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History Western Land Leases Family Connections

History of Family Involvement in NSW

Many farming families left the Port Phillip area in the 1870's for the Wimmera and Riverina areas. This is directly attributable to several factors. Firstly, the 1869 Act by which blocks of 320 acres could be selected under certain defined conditions. Secondly, families had difficulties in enlarging holdings, and thirdly, squatters were not interested in selling. However some squatting families also looked further afield. For example, Robert Lewis Bell and William Armstrong bought two Wimmera stations in 1874. 

Homestead land leases were introduced in the Western District of NSW in 1884, but unfortunately drought, low wool prices and the rabbit plague coincided at the same time. Obviously many families and businesses suffered greatly. The original squatters had been forced to release half their land for leasehold if required, but much of this land became known as "unused land". It became rabbit-infested by poor management or ill-use. By 1894, this unused land was returned to - what were now called - the graziers. Western Land Leases were introduced in 1901, and gave security for a forty year period with a set annual rental. 

Below are some of the properties leased by the Bell, Armstrong, Howatson and Waugh families in the Western District of NSW.

Lewis and MaryAnn Bell were married in 1881, and presumably moved to the Booligal, NSW district soon after, taking up an early Land Lease.  Bessie Bell, their second child, was born in January 1884 at Alma, Booligal, Hay.

Western Land Leases in 1905

Name of lessee Property Area of land Annual rent
Lewis Howatson Wanga Mana (Pastoral Lease) 76,294acres 79/9/5
James Howatson, Lewis Bell, Betsy Armstrong, William Armstrong (all names on the lease) Alma (Pastoral Lease) 72,116acres 186/6/0 
John Horton Bourke (2 Homestead Leases)       10,240acres         6,413acres

12/7/6   

6/13/7    

Sutherland Armstrong Hay North (Homestead Lease) 10,240acres 21/15/2 
William Thomas Armstrong Mooculta, Cowper (Resumed Area) 3,848acres 20/16/10 
John, William Waugh Clare (Pastoral Lease) 218,876acres 319/3/11

Family and Business Connections

William and Sutherland Armstrong were the sons of Betsy Armstrong, and brothers-in-law of Lewis Bell. Lewis Bell's son Lewis married an Isabel Waugh, and his grand-daughter, Mary Elizabeth Anderson married into the Horton family. 

The pastoral company, Armstrong-Bell Ltd, was probably established in the 1860's or 1870's. After the company broke up in the 1920's, the Lewis Bell Pastoral Company was formed in NSW. It is understood that Lewis Bell retained the properties in NSW, and the Armstrong family held the properties in Victoria.

Go to the Booligal Links for amusing and interesting information about the Riverina area.