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William Small (1828–1905)

from Clarence and Richmond Examiner

By the death of Mr. William Small, J.P.. of Swan Creek, there passed away one of that hardy band who really opened up the little known country of the North Coast districts some 65 years ago. He, in fact, is the last of what may be termed the early squatters, who came to the North Coast over 60 years ago, contemporaneous with Ogilvie, Dobie, Aitken, Ryan, Busby, Wyndham, Grosse, Pagan, Leycester, Stephens, Fawcett, Bundock, Clay, Stapleton, Forster, Blaxland, Coutts, and a score of others who like these are now only known by the chance of their names attached to some feature of the country. The Smalls had a big share in the early settlement of the Clarence. Two brothers, Thomas and John, had a numerous family of big strapping sons and daughters. Settled at Kissing Point, or Ryde as it is now known on the Parramatta River, they had large orchards, and the former, being connected by marriage, with the Devlins, another enterprising sturdy family of early State history, engaged in shipping and squatting on the Murrumbidgee, and when news of the discovery of the Clarence was brought to Sydney the Smalls were among the very first to equip a schooner for the trade and to exploit the vast cedar brushes which report said truly fringed the banks of the big river. The schooner Susan, named after one of the daughters, had just been launched by the Smalls and was sent to the Clarence with sawyers. The Smalls came also, John settling on Woodford Island, and Thomas subsequently applying for the squattage known as Swan Creek and Quiarigo. Thomas, the father of the late Mr. William Small, brought some of the stock from the Murrumbidgee, where Mr. Thomas Small, jun, one of his sons, was on the station, the latter himself acquiring the Pillar Valley and Matildadale runs. Mr. William Small first visited the Clarence in 1840 when he was 12 years of age, and a few years later became manager for his father, at whose death he inherited the estate. When the rush of farmers from the Hunter took place in 1856-57 and on for many years, buying as freehold the rich lands adjacent, the Smalls by pre-emptive purchase and auction sales acquired large areas of the best lands and prospered. Mr. William Small, whose estate was about three miles from Grafton, imported pure-bred Shorthorn cattle from England, bulls and cows, two noted animals of the former being Skyrocket and Goldjacket, and his draught horses, then imported from England, also did a great deal to improve the breed on the Clarence and establish its fame for draught stock. Among the high priced horses he then introduced were Lisington, Royal Lincoln, and Plantation (all Lincolns), Prince Imperial (Clydesdale), and then Perfection, a Yorkshire horse, and considered a class to get hunters. Then for his sons (T. A. Small), he bought Butley Boy, a Suffolk Punch, and for W. Small, jun., Oakland, another draught horse. When Mr. William Small sold his run and cattle in 1882 to Mr. W. A. Smith, he devoted his attention almost entirely to horse stock. All through his career he had been a man to extend a helping hand to others, and when he had the means no one appealed to him in vain. Many a family owe their position to-day to the liberal assistance thus extended to their parents. He was one of the original share holders to establish the North Coast S.N. Coy., and the same help was given to the North Coast Farmers Co-op. Coy. He was a man of fine physique, with broad and deep chest, who would have been an athlete in modern days, and the writer well remembers him with his brother Sam in the first regatta held on the Clarence rowing a single oars race from Cowan's wharf round Susan Island, an event the Small brothers won easily. Deceased was one of the originators of the Clarence Agricultural Society, and was for many years a regular exhibitor of stock, his old grey hackney Badger (a half-bred Arab), being the champion for some year. Mr. Small had been a magistrate for over 50 years, and for many years was very regular in his attendance at Grafton Police Court. – "Northern Star."

Original publication

Other Obituaries for William Small

Citation details

'Small, William (1828–1905)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


14 December, 1828
Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


12 November, 1905 (aged 76)
Grafton, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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