1823: The Taylor’s first came to the Midlands, travelling in four bullock wagons with all of their belongings. When arriving at the spot they were to call Valleyfield they had to sleep under a rough canvas for some time.
1822: George Taylor received a grant of 324 ha along the Macquarie River. His three sons each received 282 ha of adjoining land. The land was black soil river flats which rose to open plains with dense peppermint gum forests on the eastern side.
1286: One of the sons, George Jr., was one of only nine people killed by an aboriginal spear. His tombstone is near Kirklands Church.
1830 – 1850: Another son, David Taylor, and his wife, Nancy, had seven children and built all of the red brick buildings on the property. These buildings are still in evidence today. They founded the ST Johnstone merino flock in 1833.
1835: Sheep were purchased from Eliza Forlonge. These were pure descendants of those bred by the King of Spain, and the earliest merinos to Tasmania. These original sheep were plain bodied and carried an even fleece of very fine wool. David Taylor added some pure Saxon sheep imported by Captain Bell, and these formed the foundation of the Winton flock, the St. Johnstone flock at Valleyfield and also all the other pure flocks.
Winton, i.e. Furlonge blood, has meant much to the fine wool flocks of Australia. Many wool clips of superfine wool have an infusion of these bloodlines either directly or indirectly.
Bellevue – James Gibson
James was regarded as a master breeder. He produced the famous Sir Thomas. Sir Thomas was a fine ram whose sons could cut 18-20 pounds of wool. He became known as the greatest sire in Australia and many of the top studs today can trace their pedigrees back to him.
For years the Bellevue and Scone sheep were in great demand, topping the Melbourne sales.
1880 – Eight rams averaged 155 guineas
1882 – Three rams averaged 304 guineas
1890 – Three rams averaged 600 guineas
1929 – An embargo was placed on the export of Merinos from Australia
Other Merino Flocks to Tasmania
1812: Mr Jas. Cox of Clarendon purchased seven pure Saxon Merino ewes and a ram from John MacArthur of Camden, NSW.
1822: Mr John Leake obtained Saxon sheep, which were shipped fro Hamburgh via Van Dieman’s Land.
1825: Mr G Parramore (Beaufront) started the Wetmore stud flock with three ewes and a ram imported from the flocks of the Elector of Saxony.
1824: Mr Archer of Brickendon had a stud flock.
1830s: Captain Horton started the Somercotes flock; Mr J A Youl of Symmon’s Plains imported some stud merinos; Mr Robert Thirkell of Darlington Park, Cressy, formed his flock by the purchase of a small draft of ewes and a ram from M Thos. C Simposn of Newnham Park whose sheep originated from an importation of Saxon merinos; Mr Thos. Henty imported merinos, which were depasturised at Strathmore East, Symmon’s Plains.
1854: W Gibson and Son, Perth, established the Scone flock, exercising great skill and diligent care in selecting the purest strains of the most renowned Merino families in Germany and England.
1859: Mr Herbert Gatenby, started the Cressy stud flock, purchasing 100 stud ewes from the late Mr Jas. Co, of Clarendon.
1861: Mr Joseph Archer started the Panshanger flock, Longford by importations from England, and a few representatives of the Scone flock.
1863: The Hon Mr Jas. Gibson founded the BelleVue flock, selecting ewes from the flock of the late Mr John Taylor, of Winton, mated with rams from the flock of the late Mr Thomas Parramore, of Beaufront.
Famous Studs in the Ross District
Mona Vale, Winton, Chiswick, and Beaufront were some of many famous studs that sprang up in the Ross district in those early times. Also along the Macquaire theyere were many farms, including St Johstone, Winton and Darlington, and along the South Esk there were the famous Gibson studs, Scone, Bellevue, EskVale, Fairfield, Pleasant Banks, and Symmons.
About 1890 rams were exported in large numbers to NSW and Victoria ans as many as 3000 would go forward annually to the sheep sales from these studs. The Tasmanian studs were at the top of the tree and dominated the markets. The quality of the Australian clip was magnificent and it stood unchallenged in the markets of the world.
Few of the Tasmanian breeders introduced the American rams, the majority refused to do so. But those that did wanted to alter their type in order to chase the fashion. The Vermont sheep were a prey to blowfly, hard to shear and quite unsuited to the open spaces of Australia. Their wool was very greasy and highly coloured. After their downfall, the Peppin type became popular.
The Tasmanian studs were small numerically. They are line bred to the same pure Merino strain originally imported. Any change of blood is effected occasionally by way of a “climatic outcrop”, i.e. by obtaining a ram from some other stud which claims the same ancestry five or six generations back.
A distribution of 181 Merino lambs, valued at 7 guineas each, was made in 1820 by Lieut. Governor Sorell to individuals (all men who had come here in official positions) considered most capable of giving attention to the improvement to their flocks. Bonwick says: “Society then ran on two commercial lines – sheep and liquor. Thus the Hobart Town ‘Gazette’ tells the story of the fellow who sold his wife for 50 ewes. The then market rate of produce may also be assumed by another account of the transfer of female property, person and affections for the consideration of a score of ewes and a gallon or rum.”
Other breeds of sheep have been established in Tasmania; the Leicesters, as a pure breed, perhaps dating back the furthest. Mr John Stockell, in the south, imported in the early days. It is mentioned in one historical work that Sir Richard Dry of Quamby, imported pure Leicester sheep as early as 1851.
Mr George Wilson is credited with having been the first to import Shropshires into Tasmaia, over 30 years ago, when he occupied Huntworth, Jericho. It is said they were the first Shropshires that ever crossed the Equator. R C Kermode had Shropshires.
Information sourced from transcription from the Centenary souvenir edition of the Tasmanian Mail – 1803 – 1903 (copy at Somercotes)