Thursday, August 22, 2013

Rouse Hill House and Farm - A True Heritage

Rouse Hill House

Rouse Hill House and Farm at Rouse Hill in western Sydney, is managed by Sydney Living Museums under the Historic Houses Trust of NSW

It is indeed a living museum taking us back to the early days of the colony of New South Wales, and telling us the story of six generations of the Rouse family who continuously lived there from its beginnings in 1813 to 1990s.

It is rich in both colonial and convict heritage.

The actual site is the traditional lands of the Darug aboriginal people. After the founding of the colony, it saw the passage of the Hawkesbury Road (1794-1813) and later Governor Macquarie's original Windsor turnpike road of 1813. It was also the scene of the 1804 Viengar Hill convict uprising.

View of Old Windsor (turnpike) Road looking west from
Second Ponds Creek, near the site of the 1813 tollhouse.

View of Old Windsor Road looking west towards
the school house near the site of the vinegar Hill
1804 convict uprising.

Richard Rouse was the Superintendent of Public Works and Convicts. Appointed in 1805, he moved with his family to a house opposite the gates of Government House at Parramatta. Due to his loyalty to Governor William Bligh he lost his position, but in January 1810 he was reinstated by Governor Lachlan Macquarie. He oversaw the construction of many buildings, tollhouses and turnpikes around Parramatta, Windsor and Liverpool.

In 1813, Rouse was contracted by Governor Macquarie to build a tollhouse at the foot of Vinegar Hill on the Windsor turnpike road. He received a 450 acre land grant in the vicinity which at the suggestion of Macquarie was named Rouse Hill.

Although the actual grant was not made official until 8 October 1816, it appears that Rouse had been clearing the land from 1813 and had begun construction of the construction of a Georgian style house.

Convict labour would have been used extensively in the construction of the house and the farm outbuildings, including the stables.   

The House

Front view of Rouse Hill House
Open Day 17 August 2013

Dining Room

Inside Stairs

Exposed area of floor of upper storey showing the work
of convict carpenters

Back Courtyard

View of the back of the House
showing entry to the courtyard area

View of the Summerhouse and pathway

The Farm Outbuildings

Bathhouse  1856

Shearing shed



Impressive Stables building

Stonework outside of Stables

Inside view of stalls

An interesting early "No smoking allowed " sign

The Convict Database of History Services NSW has records for 31 convicts that were specifically assigned to Richard Rouse at Rouse Hill, upon their arrival in the Colony. The list is as follows:

BOYLE John Bussorah Merchant 14/12/1831
BULLOCK Benjamin Waterloo 9/7/1829
COMPSON James Staffordshire 16/11/1832
DOOLAN Patrick Bussorah Merchant 14/12/1831
FARRELL James Sophia 17/1/1829
FARRELLY Thomas Calcutta 5/8/1837
FORDE John Borodino 12/7/1828
FRESHWATER Thomas Manlius 11/8/1827
HARROW Michael Larkins 22/11/1817
HEALY Timothy Borodino 12/7/1828
HEWITT Patrick Borodino 12/7/1828
HITCH John Norfolk 12/2/1837
HOLT Samuel Florentia 3/1/1828
 [M'CLINCHY] Daniel Sophia 17/1/1829
M'GRATH Owen Ferguson 26/3/1829
M'NALLY Daniel Sophia 17/1/1829
NICHOLS William Sesostris 21/3/1826
ODGERS Edward Sophia 17/1/1829
[OLIPHANT] Edwin Parmelia 16/11/1832
PAGE Edmund Surrey 26/11/1831
PEACHMAN John Florentia 15/12/1830
[ROEBUCK] William Parmelia 16/11/1832
REED Thomas Surrey 26/11/1831
RINGROSE George Marquis of Huntley 21/8/1830
ROBERTSON James America 18/8/1829
ROBINSON Benjamin Manlius 11/8/1827
ROBINSON William Asia 13/2/1832
ROTHWELL James Florentia 15/12/1830
WARREN William Vittoria 17/1/1829
WOODISON Thomas Marquis of Hastings 31/7/1827

In his capacity as Superintendent of Convicts at Parramatta and the owner of a  a property at Bathurst, History Services NSW has some further 230 records of convicts who had come under the jurisdiction of Richard Rouse.

If you are interested in researching the convict history of the Rouse story, in particular that of Rouse Hill, you should go to the website at:

Prepared by Mary McGuinness

All photos taken on the Open Day at Rouse Hill House and Farm on 17 August 2013

Richard Rouse (1774-1852) - Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2 (MUP) 1967 - article by Majorie Lenehan.

Convict Database  of History Services NSW