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  • ID: I4150
  • Name: William James SINCLAIR 1
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 05 NOV 1844 in Sydney, NSW
  • Burial: 27 MAY 1930 Bora Ground "Woodstock", Bostobrick, NSW
  • Reference Number: 1498
  • Death: 22 MAY 1930 in Sth Grafton-Senility, NSW
  • Note:

    William James Sinclair's grave is to be found on the property Roslyn, 21.7 kms out on the Tyringham Rd on the right hand side. Go past the homestead (ask permission to visit the grave) for 500 metres & take the right hand road. Park your car near the small dam & walk up the hill to the fence. Turn left at the fence and walk to the top of the hill where the grave will be found.

    Information Source: Birth & Death Certificate.

    Early Dorrigo Memoirs of Mr W.J. Sinclair the districts oldest resident.
    Taken from "Don Dorrigo Gazette" August 28, 1926

    "Tyringham First Exploited" By 'Old Hand'

    "In the early days cedar was put to many uses by our forefathers, and was one of the most sought-after timbers. High prices, or what were then high prices in comparison with those paid for other timbers, tempted bushmen to penetrate almost inaccessible places in search of cedar, and the ring of the feller's axe and the monotonous grind of the pitmen's saw were heard on the Dorrigo many years before any thought was given to settlement in the scrub areas.

    The cedar getter had a hard and adventurous life, far away from civilisation. If he lopped off a toe with his razor-edged axe, or gashed a foot, or met with any other mishap, he had to endure the agony of bush doctoring and wait patiently until he was well enough again to resume work. If his injuries were too big a job for the bush physician or surgeon to tackle a long trek to Armidale to a qualified practitioner faced him.

    But the cedar getters were as tough as nails, and being constituted of the right grain they bore up against all trials and vicissitudes with a stoicism that gave no outward evidence of their sufferings. It is on record that one man was carried out of the Little Plain scrub on a stretcher to the Guy Fawkes, with a broken leg. He was taken from there to Armidale by more expeditious means of locomotion, but he had to endure the pain from the fracture for the best part of a week before a surgeon could be reached. "There was not a whimper from him during the whole of the journey, which was through a dense scrub and over rough country for many miles. And the marvel of it was that this hardy bushman suffered no after ill-effects. He had a bit of a limp, but otherwise he suffered no impediment; and came back to his job at Paddy's Plain with a cheerful countenance and a couple of bottles of rum, a beverage that was worth its weight in gold to the cedar getter on occasions.

    The first scrubs exploited on Dorrigo were those in the neighborhood of Tyringham. There were several very rich patches there, especially behind where Mr Cotmore's house now stands and in the Glenferneigh Scrub, which was thrown open to soldier settlers a few years ago.

    Mr Sinclair first saw Tyringham about 1855, a year after he came to the Guy Fawkes from Armidale. He informs me that as far as his knowledge serves him, the cedar getters had been operating there for about six or seven years before he came to the district. At any rate, as a boy, like any other boy, he was greatly interested in the process of tree-felling and he recollects clearly the first giant he witnessed toppling down in the scrub and crushing everything in its wake at the rear of Mr Cotmore's. "Despite the fact that cedar getters had been on the job for a period of six or seven years, there were still hundreds of huge trees in the vicinity, and axeman and pit-sawyer were still in the locality when Karl Sinclair had attained his manhood. All the cedar in those days was taken to Armidale, where it found ready sale. A hotelkeeper named Gannon, was a big buyer, and it is Mr Sinclair's belief that all the cedar that went from Tyringham passed through his hands.

    At that time rations were sometimes difficult to obtain. The prices were very high, on account of the heavy freight. The Rocky Creek gold diggings were then booming and in consequence the cedar getters at times had to deny themselves what we today regard as essential commodities. On occasions a good supply of flour and salt would come along, but probably very little sugar, and vice-versa, but the cedar getter would take the good with the bad, and live in hopes of the larder being replenished the next trip. "The boys of the bush were not pessimists, and so long as they had sufficient 'grub' to satisfy the wants of the inner man, no matter what the bill of fare was, they were a contented lot. In a number of cases rum and 'black twist were placed on a higher Pinnacle than the ordinary eatables, and when a shortage of these loomed, there were generally a few grunts of dissatisfaction.

