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James Macarthur (1798-1867)
Camden Park House, James Macarthur

James Macarthur (1798-1867), landowner, pastoralist and politician, was born at Elizabeth Farm, Parramatta, the fourth son of John and Elizabeth Macarthur. He was educated privately at Parramatta until March 1809, when he left for England with his father and his younger brother William. James was privately schooled at Hackney, London and in Scotland until in 1813 he was apprenticed to a broker in a London counting house. In 1815-16 he travelled with his father and William in France, Switzerland and Northern Italy. In September 1817 the three arrived back in New South Wales. The elder John Macarthur had decided that his eldest son, Edward, should take up a military career in England, that the most intelligent son, John, should read law and represent the family's interests in England, while James and William administered the colonial holdings. On arriving back in the colony in 1817, James was given responsibility for managing his father's Camden estates. He did this assiduously and greatly increased the family's wealth and property during the next 10 years. He was also a director of numerous colonial companies including the Australian Agricultural Company. During two trips to England between 1827 and 1832 and in 1837-38, he improved the company's affairs and did much to promote New South Wales. He also served as unpaid magistrate in the first Court of Petty Sessions in the Camden district and helped to establish churches, schools and other local institutions.

James was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council on three occasions between 1839 and 1843, 1848 and 1856 and finally from 1866 until his death. He was also a member of the New South Wales Legislative

Assembly between 1856 and 1859.  Macarthur was first appointed to the Legislative Council in 1839. At the first election for the council after the reforms of 1842, he unsuccessfully contested the seat of County of Cumberland. After the failure of this election campaign he refused a nomination to the house but re-entered it is as the member for County of Camden after winning that seat at the election of 1848. He retained this seat until responsible self-government was granted in 1856. At the first election under the new constitution he was elected to the Legislative Assembly as one of the two members for West Camden and he continued to represent this seat until he retired from public life at the 1859 election. Macarthur declined a knighthood and was granted a life appointment to the Legislative Council in 1866.

James and his brother William were the first real owners of Camden Park House, taking up residence in 1835 and living there until joined by James’s new wife, Emily (Stone), in 1838 following James and Emily’s marriage in London in 1827.

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