Hugh Cameron

Hugh Cameron was a local farmer who recommended the name Scone to the surveyor general, Thomas Livingston Mitchell, in 1831.

 

Hugh’s beginnings

Hugh was born on April 4, 1775, the third son of John and Jean Cameron, in Glenmaik, Glenlednock, parish of Comrie Scotland, which is in the valley of Strathearn.1 In 1799, Hugh was indentured to James Mellis, a merchant in Stirling, and took his burgess oath in 1804.2 He married Janet Cameron in Stirling, in 1808 and they had five children John, Margaret, Jane, Janet and Catherine.3

In 1828, as an old soldier, he arrived in New South Wales to make a new life for his family. He sought the advice of Thomas Mitchell, the surveyor general, on where to select a land grant. Thomas, a fellow Scot also from Stirling, was happy to help and Hugh took up a grant of 1280 acres of land beside the Great North Road, now the New England Highway, near Scone.4

Hugh’s grant is still known as Cameron’s Paddock; now mostly part of the Turanville property, just south of Scone. Hugh’s small property was surrounded by major local landholders including William Dumaresqu, William Dangar and Peter McIntyre. A plaque, donated by descendants of Hugh Cameron was placed in Cameron’s Paddock.

 

Robbed by Bushrangers

On August 9, 1830 Hugh was robbed by four men, armed with “a sword, a pistol, and a musquet”.5 The bushrangers tied the old man up with his servants and ransacked his house. Hugh had refused to tell them were the keys were, so they broke open all of his boxes and robbed him of all of his possessions, of which he did not have much anyway.

The nearest mounted police were at Wallis Creek, now Maitland, so a group of settlers, led by John Bingle, captured the bushrangers and managed to recover most of his property, “including his most prized possession, a silver-hilted sword.”6 This incident led to the early settlers demanding a second constable be appointed to the district and they moved to erect a lock up Courthouse at Invermien.7

 

A visit from Thomas Mitchell

In 1831, Thomas Mitchell began his expedition to find an inland sea; he passed across the Hunter River where Aberdeen is now located and up Holkham Hill, but diverted off the Great North Road to visit Hugh.8

Thomas wrote of his visit:

“He was busy with his harvest, but left the top of his wheatstack on seeing me, and running up, cordially welcomed us to his dwelling…The old man was very deaf, but in spite of age and this infirmity, his sharp blue eye expressed the enduring vigour of his mind…”9

“Sleek cattle filled his stockyard, his fields waved with ripe grain, and I had the satisfaction of learning from him that he had written for his family, and that he soon expected their arrival in the colony…”10

Considering Hugh would have been 57 years old in 1831, the description of his property is a testament to him.

 

Hugh’s petition for Scone

Hugh had sent a petition to the Governor Darling in 1829 ,11 which he gave to Thomas Mitchell on his visit in 1831. The petition highlighted Hugh’s concern that the valley of Kingdon Ponds had not received a name and asked for it to be named Strathearn.

Hugh further recommended that the valley be an alternative location for the Stone of Scone, the Coronation Stone for the Kings of Scotland and subsequently British Monarchs, in case of times of unrest or in the event that the kingdom was lost.

While Thomas Mitchell had instructed his surveyors to begin using aboriginal names,12 he honoured Hugh’s wishes and in 1837 the parish was named Strathearn and the neighbouring village reserve was named Scone.

More than 100 years later, in 1971, the Scone Shire Council followed through on the final request of Hugh’s petition and wrote to Scottish authorities requesting a fragment of the Stone of Scone. Lord Mansfield, the owner of Scone estate in Scotland, provided a piece of stone form the Annaty Burn, which is believed to be where the original Stone of Destiny was quarried.13

In 1975, as part of celebrations to mark 150 years of white settlement in the area, the piece of stone was brought to Scone and is now housed in the Council Chamber.

A piece of stone from the Annaty Burn, believed to the origin of the Stone of Scone. Provided by Lord Mansfield to the Scone Shire in 1971. Held at the Upper HunterShire Council Chambers.

A piece of stone from the Annaty Burn, believed to the origin of the Stone of Scone. Provided by Lord Mansfield to the Scone Shire in 1971. Held at the Upper Hunter Shire Council Chambers.

