Rodney Hammett, Glebe Society Bulletin, April 2021
In the 1840s, a grand plan for ‘Eglintoun Village’ on land at Glebe Point, was produced by businessman Alexander Brodie Spark. He went bankrupt and it never eventuated, but echoes of the plan remain in today’s street pattern – Eglinton Rd, Pendrill Rd and Edward St. This article traces some of the 19th and early 20th century residents of this part of Glebe Point.
Alexander Brodie Spark secured lots 1 and 21 from the 1828 subdivision of the Church of England’s Glebe land. His grand plan for lot 21 was for Eglintoun Village, comprising 31 lots at Glebe Point, as shown in the 1841 plan from the State Library of NSW.1 Lot 1, also at Glebe Point, was east of Glebe Point Rd, almost to Cook St.
The Glebe land, like the proverbial curate’s egg, was good in parts. Most lots were sold at the 1828 auction, but some final bidders declined to proceed. As a result, some lots were not finalised until 1830. Such was the case for the 20-acre Lot 1, which A.B. Spark purchased in July 1830 for £12 13s per acre. He had purchased the 20-acre Lot 21 in 1828 for £13 per acre.2 Interested readers can find further details of subdivision in Max Solling and Michael Foster’s article A Semi-Rural Retreat – Places, People and Society in Glebe 1828-1861, Part 1 in the 23rd issue of the Leichhardt Historical Journal. This can be found online here.
Described by some as an influential merchant, businessman and free settler, Alexander Brodie Spark was to others a person whose ‘severe judgments on wrongdoers were rarely matched by self-criticism and his oft-expressed piety seemed meaningful only when he was distressed’.3 Born in Scotland in 1792, Spark arrived in Sydney on the Prince Charlotte in April 1823. A.B. Spark created a prosperous merchant business in Sydney and, in the process, gained favour with the government, resulting in his being granted numerous parcels of land throughout NSW. To these, he added other land holdings in NSW, Victoria and New Zealand.
Between 1833 and 1836, Spark built a substantial home for his family on his Tempe farm, now known as Tempe House.4 This became a fashionable meeting place for influential colonists. Seemingly with the colony at his feet, he guaranteed loans for his friends and acquaintances. By 1840, however, Sparks was forced into bankruptcy by debt, drought and the end of the pastoral boom.
With the Bank of Australia in possession of his Glebe land, the Eglintoun Village never eventuated. A close examination of the 1841 plan (above) reveals the names of some purchasers. These purchasers have been confirmed by comparison with a later map from the 27 March 1848 conveyance (Book 14 No. 539). Liz Trickett, who now owns a property within the area, explained the subsequent ownership and history of lots 1, 2, 3 & 4 at a talk in 2006 (Bulletin 7 of 2006, p.3).
In about the 1860s, George Allen purchased lots 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 15, 18 & 19 (the red line bounds these lots on the above plan). Allen added these lots to his Toxteth Park Estate. After Allen died in 1877, the estate was progressively subdivided; the last part of Allen’s estate to be sold was the land that had belonged to A. B. Spark (Lot 21). The subdivision was advertised for auction sale by Richardson & Wrench on 29 October 1904 (see the advertisement, with new lot numbering).
Even though the lots are much smaller today than in 1841, some of the street pattern remains. Spark St became Eglinton Rd, and Francis St (near lots 2, 3, 22 & 23) became Edward St. The road between lots 1 & 2 and 3 & 4 became Pendrill St. (See Bulletin 9/2019 for an article on the Rev John Pendrill). The Sze Yup Temple now occupies lots 22 & 23.
Spark never saw his former estate’s new layout because he died at his Tempe home on 21 October 1856.
Purchasers of the lots fronting Glebe Point Rd in the 1904 subdivision are listed in the table below. Details for the first purchasers in Northcote Rd were the subject of an article in Bulletin 9/2017 and, for Alexandra Rd, in Bulletin 10/2019. Separate research for Eglinton Rd – the Eglinton Road Project – was undertaken by Genny Kang, Max Solling, Jeannette Knox, Erica Robinson and Carole Herriman in 2013 and is available here.
As shown in the table above, some of the original lots along Glebe Point Rd were further subdivided to produce additional houses. Lots 9 & 10 being used to build a row of four terraces.
Mary Agnes Barnett (née Reid) was from Berrima, where she was baptised in the Holy Trinity Church on 30 October 1864. Her parents were John, a blacksmith, and Catherine. Mary was the second of ten children and the eldest girl. No doubt, Mary helped in the family chores at Berrima until she married Albert Barnett at St Johns Church, Parramatta, in October 1886.