    Mr Sinclair remembers a few boys and girls in the neighborhood in his initial years on the Guy Fawkes and Tyringham. They too were hardened to the conditions, and very seldom did any of them suffer any illness. The black sugar, was as thick as molasses, and brownish-looking flour were the main substance of their daily rations. Of course there was any amount of beef (mostly corned) and as game was most abundant, the scrubs being literally alive with turkeys, pigeons, and other birds, as well as wallabies, etc, there was, a severe shortage of meat. "There were always supplies of the real Ainkum castor oil on hand. It was hardly a liquid, but it was superior to the oil they Designate "castor oil' procurable today. Occasionally someone found it necessary to bring down the oil bottle from the shelf and partake of its contents. It meant a sure cure, but the after-effects were always remembered. "Castor oil of the bygone days had a habit of 'repeating' itself and the 'repeat' was worse than the 'swallow', which was bad enough in the conscience, for one had to virtually chew it until it sank down the throat into the innards, to grapple with the complaint, which necessitated the dose.

    Mr Sinclair is not sure of the name of the man who felled the first cedar tree in the district, but he informs me that it was the late Mr William Freeman who took away the first load of that valuable timber. It went to, Armidale and was sold to the hotelkeeper Gannon mentioned above. We complain today of the rough roads of the district, but they are racing tracks compared to that over which Mr Freeman drove his bullock team. There was only a defined track through the scrub and bush from Tyringham to Guy Fawkes, and when it rained - -Which it did frequently - it was almost an impossible task to get through with even an empty waggon.

    From Guy Fawkes to Armidale was not so bad, for after the Snowies were passed the soil was of a harder nature and did not give under the weight of a wagon. But it was straight up and down, in places one in six, and the bullocky had to know his job well. Very often wagons overturned precipitating the loads of cedar down hills and into creeks to the accompaniment of blood-curdling flows of original adjectives from the bullockies, who often would have to get out of the moss single-handed. I have often heard it remarked that a bullocky's occupation is a dreary monotony, but I'm quite satisfied that in the early days they encountered many rewards.

    Cedar getters pushed through from the west and penetrated the Dorrigo, or, as it was then called, the 'Bostobrick Scrub', further. Between Tyringham and Paddy's Plain (the latter name had not been given to the locality at the time I'm referring to) there were pockets where cedar was obtained, but Paddy's Plain was a regular harvest for those who had come to make their 'fortunes'. "Among the first white men to penetrate this scrub from the west were Mr John Williamson and the late Messrs Dan Coghlan and Mulligan. It delighted the eyes and hearts of these three stalwarts to see giant cedars towering above the scrub in every direction.

    Some of the trees ran up for a hundred feet or more before reaching the first branches. In one small patch, I am told, no less than 70 cedar trees were counted. Other men followed the pioneers into the scrub and soon there were pit saws moving in every direction. Little Plain (North Dorrigo) became the township of the plateau and remained the only settlement between Tyringham and Bellingen for years. I mentioned above that the late Mr William Freeman took the first load of cedar from Tyringham to Armidale. It was the same hardy old pioneer, Mr Sinclair informs me, who piloted the first vehicle through to Grafton. Many people are under the misapprehension that a road was constructed from Grafton to Armidale many years before Thunderbolts time. As a matter of fact there was only a bridle track in existence when Mr Sinclair arrived in the district.

    He remembers the late Mr Freeman setting out with a dray and several horses with a load of eight bales of wool for Grafton. A small party accompanied Mr Freeman, who managed to get through the rough country and reach the Nymboida after an arduous and perilous journey. In innumerable places tracks had to be cut to enable the dray to get through. After that trip the track was improved, and it says much for Mr Freeman's bushcraft that when a road was constructed a few years later the surveyors did not deviate a great deal from his route.

    WILLIAM JAMES SINCLAIR (1844 - 1930)
    update by Robyn Higham

    William (known as Bill) was born in Sydney on 5 November 1844. He was the only surviving child of James Sinclair, a Scottish soldier who had come to the colony with the 99th Regiment on convict escort duty, and his Irish wife Elizabeth (Harvey).

