Rediscovering Ginninderra: A database:
Born: c.1800; Married: Grace
Duncan McFarlane was the overseer at Ginninderra for absentee landlord, George Palmer. From 1826 he and his workers established the Ginninderra pastoral estate, quickly building its infrastructure and establishing flocks and herds. According to the 1828 census he had about 15 men (almost all of them convicts) in his charge.
McFarlane was a free immigrant who had come out to the colony with his elder brother, James, on the Triton in February 1824. Their father, John McFarlane appears to have already been established at Cawdor, near Camden (owning land and registered as a juror). The two brothers worked for him in the early days after their arrival. His brother was soon granted 1,000 acres of land in 1825 in his own right, while Duncan took up the opportunity to work for Palmer.
It is reported that in 1826 McFarlane and a man named Cavan, while recovering important food supplies stolen by bushranger, John Tennant, stumbled upon the armed felon hiding in the bush. As they were unarmed and Tennant threatened to shoot them, McFarlane and his friend did not try to apprehend him. Tennant was later caught in 1828 by a party led by James Ainslie (Campbell’s overseer at Duntroon) and including McFarlane, bullocky, John Casey and others.
McFarlane was still in Ginninderra as the superintendent of Palmerville station in the 1837 census, but shortly after, he appears to have settled in Yass with his wife, Grace. This may have had something to do with the arrival from Europe of Charles Campbell, Palmer’s cousin, as manager of Ginninderra estate in 1835.
- Gillespie, L. L., Ginninderra: Forerunner to Canberra, Campbell, 1992
- Mawer, G. A., ‘John Tennant: “Terror of Argyle”’, Canberra History Journal, no. 13 (1984), pp. 1-6
- Meyers D. (ed. K. Frawley), Lairds, Lags and Larrikins: an Early History of the Limestone Plains, Pearce, 2010
- 1828 NSW census and convict transportation records