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Benjamin Singleton (1788-1853)

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Founder of the town of Singleton, NSW, Australia


Benjamin Singleton was born 1788 in London, England, United Kingdom to William Singleton (1752-1835) and Hannah Parkinson (1758-1813) and died 2 May 1853 in Singleton, New South Wales, Australia of unspecified causes. He married Mary Lane Sharling (1796-1877) 4 February 1811 at St Matthews in Windsor, New South Wales, Australia. Ancestors are from the United Kingdom.


Benjamin arrived in Sydney, New South Wales on 14 February 1792 on the Pitt with his parents. His father was a convict under a seven uear sentence, and his mother travelled out free on the same ship to New South Wales with Benjamin and his younger brother Joseph rather than break-up the family.

Five years later the family settled on a ninety-acre (36 ha) grant at Mulgrave Place (near Windsor), where Benjamin's elder brother, James, then aged 30, joined them after immigrating in 1808 when Benjamin was 19. Benjamin and James were to build water-mills at Kurrajong, Lower Portland Head, and on James 50 acre (20ha) grant at the Hawkesbury. At their water-mills they ground wheat for the government stores.

In 1811 Benjamin married Mary Lane Sharling, daughter of Thomas Sharling of the 102nd Regiment, and began his family.

In October 1817 Benjamin accompanied William Parr on part of his exploration of the present Bulga Road. Benjamin withdrew from this expedition and led his own private expedition in April 1818. Both of these expeditions, which were trying to find a trafficable route to the Hunter valley, were failures. Two years later, in March 1820, as part of the exploration party of John Howe (1774-1852), Benjamin finally reached Patrick's Plains. As a reward for his part in this successful expedition in 1821 Benjamin was given a 200 acre (81 ha) grant on the Patrick's Plains and became the first settler in the district. Cattle on agistment were soon grazing there. Banjamin later founded the present town of Singleton on part of this land.

In 1823 Benjamin, who had settled with his family on his grant at Patrick's Plains, was appointed District Constable on the recommendation of magistrate Edward Close (1790-1866) who thought Singleton 'a very trustworthy man'. Benjamin's duties included the enforcement of government regulations which included the attendance by convicts servants at Sunday musters making them unavailable for work during that time. This caused arguments between Benjamin and fellow settler James Mudie (1779-1852). Singleton appealed successfully to Edward Close, the nearest magistrate, to uphold his authority 'or else the District will be no better than bushrangers'.

Benjamin's grant on the Patrick's Plains included a natural ford on the Hunter River. On his grant at this natural ford Benjamin built a water-mill on the river, and an inn. In 1825 he applied for more land, an application that was supported by 4 major landholders in the district, all magistrates and JPs, William Cox (1764-1837), John Brabyn (c1759-1835), Archibald Bell (1773-1837), and Robert Scott (c1799-1844). Benjamin was granted this additional land in 1828.

In 1831 with his younger brother Joseph he built another water-mill at Boatfalls, near Clarencetown. He next commissioned a horse-drawn boat to be used in the Parramatta trade. The service was not popular, and was also hard on the horses. In December 1832 he offered it for sale 'for want of funds to propel her by steam'. Lack of funds also forced during the 1830s the subdivision and sale, or mortgage, of much of his property. The sale of his subdivided land became the beginnings of the present town of Singleton at that natural ford on the Hunter River. Benjamin was also to built there a brewery and a Singleton Courthouse. In 1841 he donated the land where Burdekin Park now stands for use as a market square. He also donated land to the Anglican and Presbyterian churches. Caring for the education of the children of the town he even ploughed a furrow from Singleton to the schoolhouse at nearby Whittingham so that the children would not loose their way.

The depression of the 1840's caused Benjamin Singleton to become insolvent in 1842.

Benjamin died on 2 May 1853. He is buried in the Singleton Cemetary at Whittingham. Benjamin left behind the legacy of Singleton, a town that would continue to grow and prosper.




Children


Offspring of Benjamin Singleton and Mary Lane Sharling (1796-1877)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Elizabeth Singleton (1812-1894) 9 May 1812 Wilberforce, New South Wales, Australia 12 March 1894 Maitland, New South Wales, Australia George Yeomans (1801-1853)
Otto Baldwin (1809-1874)

Hannah Singleton (1813-1853)
William Singleton (1815-1888)
Benjamin Singleton (1817-1889)
Mary Singleton (1819-1894) 16 May 1819 Kurrajong, New South Wales, Australia 13 December 1894 Whittingham, New South Wales, Australia George Lloyd (1815-1907)

Sarah Singleton (1821-1852) 7 January 1821 Richmond, New South Wales, Australia 16 May 1852 Stockton, New South Wales, Australia Bourne Russell (1819-1900)

John Singleton (1823-c1849)
Emma Singleton (1825-1898) 26 April 1825 Singleton, New South Wales, Australia 13 January 1898 West Maitland, New South Wales, Australia James Solomon (c1805-1854)
George Vindin (1828-1872)

Louisa Singleton (1827-1908)
George Australia Singleton (1829-1900)




Sources and notes

‡ General

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