    After the death of his father in 1850 it is reported that his mother, Elizabeth Sinclair, was employed by the military. Here she met Michael Clogher, a "-ticket-of -leave' man who had become a policeman, under military supervision, in Sydney. Clogher's duties took him to the then settled parts of the state and eventually to Armidale as lock-up keeper. (ii)

    After leaving the Police Force Clogher became a stockman for Major Rigby on Guy Fawkes Station on the Dorrigo Plateau. This was the first place on the Plateau to be settled. Clogher then took over the lease of Bostobrick from Mr McKenzie. The family settled here. between Nymboida and Little Murray Rivers, and engaged in rearing cattle and cedar hauling operations. (i)

    Young Bill said he was 10 years old when he first came to the New England area. In his Early Memoirs published in the Dorrigo Gazette in 1926 he says he remembered a few boys and girls in the neighborhood in his initial years on the Guy Fawkes and Tyringham. They were all hardened to the conditions, and very seldom did any of them suffer any illness. The black sugar, treacle as thick as molasses, and brownish-looking flour were the main substance of their daily rations. As there was any amount of beef (mostly corned) and game was abundant, the scrub being literally alive with turkeys, pigeons, and other birds, as well as wallabies, etc. there never was a shortage of meat. There were always supplies of the real dinkum castor oil on hand .... It meant a sure cure, but the after effects were always remembered. (1)

    He had to mind cattle by himself often at night or look after the bullock drays in wild and lonely places and often in the neighborhood of wild aborigines. He often camped in the hollow of a log or on top of one to avoid dingoes. His mother kept a savage bulldog called Monkey at Bostobrick. No one but Mrs Clogher could put a hand on Monkey and the life of mother and son were saved on several occasions by him. (iii)

    Clogher, who was known as a hard man, held the Bostobrick Run for about eight years, after which he sold the lease to E.S. Edwards from the lnverell district. After a rather eventful life Clogher left the Dorrigo for Nymboida. (i)

    Bill Sinclair however remained at Bostobrick and commenced business on his own account as a timber hauler where cedar and rosewood were in demand. (i) As he grew to manhood he identified strongly with his Scottish father and took his name James as his second name. He was in his 23rd year when he married Esther Edwards of Bostobrick Station on 10th July 1867, according to the rites of the Presbyterian Church. Esther, aged 19, was the oldest child of Edward Edwards and his wife Sarah Ann Ward.

    Bill worked on Bostobrick Station as stockman and drove a bullock team for his father-in-law for some time. He later drove a team for John Ward of Nymboida. He purchased his first team of bullocks, with bullock dray complete, from Ward. In the course of time he prospered until he owned three teams. He drove one himself and hired drivers for the other two. (iii)

    His rough training at an early age had developed in him character and self-reliance. He knew the country
    intimately, became a fast and fearless rider in the bush, and an expert bushman and cattleman. He joined the ranks of the select few horsemen who rode buckjumpers with grace and poise, and just couldn't be thrown. (iii)

    When his eldest son Arthur was 10 years old and too sick with rheumatic fever to sit on a horse, he carried him to Grafton in front of him, a journey of about seventy miles, and saved his life. Arthur lived to an old age. (iii & iv)

    In 1881 W.J. Sinclair selected Donnybrook at Bald Hills, near Guy Fawkes and Coutts Water, and lived on this property for 16 years. The house was on the eastern side of Coutts Water about a mile down from the Ebor-Deer Vale Road and on a hill over-looking Coutts Water and not far up from the Donnybrook Falls. (v)

    Sadly his wife Esther died from peritonitis on 10th June 1889 after suffering from a bowel obstruction for eight days. She was 41 years old and left a large young family. Two infants, a male born in 1869 and George born in 1876, had predeceased her. She was survived by a daughter and nine sons. On her death certificate they are Arthur 21, Herbert 18, William 16, Annie 14, Edwin 12, Ernest 10, Harold 8, Francis 6, Sidney 4 and Clarence 2 years.

    A cairn of stones marked Esther's grave at the bottom end of the garden at Donnybrook. (ii) & in recent years a memorial plaque has been added by her family.

