Promised by Sir Thomas Brisbane as a
reserve, on 30th September, 1825. Quit rent
£10 sterling per annum, commencing 1st
“Milbro Dale” was the name chosen by Rev. Hill for his land. Eventually this became
one word “Milbrodale” for the surrounding district. Parsons Creek was his boundary
with Robert Williams.
When Rev. Hill arrived with his assigned convicts and free men, their first task was to
erect rough bark shelters. Later came huts of hand-adzed slabs with roofs of bark. They
had to utilise whatever the land had to offer and packsaddle all other necessities across
the precipitous ranges from Windsor. It was hard work, hard living, hard food.
The grant was a world of limitless earth and sky, maddening in its loneliness. Their
neighbours were the native inhabitants who lived in harmony with the land. At night
came the mournful howl of dingoes with dogs answering from the huts.
Rev. Hill continued to live in Sydney as Minister of St. James. He would ride up to
“Milbro Dale” when he could. While there he would perform marriages and baptisms,
also funerals if anyone chose the right time to die. On 8 August 1828 he baptised
Roseanna, the daughter of William and Ann Maria Clarke. He also conducted church
services for the salvation of the convicts’ souls and anyone else who came along. Nine
convicts were on the property in 1828 with some free persons. The overseer had a wife
Despite his possessions and a stipend and emoluments valued at near £600 a year, by
1835 Rev. Hill could not resolve his financial difficulties. His tastes were simple, and
apart from his wife, his only dependant was his widowed mother in England. There were
no children from his marriage. He seems to have been a poor manager of money and a
too generous donor to charity.
Giving up his connection with things of time and sense, Rev. Hill died suddenly from an
attack of apoplexy in the vestry of St James on 30 May 1836. His constitution had long
been weakened by his labours, but his death came as a surprise with many expressions of
regret. Mrs Hill, born in London on 29 January 1780, died at Darlinghurst on 7
On 2 March 1839, in partnership with Robert Williams, Thomas Parnell bought Wilbro
Dale from Rev. Hassell and John Campbell, executors for the estate of the late Rev.
Richard Hill. They paid £2,100 for it. Three months later Robert sold his share to
Thomas Parnell died on 11 September 1856, leaving Milbro Dale to his son Charles on
condition that he did not sell it for 15 years. Parnells did not always reside on the estate
but leased it out. Now known as one word, Milbrodale Estate, was auctioned by Charles
on 15 January 1873. It was greatly increased in acreage. Benjamin Richards was the
A wealth of history of the pioneer days is associated with Milbro Dale House, lost with
the passing of time. Once it was a prominent landmark, 17 miles from Singleton on the
Bulga road to the Hawkesbury.
The charming Colonial Georgian homestead on the grant to the Rev. Richard Hill, was
set in a bend on the south side of Parsons Creek not far from its confluence with
Wollombi Brook. It was a single-storeyed house built in the long, low style, plain and
well constructed. Date of construction is uncertain.
Sandstone blocks two feet long, eighteen inches wide and one foot high, were quarried by
convicts at the lagoon south of the house. Both end walls were formed of rubblestone
Shingles were cut for the roof. All joinery in the house was cedar. Nails were hand
forged. High windows of paned glass were fitted with louvered wooden shutters for
security and to exclude the heat.
There were five rooms along a stone-flagged front verandah. The room on the southern
end to the left had a window to the front verandah and also to the back verandah, which
was constructed of slabs laid on the ground. There was no outside door to this room, but
there was a connecting one close to the back wall to enter the next room.
A double fireplace served both rooms. Above carved cedar mantelpieces, shelves were
built. This second room was large with a window at the front and could be entered by a
front and back door. Here church services, meetings and dances were held. From this
room a door close to the back wall allowed entrance to a third room which only had two
The fourth room had a door and window to the back verandah and a door to the front, but
no interior connection, rather a bleak prospect on a cold night. This was perhaps to seal
off the first three rooms from intruders. A double fireplace with a large baker’s oven also
served a fifth room.
A door from the fifth room led to the back verandah and there was a high window in the
end wall needing a ladder to reach it. Rings were let into the stone walls. When all
supplies had to be transported over the rugged mountains from Windsor, perhaps at six to
twelve monthly intervals, all security had to be taken. Boxes of foodstuffs and valuables
would be chained to the walls. In later years thieves tore 18 inch skirting boards off this
room after hearing a tale of hidden treasure.
At the back of the house a detached slab kitchen, dining room and other necessary rooms
were built. A pine dining table with carved legs seated 24 people. Later the rooms were
reached by a covered way.
Milbrodale had many outbuildings including men’s huts, stables, stockyards,
blacksmith’s shop, butcher shop, woolshed and piggery. It was described as a lovely old
home with a glorious garden enclosed with a high paling fence. Fruit and shade trees
reached as far as the creek. One can imagine the convicts toiling on the estate.
