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James Ruse


9 August 1760 at Launceston, Cornwall, England.

James Ruse married fellow convict Elizabeth Parry (1769 - 27 May 1836) on 5 September 1790.

They had six children together - Rebecah (1791 - 9 November 1792), James (b. 1793), Elizabeth (b. 1794), Susannah (1796–1872), Mary (b. 1798) and Ann.


Ruse was Cornish farmer who, at the age of 23, was tried at Bodmin Assizes and sentenced to death for "burglariously breaking and entering the dwelling house of Thomas Olive and stealing thereout 2 silver watches, value 5 pounds."

He was reprieved and sentenced to transportation for seven years.

He was sent on the Scarborough, one of the First Fleet, and arrived in New South Wales on 19 January 1788.

Allocation of Farming Land

With 18 months of his sentence remaining. Ruse applied to Governor Arthur Phillip for a land grant, stating that he had been bred to farming.

Governor Phillip, desperate to make the colony self-sufficient, allocated Ruse an allotment at Rose Hill (Parramatta), where he proved himself industrious and showed that it was possible for a family to survive through farming.

Having done this, Ruse received a grant of 30 acres (120,000 m2), enabling him eventually to sell 600 bushels of maize.

First Land Grant

In February 1791, Ruse declares to the authorities that he is self-suffient, and two months later in March, he was granted a further 30 Acres.

After Ruse's sentence expired in 1792, the title of his land was deeded to him, the first land grant in the colony.

In 1793 he sold his land to Dr Harris of the New South Wales Corps.
The property is now the Experiment Farm Cottage museum of the National Trust of Australia.

In 1794 Ruse moved further out, to the junction of the Hawkesbury River with South Creek, and became a fairly successful farmer.

He and Elizabeth raised seven children, two of whom were thought to have been adopted.
Later, however, he was wiped out by flooding (always the risk of farming in the Hawkesbury) and had to find work as a seaman.

He was heavily in debt and only the hard work of his wife saved him from bankruptcy.

From 1828 he was employed as an overseer by a landowner at Minto, south of Sydney.

He died at Campbelltown on 5 September 1837.


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