The first Jersey Cows in Australia
Woolloomoolloo near Sydney
Woolloomooloo's history begins in 1793, when the first settler of the district, John Palmer, obtained a land grant in the area. Palmer came out to Australia with the First Fleet in 1788, as a purser on Governor Phillip's flagship, "Sirius", and 1790 he was appointed commissary, responsible to supply and issue all government stores. A member of Australian royalty, more or less. Palmer was engaged in farming too running sheep as well as cattle.
John Palmer could in my opinion be the one, who first introduced Channel Island cattle into Australia, than known as Alderney, French or Norman cattle.
The first cattle came to Australia with the First Fleet, but what they were is not clear. Apparently many of them had been picked up at the Cape although on some of the ships there were cows that had been brought from England for the maintenance of the officers and their families on the long voyage. In the ships that followed the First Fleet came other cattle: Devons, Durhams, Longhorns, Ayrshires and Alderneys. There is no record of their numbers, but most the ships must have carried several cattle because by 1800 the little settlement had 322 bulls and oxen, and 712 cows. One ship is reported as bringing 158 cows and 20 bulls. Another ship brought 132 head.
The first mention of a Jersey in the early annals of Australia is of the sale by Mr.
Simeon Lord of an Alderney bull for £ 50. In those days the name Alderney was given to
any animal that came from the Channel Islands and the name persisted in Australia for many
The first Agricultural Society of New South Wales was established in 1821, fourteen years before Melbourne was founded. It was a time of great expansion and the leading men of the little community were full of enthusiasm. Sir John Jamieson was President and Mr. Palmer and Mr. Alexander Berry were joint secretaries. Alan Cunningham, afterwards famed as a botanist and explorer, was the corresponding Secretary of the Show whatever that may have been. There are no records of the prize winners at these earlyy Shows, but there is evidence that Sydney Town had its liberal men for it is recorded that 35 citizens each subscribed £25 towards the prize money fund and the general cost of holding the Show. The 35 included Parson Samuel Marsden who was, even at that time, in process of becoming a great land owner and a virile figure in the little community`s public life.
The first sale of Alderney and Jersey Cattle is reported to have been held at Windsor
New South wales in 1829, when Mr. John J.T. Palmer`s herd comprising 200 head was sold at
what is said very satisfactory prices. What happened in New South Wales between those
early days and the seventies is not likely to be known, but there are records of Jersey
importations into South Australia and Victoria in the fifties and sixties that suggest
that it was in these colonies that the foundations of the breed in Australia it is
necessary to make a study of the herds in the various states from the fifties until the
Commonwealth was inaugurated in 1901.
The man to whom the credit should go for being, probably, the first importer of
registered Jerseys to Australia was Hon John Baker of Morialta, South Australia. He
arrived from England in 1838 and took up breeding in the Gawler district. He imported
sheep from Tasmania and New South Wales and made a name for himself by his skill in
developing a type suitable to South Australian conditions. He became Premier of his state
in 1857. He imported many Jerseys from the Island, but, unhappily there are no records to
show what they were, or in what years they arrived. Such herds registers as must have been
kept by him or his men have longe since vanished. So many Australian herds trace back to
cattle bred by him that he must have been breeding on a considerable scale. It would seem
that he was the first of the wealthy men of Australia to interest himself in laying the
foundations of the great Jersey cattle industry. Mr. Baker doubtless had the love of
cattle breeding in his blood. He came from an old English landed family; he was direct
descendant of Sir John Baker, who was Speaker of the House of Commons in the reign of
Queen Elizabeth. He was to contribute more than Jersey cattle to the progress of
Australia: his son, Sir Richard Baker, was the first President of the Senate of the
Commonwealth Parliament .
Lesley Albertson, who has done a tremendous job to trace the Alderney breed in
Australia tells me in a mail dated 25 feb 1998:
The Duke of Bedford was among the very early breeders of Alderney cattle in England. King William I of Wurtemburg in Germany imported fx in the 1820s some Alderneys from his stock
Wilson owned at that time a small farm on Merri Creek near Brunswick In 1853 he bought
Arundel Farm, beyond Keilor, near Deep Creek, now the Maribyrnong River, where he ran a
model farm and made experimental breeding with farm animals. Argus Newspaper made a
reference in 1861 to " Mr. E. Wilson`s imported Alderney bull Lancelot". And
according to B.A. Barr a new importation of Jerseys/Alderneys took place to
Melbourne in 1868 from the famous herd of Phillip Dauncey, Horwood, England, which
Barr believes has connection with the herd of Edward Wilson. Though Mr. Barr might be
wrong due to the fact that Wilson sold Arundel Farm in 1868 and Lynette J. Peel in
"Rural Industry in the Port Phillip Region 1835-1880, Melbourne University
Press, 1974" make this statement: "Another property renowned during the sixties
was Arundel, which was a showpiece running a variety of well-bred stock ranging from
Alderney cattle and Lincoln sheep to asses, mules and Chinchilla rabbits. At the sale of
the property in 1868 one Alderney cow sold for £34 and the first sixteen brought a total
of 240 or an average of 15 each".
Until 1888 Jerseys were imported into Victoria, chiefly as ships cows, which means that
selected Jersey cows were placed aboard the ship before leaving England, for the express
purpose of supplying fresh milk to privileged passengers, during the voyage to Australia.
On arrival at the port of disembarkation they were landed and purchased as special family
cows. By these methods, the Hon. T.J. Sumner, who had large interests in Sumner Grice and
Co., importers and shipping agents, founded the family of Sumner Jerseys, from which has
descended many high producing families, including the famous Graceful, Duchess and
Handsome Girls, of the Melrose stud. These animals trace back to Duchess, bred by Hon.
W.E. Stanbridge, relative of J.T. Sumner. It is recorded that the former was the only
person in Victoria to whom Mr. Sumner sold or made a present of any of his selected stock.
When Mr. Sumner wished to dispose of surplus cattle they were shipped to Sydney for sale.
Whatever may have been the motive for this manner of disposal, it did not prevent many of
these animals from returning to Victoria, because the Rev. Ralph Brown, J. Voice, and
others visited Sydney and brought back some good cows.
R.S. Maynard: "Mr. Edward Laughton founded a pure-bred Jersey herd in South
Australia with stock that he purchased from Morialta, in 1864. He purchased a cow called
Sue and six heifers. He purchased also cows from J. Forbes of Mallala, which were
descendants of stock imported by M.S Bright of Gawler, South Australia."
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