Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Andrew Lang - Settler

Dunmore - Map 2

The Lang family forefathers had resided for over a hundred and fifty years on a small property which had formed part of the family estates of Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, and which was sold in order to emigrate to New South Wales. . (Note 78 page 341 re Rev. Lang in HRA, vol. XI p. 922)

A List published in the Topographical Description of Ayreshire in 1820 shows a property belonging to William Lang - Burnside, Hangingheugh, and another belonging to Mrs. Dunsmure (Dunmore), part of the Nether Dochra.

Arrival of George Lang

The Lang family arrived in Australia on three different ships between 1821 and 1823....

George Lang b. 1802 was the first to arrive. He came to Sydney via Van Diemen's Land on the Brixton in August 1821

Although he possessed limited means, he applied to Governor Macquarie in a Memorial dated October 1821, for the usual indulgences of a settler. He received the following replies:

To George Lang........
13th November 1821
In reply to your Memorial of the 17th October, I have in command from His Excellency the Governor to inform you that he will allow you to become a settler in this colony and for that purpose will make you a grant of four hundred acres of land and will assign you the services of two convict servants, who with yourself will be victualled from the King's Stores for six months from the date of your taking up your possession of your said land
I am, Sir,
Your obedient Servant
F. Goulburn, Colonial Secretary.

Governor Thomas Makdougall Brisbane arrived in the colony in November 1821.

To George Lang.......

20 April 1822
I am directed by His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane to inform you in reply to your letter of the 5th March 1822, that he will make you a grant of one thousand acres of land and will assign you the services of four convict servants who with yourself will be victualled from the King's Stores for six months from the date of your taking possession of your said land
I am ,
Your Obedient Servant
F. Goulburn, Colonial Secretary


George Lang was granted permission to travel to Newcastle on the Elizabeth Henrietta on 27th May 1822 and may have selected his land at this time.

Arrival of Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang

George Lang's older brother Rev. John Dunmore Lang (b. 1799) arrived on the Andromeda in May 1823

Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang

Rev. Dr. John Dunmore Lang

Arrival of Andrew, William, Mary and Isabella Lang

Andrew (b. 1807) with their parents William and Mary and sister Isabella (b.1808) arrived on the Greenock in November 1823. A man by the name of Richard Lang also arrived on the Greenock in 1823 but it is unclear if this is a brother or other relative as Rev. Lang refers to his one surviving brother Andrew in Account of the Colony in NSW.

In December 1824 George Lang was granted permission for victualling for himself and four convict servants....

Patrick McKew per Mary

Joseph Cooper per Hindostan

James Wood per Prince Regent and

Thomas Murphy per Prince Regent

Death of George Lang

Rev. John D. Lang was in England when George died of an inflammatory disease in January 1825 at the young age of 23.

When he heard the news, Rev. Lang wrote a verse in memory of George which he later published in Poems : Sacred and Secular: Written Chiefly at Sea, Within the Last Half-century

To the Memory of Mr. George Lang, who died in Sydney 18th January 1825.

Biography of George Lang

The following brief biography is included in the above publication -

Mr. George Lang, the Author's brother, was educated at the University of Glasgow. He was induced to emigrate to New South Wales by the assurance of patronage and support from His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, to whose immediate neighbourhood he belonged; and immediately on his arrival in this country he had the honour of receiving a grant of 400 acres of land, without previous solicitation of any kind, from His Excellency Governor Macquarie. A few months thereafter he received from the Deputy-Commissary-General an appointment in the Commissariat Department, which he held till after the Author's return to Europe in 1824. During the Author's absence from the colony, however, he died in Sydney, of an inflammatory fever, on the 18th of January, 1825, aged 23 years, and was buried in the Scots Church by permission of His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane - his parents, who had arrived in the Colony in January, 1824, being unwilling that the Church of England service should be read over his grave.

The Author's forefathers, who were Scotch farmers, were obliged, in common with many more of their countrymen, to flee from their native land for righteousness' sake, during the violent persecution to which the Scots Presbyterians were subjected, in the reign of Charles the Second. They obtained a temporary asylum in Holland, from whence they returned to Scotland at the revolution of 1688
James Adair John Boughton Edward Close - Green Hills George Cobb Edward Gostsyck Cory Gilbert Cory John Cory william cummings Andrew Dixon Robert Corum Dillon Leslie Duguid William Dun William Evans George Frankland William Hicks Beresford Hudson William Innes Richard Jones James Kelly Andrew Lang - Dunmore Robert Lethbridge Alexander Livingstone James McClymont Thomas McDougall George Muir Find out more about Maitland Timothy Nowlan Henry Dixon Owen - Aberglasslyn Richard Pritchett James Phillips James Read (Reid) George Shaw Rutherford Walter Scott Gentleman John Smith John Galt Smith Hugh Torrance John Tucker Susannah Matilda Ward Susannah Matilda Ward William Charles Wentworth John Wighton Gorge Williams Caleb and Felix Wilson John Thomas Maughan Early Settler Map 1

The Lang Family at Dunmore

On his death George Lang's grant passed to his family. The grant wasn't immediately taken up, perhaps not until 1826 or 1827.