Mary’s husband, Albert, was from Cheshire, England, and worked as a builder in the Bowral area. Their first three children were born in Bowral before the family moved to Burwood in the late 1890s. From Burwood, Albert and Mary Barnett moved to Glebe, where their fifth child was born in 1904. Their children were: Ethel (1888-1929), Gertrude (1890-1932), Beatrice (1892-1960), Albert (1898-1955) and James (1904-1959).
In January 1898, after leaving Bowral, Albert obtained an auctioneer’s licence.5 He died, aged 49, on 13 August 1911. Albert left an estate of £393 15s 10d to his wife.
In about 1910, after three years living in No 278 (on Lot 11), the family moved to Mosman. They retained No. 278 Glebe Point Rd, and Mary, along with some of her extended family, returned in the 1930s and lived there until the 1940s. In 1948, the property was transferred to Albert and Mary’s daughter, Beatrice. (In 1918, Beatrice had married Ladislas Adam de Noskowski who became the Polish Consul-General in 1933.) Mary died at Mosman in 1955. She was aged 90.
Lot 12 was sold in May 1905, after which 276 Glebe Point Rd was built. This house had many owners and, in 1970, it was sold with No. 274. The two properties were demolished and replaced by a motel that later became the R. J. Williams Lodge. We await the next chapter of development on this site.
Gaetano Francis Spora, known as ‘Frank’, was born in Spezia, Italy in 1868. He arrived in Sydney on the Yarra in 1886. His occupation was listed in the ship’s manifest as a baker. Gaetano became a successful businessman, and was, for some time, the owner of the Gladstone Hotel on the corner of William St and Palmer St, Woolloomooloo. ‘In a quiet wedding at the Sacred Heart Church, Darlinghurst’ on Wednesday 2 February 1898, Gaetano married Johanna Maria Murphy.6 The couple had eight children: Joseph (1899-1903), John (1900-1967), Catherine (1901-1982), Francis (1903-1977), Cyril (1905-1988), Leo (1906-1961), Thomas (1910-1911) and Mary (1911-1983).
Frank purchased lots 9 & 10 in May 1908. His occupation is listed on the Certificate of Title (1876-21) as a licenced victualler. Frank built a row of four two-storey terraces: Numbers 280, 282, 284 & 286, which he kept as investment properties.
In December 1903, while the family lived at the Gladstone Hotel, Frank and Johanna’s son, Joseph, died, aged only five. In 1911, the family moved to Olivette, which was located on Mowbray Rd in Artarmon. While living here, the family lost another child, Thomas, who was only one year and five months old when he died in 1911.
When Frank died on 16 September 1922, aged 54, Johanna was left to raise four sons and two daughters, ranging in age from 11 to 22. The estate Johanna and her children inherited was valued at £31,886, a fact recorded in newspapers throughout Australia. Property made up about 75% of Frank’s estate and included holdings in Glebe and Double Bay.
As can be seen in the Daily Telegraph article from 1922, Frank bequeathed gifts to needy institutions, which reflected the charitable donations he was known for during his lifetime.
The executors of Spora’s estate retained ownership of numbers 280, 282, 284 & 286 Glebe Point Rd until May 1936, when the four properties were transferred to Mary, the couple’s youngest daughter. In 1959, Mary sold the houses individually. Mary had been a nurse and lived in the Eastern Suburbs. It was interesting to discover that, in July 1939, Mary and a friend travelled to Colombo (now Sri Lanka) for a holiday, returning in August.7
Frederick Arnold Banks was three years old when he and his family arrived in Sydney on Sunday 10 December 1854 aboard the Marchioness of Londonderry.
Frederick’s father, John Charles Banks (1819-1882), was a plumber. John and his wife Mary (née Arnold) and their five surviving children came to Australia as assisted immigrants. They paid £44 towards the fare, and the remaining £52 required was lent to them by the Family Colonisation Loan Society.8 (History buffs would know that the Eureka Stockade had occurred at Ballarat a few days earlier, on 3 December 1854.)
Frederick was the fifth of 10 children, two of whom had died as infants in England before 1854. John and Mary extended the family with another three children, born in Glebe, where they settled. John Banks was in the building trade – sometimes described as a plumber and other times a contractor. He and his sons made a good living when the housing stock in Glebe was entering a boom period. Frederick formed a partnership with his older brother, John Charles Arnold Banks, in August 1878. They traded as Banks Brothers, painters, glaziers and paperhangers.9 Their business was located at 108-110 Glebe Point Rd. The business was variously described as an oil & paint store, ironmongery and a wholesale retailer.
