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.
LORDS BUSINESS INTERESTS
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
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 REAL ESTATE
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
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.