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Simeon Lord



Simeon Lord was born in the village of Todmorden in Yorkshire, England, on 28 January 1771. His parents were Simeon Lord and Ann Fielden. Much has been written about the Fielden family, and it is after their home in Yorkshire that Simeon renamed the farm he bought in Sydney, Dobroyde.


In 1790, Simeon was charged with the theft of some cloth, and proclaimed his innocence. He was found guilty on 22 April 1790, and sentenced to 7 years transportation to Australia. He landed in Sydney as part of the third fleet on board Atlantic, on 20 August 1791. The prisoners had embarked at Woolwich, and sailed from Portsmouth. Atlantic was the first ship to sail non-stop to Rio de Janeiro and then to Sydney. The passage took 146 days, and there were 18 deaths. On board were 220 male convicts, no female.


Simeon was luckier than most, as he had some money and was assigned on board to Captain Thomas Rowley, who encouraged him to invest part of his funds on the trip to Australia. Lord made a profit from this investment, and never looked back. In Sydney, he was again assigned to Rowley, assisting him in his business affairs, and learning how to make his own fortune. Lord was later assigned to a baker, Mrs Bligh, in the Rocks district of Sydney. By 1798 Lord was free man, and trading in his own right.


Lords business interests were many and varied. It seemed he was keen to enter into any business, which looked like it could make a profit in this new land, and although some ventures failed, many succeeded, making him one of the richest men in the colony. This drew him to the attention of some in authority who resented his success, and others, such as Governor Macquarie, who were prepared to reward him.




With the profits made from importing and selling goods on speculation, Lord was able to go into business for himself. In 1798 he was acting as an agent for the Captains of the ships arriving in Sydney Harbour, and on 18 January 1801, he was appointed a public auctioneer. E.C.Rowland lists several interesting auctions held by Lord. These include the salvaged cargo of the wrecked French schooner Surprise, which had been engaged in sealing in 1803 on Cape Barren Island. He also sold a property near South Head, purchased by Henry Browne Hayes for 100. This property was later to become Vaucluse. Another property was bought by William Cox, of Clarendon, which was later sold again to Samuel Marsden. He also sold Governor Macquaries household goods when he left for England. (As a Ramsay it is interesting to note here that Dr David Ramsay was surgeon on the ship Surrey, on which Governor Macquarie travelled home.)


In 1800 Simeon Lord was among a group of settlers who petitioned Governor Hunter to be allowed to buy goods direct from the ships in Harbour, rather than through the NSW Corps. Hunter gave permission, as he also was in the hands of the corps who could regulate prices and availability of goods. He was also handicapped by the restrictions on trade with America and France, and sought ways to overcome the limits set by the East India Charter. Lords dealings with American trader Captain Pendleton were an attempt to circumnavigate these rules, but the venture met a sad end for the Americans if not for Lord.


Lord fell into disfavour with Governor King, who looked suspiciously on Lords attempts to trade with a French company. In 1806, Lord applied to Governor Bligh for permission to trade with China. He wanted to take his vessel the King George to the Fiji Islands, load it with sandalwood, and then take it to China to trade for goods, which would then be returned to the colony. This would lead to cheaper goods being imported than currently, but Bligh refused the request. The goods would need to be brought back to Australia, and then shipped to China on board vessels authorised to trade with that country. When Lord applied to Bligh for permission to load cargo directly from the vessel Commerce onto another Ship owned by his company, the Sydney Cove. Bligh refused, and charged Lord and his partners Kable and Underwood with writing improperly to the Governor. They were sentenced to one months imprisonment, and a large fine. Bligh was later censured by the Colonial Office for the whole proceeding, but had made an enemy out of Simeon Lord. In 1808, Lord was a signatory to a petition to Colonel Johnson to arrest Governor Bligh. This was the only time Lord stood in agreement with John Macarthur, whose exclusionist views were in opposition to the emancipist.


In 1810 Lord was appointed a Justice of the Peace and Magistrate for the District of Sydney.  The appointment of Lord and other emancipists to the magistracy led to more dissatisfaction from the free settlers and those born in the colony.


