In April 1821 a young Scotsman DANIEL MACLAINE ROSS made formal application to travel to the Colony of New South Wales as a Free Settler. He also wrote to the Colonial Office applying for a grant of land. He left Scotland in June 1821 sailing on the "Royal George" with the Governor Elect of New South Wales, Sir Thomas Brisbane, who had been sent to relieve Governor Macquarie - a relative of Daniel Maclaine Ross. They arrived in Sydney 6th November 1821.
On 15th February 1822, "a promise" of a grant of land of 1000 acres in the COUNTRY OF CAMDEN was made by Sir Thomas Brisbane to Daniel Maclaine Ross - that grant to be known as "Scarbright Park" was not fulfilled till October 1830, but that did not prevent Maclaine Ross from selling conditionally in March 1824 to another Scot, Dr William Panton.
The solicitor involved in the conveyancing was William Charles Wentworth - Australia's greatest statesman who in his diary noted the fee for the transfer as "Twenty Spanish Gold Dollars".
Within a year Dr. Panton had another medico on his eastern boundary - Dr. Elyard - who had served in the British Fleet with Nelson at Trafalgar. Dr. Panton renamed the property "Monellier Park" and during the 12 years he held the property several famous explorers like Berraller, Sturt, Stephenson and Cunningham passed through the property on their historical travels.
In 1876 a Sydney solicitor, William Barker, purchased the property. Mr Barker had come to Australia with his family at the age of 15. He started work as an office boy for the firm of James Norton, Sydney's leading solicitor. In due course he qualified as a solicitor and eventually joined Norton in partnership.
In 1858 Barker had a client who approached him for advice. The client did not take too kindly to the advice given. He kept a diary, which is now lodged in Sydney's Mitchell Library. The following is an extract dated November 4th 1858. "Up at 5am - an hour at Greek - Went to Sydney and called on Mr Norton who told me he had consulted his partner, Mr Barker, on the matter of my going to the Bar". The gentleman in question had just been declared bankrupt and was looking around for a new occupation. Mr Barker was called in and told the visitor he did not think he had the mental qualifications to go the Bar, besides which he felt the bankruptcy might disqualify him. The diary continued, "Well, though I have not the stupendous powers of mind of a Norton or a Barker we shall see. Went straight from Norton and ordered a Ten Guinea Wig".
The man who wrote the diary was Sir Henry Parkes - The Father of Federation. Barker and Parkes later became great friends. In December 1876 Barker wrote to Parkes and said "at one time I thought you to be a dangerous man, and now it is my considered opinion that you are now our most safe, and one of our most consistent statesmen. Beyond all question our ablest statesman".
ORIGIN OF NAME OF PROPERTY
William Barker was reputed to be descendent of Geoffrey de Mandeville, the 1st Earl of Sussex, contemporary of Robert Mowbray. "Mowbray" is the name of an English Baronial Family. The name was derived from a place called Montbray near St. Lo in Normandy. It was founded by Geoffrey de Montbray, Bishop of Constance who was a statesman and principal adviser to William the Conqueror. After the Great Victory of 1066 his reward was a gift of 280 manors in 12 counties of England. A descendent, Roger, changed the name to Mowbray and was one of the 25 barons appointed to enforce the Magna Carta.
The male line of the Mowbray's became extinct when John Mowbray died. In 1476 the titles and estates passing to the Howards.
While the Barkers were on holiday in England in 1877 - a year after they purchased the property - the House of Lords announced that Baron Stourton had successfully claimed the title of Baron Mowbray. On his return to Australia, William Barker renamed the property "Mowbray Park". The present homestead was built by his son, William Manderville Barker about 1884. He bought out an architect from England to design the house, which took some years to build. In the late 1890's he added the North Eastern wing, which included a Ballroom.
In July 1905 the private road from Mowbray Park to Picton via Thirlmere, which was constructed at the direction and expense of Manderville Barker, was given to the Government and officially gazetted in July 1905.
In September of that year the property was sold to Captain Frederick Waley who was awarded the C.B.E. In 1920 and knighted in 1923. The Barkers and the Waley's spent a considerable amount of money - approximately $2,000,000 in today's currency - in developing the property. After World War One, Sir Frederick and Lady Waley allowed the Red Cross to use the property for treatment of "shell-shocked soldiers" and in March 1920 decided to donate the property to the Commonwealth Government.
The Governor General, Sir Ronald Munro-Fergusson, at a ceremony held in the grounds of Mowbray Park on 3rd March 1920, officially accepted the gift. The Waleys remained on the management Committee of what became known as "Waley Home". By the end of 1924 the Repatriation Department had no longer the number of patients required to justify its use as a Convalescent Hospital and the property was sold in 1925 to B.H.P. Pty Ltd - Australis's largest company. They used Mowbray Park as a local headquarters for their drilling operations in the Shire of Wollondilly.
B.H.P. Pty Ltd sold Mowbray Park in 1928 to the "Dr Barnardo's Homes Organisation" - its President, Sir Arthur Rickards having tried unsuccessful for years to purchase the property. Renovations and extensions were undertaken - the Ballroom became the Dining Room and the stables, a recreation hall and on 20th November 1929 the Governor, Sir Dudley de Chair attended the opening. Later the horse stables were converted into a Chapel, Consecrated by the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney. In 1939 a new Cottage was erected on the south side of the homestead. This was named the "Millions Club after Sir Arthur Rickard's Club - which had provided 50% of the money to build it. During World War II at the request of the C.S.I.R.O., the first Opium Poppies produced in any great quantity in Australia were grown on five acres of land at Mowbray Park. This helped greatly with the supply of morphine required for our overseas troops.
In 1959 the Directors of the "Barnardos Homes" realised that insufficient British children were arriving in Australia and interest in life on the land was declining so, reluctantly, it was decided to sell the property. The new owners, a pastoral company, sold out in 1970 to a developer, Emanuel Margolin. He in turn only had the property for a couple of years. From 1959 to 1972 very little development occurred at Mowbray Park.
Dr. Couch and his wife Margaret bought the farm in 1972 and set about establishing ride camps as well as running a cattle stud. Dr. Couch and Margaret have now owned Mowbray Park longer than any previous owner since 1822.
From 1993 extensive improvements were undertaken. Including the installation of a Commercial Kitchen, air conditioned dining hall , conference room, observation deck and restoration of the original Homestead . In May 2007 Dr Couch's son in law and daughter (Blair & Jacqui Briggs) along with three of Jacqui's brothers bought the farm stay business and the property lease. Both the farm tourism and farm operations are managed by Blair & Jacqui. An extensive program of improvements has occurred since their take over providing an enhanced farm experience for both domestic and overseas visitors. More emphasis is now placed on agricultural output which has the property echoing it's illustrious past. Sadly Dr. Couch passed away October 2009. Mowbray Park, as Dr. Couch wished remains a family run business that continues to delight visiting families year after year.
We acknowledge the efforts of John Ruffels & Paul Hotchkis in compiling this historical narrative.
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