John James Howell and William P Howell Jnr
by David Burke

John James Howell

John's (1825) emigration on the William Shand.

John purchased land at Rye Park near Boorowa around 1829. In the 1828 census he was a superintendant with James Hassall at O'Connell Plains near Bathurst. His headstone at Lang's Creek cemetery (nr Yass) is said to have stated that he was the first white man to see the Boorowa plains, but this is doubtful...the Hassalls for instance appear to have been there before him. In 2006 the grave headstone at Lang's creek had gone and a newish brass plate identified the grave. The plate says it was erected by an EGGorham). There were Gorham farmers in the Boorowa district but we do not know their connection to us.

JJ and Lucy (Mileham/Hassall) lived at Macquarie Grove for ten years and five children, before moving to Rye Park around 1844.

The area south east of Boorowa was also settled by the ubiquitous Hassalls and Humes and the three families intermarried. JJH called his place "Arkstone Park" (or "Arkstone Forest") presumably after "Arkstone Court" an early Howell place south of the Wye River in Herefordshire.

One source says that the Boorowa property may now be known as "Springfield". However that place near Boorowa was established by James Poplin who accompanied JJH from Bathurst on his first visit.

In fact the JJH place is likely to have been at/near a settlement called Pudman Creek, the Yass side of Rye Park. One source has a difficult-to-read map (p17) showing where the holding was/is. It included a large home and out buildings on that creek and was allegedly sold by John's executors in 1882.

The Government Gazette for May 1844 (p726) confirms John's appointment, along with Hamilton Hume the explorer, to the Yass district council.

There are very many land transactions for him listed in the Govt Gazette mainly at Kings Co (earliest found is 1835 but undoubtedly first purchase was earlier) but also in the Murrimbidgee.

His will does not seem to disclose much. Executors were William Howell, Lucy and CWWildash. The above source has land transactions at King's Co and the Murrimbidgee, appearing to transfer JJH's land to Lucy following his death. If so, the property at the former was 10,000 acres.

Lucy quoted JJHowell on his death-bed...""I am going to Heaven. Meet me there" he said, [then] he expired from all pain, a smile on his dying features. His end was indeed peace". He was run over by a plough when the horse harnessed to it took fright when a neighbour stopped to talk to him. His (pre-antibiotics) death was caused by septicemia from his wounds.

His nephew William P Howell Jnr

The baptism record of WBHowell (son) says the family came from "Macquarie Grove" where his wife Elizabeth (Hassall) had largely been brought up.

The marriage certificate tells us they both then came from "Arkstone Forest" (JJHowell property at Rye Park NSW), as did their marriage witnesses including JJ and Lucy Howell and Mary Hassall.

William arrived in NSW, as a paying passenger on the "Hope" on 20/10/1838. A John Everett was on the ship and describes the voyage in detail, from a man overboard to mutiny (University of New England archives A657). He also talks about life in remote parts of the colony then, such as this man would have faced. The record includes descriptions of bush ranger attacks, convict matters and aborigine questions. (Mitchell Library microfilm M481).

On arrival, William went to live with his uncle JJHowell at "Arkstone" and obviously fell in love with Lucy's daughter Elizabeth.

According to Gordon Alcorn "prior to coming to Australia he owned and ran, with his two sisters, "Metchby" (sic) Abbey Private School for Girls in Birmingham". This was not the case.

He eventually built a homestead in 1843, "Llangrove", 2km from Rye Park on the Yass road. He reportedly took over the squatting rights of the Hassalls and JJHowell in the nearby area. There seem to be no records of land acquisition in the area (King's Co) until 1850, but there are plenty of convict assignments to him there, the earliest being 1840. The Howell file has NSW Lands Department material which should show how to locate the exact extent of Williams land at Rye Park and on the Murrumbidgee.

The old house is still standing (2006). It was sold to the Hume family at which time the name was changed to "Everton". Today "Everton" is owned by the Bickford family.

The large homestead is reputedly made of granite 22 inches thick. All the timber is cedar and it was probably convict built although such labour was becoming less available to individuals at the time. According to William and JJHowell signed an unsuccessful 1846 petition to allow "coolies" and Indian labour for the colony.

Later William is said to have moved to "Yarrabee Park", Narranderra. But they returned to "Llangrove" (the report is difficult to follow).

He has also been reported as doing very well in his earlier days out of a 85,000 acre place called "Yanco" (Source calls it "Yabba") near Narranderra (subsequently owned by the McCaughey family) on the Murrumbidgee River. In fact there are plenty of records of his taking up land there in the 1840s. Properties called Yarrabee, Bingagong and Goree are mentioned as is land "on Yanco creek....running from the Murrumbidgee river to Billybong (sic) creek...adjoining Bingagong to the east."

Today a place called "Yanco" is the site of a major weir in the local irrigation scheme...there is also a property called "The Yanco" (south of the Murrumbidgee).

Predominantly, the Howell, Hassall and Hume families were squatters in the Yass district, presumably with no legal rights over the land they worked, except that portion which was granted, until the 1860's. And at that time Sir John Robertson put through his closer settlement Act which allowed "free selectors" to claim land which had adequate water (i.e. a river) and was not subject to grant or Government ownership. Robertson's major target was squatter's expiring leases and their straight land grabs.

In his will he left a "Milford Vale" estate at O'Connell Plains, Bathurst, NSW in the county of Roxburgh to his eldest son Herbert. A property there called "Milford" is now owned by the Condon family (2005). This was owned by SOHassall in the 1820's and part of the original house remains.

William's property "Llangrove" and the "right to the run attached" (which was probably not his) was left to his second son [John] James. The residue was left for the education and upkeep of his family. The will was to be executed by Charles Wildash and James Hassall of Macquarie Grove. Clearly he had considerable assets.

One wonders whether he had, like members of the Hassall family, shares in Bank of Australia which went bust.

David Burke

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