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Joseph Douglas





On market day, Wednesday 9 March 1814, Joseph Douglass, cottager and servant for two years to Robert Newall at Airdree farm in the parish of Kirkbean, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, drove his master's horse and cart into Dumfries town and put them up at William Potter's inn. He entered the jewellery and hardware shop of James Patterson at 29 High Street, and stated that he wished to purchase a silver watch valued at about four guineas. After being handed a watch he immediately ran with it out of the shop. He next visited the shop of John Berwick, merchant, also in High Street, under the pretence of wishing to buy two pieces of cotton cloth, which he carried out of the shop without paying for them. At Potter's inn, as he was putting the cart to the horse, James Patterson appeared with William Potter. They searched Joseph, and found the watch in a cow manger in the stable, after which they took him to the council chambers where he was committed to the prison.

Joseph and his wife Mary Orr Burgess had lived in Scotland for about seven years, but they were born and married in County Down, Ireland, probably around the Saintfield/Comber/Killaney area where the surnames are found at that time. Douglass, Orr and Burgess are Scottish names and their ancestors possibly moved from the Scottish lowlands to County Down in the 16th century along with other Scots immigrants.

It was common practice for workers to traverse the "Short Sea" (Donaghadee Ireland to Portpatrick Scotland) for seasonal work, but Joseph and Mary settled permanently in the heart of "Black Douglas country", the Dumfries district of Scotland, from about 1807. The family moved several times around the Dumfries farms. Joseph would have attended the annual (Whitsunday, 15 May) hiring fair in Dumfries, where employers contracted with labourers for a year's work, often, if married, in exchange for a cottage and small garden. This was where Robert Newell had hired Joseph in 1812. Five children were born at regular intervals between 1806 and 1814, before Joseph committed his felony and their world collapsed.

Joseph was moved down to London with the other Scottish prisoners and on 7 September 1814 was placed on board the Retribution hulk in Sheerness harbour. Six months later, on 20 April 1815, he was one of 300 male convicts to set sail in the Baring for New South Wales, coming to anchor in Sydney Cove on 7 September 1815 after two deaths on board.

Joseph was on the list of three labourers from the Baring to be assigned by the Governor directly to Sir John Jamison, the colony's only Knight, and holder of a large estate named Regentville near Penrith on the Nepean River.

In December 1819, Joseph applied for a ticket of leave, so all of his work could be on his own account, having earlier asked for his wife Mary and his children to join him. On 8 October 1822 he submitted his first petition for land to the new Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane.

A ship, the Woodman, 419 tons, won the tender, and after fitting her prison at Deptford in England, arrived in Cobh on 13 September to take on her passengers. It finally sailed 26 January 1820 with 97 convicts, three short of complement, and 38 free women and children.39 After an uncomfortable voyage, during which three of the convict women died, the Woodman arrived in Sydney with the Douglass family all alive and well, to a relieved Joseph, on 25 June 1823.

By 1832, the Douglass family had between them 190 acres, comprising "Ivy Lodge" on the Heights, "Orrville" opposite and "Ardrey" (named after their old Scottish home at "Airdrie") nearby, and "Douglass Hill" was well named. Joseph and Mary were fast founding a dynasty, with four of their five older children married and three more children born in the colony. But the fledgling family seat was not to last. On 30 July 1832 Orr sold out to Samuel North for the very large sum of £52-10-0, probably to his father's chagrin.55 In November 1831 Orr had made an unwise marriage to Catherine Paxman, said to have been colonial-born in about 1807, and in 1828 living at Evan with Ezekiel Thurston as his "housekeeper".56 In 1830 Ezekiel Thurston had married Orr's sister Margaret so family tensions must have been interesting. Orr and Catherine moved to Sydney but by 1834 or earlier the marriage had failed. Catherine disappeared and Orr announced the separation in February 1834.57 Orr married again in 1839, presumably seven years after the disappearance of his first wife, to another local girl, Catherine Staples. After a brief period in Wilberforce he settled in Sydney and established a successful timber business at Douglass Siding, now Quakers Hill, Riverstone.58

By 1834 Joseph and Mary were in the boarding house business, in a property known as Ivy Lodge.. Amongst their guests was Sir John Young, Governor of NSW. Business picked up following the discovery of gold near Mudgee in 1851.

Mary Douglass died at Ivy Lodge on 21 December 1857, aged 75. After Mary's death Joseph lived with his youngest daughter Sarah and her husband Cuthbert Cowling, while son John and his wife Ellen managed Ivy Lodge. Ellen was herself the daughter of innkeeper Michael Keenan, late of Keenan's inn at Hassans Walls and then at Jews Creek near Ben Bullen on the Mudgee road, and so was an ideal person to carry on the high reputation of Ivy Lodge.

On 21 September 1865, at 83, Joseph died and was buried by Rev James Cameron at Kurrajong.





Family of Joseph Douglass
  Born Died Married
Joseph Douglass  1782 Co Down Ireland 21 Sep 1865 Kurrajong c1803 Co Down Ireland
m. Mary Orr Burgess c1782 Co Down
(dau. of John Burgess, farmer) 21 Dec 1857 Kurrajong  
1. Mary Jane c1806 Ireland or Scotland 1856 Richmond 1. 1825 Matthew Gibbons
2. 1855 Christopher Norris
2. Orr bp 1808 Troqueer parish, Kirkcudbright Scotland 1882 Sydney 1. 1831 Catherine Paxman
2. 1839 Catherine Staples
3. Eliza bp 1810 Blackshaw, Caerlaverock parish, Dumfries Scotland 1872 Surry Hills 1827 William Norman
4. James bp 1812 Blackshaw, Caerlaverock parish, Dumfries Scotland 1841 Kurrajong 1836 Sarah Sherwood
5. Margaret prob 1813 Airdree, Kirkbean parish, Kirkcudbright Scotland 1901 Sydney 1. 1830 Ezekiel Thurston
2. 1848 John McLeod
6. Joseph bp 1824 Castlereagh, Windsor parish 1894 Coates Creek Meranburn nr Molong 1849 Mary Elizabeth Howell
7. John Burgess 1826 Kurrajong 1904 Waterloo 1851 Ellen Keenan
8. Sarah 1829 Kurrajong 1866 Hargraves nr Mudgee 1850 Cuthbert Cowling





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