One of the earliest squatter's in Weston Creek, Johnston suddenly had his hands full when a couple of his convicts, Alfred Harrop (also Haroch) and William Viall, broke into one of his huts and ran off with their booty. The article gives a fine description of the hut, and an important judgement is made as to whether it can be regarded as a dwelling-house or a hut, as the final decision rests upon the definition. as defined under the statute.
This 'estate' bordered the southern edge of the Molonglo River, and south of Coppin's Crossing. It extended to the east and west of the Coppin's Crossing Road to, and over the Uriarra Road, and included Huntly station. The land was purchased by Captain Cliffe of Sydney in 1836. Cliffe was a Sydney merchant, and a large landholder of the district. He was equal in commerce to the Campbell's of Duntroon, yet very little is known of him.
First person to reside at Yarralumla
First person to grow wheat on the Limestone Plains
The area surrounding the present Government House at Yarralumla ACT was originally settled by James Martin (aka James Taylor), the son of convict, Ann Wilson (arr. Sydney Cove 18 Jun 1807 – aka Ann Taylor and Ann Martin), who by August 1827, had applied to the Colonial Secretary for permission to rent 2,000 acres of land, three miles south-south-west of Joshua John Moore’s property, Canberry, with a view to purchase. This area later became part of Terrence Aubrey Murray’s Yarralumla Estate, and where Martin, the stepson of former convict, John Taylor, built a place at the junction of the Molonglo River and Yarralumla Creek, described as Taylor’s Hut on Robert Dixon’s survey map of May 1829.
Robert Dixon's Map of the Limestone Plains, 1829. X is Taylor's Hut, Y is Johnston's Hut. The top of the map is East, the bottom is West. Left is North, right is South. The Molonglo River, in the centre of the map, flows east to west.
Two years later, in a memorial to Governor Ralph Darling written 23 Jan 1830, Martin asked for a convict, James Dogget (Surrey (4)) to be assigned to him. He stated he had not received a reply to his application for a government servant, and being in a bad state of health, was not able to leave his residence at 42 York Street, Sydney to return to his farm, some distance south from Sydney. Consequently, he had suffered considerable loss as his stock ran loose around the countryside, there being no one to look after them. He reminded the Governor that his grant was given as a reward for ‘having grown the first wheat crop at a distance of nearly three hundred miles from Sydney’.
Martin, staying at 42 York Street, Sydney, wrote to the Surveyor General, Major Mitchell, on 16 May 1832, mentioning that he had received a grant, as an indulgence from Sir Thomas Brisbane, for producing the first crop of wheat on the Limestone Plains. The amount granted was 60 acres to be selected on any located ground. Major Mitchell had sanctioned Martin making a selection, so Martin had, on his way from his cattle station on the Limestone Plains, decided upon a parcel of land at Paddy’s River, ‘Argyleshire’, then uninhabited, and south of his run on the Limestone Plains. He asked Mitchell to grant him an order to Mr Robert Hoddle, surveyor, who was then on his tour of the area, so that he could measure out the 60 acres allotted to Martin.
In a letter written at the Limestone Plains, dated 13 August 1832, and referring to one from the Surveyor General of 16 July, Martin stated he had received an order two years ago to have his land at Goulburn Plains measured by Robert Dixon, but on his arrival, Dixon had left for Bathurst and it was never measured. Martin had picked out the land at Paddy’s River some six months ago, and it was ‘at this side the bridge on the left hand side coming up and bounded by no person as I can hear of at present’. This letter was annotated by the Surveyor General’s office with the remarks: ‘I am not aware of any such directions having been given to Mr Dixon through this man. DD’.
Despite Martin’s memorials, the government appeared to have a problem with locating him and replying to his letters. Martin was, after all, residing outside the boundaries of ‘civilisation’, in what was termed the ‘new country’, beyond the comfortable County of Cumberland. Major Mitchell forwarded a letter to the Colonial Secretary, dated 10 October 1832, regarding Martin’s application that a grant of 60 acres, promised to him by Sir Thomas Brisbane, could be exchanged for his land at Goulburn to his chosen site at Paddy’s River. Mitchell noted that there was an order in favour of one James Martin, dated 27 May 1824, but there was no record of any selection in the Surveyor General’s Office, either in his name, or on the maps showing the neighbourhood of Goulburn. It appeared that since Martin stated it was never measured, it apparently never was, and as no record of instructions could be located, Mitchell assumed that instructions were never supplied.
Martin’s letter of 16 May 1832 was annotated in pencil and dated June 1836 by Major Mitchell. Mitchell requested that a copy of his former letter to Mr Dixon be sent to Mr Robert Hoddle, who took over from Dixon as surveyor. He requested Martin to notify his selection as Mr Hoddle reported that he had not seen him.
