Monday, 3 February 2014

52 Ancestors #5 Simeon Lord

Simeon Lord was born on 28 January 1771 at Todmorden in West Yorkshire, England.  Simeon's parents were Simeon Lord (1744-1787) and Ann Fielding (1745-1786). Both the Lord and Fielden families had lived in the area near Todmorden for many generations.Many members of the Lord family were buried at St Mary's Church, Todmorden.
Names of  members of the Lord family on sides of memorial in front of the church
St Mary's Church, Todmorden
Being on the border, Todmorden is sometimes listed as being in Lancashire and at other times in Yorkshire. The Todmorden Information Centre provides a brief history of the area. An informative website on the area and its history is Todmorden and Walsden.In 2012 I wrote a post in this blog about the Lord family in the Todmorden area from the mid 1600s. Todmorden is situated where three valleys converge and many small farming settlements existed in the surrounding hills. One of the settlements was at Howroyd. Members of the Lord family also lived at Dobroyd and Knowl. In the 1700s it was usual for a group, maybe four, families to build their houses at one location on the slopes and farm sheep in the surrounding area. A room in one or more of the cottages would be used for spinning and weaving the wool. The cloth would then be transported by packhorse to market. Additional wool and, from the mid 1750s, sometimes cotton would be brought back to be processed in the cottages. This is the world into which Simeon would have been born.

On 22 April 1790 Simeon, aged 19, was found guilty at the Manchester Quarter Sessions of stealing a quantity of cotton cloth and calico from Robert Peel and Associates (a calico printing firm in Blackburn) and was subsequently sentenced to seven years transportation. His mother had died when he was 15 and his father died a year later. The young Simeon appears to have ended up in the Manchester area but little is known of this part of his life. What we do know is that on 27 March 1791 he left Plymouth aboard the transport, Atlantic, part of the Third Fleet, and arrived at Port Jackson on 20 August 1791. There were 220 male convicts aboard the Atlantic and 18 convicts died during the voyage.

Shortly after arriving in Australia Simeon was assigned to Lieutenant (later Captain) Thomas Rowley of the 102 Regiment and this is when his luck began to change. Thomas Rowley was almost illiterate and as Simeon had had some education and could read and write he was able to assist the soldier in his business ventures. Rowley appears to have encouraged Simeon and assisted him, when he emancipated, in establishing his first business selling spirits and general goods purchased from the NSW Officers Corps.

But this was just the beginning. Within a few years Simeon had become a wholesale merchant, sealer, auctioneer, captain's agent, pastoralist, timber merchant and manufacturer. When Governor Macquarie arrived in the colony Simeon was one of the emancipist magistrates appointed. Simeon was actively involved in most aspects of commerce in the colony and was one of the founders of the Bank of New South Wales. At times he had partnerships with other emacipists including James Underwood and Henry Kable and with the merchant Robert Campbell. Simeon was therefore, usually, a successful and wealthy businessman. He had a house built that was, at the time, reputed to be the grandest house in the colony.

What I find particularly interesting is that, from 1806, Simeon established a woollen mill and other manufacturing enterprises at Botany. One assumes that this interest was inspired by his experience and knowledge of textiles acquired back at Todmorden. As well as textiles, hats, shoes and harness were produced. At one stage Simeon and a partner were experimenting with glassblowing and pottery was another project. Many men were employed in these enterprises. Goods were not only sold in Sydney but his manufactured items were shipped to Tasmania.

On 27 October 1814, at St Philip's Church, Simeon married Mary Hyde who had arrived in Australia as a convict in 1798. Simeon and Mary already had five children before their marriage - Sarah born 1806, Louisa born 1808, Simeon born 1810, Francis born 1812 and Edward born 1812 (a week before the wedding). They had another three children - Thomas born 1816, George born 1818 and Robert born 1821. Simeon has also an adopted daughter Joanna Short born 1792 and Mary had two children from a previous marriage - John Black 1799 and Mary Ann Black born 1801.

This is only a short summary of some of the events in the life of Simeon Lord. Not all of his projects went to plan. Like many of the settlers in the new colony he was often in court over one dispute or another. He also had disputes with some of the governors. Partnerships were formed and dissolved. Some ventures were more successful that others. Ships carrying cargoes disappeared en route to their destination. Yet as D R Hainsworth writes in his Australian Dictionary of Biography Online article about Simeon - If his plans were over-ambitious for the times or his own resources, he pioneered commerce in Australia and helped to transform a prison farm into a flourishing colony capable of attracting men of capital. With a few others, he strikingly demonstrated what emancipists could achieve in a new country.

In 1821 Simeon leased the Sydney house and moved to a house in Botany. Simeon died at Botany on 29 January 1840 leaving his wife and large family well provided for. A small report in the newspaper, Australian 30 January 1840 reads - Death. Yesterday at his late residence, Banks House Botany, Simeon Lord, Esq. aged sixty-nine years, deeply lamented by a large circle of relations and friends.

Most books on the early settlement of Sydney contain references to Simeon Lord. There have also been booklets and books written about him including D R Hainsworth's book, The Sydney Traders: Simeon Lord and his contemporaries 1788 - 1821 (1971).

Simeon Lord was my great (x3) grandfather.


  1. How interesting. I'm fascinated with Australia and it's History, this was most pleasing to read. Thank you.

  2. Thank You. As a direct decendant of Simeon Lord, Mother Kathleen Mabel Lord I obtained more information of the family history. Roderick Masman

  3. As a direct decendant of Simeon Lord (Mother Kathleen Mabel Lord) Thanh you. Roderick Masman

  4. Thank you. Simeon Lord is my 4th Great grandfather. My paternal grandmother was Eleanor Dora Mary Lord