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McDougall, Alexander Waugh (1800–1888)

The following particulars of the venerable gentleman who went to his rest in the early part of the week have been kindly supplied to us by a friend:—

Mr. A. W. [Alexander Waugh] McDougall at his decease was eighty-seven years of age, having been born in April, 1800. He settled here in 1829, and built close to the river a temporary place of residence. All the present site of Maitland was then covered by a dense cedar brush. The grant was 900 acres to Thomas McDougall, eldest brother of A. W. McDougall, who never lived on the land, and died without a will, by which his second brother (John Kerr McDougall), as heir-at-law, took the nine hundred acres. He very fairly, and in compliance with what he believed to be his brother's wishes, divided the grant fairly amongst his brothers and one sister.

At the start A. W. McDougall had no one to assist him except Government men. He burnt a kiln of bricks close to the place where the punt was afterwards established, and cut the cedar and other timber for his future residence out of the Brush. After which Mr. and Mrs. McDougall rode over to the farm here from Windsor, and after some time he commenced the present building, which has been the family residence over since.

Mr. McDougall was made a magistrate some time in the forties. He was celebrated in the early days as a good manager of his men, and contrasted most favourably with others, who had an unenviable notoriety as flogging masters. He never had his men flogged, but, if they were not manageable by fair means, he sent them back to the Barracks.

After the residence was built he began to plant an orchard and orangery for the use of the family and as the years rolled on, finding the utility and probable income to be derived from it, he gradually enlarged it. The whole is now about fourteen acres.

Mr. McDougall's share of the grant was 200 acres, out of which very little has been sold. He experienced the bad times in 1840, and endeavoured to sell part of the land then adjoining the Punt Road, and now occupied by Mr. H. L. McDougall as town lots; but only one was sold, which was afterwards swept into the river.

At the time of Mr. McDougall's settling down, here, there was a very large camp of blacks on a high bank of the river, covered with gum trees at Nilho; and, although they were not troublesome to the whites, hostile bands frequently met and fought on the gravelly beach below Mrs. Risby's Hotel, where there was then a ford across the river. The local tribe was evidently attracted to the spot by the abundance of game in the scrub or brush, and by the fish in the river. And, as the clearings became larger and game scarcer, Mr. McDougall was one of those who was a continual and kindly helper to the blacks in providing them with food.

Besides the farm at Lorn, Mr. McDougall owned a large estate at Singleton, now occupied by Dr. White, which was sacrificed to meet his difficulties incurred in the disastrous droughts and depression in 1840 and the following years. He also held a share in the celebrated Piallaway Station on Liverpool Plains, and as the great value of properties of that character began to be seen, he sold out his rights, and it is now the property of a large pastoral company, who value it at three pounds an acre for the secured land. It was and is one of the finest grazing estates that this colony can produce.

Mr. McDougall, in his great experience saw the time when the Hunter at West Maitland was merely a chain of waterholes, and yet again saw a schooner built above the falls towed down the river by the old deep channel when in fresh.

Mr. McDougall though truly one of the pioneers and entitled to be heard on all matters from his keen common sense, and his probity, was a retiring and unambitious man, but was always ready to when his counsel or advice was sought. As one of the mourners at his grave said "Ah, well, there's another of the good old sort gone."

Original publication

Citation details

'McDougall, Alexander Waugh (1800–1888)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/mcdougall-alexander-waugh-17562/text29236, accessed 23 August 2019.

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