Some streets in Marsfield have received their names from influential early colonial inhabitants who owned the first properties. Originally divided amongst twelve in 1790, Ryde began its first step to the flourishing community it is today. This blog delves into the first five families as we outline their exploits, influence and developments of properties on the land that was never ceded by the Wallamattagal people of the Dharug nation.

The Smalls

John Small was a sergeant of the marines, who journeyed across the world with Governor Phillip. He and his wife had a daughter, who became the first freeborn of Australasia. This family would come to spread all across the Field of Mars - Pennant Hills, Ryde and Willandra to name a few. Noteworthy descendants see their immortality represented through the naming of our streets.

Small Street in Putney is named after Thomas Small, first son to John Small.

Small’s Road in Ryde/North Ryde is named for William Small, who at the time of his death was likely the oldest new Australian.

The Shepherds

James Shepherd and his wife Ann Thorn had amassed 20 acres of land from Governor Hunter. This land stretched from Parramatta Road to the river. Thus, becoming called ‘Thorn Farm’. From this farm, the first orange tree of Australia blossomed. Similarly to the Smalls, this family spread its wings of influence right across this new territory - Isaac Shepherd to Morrison and Church Street, and James Shepherd to New Zealand and back as a missionary. This family soon owned most of the property in the local area with James being appointed Alderman in 1874.

Shepherd Street in Ryde was named after James Shepherd for his contributions to the community.

The Blaxlands

Two brothers, Gregory and John Blaxland, arrived in 1805 from England with the promise of 8,000 acres for permanent emigration. Their history is riddled with conflict with authority, with John at one point returning to England. However, Gregory is the one plastered over our history books with his 1813 successful expedition across the Blue Mountains. As a reward for his endeavours, each explorer received 1,000 acres of land; Gregory sold his right and subsequently settled at Brush Farm. Planting a vineyard and consequently producing Australia’s first wine. Notable roads include:

Blaxland Road & Lane in Ryde - originally named Blaxland’s track, as it was the thoroughfare between Brush Farm and Kissing Point.

Blaxland Road in Denistone/Eastwood - named after the descendent, Dr. Herbert Blaxland who subdivided the Miriam Estate.

The Darvalls

John Darvall arrived in Sydney in 1838, where his mark is left through the numerous properties he and his family bought and built. Major Edward Darvall bought Denistone House, then the Cleves Estate on Parramatta River. Afterwards he purchased Glen Ryde, near St Charles’ Church, next was Ryedale on Parramatta Road, where he built his family home. This home was dubbed Ryedale Estate which consisted of 3,000 acres from Eastwood station to Ryde Station. While the Darvall family isn’t as dispersed as previous mentions, three roads still carry their name.

Darvall Road in Denistone West/Eastwood/West Ryde; and Ryedale Road & Lane in West Ryde/Eastwood/Denistone named after Edward’s 1855 construction of the Ryedale Estate.

The Squires

James Squire, like the Blaxlands, arrived in Ryde in 1790 with the promise of fortunes. Building his cottage fronting the River, his business savvy was unexpected from a “time-expired” soldier. Contracting Cleves Estate, Glen-Ryde, Tennyson, Putney and the Grove Estate, he became the primary producer of almost all joint undertakings. Converting his hops into beer, his legendary innovation and success was undeterred by the closure of his brewery and tavern as even now we celebrate him through the James Squire range of beers. Sadly, no roads exist in his honour.

All images of the First Families were obtained from Carmichael, R., (1929), Ryde, Ryde Local News: Ryde.

Madeleine Johnson

Madeleine Jonson is a Macquarie University student studying a Bachelor of Ancient History majoring in Greece, Rome, and Late Antiquity. After completing her initial studies, Madeleine will progress into a Masters of Teaching so she can bring her love of Ancient History to future generations and perhaps spark someone to follow in her steps as her Ancient History teacher once did.