John Macarthur (1767-1834)

Camden Park House was the long term vision of Captain John Macarthur. Arriving in Sydney as part of the New South Wales Corps, Lieutenant John Macarthur was posted inland with his wife Elizabeth and family to the Rose Hill settlement but in 1792 he moved to Parramatta as regimental paymaster. In 1793 he received a grant of 100 acres (40 ha) at Parramatta where he built Elizabeth Farm, and became the one of the first in the colony to clear and cultivate virgin land.  In May 1795 he was promoted to Captain. Macarthur came into conflict with Governor John Hunter and his successor Governor Philip Gidley King and in November 1801 was dispatched to England for Court Martial in the ship “Hunter”. The voyage was so circuitous that Macarthur, and his two sons who accompanied him, did not reach England until December 1802. Elizabeth remained in Australia and managed all the farming operations during Macarthur's absence.

Macarthur made powerful friends in London and the case against him was dismissed. This influence under the auspices of Lord Camden was enough to secure Macarthur’s resignation from the army and his return to N.S.W. to develop the wool industry. Official approval was emphasised in 1805 by a grant of 10,000 acres (4,046 hectares) of the best pasture land in the colony and by his possession of rare Spanish sheep from the Royal flocks. Governor King was not happy at granting Macarthur his 10,000 acres at the coveted Cowpastures, the best land in the Colony but he was allowed to occupy his grant whilst King argued his case with the British Government. Walter Davidson, the nephew of Sir Walter Farquhar, had accompanied Macarthur, his sons and nephew Hannibal Macarthur on the voyage. Davidson carried permission for a grant of 2,000 acres (809) hectares alongside Macarthur. This grant was eventually incorporated into the Macarthur grant.

John Macarthur, and his sons, James and William, along with the substantial role that Elizabeth played, built up Camden Park into a property which was both a nationally acclaimed sheep station and a great experimental farm to which farmers came from everywhere for open inspection days.  By 1820 he had on the property a choice merino stud 300 strong, 5,000 graded up merino wool sheep and 700 cattle. On 10th April 1834 he was carried from the first wing of the Camden Park mansion, currently under construction by John Verge, to the cottage at the Home Farm (Belgenny), where he was to die. Camden Park House was planned by John and construction began in 1832. John watched its construction but died in 1834, a year before its completion.

John Macarthur

Elizabeth Macarthur

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