In the 1930s a storm caused the shingles to leak, so corrugated iron was placed over
them. Some of the timber flooring was replaced and an extra room built on the end of the
With time and weathering the old homestead fell into a dangerous state of disrepair and
was demolished in 1978. Lying in the grass, only two or three sandstone blocks showing
marks of the convicts’ hammers and chisels, remain of the Rev. Hill’s fine estate.
Rev. Richard Hill 1825
Thomas Parnell – Robert Williams 1839
Thomas Parnell 1839
Charles Parnell 1856
Benjamin Richards 1873
Elvina Durham 1898
Alexander Family 1904
C B Alexander Estate 1947
Greg Harris 1967
Gordon Warren Harris 1969
Australian Dictionary of Biography
NSW Government Gazette
Mrs Marion Banks
Mr John St Pierre
Mrs Nina Pike
Mrs Edna Court
Mr Gordon Harris
Last Will and Testament of Thomas Parnell
[Information supplied by Jenny Scholes]
ONE OF THE MOST VALUABLE, DESIRABLY
SITUATED, AND EXTENSIVELY IMPROVED
GRAZING AND AGRICULTURAL ESTATES
IN THE NORTHERN DISTRICT,
Within Easy Distance of the Town of Singleton,
APPROXIMATE TO MAITLAND,
And upon the Main Line of Road from the
Northern Interior to Sydney.
THIS MAGNIFICENT PROPERTY
IS KNOWN AS
THE “MILBRODALE” ESTATE,
3060 ACRES OF RICHLY-GRASSED LAND,
1000 Acres of which are ring-barked; and
140 Rods of Three-railed Fence having been
recently erected, renders a splendid plot at
once available for stock. Irrespective of this
vast extent of freehold, there are
4110 ACRES HELD UNDER PRE-EMPTIVE LEASE,
And 200 ACRES CONDITIONALLY PURCHASED,
the whole being PERMANENTLY WATERED
By Running Streams and Neverfailing Waterholes –
the former intersecting the property in
such a manner as to keep stock constantly within
control, and the general management freed from the
disadvantages which accrue in badly-watered districts.
CONSIST OF –
FAMILY RESIDENCE, with necessary Outhouses;
Enclosed Cultivation, Grazing Paddocks,
Stockyards, &c., &c., &c.
The Proprietor has also contracted for the erection
of a vast extent of 2-railed Fencing, thus completing
every requisite for efficiently working the property.
TERMS:- Cash; or, if elected, One-third Cash – the
residue of the purchase money to remain five
years, bearing interest at the rate of 7 per cent per annum,
payable half-yearly, secured by mortgage upon the property
in the usual manner, the purchaser having the option to
pay off £500 at any time during the currency of the
mortgage, by giving three months’ notice.
BRUNKER & SPARKE have received instructions from
Chas. Parnell, Esq., to sell by auction, at the Northumberland
Hotel, West Maitland, on WEDNESDAY, the 15th January,
1873, at Twelve o’clock,
THE “MILBRODALE” ESTATE.
This Valuable and Extensive Property has been occupied for
many years by Mr. W. McAlpin, and may undoubtedly be
classed as one of the most unmistakeable investments
offering. The quality of the Land is unquestionable –
irrespective of its GRAZING CAPABILITIES.
Its adaptation for Agricultural purposes cannot be
Excelled, those portions cultivated have produced
PROLIFIC CROPS OF WHEAT
Of the very best description.
The difficulty to secure Grazing Estates possessing
the advantages of “MILBRODALE” is becoming daily
apparent: to Station Proprietors it would be invaluable as
A DEPOT FOR STOCK,
Enabling the Squatter to hold his consignments for the
most favourable market, without affecting its capacities
or interfering in the slightest degree with the profitable
working of the Estate.
The SITUATION OF “MILBRODALE” IS MOST HEALTHY;
its proximity to the principal Towns in the Hunter River District
and EASY ACCESS BY RAILWAY AND STEAMER TO THE
Are privileges not to be overlooked; and must at once convince
Investors that the growing importance of the colony must tend, beyond
conception, to augment the value of such properties as
“MILBRODALE”. The Auctioneers therefore invite (with
confidence) the especial attention of parties desirous to secure
A STERLING INVESTMENT,
To the sale of this truly valuable and splendidly situated Estate.
Should this Property not be sold, it will be LEASED BY AUCTION,
for a term of Ten Years, possession to be given in April, 1873.
Intending Purchasers are especially requested to INSPECT THE
PROPERTY – every facility will be afforded by Mr. W. McAlpin, or
Mr. James Moy, who reside on the Estate; and a PLAN can be
Seen at the Office of the Auctioneers, East Maitland.
Particulars of which can be obtained upon reference to
Jas. Norton, Esq., Solicitor, Sydney.
Maitland Mercury ND.