2161 Layers of history – Guildford’s absorbing stories

1-IMG_3078Bushranger Bold Jack Donohoe roamed the Guildford area from the 1820s to the 1840s. Michael Flynn, left, says the history of the Sydney suburb of Guildford shares themes common to the early years of European colonisation of New South Wales – Aboriginal, development of democracy, and some colourful local characters. Firstly, the land probably fell within the Darug Aboriginal language area. The term Bidjigal is associated with an area, including Guildford and Prospect Hill, and is sometimes translated as “the woods tribe”. The Aboriginal rebel leader Pemulwuy was known to be a Bidjigal man. There are suggestions that the Portland Place settlement on Prospect Creek failed to prosper because of Aboriginal guerilla attacks.

Michael’s research report – Early History of the Postcode Area 2161: Guldford, Old Guildford, Guildford West and Yennora was launched to a warm reception at Guildford Leagues Club, October 29, 2014. Among those present were Holroyd Local Studies librarians Jane Elias, below left and Stephen Coppins with Associate Professor of History, Carol 1-IMG_3090Liston, from University of Western Sydney.

Guildford was the name given by Samuel North to his 1831 land grant in the area. He was a soldier and magistrate, who came from Guilford, County Westmeath, in Ireland. He used both spellings of the name. Roughly three quarters of the postcode area 2161 lies in Holroyd Council’s area and the remainder in Parramatta Council’s. Holroyd Council’s namesake, Arthur Todd Holroyd, purchased North’s land in 1855. Born in England in 1806, Arthur Holroyd trained first as a medical doctor and then as a lawyer. In the 1830s he travelled widely in Africa and the Middle East. He was familiar with Arabic and travelled through Sinai, Palestine and Syria (then including modern day Lebanon).

Holroyd served as a member of the NSW Parliament from 1851 to 1864 and then played a leading role in the development of the municipality of Prospect and Sherwood, the forerunner to Holroyd City Council. In the 1870s, he began building his home Sherwood Scrubs, which is now part of Cerdon College, Merrylands.

The report was co1-IMG_2689mmissioned and guided by a local committee with support from Holroyd Council. Jacqui Douglas, left, initiated and coordinated the project. The report is divided into two main parts – the history of the Guildford area from 1788 to the early 20th century, and notes on original land grantees and major purchasers in the 2161 postcode areas. It is aimed particularly at school students and interested residents, written in clear and simple language and well filled with references for study and further research.

In 1805, following a period of increasing tension between Aboriginal people and the white settlers, who were alienating their food sources, Aboriginal people initiated diplomatic negotiations. Aboriginal women played an important role as intermediaries. It was a significantant precedent for later reconciliatory efforts. Among early landholders were former Irish, Scottish and English convicts. Bold Jack Donohoe, who inspired the ballad of the same name, was one of the bushrangers who roamed the 1-History 2161Guildford area. Prominent Sydney engineer George McCredie bought part of Samuel North’s former grant in about 1890 and built the mansion Linnwood for his large family. He managed Sydney’s response to the bubonic plague of 1900 and died at Linnwood three years later.

Copies of the report are $10 plus $2.50 post, available from Friends of Linnwood – phone 9632 9203 or friendsoflinnwood@gmail.com

Click here for more information about the recently published Pictorial History of Holroyd, researched and written by Jane Elias and Stephen Coppins, above, on behalf of Holroyd Council. It offers a valuable context for the Early History of the postcode area 2161: Guldford, Old Guildford, Guildford West and Yennora.

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