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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Peter (Senior) Shumack

Born: 1808; Died: 1883; Married: Mary (Mathieson)

Peter was one of seven sons born to Peter and Eliza Shoemaker of Kilfinane, County Limerick, all of whom emigrated to Australia. Brothers George, Samuel and William (with his wife and two children) arrived on the 'Resource' in 1840. Peter arrived in Sydney on the 'Lascar' in October 1841 with brothers Joseph and John (with his wife and two children). Brother Richard was the last to arrive on 31 August 1856 on the 'Bermondsey' with his wife Anne (Shoemaker) and their four children. According to his son Samuel, Richard and his wife had stayed in Ireland to care for their aged parents. Four brothers settled in the Bathurst area; Peter, John and Richard settled in Canberra.

Immigration details describe Peter as an 'Agricultural Labourer', in good health, able to read and write, and an Episcopalian. His first employer was Archibald McLeod, at Liverpool, followed by another short stint working for James Wright of 'Lanyon'. His next employment as a shepherd at Charles Campbell's 'Duntroon' was more enduring. He earned a yearly wage of ₤17, and would have had a few acres of his own to cultivate.

In 1856 Peter was employed by Rev Pierce Galliard-Smith, who had only recently become rector of St John's Anglican parish of Canberra. [In 1842 Peter's brother John had been the first tenant of the Glebe - 100 acres transferred to the church by Robert Campbell for maintenance of the clergy. John had built a three roomed slab house for he and his wife and four children, but he died in 1849]. In the following year however, some land at 'Upper Canberra' (in the vicinity of modern day Lyneham) was surveyed into 100-acre lots, and Peter (Portion 34), and his nephew Joseph and Joseph's mother, secured blocks.

They thus became the first Shumacks to acquire land in the County of Murray, though Richard was just about to begin buying land in the Weetangera district and establish his Springvale homestead. Samuel Shumack recounts that his father Richard later helped Peter to improve his land, and when Peter left parson Smith's service, assisted him in fencing the block, building a house and an orchard. In 1868 Peter sold 1 rood of his land for ₤5 to trustees for the Methodist congregation to build a church. The trustees were Thomas Southwell, John Gales, John Southwell, Samson Southwell and Samuel Walker (Udy p.35) Within four years this church was dis-assembled and rebuilt at Weetangera.

At the age of fifty-four Peter married Mary Mathieson, the daughter of a Scottish shepherd working at the Ginninderra estate. They did not have any children. Peter died on 29 September 1883 and was buried at St Johns.


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