In 1818 Lord, along with fellow traders including Macarthur, petitioned Governor Macquarie for permission to trade with the East. Macquarie granted permission on a temporary basis, but this led to the break down of the East India Companys monopoly.




On 14 February 1800, Lord became a ship owner. He purchased a Spanish prize ship, the brig of 170 tons, Anna Josepha with Hugh Meehan. In 1801 she sailed for the Cape of Good Hope carrying a cargo of coal, probably the first to leave Australia. Two years later Lord launched the Marcia, built at his dock. She was employed in the coastal trade between Bass Strait, the Hawkesbury and the Coal River. After Matthew Flinders sent word to Sydney about some men who were shipwrecked, and sheltering on Three Kings Island (should this be King Island?) , Lord sent the Austrolabe to pick them up.


In 1806 Lord owned with Kable and Underwood, the King George, which was fishing and sealing in the islands to the south. It was also locally built, and the first vessel of over 100 tons to be launched in Australia. Other ships owned or leased by lord included the James Hay, and the Spring. He chartered the Boyd, which was carrying 12,000 worth of sealskins on its last ill-fated voyage.

He also suffered losses when, in 1817, the Brothers was lost on its way to Dalrymple, and when the brig Trial was taken by convicts from Sydney and wrecked near Port Stephens at what is now Trial Bay.


Cargoes carried by Simeon Lord included coal, cedar, sandalwood and other timbers, as well as seal skins, oil and pearl shell. On the return voyages, Lord imported articles such as harness, cloth and clothing, rum, hats, corks, cheese and pickles.




Simeon Lord was always on the look out for new commercial interests, and tried many which failed as well as many which were successful. One of his early ventures was in the fledgling industry of pearl fishing. Another was in the establishment of a flax industry. Lord, Francis Williams, Thomas Kent and Alexander Riley petitioned Governor Macquarie for permission to send the brig Experiment to New Zealand with seeds and men to produce flax, which would be harvested and returned to the colony. Macquarie agreed, and also granted the group a 14 year monopoly on the industry. Disaster struck however, when the news of the massacre of the crew of the Boyd reached Sydney. Kent and Riley withdrew from the venture, and Lord convinced Andrew Thompson to join him instead. In 1810 the ship was sent to New Zealand, but the captain and crew were worried about remaining in the Bay of Islands, and only collected four pounds of flax. The venture was abandoned for the time being, but resurrected again in 1812, when Lord floated a company with 182 subscribers. News that the venture had been approved by His Majestys Ministers, but without the monopoly, led to the scheme being abandoned.


Rope making was another industry being carried out by Lord, who employed several Bengal Indians making rope from Indian flax at his factory. John Hutchinson, a forger and amateur chemist who arrived under sentence in 1812, encouraged Lords interest in the manufacture of dyes for cloth, pottery and glass. Hutchinson expanded his industry to include tanning leather from bark. He devised a carding machine, a wire drawing machine, and methods for making soap, paint and white paper. Lord withdrew his support of Hutchinson as he constantly demanded funds for the development of his inventions, and claimed that he was rarely sober.


In February 1812 Lord applied to Governor Macquarie to commence iron ore mining operations in Van Diemens Land at Port Dalrymple. This was granted for one year, but Lord did not apply to extend.  Lord had established a branch of his warehouse in William Street, Launceston, under the charge of his son, Simeon. In 1828, he asked his son in law, Dr David Ramsay, who was on the island, to look into the affairs of the business.


In 1919 Lord backed a successful business enterprise to extract tannin wattle and soda from Tasmanian seaweed, a project devised by Thomas Kent, who had joined Lord in the flax venture in 1810.


Lords most successful business was his woollen mills at Botany. The making of cloth was first carried out at Lords house in Sydney, but moved to the edge of a stream in Botany Bay in 1815. He was able to supply coarse cloths, blankets and flannels. In 1816 he wrote to Governor Macquarie proposing to supply the Government with superior cloth. The factory continued to produce cloth until 1856, when the Government resumed the land. A lawsuit followed when Mary Lord, nee Hyde, widow of Simeon, took action against the government for compensation for loss of the use of the water in the creek. Damages were awarded for the loss of land, machinery and buildings, but a further appeal to the Privy Council awarded 15,660 damages.