Frederick married Martha Dunton on 12 November 1873 at Mrs Dunton’s residence, in Susan St, Newtown.10 Frederick and Martha had four children who were all born in Glebe: Elise (1884-1968), Percy (1885-1886), Clarise (1887-1971) and Frederick V (1888-1889). By 1890 the family was living at 104 Glebe Point Rd. In 1908, the family moved to 288 Glebe Point Rd, which they named Lymington after Lymington, Hampshire, where Frederick was born in 1850.
Keen to be part of the Glebe community and its wellbeing, Frederick was elected in 1897 as an alderman to the Glebe Municipal Council for the Bishopthorpe Ward. This was a role he continued until 1905. At one time, Frederick was the vice-president of the Glebe Rowing Club.11 He died at home on 26 July 1914, aged 63. In his will, Frederick was described as an oil and colour merchant and master painter. His estate was valued at £1,915 9s 7d.12
Martha and her daughters, Elise and Clarice, continued to live at Lymington until it was sold in 1923, the same year Elise married Charles McCarthy. Clarice had married Basil Jackson in 1919. When Lymington was sold, Martha moved to Marrickville, where she lived close to Clarice and her family and died there in October 1933, aged 83. Frederick and Martha are buried at Rookwood together with their young sons Percy and Frederick.
Elizabeth Caudwell (née Marsh) had married Charles William Caudwell in Hackney, London, on 28 August 1884. Not long after their marriage, Charles and Elizabeth (and over 300 other assisted immigrants) boarded the ship Dorunda bound for Brisbane. They arrived in Brisbane on 21 October, and Charles took up work as a painter.
Elizabeth was the daughter of Colonel William Marsh of the Indian Staff, a fact which was disclosed at the time of Elizabeth and Charles’ Silver Wedding in 1909 while living at No 290 Glebe Point Rd.13
The Marshs’ daughter and only child, Florence, was born in Queensland in 1885. At the 1903-04 Census the family was living at 8 Hereford St, Glebe. Charles’ occupation was described on the census as glazier and painter. By 1913 the family had moved to Haberfield and Charles was working as a glass merchant.
Elizabeth sold No. 290 Glebe Point Rd to Richard Wilfred Harris in April 1906, so it is possible Charles had some involvement in the construction of the house (in 1930, Charles is described as a builder in the electoral rolls). Charles died at Five Dock in 1934, aged 74. Elizabeth lived out the rest of her years in Five Dock where she died in 1949 at the grand old age of 93.
Francis Crocker, a produce merchant, purchased Lot 6 in February 1910, then sold it in December 1913 to Sarah Dixon, wife of Thomas Dixon, builder, of Newtown. Two semis were built on Lot 6 (numbers 292 and 292A), and it is likely that Thomas Dixon built them in 1913-14. The semis were sold to Christy Neilson of Mackay, Queensland, in May 1914 and are first recorded as occupied in the Sands Directory of 1915. They remained in single ownership and let by various owners until 1967 when they were sold separately.
Thomas and Sarah Dixon lived at 36 Georgina St, Newtown. Thomas died in January 1916, aged 60. Sarah then went to live at Coogee, where she died in 1927, aged 72.
Benjamin Stone of Waratah Stoves bought the vacant lot (part of Lot 5) and built a new house on it (No. 294), where he lived until 1959. Lyn Collingwood’s Who Lived in your Street in Bulletin 3/2018 presents the families who lived at No 294.
Emily Lucy Gerrett (née Barham) was a Glebe girl, born on 21 October 1852, the youngest of nine children. Her father was a butcher with premises in Glebe Point Rd. Her father died in 1858 at the age of 50 ‘leaving a widow and seven children to deplore their loss’.14
Emily married Joseph Evan Gerrett, a draper, on 1 February 1875 at her mother’s residence in Gross St, Glebe. Emily and Joseph had six children: Hilda (1876-1965), Norman (1878-1879), Joseph (1880-1881), Mabel (1882-1952), Harold (1884-1950) and Herbert (1887-1889).
Joseph had a men’s outfitter shop in George St West (current day Broadway). Joseph may have been a good tailor, but he was a poor businessman and was bankrupted twice – first in 1878, then in 1885. Joseph is last found in records living at 9 Gross St in 1893. It is likely, though, that he was still living in Glebe after that because, in August 1905, when Emily purchased the remaining part of Lot 5, Emily is described as the wife of Joseph Evans Gerrett, draper. At the time of that purchase, Emily lived at 43 Toxteth Rd with her children, Hilda, Mabel and Harold. They moved to Mosman in 1907, and Emily died at 17 Heydon St Mosman in 1947, aged 94.
