Boydell journal | State Library of New South Wales

Charles Boydell journal

Detail from Self-portrait caricature, c.1830, by Charles Boydell. Pencil drawing. A2014


"I Boydell, having just entered upon my twenty second year & wishing to turn discrete, regular and steady have commenced a journal thinking that nothing can be more conducive to improvement than introspection [and] thus ... commenced settling on my own farm with an establishment consisting of one free man & wife, two free fencers and seven assigned servants." (Charles Boydell, 1 March 1830)

Charles Boydell (1808-1869) kept this journal (somewhat haphazardly) between 1830 and 1835. It covers his early years on his property Camyr Allyn. The journal was presented to the Mitchell Library in 1938 by Gilbert John Champain, Charles Boydell's great nephew.

 > Read more of Charles Boydell journal, 1830-1835, via the Library's catalogue link to catalogue

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Selected Transcript: Journal, 1830 - 1835, by Charles Boydell
Manuscript. A2014

p.1 March the first eighteen hundred & thirty

I Boydell, having just entered upon my twenty second year & wishing to turn discrete, regular and steady have commenced a journal thinking that nothing can be more conducive to improvement than introspection [XXXX] thus [XXXX] commenced settling on my own farm with an establishment consisting of one free man & wife, two free fencers and seven assigned servants:
1st  From the thee last days rain the streams so swollen that there was no [passing] however, this morning found a tree that reached across and went in search of a [horse] I had lost some time ago (found not). In the evening Budding and Townshend. I put in about 200 tobacco plants.
2nd  Over to my farm in company with black fellows who were going to [XXXXXX] There were 3 boys each of whom had a stick about 2 ft long to fling at the Paddy Melons as they as they passed them. 3 men had spears in case of meeting with game, two or three go in the bush hullooing with all their might to drive the poor animals [and] the others remain outside ready for them. They killed one poor paddy melon which they [cooked] immediately and devoured with great delight. My [PL] Beam broke yesterday it was however all right again & turning over the ground beautifully. Burning off chiefly, ground very wet.
3rd  Most exceedingly heavy rain which lasted for a short time Crops ploughing & splitting for remaining part of stockyard.
4th  Nothing particular until…
8th  Started my dray off for Wallis Plains and went [XXXX] river just low enough to get over. Dined with [Webber] and slept at Captain Allman's where I met Messrs Ogilvie & Cunningham.
9th  Having breakfasted started____________ for the arrival of [XXXX] much _________ slept at [Mr Woods] met with Capt Rushden