Andrew Lang and William Lang worked hard to establish Dunmore which was named for Andrew's mother Mary. In the 1828 Census they had acquired a total of 2330 acres with 100 acres cleared and 50 acres cultivated. They owned five horses and 90 sheep.

William Lang drowned in 1830 when the vessel he was sailing to Sydney was wrecked in a squall.

Andrew continued on at the Estate and a mill, Presbyterian Church and school were completed. Dunmore House, built before the death of William was a two story stone building facing towards the river. Find out more about Dunmore House at Historic Houses Trust

Fatiguing Overland Journey to Dunmore

Thirty years later Rev. J.D. Lang recalled a fatiguing journey to visit his brother Andrew at Dunmore........

My brother, Mr. Andrew Lang, of Dunmore, Hunter's River, now a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, is settled about forty miles from the mouth of the River Hunter, which disembogues at Newcastle, about seventy miles to the northward of Sydney; and about thirty years ago, when I had occasion to visit that part of the country, it took me regularly three days' hard riding over a rugged mountainous country to reach his residence overland, the distance being upwards of 110 miles; and on that journey I have repeatedly been out two nights by the way, sleeping on the grass, wrapped up in a boat-cloak, by a fire we had kindled in the open forest. And when I contrived to go by water, as the weekly sailing-packet, which would frequently occupy several days on the voyage, went only to the mouth of the river, I had to be rowed up or down by two boatmen the rest of the way, bivouacking generally for a few hours on the banks during the night, till the tide turned. In either case the delay, fatigue, and annoyances of the journey were great, and the expense serious [1]

Andrew Lang

Andrew Lang was involved in the community and on many committees such as the Maitland District Pastoral Association, Committee to collect subscription for the distressed in Ireland; Committee for Maitland Hospital; Judge at Hunter River Agricultural Society show....

The produce of the Dunmore vineyard was described by Rev. Lang in 1847; Hunter River Vineyard Association -

My brother, Mr. Andrew Lang, J.P. of Dunmore, Hunter's River, New South Wales, has had 1200 gallons per acre, from a vineyard on his property in that locality, under the management of a German vigneron from the kingdom of Wurttemberg. In both cases the wine is of a light watery character, like the Rhenish and Moselle wines ; and I am strongly of opinion that the general use of such a beverage is destined to be far more serviceable to the cause of temperance and of Scriptural Christianity in the Australian Colonies generally

Death of Mary Dunmore Lang

In August 1844 Andrew's mother Mary Dunmore Lang died at Dunmore aged 75 -

Mrs. Lang has been long and extensively known, both in this district and in Sydney, as a person of a remarkably vigorous mind, of great decision of character, of unbending religious principle, and of warm active and untiring benevolence. She will be long and deeply regretted.

Marriage of Andrew Lang

On the 8th November 1849 Andrew Lang married Emily, the eldest daughter of Lieut. William Caswell at Balickerra, Williams River. They later returned to England.

Convict Workers

Rev. John Dunmore Lang described the conditions convicts worked under on his brother Andrew Lang's farm -

The convict-servants on the different farms of the colony are usually lodged in huts formed of split-timber, and thatched with long grass or straw, at a little distance from the proprietor's house. Two of these huts, with a partition between them, form one erection; and each of them is inhabited by four men. A large fireplace is constructed at one end of the hut, where the men cook their provisions, and around which they assemble in the winter evenings, with a much greater appearance of comfort than the sentimentalist would imagine. Rations, consisting of ten and a half pounds of flour, seven pounds of beef or four and a half pounds of pork, with a certain proportion of tea, sugar, and tobacco, are distributed to each of them weekly; and they receive shoes and slop-clothing either twice a year, or whenever they require them. Pumpkins, potatoes, and other vegetables, they are allowed to cultivate for themselves.