Martin forwarded a further letter, dated 19 June 1837, to the Colonial Secretary, from his abode at 42 York Street, Sydney. He requested the Colonial Secretary to obtain the Governor’s authority to put up for sale two portions of land in the County of Murray, on Jerrabomberra Creek. One portion was 640 acres, one mile south of Charles Campbell’s purchase. The acreage was bounded on the east of Jerrabomberra Creek, and on the west, by the V.R. and on the north and south by section lines. The second portion was also 640 acres, more or less bounded on the north by the first portion, and on the east by Jerrabomberra Creek, and on the south and west by section lines. This was received as ‘No. 260, 19 June , and on the reverse side was written ‘HMR Purchase No. 335, James Martin, 15/30th June 1837’ and ‘Mem price 5/- per acre. Gov decis – approved. Adv’d 15 Aug 1837’. It appears this may have been a purchase and not the land grant Martin had long requested as after this sale, Martin moved on, to Darby Murray’s Flat, Co. Argyle, where he again requested his deeds of 60 acres of land. This portion of land was finally measured, by James Larmer, assistant surveyor in 1838, and was situated by the Wollondilly River, Parish of Towrang, Co. Argyle.
Martin had gained two firsts in the Canberra region—he was the first to live on the land later known as the Yarralumla Estate, and the first to grow a crop of wheat on the Limestone Plains.
...PM Frei, © 2011
See also: George E.N. Weston on this webpage
 SRNSW, Col. Sec. re Land, 2/7915, reel 1156: 24? Aug 1827.
 LTO, Register of Land Grants, Serial no. 15, p.156: dated 30 June 1823; Old Deeds Register, Bk G, 928; 934.
 SRNSW, Col. Sec. re Land, 2/7915, reel 1156: 24? Aug 1827.
 SRNSW, Col. Sec. In Letters, 2/7915, Letter 28/870, reel 1156: 28 Jan 1828.
 SRNSW, Col. Sec. In Letters, 4/2066, Letter 30/667: 23 Jan 1830.
 SRNSW, Surveyor General Letters from Individuals, 2/1689, no. 32/362 Hoddle, 36/232, 16 May 1832.
 SRNSW, Surveyor General Letters from Individuals, 2/1689: 13 Aug 1832.
 SRNSW, Col. Sec. re Land, 2/7915, Letter 32/576, reel 1156: 5 Oct 1832.
 SRNSW, Surveyor General Letters from Individuals, 2/1689, no. 32/362 Hoddle, 36/232, 16 May 1832; 2 Jun
 SRNSW, Col. Sec. re Land, 2/7915, Letter 37/59, reel 1156: 10 Aug 1837.
Captain George Edward Nicholas Weston, a former Captain of the East India Company, received a land grant in 1831 in what is now Weston Creek. This area today comprises the Canberra suburbs of Weston, Stirling, Waramanga and Fisher – all within the area known as Weston Creek ACT.
Edward Weston, as he was known, was born on 29 November 1796 in West Horsley, Surrey, England. He departed for Australia on 4 January 1829 from Ile de France, Mauritius, on the merchant ship Vesper. He arrived in Sydney on 14 March 1829, and married Blanche Johnston on 21 May 1829 at St. James’s Church, Sydney. Edward’s wife was the daughter of George Johnston (1764-1823) who sailed in the Lady Penrhyn with the marine detachment in the First Fleet, and was reputedly the first man ashore at Port Jackson in January 1788. Just after their marriage, Edward and his wife returned to India to wind up his affairs and then returned to Australia to settle. They returned much later than expected, with two children, on the Caroline, arriving at Sydney on 31 July 1831 from India. He was often known as General Weston, because of his initials.
The 2,560 acre, ‘four-square miles’ grant to Edward Weston at the ‘Yarrow-Lumla plains’ was completed on 31 October 1831, together with all buildings, ways, etc., bounded on the north by the Molonglo River and on the west by his brother-in-law, Robert Johnston. Weston's grant was part of an area used by both James Martin and Robert Johnston, squatters. It is thought Johnston sought his brother-in-law's help in applying for a grant in this area so Johnston could use it for his stock, thereby pushing Martin out of the area. As he was still a Marine, Johnston could not apply for any further grants, so Weston applied for the grant and his brother-in-law used the land to graze his stock. Martin went further east to Jerrabomberra, then settled near Bombala NSW.
Although the suburb of Weston carries the same name, the suburb was named for the Weston homestead which originally stood in this area. The area was once known as Western Creek.
The suburb's name has nothing to do with Thomas Charles George Weston, a horticulturalist, who was born in 1866, at Poyle, Middlesex, England, migrated to Australia in 1896, and was in charge of the Afforestation Branch, Canberra, from 1913 until 1926.
Excerpt from: Thomas Walker, A Month in the Bush of Australia: Journal of one of a party of gentlemen who recently travelled from Sydney to Port Philip: with some remarks on the present state of the farming establishments and society in the settled parts of the Argyle country. J. Cross, London, 1838, pp. 7-10.
Walker mentions pioneer pastoralists Dr Andrew Gibson of Tirranna, near Goulburn NSW – William Faithful of Springfield, near Goulburn – John Gore of Gilmour, Lake Bathurst - James McFarlane of Inveralochy, Goulburn Plains -Terence Aubrey Murray at Winderadeen, Collector NSW and Cornelius O’Brien of Cooma Cottage, Yass; landform, vegetation, farming and grazing around Yass, Gundaroo, Lake George and Lake Bathurst NSW, both dry in 1837.