Introduction to the People of Western NSW and Some of Central NSW

My name is Rusheen Craig. My Byrnes Family came out from Ireland in 1858 to settle along the Darling River of Far Western New South Wales. My branch of the family moved from the country in 1910 and gradually all contact was lost with the Byrnes who had stayed on the Land. Thus I have no first-hand knowledge of the West. When contact was re- established I found that the Family Tree had been done and all that was left was to provide some of the finer details of their life on the Land. Easy I thought. I am in Sydney. The records are in Sydney. All I have to do is to go down and look things up. It proved to be a much more difficult task than I had anticipated.

My Byrnes Family had Homestead Leases. From 1885 Homestead Leases spread out across Far Western New South Wales. Because each 10,240 acre lease had to first be carefully surveyed they provide a wealth of knowledge about vegetation, soil type, carrying capacity and improvements. They tell us about the state of the land at that time. Through information contained in their Homestead Lease application and from their correspondence with the Department we learn about the lives of the Lessees. Much was changed by the regulations of fencing and residency associated with the leases. Homestead Leases were important yet no one had bothered to even collect the names of the Lessees. So I went to the NSW Government Gazettes and did the Homestead Leases. Then the change of the Pastoral Leases and Homestead Leases into Western Land Leases. In more recent times I have started on the Homestead Lease Transfers.

At this point I would like to express my thanks for Linda, the List Admin and her Deputy who worked so hard to put my amateur efforts onto Rootsweb NSW-West List. That provide a wonderful website that is fully searchable:

My Byrnes Family had hotels out West. So I did the Publicans’ Licenses for Western NSW 1865 to 1900. My great grandmother was an O’Brien. The O’Brien Family came from around Wellington. I attempted to include the Licenses for some of Central NSW. After six years of licenses I found that the combined West and Central was too much for me; after the 1870 Licenses only licenses for the West were included in my listings. Throughout the website I use the rather clumsy term “some of Central NSW” because my research was for the Rootsweb defined area Central NSW. Areas that you would normally expect to describe as “Central” such as Bathurst/Orange are excluded because they have their own List. For the main towns in NSW-Central see:

Once again my thanks to Linda and her Deputy for putting my Publicans’ Licenses on NSW-West.

By now you will have gathered that I was on a bit of a quest to name the ordinary people whose lives contributed to Western and Central NSW. Things that appeared in the Government Gazettes and newspapers were collected.

Years ago (long before the professional work on the Gazette for other years was done) I thought that I might name the people of Western and some of Central NSW who appeared in the Government Gazette for 1900. The idea was to provide a hint / link to recent ancestors. As in all things that I do, my work is meant as a possible reference rather than an authority.

For the past two years little has been heard from me on NSW-West. There were personal reasons for this in the first year. Last year I became focused on Wentworth who are to celebrate their 150th Celebrations next weekend. Work too detailed to appeal to NSW-West but work very important to Wentworth itself. I am cutting it fine to complete this; I leave to go down there at 4.30 tomorrow morning.

Throughout all my years of research I have had the support of my husband Don. He was there when I called “Don how do I get the computer to do this?” He was there with a meal prepared when I came home from my five-hours-of traveling-day to go to Kingswood. He was there to share in my excitement when I found something special. He calmed me down when things went wrong. He shared my one too brief trip to the West. More recently he had started to prepare a website to put on my Wentworth research.

My dear husband had a massive heart attack on 12th May and died. I would like to dedicate this website to his memory.

Knowing how much the Wentworth celebrations meant to me my son-in-law David stepped in. He transferred everything from my computer and in the two weeks since I decided to go ahead with my (should have been “our”) Wentworth visit he has set up this website. You can have no idea of the tolerance he has shown because my mind is not yet thinking straight and I continually give him wrong instructions. Thank you so much David.

The story of Western NSW has been told by Historians. For the most part the ordinary person in the West has been ignored. This website is my small attempt to rectify this.
Rusheen Craig, 14 June 2009