    The following year, on 3rd September 1890, William James Sinclair was married to Jane Hiscox by the Catholic priest at Guy Fawkes. Jane was now almost 25 years old and William in his 46th year. The witnesses were two of his children, William and Annie Sinclair.

    The story has been told in the family that everyone thought Jane was mad to marry an older man as he would die and leave her with all the children. However, she would have been well aware of the sad plight of her new family, having come from a similar situation herself. Jane was the sixth of John and Bridget Hiscox's 14 surviving children and had been born at Tilbuster, via Armidale. Her mother, who had come to the colony as an Irish immigrant, died leaving a large young family when Jane was 13 years of age. Her father then married the widow from the next property.

    William James Sinclair had a further 11 children by his second wife Jane. Selling Donnybrook in 1897 he selected Cattle Camp Swamp at Pinch Creek, near Tyringham, and renamed the property Roslyn after his father's home in Scotland. They lived beside the old road below Perrett's Pinch and as his boys grew up they drove the teams for him. (ii)

    At some time he had selected a block at Paddy's Plain, near North Dorrigo, for the valuable cedar it contained. He continued cedar hauling in the summer and cattle mustering in the winter. (iii)

    Baden, one of his youngest sons, was born at Roslyn in 1901. In his autobiography he said as far back as he could first remember his father still had a horse team and a bullock team. He had built a large storeroom at Roslyn and the teams would bring half a ton of sugar, one ton of flour, a case of currants, chest of tea and a cask of treacle. Sometimes the Indian Hawkers would call or the Assyrians - that meant a change of diet, lollies and tin fish.

    Their mother always had plenty of homemade jams, pickles, preserved fruit etc. William kept, up to, twenty hives of bees so, with the home slaughter of a beast once a month, and a sheep in between times, they didn't fare too badly. All the boys learnt to milk cows and ride horses at an early age.

    When he was quite young his parents took and reared two young Coghlan lads who had lost their mother, and every meal there would be 18 of them sit at the great long cedar table to do justice to whatever fare was going.

    Baden said times were tough enough in his young days but not as tough as in his father's earlier years at Bostobrick. There were no bridges or doctors then.

    They had many happy days and some sad ones. As children they hunted for wild flowers and roamed hills and along the rivers and creek banks and sometimes ventured some distance into the rain forest. An older brother Harold, aged 24 years, was accidentally killed in 1905 and was buried at Roslyn. (iv)

    Bill's stepfather, Michael Clogher, had come to live with them after Clogher's wife died in 1907. He was then 99 years old.

    His son Clarrie selected a large area on Pinch Creek, adjoining his father's home, in 1908. He called this property Woodstock.

    Dr George Gatenby made his first house call to attend Jane Sinclair before she died on 6th January 1911. (vi) She was 45 years old and had suffered from heart disease. She was buried at Roslyn the following day and was survived by her children Esther 19 years, Eileen 18, Raymond 17, Noreen 15, Cyril 14, Dorothy 13, Clair 12, Mildred 11, Baden & Nina 9 and Karl 7 years.

    Bill Sinclair was 66 years old when his second wife died. He kept the home together for some years until the family had grown up and were making their own way in the world. (iii)

    Sometime after his wife's death the school, which had been built previously on Roslyn, closed for want of pupils as most of the family were passed school age. The four youngest children were then sent to friends or relatives so they could go to school. Nina went to an aunt in Armidale and Mildred to a friend of their parents. Baden and Karl went to Esther Cartmill, their married sister, at Nymboida for five years. The older children stayed at home and helped on the farm. (iv)

    During World War 1, four of his sons served overseas. They were Clarence, from his first marriage, who was killed in France in 1918; and Raymond, Cyril and Clair from his second marriage. Also killed in France was his son-in-law Charles Parker Kirby.

    The boys arrived home in August 1919 and took jobs at whatever was offering at the time. Soon after this W.J. Sinclair sold Roslyn and retired from active life. He moved next door to Woodstock which the youngest boys, Baden and Karl, had inherited from their brother Clarrie. . Woodstock was home for the family for a number of years. Their father lived here until 1928, when Baden married, and he moved to South Grafton.