William Dangar legally acquires Hugh’s land

Despite Hugh acquiring good land and working hard in old age, he lost his land to his wealthy neighbour William Dangar in 1837. Hugh had borrowed money against his land on two occasions, the first it was believed to bring out his family from Scotland and the second was for the wedding of his eldest daughter Margaret.

Under the conditions of land grants you had to occupy the land for a period of seven years, before it can be used as a guarantee. William Dangar used this situation to pay out Hugh’s debts and acquire the title to his land in 1837, making Hugh a tenant. “Hugh never accepted this situation, stoutly maintaining he had been defrauded by the Dangars.”14 He continued to protest the Dangars “fraudulently” acquiring his land until 1844.

The Dangar’s did have a prior reputation of corrupt behaviour; William Dangar was the brother of the surveyor Henry Dangar. Henry Dangar had been dismissed from office on March 31, 1827 after being found guilty of using his public position for private gain. Henry had allocated land to himself and his brother William, to which someone else had a prior claim.15

 

The Cameron family moves on

Hugh’s daughters married well and his son-in-laws, together with his son John Cameron, moved the family to the New England area; they were among the earliest settlers.

Hugh died on June 9, 1851 and he is buried his son John’s last property, “Undullah” near Beaudesert, Queensland; his tombstone is behind the homestead.16 Janet Cameron died on May 13, 1873 and was buried at “Dugandan”, a property owned by her son-in-law and daughter at Boonah, Queensland. There was no tombstone, but a bronze plaque was erected by her descendants on the likely site.17

 

Special thanks to:

 

Footnotes:
  1. P.Kendall, ‘The Cameron’s and Ranken’s family history’, Letter to Nancy Gray, December 1, 1990, Birchgrove, p.1, cited in  file P.R.235, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Scone. []
  2. P.Kendall, ‘The Cameron’s and Ranken’s family history’, Letter to Nancy Gray, December 1, 1990, Birchgrove, p.1, cited in  file P.R.235, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Scone. []
  3. P.Kendall, ‘The Cameron’s and Ranken’s family history’, Letter to Nancy Gray, December 1, 1990, Birchgrove, p.1, cited in  file P.R.235, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Scone. []
  4. N.Gray, ‘The Scottish Influence in the Upper Hunter’, Journal of Hunter Valley History, Vol 2, No 1, 1986, p.174, cited in file P.R.235, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Scone. []
  5. N.Gray, ‘The History of the Scone Court House’, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Scone, 1961, p.278. []
  6. N.Gray, ‘The History of the Scone Court House’, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Scone, 1961, p.278 []
  7. N.Gray, ‘The History of the Scone Court House’, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Scone, 1961, p.280 []
  8. N.Gray, ‘The History of the Scone Court House’, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Scone, 1961, p.175 []
  9. T.Mitchell, Three expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia, Vol. 1, London, 1838, p.21, cited in N.Gray 1986, p.176. []
  10. N.Gray, ‘The History of the Scone Court House’, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Scone, 1961, p.280 []
  11. P.Kendall, The Cameron’s and Ranken’s – From the Hunter, NSW to the Fassifern District, Boonah and Ipswich/Toowoomba, Queensland, 1830’s to 1920’s, December 1, 1988, p.2, in file P.R.235 Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Scone. []
  12. N.Gray, ‘The History of the Scone Court House’, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Scone, 1961, p.174 []
  13. N.Gray, ‘The History of the Scone Court House’, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society Journal, Volume 2, Scone, 1961, p.173. []
  14. P.Kendall, The Cameron’s and Ranken’s – From the Hunter, NSW to the Fassifern District, Boonah and Ipswich/Toowoomba, Queensland, 1830’s to 1920’s, December 1, 1988, p.3, in file P.R.235 Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Scone. []
  15. N.Gray, ‘Henry Dangar’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, Melbourne University Press, 1966, on Wikipedia, 20 September 2012, viewed 6 February, 2013,  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Dangar>. []
  16. P.Kendall, ‘The Cameron’s and Ranken’s family history’, Letter to Nancy Gray, December 1, 1990, Birchgrove, p.1, cited in  file P.R.235, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Scone. []
  17. P.Kendall, ‘The Cameron’s and Ranken’s family history’, Letter to Nancy Gray, December 1, 1990, Birchgrove, p.2, cited in  file P.R.235, Scone and Upper Hunter Historical Society, Scone. []