On my brother's farm at Hunter's River - and I believe a similar system is pursued on most of the large agricultural farms throughout the colony - the overseer rises at day-break, and rings a bell, which is affixed to a tree, as a signal for the men to proceed to their labour. The greater number follow the overseer to the particular agricultural operation which the season requires; the rest separate to their several employments, one to the plough, another to the garden, and a third to the dairy, while a fourth conducts the cattle to their pasture. The bell is again rung at eight o'clock, when the men assemble for breakfast, for which they are allowed one hour; they again return to their labour till one o'clock, when they have an hour for dinner, and they afterwards labour from two till sunset. The condition of a convict in New South Wales depends greatly on the character of his master: it is in the power of the latter to render his yoke easy and his burden light; it is equally in his power, however, to make him superlatively miserable. In general, the lot of a convict in the colony is by no means a hard one: for the most part, he is better clothed, better fed, and better lodged, than three-fourths of the labouring agricultural population of Great Britain and Ireland; while, at the same time, his labour is beyond all comparison much less oppressive. In a great many instances, indeed, the object of the convict evidently is to get as much in the shape of allowances, and to do as little in the shape of hard labour, as possible. The grand secret in the management of convict-servants is to treat them with kindness, and at the same time with firmness; to speak to them always in a conciliating manner, and at the same time to keep them constantly employed: and it is nothing less than absolute blindness to his own interest, and a want of common sense amounting to downright infatuation, that can lead any master to treat them otherwise. It must be acknowledged, however, that such infatuation has prevailed in New South Wales to a lamentable extent; and has greatly retarded the advancement of the colony on the one hand, and occasioned much misery on the other

Condition of a Cluster of Highland Emigrants in New South Wales

In a late article on the destitute condition of the population of a large district of the Highlands, mention was made of the improvement which had taken place in the circumstances of a particular individual who had emigrated from Skye in 1837, and settled upon the property of Mr Lang, on Hunter's River in New South Wales. We are now able to present an account of the improved circumstances (cluster of Highland emigrants to which that individual belonged. We derive our information from a private letter of the Rev. Dr Lang to Mr John Bowie, W.S., Edinburgh.

It is first to be observed that these men were generally in the most wretched state before they left Skye. They were totally unable to pay their own passage-money, and consequently were carried out at the expense of the colonial emigration fund. Many of them had no property whatever besides their clothes, and some had to be assisted even with clothing, before they could undertake the voyage. One or two excerpts from the notices of the Skye parishes in the New Statistical Account of Scotland, will help to complete the idea of how these poor men and their families lived in their native island. We quote from the notices of several of the parishes, which are all in the same condition : - The poor tenants are almost invariably under the necessity of having their cattle under the same roof with themselves, without partition, without division, and without a chimney ; the houses, therefore, are smoky and filthy in the extreme, and, having little either of night or day clothing, and their children nearly approaching to absolute nakedness, they are fully as much without cleanliness in their persons as they are in their houses. No people on earth live on more simple or scanty diet than those in this parish. The greater number of them subsist on potatoes of the worst kind, sometimes with, but oftener without fish.

The inhabitants may be characterised as sober and active, but it must be admitted that they want that persevering industry which is necessary to improve their condition. The able-bodied among them, after their potatoes are planted in the end of spring, go to the south in search of employment. They return again at Martinmas, and their earnings go to pay the landlord's rents, and to support the weaker members of their families. The winter is almost altogether spent in idleness. There is no demand for labour in the parish, and hence there is only occasional exertion on the part of the people. As the summer earnings are spent during the winter, there is seldom or never a fund laid up for sickness or old age, and when cither of these comes, there is great poverty and privation. Their clothing consists of cloth of their own manufacture ; this they find fitter to resist the weather than any manufactured in the south. Their food consists principally of potatoes. Oatmeal is a luxury among them, and butcher-meat is seldom tasted. Their poverty arises very much from overpopulation. There are 500 families in the parish. Of these only six pay upwards of £50 yearly rent; 269 pay from £10 to 7s. 6d. per annum; and there are 225 families, comprising upwards of 1100 individuals, located in different parts of the parish, who pay no rents, deriving their subsistence from small portions of land given them by the rent-payers for raising potatoes. These are a burden to the proprietor, inasmuch as they destroy the land in cutting fuel and turf, and are a grievous burden to the inhabitants generally, from the extent of pauperism prevailing among them.

The flocks of the large sheepowners are annually thinned by those who feel the pinching of famine; and to such an extent is this system carried now, that it has led to the proposal of establishing a rural police throughout the island, which is expected to come into immediate operation - a measure completely unprecedented in the history of the Highlands. Such being the condition of vast numbers of people in the Highlands, it must be gratifying to every humane mind to learn how greatly the condition of our emigrants has been improved, even within the first year of their residence in Australia.