Lords first grant of land was one acre and seven perches leased to him by Governor king. This was in the area now known as Macquarie Place. Governor Foveaux converted it to freehold in February 1809, with a quit rent of 2/6. By this time Lord had constructed a dwelling house, extensive store and other substantial buildings. The house, which was proclaimed to be one of the best in the colony, was demolished in 1908. It was from his Commission Warehouse in High Street that lord sold his goods, supplying spirits, salt, flour, wheat, maize and pork to the Government. In 1804 he was a supplier to the orphanage, and his stocks included panes of glass, soaps, tea and ink.


After Lord moved to Botany, the White House, as it was known,  was occupied by John Henry Black, Lords stepson, and then became a boarding house in the late 18830s, the Star Hotel in the 1850s, and professional offices in 1883. It was eventually taken over by the Bank of NSW.


At Botany Lord built another house, known as Banks House. He lived here after establishing his mills in 1815, and died here in 1840.


In 1811, Macquarie offered Lord a portion of land near the Customs House, in exchange for half an acre of his land in Macquarie Place to enable the laying out of a park. This was a gentlemans agreement, and when Macquarie was leaving, Lord asked him to put it in writing. When Lord asked Governor Brisbane for formal recognition of his ownership, he found it was also required for public use. Lord was offered an equivalent amount of land, but did not receive this until after arbitration. Eventually Lord agreed to accept compensation in the form of 6562/10/- in cash and 17,813 acres of land, valued at 4/- per acre. In 1828 Lord was granted land near Cowra, Canowindra, Crookwell, Orange, Blayney, Penrith, Kanimbla Valley and in the County of Cumberland.


On the Orange property at Narrambla Vale, stands Lords Mill, erected by Simeon Lord, or his son George Lord for Simeon. Convicts provided the man-power to run this mill. The tall chimney, which stands beside the mill, was added when the then owner, J.A Templar, added a steam plant in 1850. Orange Showground also stands on land owned by Lord.


Lords land holdings included

The Brighton Estate, granted in 1816, where the present suburb of Enfield stands

Sunning Hill Farm, purchased from Ensign Bayley and given to Sarah Lord as her dowry on her marriage to Dr David Ramsay

600 acres at Minto

600 acres at Botany, on which the mill was built, and Lords house, Banks House.

135 acres at Botany, the grant of E.Redman, which Lord bought for his wife

The Townson property at Kogarah, which Lord bought in 1812.

In Tasmania, a farm at Coal River (Richmond), and land at Avoca on St Pauls River, intended for Simeon Junior, and 640 acres in Cornwallis County.
Read about Simeon Lord on the Australian Dictionary of Biography web site.

Simeon Lord was originally buried in the Sandhills Cemetery, Devonshire Street in Sydney. In 1901, the land was resumed by the Government, and the remains moved to various cemeteries, but the majority were relocated to Bunnerong Cemetery at Botany. The headstones lay unattended for many years, but in 1972 a Pioneer Park was set up, and the legible headstones were erected as a memorial to the pioneers of Sydney. The remaining headstones were preserved as examples of the stone mason’s art of the time.


The vault of Simeon Lord was relocated to the Pioneer Park. The photos here show the vault before it’s removal from Devonshire Street, and in its new location.

See http://users.tpg.com.au/shammell/old-bury.htm


The inscription on the vault is as follows:



Of Macquarie Place

And late of Bank’s House, Botany

Died 29th Jnauary 1840 aged 69 years

Also Edward Simeon BLACK, second son of

John Henry Black, cashier of the Bank of New South Wales

Died 23rd September 1846 aged 9 years 1 month and 1 day

Also Louisa Maria Black, second daughter of the above

John Henry Black, died 11th October 1846

Aged 13 years 9 months and 3 days


Information about Bunnerong Cemetery can be found at 


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