Jersey Cows in Australia
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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 years.
Simeon Lord
It is not recorded who bought this Alderney bull sold by Mr. Lord although in the report mention is made that a Mr John T. Palmer had a Cattle Station at Woolloomooloo, and that it was "one of the finest in the land." Perhaps it was Mr. John T. Palmer who bought the bull for, in later years, the name of Palmer crops up frequently in references to Jersey cattle.

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.
John Baker

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 .
The Jersey in Australia by R.S. Maynard. Published by The Australian Jersey Herd Society, Endeavour House, Macquarie Place, Sydney, 1941.

Lesley Albertson, who has done a tremendous job to trace the Alderney breed in Australia tells me in a mail dated 25 feb 1998:
"Well, I have found the first cattle in Victoria. They were there from the beginning - 19 Nov 1834. That was when Edward Henty turned up in Portland Bay from Tasmania (VDL) to found the first permanent settlement.
It's is Marnie Bassett's book The Hentys, Oxford University Press, 1954.
p. 53 has the Henty brothers (Edward, Charles, James) at sea on the ship "Caroline", heading first for Brazil. They left Sussex in June 1829.
James Henty, in a letter to his father Thomas Henty back home in Sussex, writes:
"All our stock are alive and well except the black greyhound I expect was kicked off the forecastle by the boatswain. Merino and Canopy are both doing well, we have taken about 8 inches from each of the cows stalls adjoining which are quite large enough for the small Alderneys and makes it much more comfortable for the horses...".
The letter is dated June 18, 1829. That particular entry is dated July 2.
The Hentys went first to Swan Port, in W.A. Then to VDL (Tasmania). From there, Edward Henty set sail on the brigantine "Thistle" - also a household name - arriving in Portland Bay on 19 November 1834.
Back to p.18 of the book, and there's mention of Thomas Henty in West Tarring, Sussex, having 300 acres plus rented lands. He attended Agricultural meetings at the Duke of Bedford's Woburn Abbey and at Coke's Hol(k)am where they had prizes for cattle and sheep."

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

Edward Wilson
Another Pioneer of Alderneys in Australia was Edward Wilson, founder and editor of the Argus Newspaper in Melbourne. The State Library of Victoria has just been donated a book by Edward Wilson called: "Australia Felix: cartoons from the daily life of an infectionate uncle." The book has been dated c 1842 - c. 1846. and  page 1 has the title: "He gives a little mangold wurtzel to the Alderneys".

Edward Wilson

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".
Theodotus John Sumner
According to B.A. Barr: "Records of the early importation of Jersey to Victoria are not available in an informative manner. The first record refers to the importation in 1854 of a Jersey cow selected for Mr. T.J. Sumner, by Mr. J.F. Boodle, who returned to England, and in 1854 brought out on the Eagle a shipment of Shorthorn cattle, draught horses and an Alderney cow, which passed to Mr. T.J. Sumner."

T.J. Sumner

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.
National Livestock Bulletin 1. October, 1931. Some Notes on the History of the Jersey Breed.
The Breed`s Early History in Victoria, No.III -- by B.A. Barr

Edward Laughton
When Robert M. Gow in 1938 published his book about the Jersey breed he stated: "Australia`s oldest herd of Jerseys was sold at a dispersal sale on October 17, 1929. It was known as the Penrhyn herd, and had been in the possession of the Laughton family, Hilton, South Australia, since 1869. The foundation Stock was imported mostly from Jersey and England, and a good many animals were brought to Australia as late as 1931."

Edward Laughton

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."
  sidst opdateret 29-09-00