Emily’s estate, including numbers 296, 298 and 300 Glebe Point Rd, was valued at £2,793 5s 6d and left to the three children. Numbers 296 and 298 were sold at auction in December 1948. The properties were marketed as ‘well-constructed brick residences in a well-populated residential suburb ACCOM Hall 4 Bedrms Din rm /Lnge Bathrm Kit Lndry LET at 32/6 per week’.15 No. 300 was sold in November 1953.
Isabella Elizabeth Woodfield (née Short), the wife of master mariner Captain Russell Woodfield, purchased No. 13 Northcote Rd in December 1907, about a year after purchasing vacant lot 4 (No 302 Glebe Point Rd). The Woodfield/Short family details are in Bulletin 9/2017. Isabella’s husband, Russell, died of an aneurysm in 1913, aged 44. Isabella died in 1927, aged 56, while on holiday to the UK and was cremated at Chelsea; they did not have any children. No 302 was bequeathed to Isabella’s sisters Rose (Mrs R.H. Crammond) and Laura (Mrs D. Kerr) along with the bulk of her estate, which was valued at £18,122 17s 7d for probate.
No 302 was eventually sold in April 1945, after Rose’s death in 1941.
Elias Davis was living in Glebe when he purchased Lots 1, 2 and 3. Born in Sydney, the third of Isaac and Sarah’s seven children, Elias married Melbourne-born Fanny Davis at the Great Synagogue in Sydney on 7 January 1891. Their only child, Norman, died as an infant in 1892. At this time, the family had just moved into their newly built house, Francesca, at fashionable 70 Wigram Rd, built by Henry Beeson on two lots from the second subdivision of the Toxteth Park Estate.16
Elias was a successful jeweller and pawnbroker who had premises at 655 George St, Haymarket. Elias and Fanny moved to Buckhurst Ave, Point Piper, in 1914. They named this house Francesca, as they had their Glebe house. It was here that Fanny died on 21 August 1915, aged 55. Elias died in hospital on 15 September 1920, aged 66, leaving an estate valued at £20,617.17 Both are buried in the Rookwood Cemetery.
Two pairs of single-storey semis had been constructed on Lots 1 and 2 (Nos 306-312 Glebe Point Rd), and the trustees of Elias’ estate sold them individually at the end of 1921. The single house constructed on Lot 3 (No. 304 Glebe Point Rd) was sold by the trustees (or possibly bequeathed) in November 1921, to Arthur Emanuel Salmon of Point Piper. Arthur was the husband of Elias’ sister. Arthur sold the property in August 1923.
Of the 20 new dwellings constructed between 1906 and 1915, only four (Numbers 278, 288, 290 and 294 Glebe Point Rd) were occupied by their owners – tenants occupied the others. Some of the owners lived elsewhere in Glebe.
Why was ‘The Point’ not as attractive a place to live as it is today? A future article will examine the external factors that affected the lives of these residents.
Notes: 1 SLNSW; Call No M2 811.1823/1841/3, Z/M2 811.1823/1841/3; 2 For further details see also Leichhardt Historical Journal No23; 3 ‘Spark, Alexander Brodie (1792–1856)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/spark-alexander-brodie-2684/text3755, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 26 February 2021; 4 Tempe House is of exceptional historical significance as a remarkably intact 1830s villa still within its largely unaltered landscape setting. Designed by John Verge, Tempe House is an exceptional and rare example of Neo-Classical Georgian architecture, self-consciously designed as an ‘Arcadian villa” for a picturesque setting and the only such example in the Sydney Metropolitan area. See https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=5045451; 5 SMH; Tue 4 Jan 1898, p7 [Licencing Court]; 6 Daily Telegraph; Sat 5 Feb 1898, p14 [Social]; 7 Freeman’s Journal; Thu 13 Jul 1939, p15 [The Social Round]; 8 Ancestry.com; NSW Assisted Passenger Lists 1828-1896; 9 SMH ; Sat 31 Aug 1878, p1; 10 Evening News; Fri 21 Nov 1873, p2; 11 Sydney’s Aldermen; https://www.sydneyaldermen.com.au/alderman/frederick-arnold-banks/; 12 Findmypast; NSW Wills; 13 SMH; Tue 24 Aug 1909, p6; 14 SMH: Wed 12 May 1858, p1; 15 SMH; Wed 7 Jul 1948, p11 [Auction Sales]; 16 Book 457 No 643; Book 459 No 239 & Book 1236 No 519, Elias Davis purchased Lots 60-63 of Section 3; 17 Daily Telegraph; Tue 26 Apr 1921, p3 [Stamp Duty].