    After spending most of his life in the New England area William James Sinclair passed away in Grafton on 22 May 1930, aged 85. It was his wish that he be buried on the Bora Ground on his son's property Woodstock at Bostobrick. This ground had always fascinated him where as a young lad he had watched the aborigines perform many corroborees and initiation ceremonies. (iii)

    He was survived by 19 of his children. Four sons had predeceased him, being two infants, Harold and Clarence. He was a fine father to his family and a good friend to all. He was also known as an expert bushman and cattleman and above all, one of nature's gentlemen. (iii)

    References:- i. Red Cedar, Our Heritage by Alex S. Gaddes 1990. ISBN 0 604 02322 5

    ii. The Settlement of Guy Fawkes & Dorrigo by Eric Fahey 1976. ISBN 0 909 22802 7 iii. The Don Dorrigo Gazette - 23 November 1945 iv. 'The Joys & The Sadness' an autobiography by Baden Sinclair v. E. P. Gatenby 'The Settlement of Meldrum Downs'

    Father: James (JAMIE) SINCLAIR b: 21 APR 1811 in Paisley, Renfrew, Scotland
    Mother: Elizabeth HARVEY b: 1820 in Downpatrick, Ireland

    Marriage 1 Esther EDWARDS b: 03 JUN 1848 in "Gragin", MacIntyre River, Warialda, NSW
    • Married: 10 JUL 1867 in Bostobrick, NSW
    1. Has Children Arthur John SINCLAIR b: 1868 in Dorrigo, NSW
    2. Has No Children SINCLAIR (UNAMED MALE) b: 22 JUN 1869 in Orara, NSW
    3. Has Children Herbert Henry SINCLAIR b: 05 MAY 1870 in "Donnybrook", Bald Hills, near Armidale, NSW
    4. Has No Children William James SINCLAIR b: 05 MAY 1870 in "Donnybrook", Bald Hills, near Armidale, NSW
    5. Has Children William James SINCLAIR b: 14 JUL 1872
    6. Has Children Sarah Anne Elizabeth (ANNIE) SINCLAIR b: 10 JUN 1874 in Bostobrick, NSW
    7. Has No Children George SINCLAIR b: 02 MAR 1876 in Roslyn, Bostobrick, NSW
    8. Has Children Edwin Ward SINCLAIR b: 10 APR 1877 in Dorrigo, NSW
    9. Has Children Ernest Crisp SINCLAIR b: 1879
    10. Has No Children Harold George Edward SINCLAIR b: 1881 in Dorrigo, NSW
    11. Has Children Francis Gerald SINCLAIR b: 1883 in Dorrigo, NSW
    12. Has Children Sidney Gordon SINCLAIR b: 29 JAN 1885 in Wollomombi, NSW
    13. Has No Children Clarence Frederick SINCLAIR b: 1887 in Tyringham, Via Dorrigo, NSW

    Marriage 2 Jane HISCOX b: 25 OCT 1865 in McIntyre Flat near Armidale, NSW
    • Married: 03 SEP 1890 in Guy Fawkes, NSW
    1. Has Children Esther SINCLAIR b: 1891 in Dorrigo, NSW
    2. Has Children Eileen (ILEENE) SINCLAIR b: 1892 in Dorrigo, NSW
    3. Has Children Raymond SINCLAIR b: 06 SEP 1893 in Guy Fawkes, NSW
    4. Has Children Noreine SINCLAIR (JACKIE) b: 1895 in Guy Fawkes, NSW
    5. Has Children Cyril SINCLAIR b: 26 APR 1896 in Guy Fawkes, NSW
    6. Has Children Dorothy SINCLAIR b: 08 AUG 1897 in Dorrigo, NSW
    7. Has Children Clair SINCLAIR b: 24 AUG 1898 in Dorrigo, NSW
    8. Has Children Mildred SINCLAIR b: 1900 in Dorrigo, NSW
    9. Has Children Baden SINCLAIR b: 24 APR 1901 in "Roslyn", Bostobrick, Dorrigo, NSW
    10. Has Children Nina SINCLAIR b: 24 APR 1901 in Bostobrick, NSW
    11. Has Children Karl SINCLAIR b: 03 SEP 1903 in House of J Lavender Bogey Ck, Bellinger River, NSW

    1. Title: Blay.FTW
      Source Medium: Other

      Text: Date of Import: Sep 23, 2005
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