May 1830
28th  After a hard days riding on my return home with some Bush herd which were by no means inclined to proceed, [XXXXX] with all might by a Brush my said milking cows rushed out like mad things and to my great joy I found them. Townshend joined me at night and tho he would not taste a mouthful at my place persuaded me to accompany him home where we met G. [Forde] who had just returned from Sydney whereas he gave us all the news with a little [XXXXX] It was 12 o'clock before I got home & a [XXXX] cold [meant] it was freezing like the deuce.
29th  Had a gallows erected & despatched a young bullock not 2yrs old 52[XX] who will now say anything against our pasture, but Townshend half 1 ¾ lbs soap.
30th  Sunday & after reading prayers I went over to Townshends & met Messrs [Adair], Park & Forbes and spent a most pleasant (struck out) dull day.
5th  Finished wheat sowing & ___________a nasty sort of hole in my farm; had [sheep pens] built native dogs most extremely troublesome
6th  Sunday Met Webber & Park at Townshends & proceeded to [Largs] to see the new Chums and pass the day were introduced to Mr & Mrs Pilchard, Messrs Browning & Gilbert altogether spent an agreeable day and returned to Townsend at 12 o'clock where I staid for a short time discussing some beef and [Beer] & got to my own place at 1 o'clock freezing very much.
7th  Slabbing calf pen & in the evening with Park went to Mr Webbers to meet as we thought only Townshend extra to have a [XXX] rubber on our arrival found [Miss Nun] I advise there was a scarcity of bids & found myself lying down on the floor about 3 o'clock to take a little sleep if possible. After breakfast proceeded altogether most of them called at my place & ate some most unwholesome [XXXXXX] I was completely knocked up & most sleepy indeed.
8th  Sent my dray for flour Paling got [wood] and began to burn off for tobacco
9th  At work burning off myself unfortunately for about 11 o'clock in sticking at a stump struck the axe nearly through my foot, & cut two veins which I was not aware of for some time. I bandaged it up with numberless folds but it would not do I could not stop the bleeding at length getting rather timid I rode to Townshends in great pain blood letting drop all the way arrived there after sundown when luckily Adair who knew that lint was about the best thing it luckily succeeded & just as the [bonding] was performed I fainted away from loss of blood, had I only waited a short time bleeding to death would have been the result lint is the best thing possible to stopping blood.
10th  After passing an indifferent night breakfasted and rode to my own place where I found two men sick like master like man myself a cripple
11th  Very lame still but able to toddle about Mr Penson paid me a visit and I prevailed upon him to stay and divert my solitude in the evening as we were enjoying a glass of lemonade in place of something better were astonished by the sound of horses steps which turned out to be Townshend, [WPowell] & Fallman who joined our party to tea making my little gunhia (sic) The latter went home in the evening.
16th  Kangarooing with Townshend & his 2 last night companions after which dined at my place & the 2 staid the night Received from Mr Penson a letter which took me off today in the hopes of meeting him dined at Penson's Station & [proceeded] to Scotts where we found Capt Wright & spent a pleasant evening (rainy)
18th  one of the coldest days I remember Rode with Capt Wright to Glennies took dinner rode to Mr Bells and returned to Glennies to sleep passed a pleasant musical evening
19th  At 12 o'clock went towards Glendon again having written to Pringle dined at [Corinda] & met Mr Wilkinson, Mr Busby, Miss White & the Bells.
20th  Went to Church at Patrick Plains & then heard a most excellent sermon met all the world and his wife dined at Corinda. G. Blaxland joined us.
21st  I accompanied [him] to the second branch pulled up at Townshend's and ate dinner with John Allman.
23rd  Wrote an answer to Carter and wishing to keep a copy of it shall here insert it (Farming work burning off, fencing, drawing in and splitting for Barn)
Fri       Camryalln 23rd June 1830
Some days ago I received from you a letter requesting me to state the respective claim of Colonel Dumaresq & yourself to nails and tobacco which I shall do to the best of my memory. In Dec 1828 I borrowed from the Colonel's estate to finish your cottage 32000 shingle nails which were of so inferior a kind that I do not believe one out of three were available even to drive into oak lathes nor could it be ascribed to the workmen as the Plasterer, Carpenter and [HXXXXX] with a little assistance from Frankham put the whole up, All of whom were in the habit of driving nails. The circumstance I mentioned to Mr Bell at the time who told me that had they been fit for the purpose they would themselves have used them. Our hurry at that time left me no alternative. My [XXXX] from me in part payment 8000 good shingle nails I only need 156 lbs gross of tobacco on your account paid and always considered accounts or rights were still due to you but cannot exactly remember the quantity as Mrs Bell once merely shewed me the account which of course can easily be referred to________
Another circumstance has surprised me very much viz that you should refuse to pay [Mr XXX] three pounds back actually paid out of his pocket on your acct. to a blacksmith who then worked at St Helen's; Before leaving your Estate I mentioned to you the transaction which you approved of. The amt. of the bill was three pounds some odd shillings which I was then going to pay him by an order upon you Mr B requested me as Smith owed him money which he could not get [to draw in XXXX favour on him.] [XXX] leaving the money due to Mr Bell that he expected to get from you in Sydney: You cannot dispute its propriety and if you persist in refusing to pay I shall feel obliged under circumstances to refund Mrs Bell myself,
yrs respectfully
Chas. Boydell