It had occurred to Dr Lang that it would be desirable to keep the Highland emigrants together if possible, instead of dispersing them as labourers throughout the colony, as in the former case they might have schools and churches suitable to their own wishes. It was determined to try an experiment to that effect, and accordingly the twenty-three families in question, who had landed from the Midlothian in December 1837, were transferred to Dunmore on Hunter's River, an extensive and nourishing district to the north of Sydney, belonging to Mr Andrew Lang, the government previously agreeing to give them two months' provisions. Dr Lang observed their progress for a year, but was then obliged to revisit his native country, where, in September 1839, he wrote the letter which we are about to quote. My brother's estate, says he, consists of about 2500 acres of land, of which about 1500 are alluvial land, formed by successive depositions from the river, of the first quality, and of the utmost fertility; and the portion of it on which the Highlanders are settled is within two miles of the village of Morpeth or Greenhills, from which there is a daily communication by steam-boats with the town of Sydney, which, of course, affords an eligible market for farm-produce of every description. Alluvial land, when clear of timber, in that neighbourhood, has been let at as high a rental as 30s. per acre; but the terms on which the Highlanders were settled were as follows : - Small farms, of from twelve to thirty acres, were measured off to each family - partly clear land and partly wooded. Leases of these farms were granted them for seven years, at the rate of L.1 per acre of yearly rental for the clear land - the wooded land being rent free for four years. Rations, or provisions, with implements of agricultural labour, were also advanced to them on credit, till they should be enabled to pay for them from the produce of their land.

The Highland settlement, which was known in the neighbourhood by the name of Skye, was formed in the month of January 1838 ; some of the Highlanders preferring to have their land all wooded, that they might sit rent free for four years, and others to have it all clear, that they might have it immediately under cultivation. Houses, tolerably comfortable in some instances, were easily erected by means of saplings found in the neighbourhood - the roof consisting of reeds or bark. By a little economy, the Highlanders were enabled to make the government ration of beef, which had been granted them for two months, last out four; and my mother, who happened to be residing with my brother at the time, taught the women how to prepare porridge and bread for their husbands and children, from the Indian corn or maize meal of the colony, which they procured at a comparatively cheap rate ; supplying them, at the same time, with various little indulgences, which could easily be spared from a large colonial establishment. To enable them to get in their crops with greater expedition, my brother also supplied them by turns with a plough and bullock team, a ploughman and bullock-driver, receiving payment in labour ; a day's ploughing being reckoned to so many days' labour. And when their crops were in, those of them who were inclined to be industrious obtained employment at remunerating wages - either on my brothers property or on others in the neighbourhood.

By this means, most of them acquired a little money for the purchase of pigs and poultry, and, in some instances, even of cows. When the settlement was thus fairly formed, and when various additional Highland families by other ships had joined it, my brother built a school for their children in a central locality. The school is also used as a temporary chapel on Sabbath, as often as the services of a minister can be procured to officiate, either in the English or Gaelic languages. It is a neat brick building, covered with stumps or wooden slates, with glass windows and a deal floor. It cost L.150, including school apparatus - the government contributing the one-half of the expenditure and my brother the other. The schoolmaster, for whom I succeeded in obtaining a salary from the colonial government of about L.75 per annum, before I left the colony, is Mr John Whitelaw, of the normal seminary of Glasgow, formerly a student at the university of that city ; and in the month of December last, when I visited the school, the number of pupils in attendance was upwards of sixty.

My colleague, the Rev. W. McIntyre of Sydney, has hitherto visited the district about once a quarter, on which occasions he officiates both in the school-house and in the church at Maitland, four or five miles distant, in the Gaelic language ; but the Presbyterian minister at Maitland, the Rev. Robert Blain, frequently officiates in the settlement in English. I have brought home a requisition, however, for a Gaelic minister for the settlement, signed by ninety-nine adult Highlanders, most of whom are residing on my brother's property. A schedule drawn up by Mr Whitelaw, in January last, shows the state of the settlement at that time. The wheat harvest had terminated in the month of November 1838, and the maize, or Indian corn, and tobacco had been planted about the same time or shortly before, either on the stubble land from which the wheat had been reaped, or on other land which had been cleared while it was growing. In short, the original settlement had been completely successful, and a number of additional families of emigrant Highlanders had also been permitted, at their own earnest request, to settle in the mean time on other small farms in their immediate neighbourhood and in the same way.

The schedule referred to gives a minute statement of the condition of the twenty-three emigrants in January 1839. It is too formal a document for these light pages, but its details are most interesting. We find, besides a column for the number of acres each man had in cultivation, such notices as the following after almost every one: - Has two cows and two pigs ;  Has two cows, one pig, and a small stock of poultry ; or at least Has a small stock of poultry. When these possessions are contrasted with the want of all things experienced in their native country, and when we consider that but a year had then elapsed from the commencement of the settlement, we cannot doubt that a few years will see a cluster of miserable Hebridean peasants transformed into a set of farmers equal to those in the average districts of their native country.....Chambers Edinburgh Journal


[1] Queensland, Australia: a highly eligible field for emigration, and the Future Cotton Field of Great Britain ... By John Dunmore Lang

[2] An historical and statistical Account of the Colony of NSW John Dunmore Lang

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