Looking back on “Looking for Jacob” – and Surry Hills 1900

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… and why would I like a “Time Team” dig around it? It runs from Wentworth Avenue Surry Hills to Foy Lane, where I took this photo…

See :-Surry Hills: Looking for Jacob 12: Zeroing in

That was posted on my new photoblog earlier this week.

You will recall that we “found” Jacob, my convict ancestor, or we at least found the part of Sydney where he is known to have resided in the second half of the 1830s through early 1840s. By the 1860s the family had moved on – Braidwood, Picton… My grandfather was born in Picton in 1867. Him I remember. Just. He died in 1948. His brother William I remember more clearly, because he survived well into the 1950s. That William – son of William, the son of William, the son of Jacob – was still riding horses and ploughing his orchard almost to the year of his death. I remember his house, with its (to citified me) rather magic rural air, and tales of this one and that one, and timber getting, and horse breaking, and blacksmithing, and bullock teams… And Sao biscuits with tomato and cheese…

The tales never went back more than about one generation…

I think I can see why, for several reasons. Sometimes my father would mutter about the Old Testament curse on “the sins of the fathers”… Perhaps too, given what the area they had left behind in Surry Hills had become by 1900, you will see why it didn’t figure in the stories… Anyway, it was not part of my grandparents’ generation’s personal memories. They had become country people.


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Surry Hills: Looking for Jacob 12: Zeroing in

Today I decided to follow up on Surry Hills: Looking for Jacob 11: Found!, which you should consult to make complete sense of this post. I took a walk over Lots 6 and 7, knowing there wouldn’t be much on the ground. But first a Google Earth image again:


I walked up Wentworth Avenue, around the blocks from Hunt Street back up Commonwealth (formerly Macquarie) Street, down Goulburn, and into Foy Lane.

This is what I saw.

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Surry Hills: Looking for Jacob 11: Found!

Thanks entirely to the family research of John Van Luyn and Bob Starling, we can now say our search for Jacob has narrowed considerably.

On this Google Earth image I have placed him on either Lot 6 or Lot 7, superimposing information from the maps John and Bob found. Jacob does seem to have been a bit of a villain at times too, so the complex now up the road is a touch ironic.


The evidence is these two maps, one from 1854, the other – the clincher – from a survey plan. The shading is mine, of course.

Market L1854 Market

Kudos again to John Van Luyn and Bob Starling!

Bob wrote: “I have managed to obtain a plan of the Market Lane area where Jacob was
known to have resided probably with William MacDonald…”

Today Market Lane, extended, is Wentworth Avenue.

Sights of old Sydney 4: Cleveland House, Surry Hills

AU45 Francis Howard Greenway (20 November 1777 – September 1837) was an iconic Australian colonial architect, or so Wikipedia (correctly) says. It is sad what happened to the great convict architect in later life, even if he may posthumously enjoy, as a one-time convicted forger, having once featured on the Australian ten dollar note.

There are apparently 49 of his buildings still standing in the greater Sydney area, Hyde Park Barracks and St James Church being but two of the most known.

Sadly, not all his work is so well preserved, notably Cleveland House in Surry Hills, whose history I detailed in James O’Brien on Surry Hills (August 2007). I have one picture here too on Surry Hills 5, where I mention it is possibly the oldest house still standing in Sydney. You may see it clearly marked on the map shown at Sights of old Sydney 2: Moore Park boundary post 1833.

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Here it is on the afternoon of 1 December 2008. I am so saddened that this lovely building is in such poor condition. See more over the fold.

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Sights of old Sydney 3: Sydney in 1848

This is a valuable resource which is well known in print, but is now online in at least two places. Here is one: Sydney in 1848.




In 1848:



from Drawings by