Jan 1 1831     Saturday.
Another year has gone by and left me for one I fear not much better in condition than it found me With choice of all professions who but myself would have selected a settler's life Have bartered the comforts & luxuries of home for either going between the plough handles heaving the hoe or some other delightful occupation with about 3 acres of tobacco 400lbs wheat, 6 acres of corn 600 sheep 70 or 80 cattle & 2 horses. I begin this year encumbered with difficulties not very trifling, yet full of hope and confident of success, sheep shorn, harvest reaped.
Feby 18th
January has passed by & so much of this month in which time many things have taken place which should have been written down by me. Twice I have been at Maitland once to meet the Governor whom I [saw]. 8 days I have spent in the upper district of Hunter River have cut some tobacco & planted good deal Built a tobacco shed & churned some ground for wheat which I fear I shall be unable to plough, this day began planting potatoes & yesterday planted 20 plants of tobacco as an experiment have had rain nearly every day which is most prejudicial to everything have hired a tobacconist A. Long for one year at the rate of £25.0.0 per annum.
An agreement entered into this eighteenth day of February 1831. Between Mr Boydell of Paterson River and Andrew Long whereby the said Mr B agrees to hire A Long to twelve months and to pay him wages to the amount of twenty five pounds sterling [ ] his rations. In consideration of which A Long duly engages to serve the said Mr Boydell for that term and to do what he may be required.
Witness to the signatures [J Edmonds]          Charles Boydell
                                                                    Andrew Long
March 2nd
Finished planting potatoes last week mightily busied with my tobacco which comes on mightily well except the latter crop which after flourishing exceedingly for some has been in equal measure blighted occasioned I should presume by an extremely hot sun following immediately after a shower whereby the plants got [XXXed] which their appearance much indicated. Corn looks well everywhere but not much of it in the County. Sale of [ ] having been advertised for the First of March, on that day I attended but it had been put off. However, came in at the tag end of [Griggins] sale when everything was disposed of at low rates 3 steers for2/6 eaxh sheep 3/5 lambs/40 and wheat very low went on to Glendon where I passed a most splendid evening with a large party agreed to give Daniel O'Hara wages at the rate of £ 15.0.0 per annum until he is free ~ things altogether in a thirsty way - 5th Saturday night. Altogether the week has passed well tho not much done during it. Been attempting to clean out part of the stockyard [XXXX] tobacco & chipping the ground for a second crop which was mightily [foul], cattle & everything doing well and not giving much trouble. One rainy day with which exception I never witnessed a [XXXX] week.

April 27th More than a month has elapsed since opening this book I may say altogether to my satisfaction having in that time paid Mr A B Sparke's bill of £40 and Townshend to [cul] tobacco with 14 Bushels of wheat….have had much visiting 2 Pic nics by Scot & Allman where plenty of fun & everything that was good was going on. Such things can do no harm whilst they enliven the monotony of a settler's life…

p.23b-24b To be transcribed

p. 25b-26a To be transcribed

p.31b-32a To be transcribed

June 1832
Account of Cedar Sawn by Mr McLeods Sawyers

p.33b-34a To be transcribed

June 1832
Account of Boards & Scantling cut by Mr McLeod's Sawyers

p.39b-40a To be transcribed

p.43b-44a To be transcribed

p.36b -38b
King Jackey's Funeral
August 1833
A long neck of land formed by the junction of a Creek with the river was the place chosen as that of interment, at the extremity towards the river the brushes on three sides the fertility of the whole was as pretty a place for the purpose as I know of any where. When I approached, an old man was digging the grave which [was] a most laborious task, the ground being very hard and the only tool used for the purpose a tommyhawk or small hatchet. The form of the grave was oval & its depth when finished short of four feet. There were about 16 savages squatting or standing around, amongst them the Father, Mother and several brothers of the deceased the parents were [the] only howlers in company, the cry can be termed nothing else. These sounds long dwelt upon give an idea of the male's voice a______ar_ar_____ o~~~~~ r______ The females more treble er_____on______n________ This noise they kept up sans intermission. The body itself trussed up in as small a compass as possible and wrapt up in rugs & all. The insignia of a New S Wales Aboriginal was supported by two relations about 4 yards from the grave & laying on their knees whilst they bent over it full of grief & affection. The digging part of the grave being finished the [Sexton] went to some of the younger and fresher looking trees and broke the small branches with leaves off and proceeded to line the grave with them. Which being done a brother of the deceased was desired to try whether the grave was comfortable which he did by lying in the posture the deceased was to be placed, after some more slight alteration he again got into it and the signal given the younger branches of the family came forward surrounded the corpse and as they lifted it up gave a great [sh….] and then as it were [conjured] by blowing and waving hands over the body the same noise and blowing was repeated upon lowering the remains into the arms of his brother who received them and carefully placed them in the most comfortable position and so that not a particle of ground should touch the body. The shout then set up by them was awfully deafening The old Father rushed past me seized a tommyhawk and cut his head in several places until the blood gushed in quantities from the wound. Another old man snatched it from him and commenced upon his own. Three or four men did the same some most viciously whilst others seemed to think a little of the thing went a long way. The howling continued all the while. Bark was carefully placed over the body and the old men stretched themselves at full length on the ground and howled dreadfully. One of them at length got up took a bit of bark and laid it across the grave and stretched himself upon it crying with all his might and then left them [,] nothing of the ceremony remaining but filling in the grave. My reflections on the occasion were curious and many. I thought of what grief really was and fancied that I saw it there, I thought within myself also where will that creature go to and could not for a moment believe that he was doomed to hell. Altho he was no Christian and tho perhaps he may have committed sins from want of knowing better which to us would appear horrible but still amongst the Blacks was a good one, he was what they termed a strong party on their side tho perhaps not much of a warrior he was a politician and an orator for no man could inflame rage more than he, no one could talk better as they term it - blow up an enemy - no one in short had more sway over their minds than King Jackey as he was termed [ XXXXXXX ] Jackey's mother & Father staid for some days by the grave making the [XXXXXX] thin bed, the mother never left it for some days after. When one of her relations went to look for her she was found dead at the place, the cause of which was most undoubtedly grief. She was buried by his side. Aug. 1833.

Within the last two or three days 'Old Times' (the father) [of] the Aboriginal who tried whether Jackey's grave was or was not proper and who received the body and placed it in the grave, has despatched this life, from the same disease caught at the time of the funeral and every one of them who assisted at the funeral has been attacked. 26th Aug. 1833.

p.51b-52a NSW Aboriginal Vocabulary 21 January 1831 - Not transcribed

p.75b-76a To be transcribed

p.89b-90a To be transcribed

p. 91b-92a To be transcribed

[Thoughts on a settler's life and colonial marriage]
I do not know of any race of man with more leisure yet less inclination to think than that of single settlers in every transaction they engage in this feature is predominant: view the poor creature just exalted above the aboriginal coming home to a miserable hut without a soul to meet or welcome him after a hard days labour partaking of a rough & uncomfortable meal & eating merely because he must do so to support life this alone would be sufficient to [ ] him a most unthinking being: how easy to amend it just take a wife my boy & immediately turn a desert into a fruitful garden, a miserable abode into an Elysium. Surely the contrast is great yet not overdrawn. Let anybody visit two settlers with the same means let one be married and the other single & he will find the picture by no means so. The prejudiced beings imagine that because marriage is indisposable (sic) it must be difficult to endure - yet I fancy few who have once tasted the sweets of matrimony would wish to return to single blessedness.

Marriage is of divine ordination, & one of the greatest blessings transmitted to mortals, by female society man is softened and harmonised dependent up[on] one another for happiness the same wants and desires unite the married couple most delightfully: How truly unnatural to look around and behold in this country so many to whom its blessings are unknown, so many who from habit & want of association with the softer sex become rough and unpolished & pass this life without that greatest of all enjoyment proceeding from this state [of] domestic felicity. All fully aware of it yet too indolent to take precautions against continuance of it: Almost all pleasures flow from woman she can bring comfort and order where the contraries reigned absolute before her coming: Men [ ] talking of going to England for a wife would that not be a libel upon the female of our adopted country: where so many...fitting for all societies are daily maturing: Besides on the other hand anyone who has known the happiness of a large family would prefer connecting himself here with a family of respectability whose society he might cultivate and would be the cause of making his spouse more content: I often think a person must make use of a little deceit before he can prevail upon a body to renounce all her family & friends for him alone & to give up the company and luxuries she has been accustomed to for the hardships & privations of a
settler's life.