Life in Australia
The party of nine left Cork on 22 May 1838 and after collecting more migrants in Plymouth set sail for Sydney. The extended family arrived on the Coramandel on 2 October 1838 as assisted immigrants sponsored by John Marshall. The Cormandel brought a total of 301 immigrants to Australia - sixty nine were farmers and twenty five were tradesmen. There were seventy-four family groups and included 106 children. The farmers came from both Ireland and the English counties of Wiltshire and Sussex. The group arrived safely but Christina developed tuberculosis on board and died less than three weeks after their arrival.

When John and Jessie landed in Sydney Henry George Black was six, John was four and George two. The baby was very ill for five months but eventually recovered and lived until he was 80. Less than a month after he arrived John Black was offered a position of steward, or manager, of the Castle Hill farm owned by a Sydney store owner Strickland. He undertook to stay for at least year and, as can be seen from the following letter, very satisfied.

A little over a year later John reported to his father on his situation. John Senr. sent it to the newspapers with this accompanying letter.

To The Irish Press
Coolategart, Gorey, Nov 21 1839.

Having received a letter, of which the above is a copy, from my son on Saturday last, from Sydney, New South Wales, who emigrated last year to Australia, and perceiving such an interest by the public to ascertain its contents, I beg that you will make room for it in your different publications. The public I think should be informed there is a country( thanks be to God) open to receive with outstretched arms our half starved redundant population, where an independence unknown here, if not an absolute fortune, appears so accessible.
It may not be amiss to let you have some idea of who and what my son was. He belonged to the class of small farmers. When his lease expired he found himself not able to continue possession and was obliged to give it up. Proceeding to Gorey to commence working as a daily labourer, glad to get constant employment at 6d. a day, to support himself, wife and three children!! And he (as we thought in madness) applied to Mr. Clendinnen, the agent in Gorey, for emigration to that country; who procure him a free passage (by paying for his children)in one of Mr. Marshall’s ships, and I think it is my duty in justice to Mr. Marshall, Australian Emigration Agent, 26 Birchin Lane, Cornhill, London, to draw the attention of the public to the manner in which my son speaks of the treatment they received on board his ship — "plenty to eat all the way, wine every day." This letter is no fiction. Lord Courtown and all the gentry in this neighbourhood knew the writer, the public can see the document which I enclose to the Editor of the Wexford Conservative. Hoping that the Irish press, and the English too, will not lose this opportunity of conveying to the public (in these frightful times of scarcity of provisions and employment) this pleasing intelligence.
I remain, gentlemen, your humble servant,
John Black Sen.

This letter reveals that John and Jessie had been farming independently probably in Coolatagert but in difficult times were unable to continue. They were forced to move into Gorey and find work as a day labourer. The letter itself records the journey and the families first six months in their new home. The British weekly John Bull republished the letter on Dec 23 1839 on page 6.
“The following letter on the subject of Emigration to Australia, we copy from the Warder. It appears to us that a perfect knowledge of the advantages of that surprising Colony is most desireable; hence we lose no opportunity of contributing, through our columns, to the general stock of information thereunto relating“:-

‘The following is a copy of a letter from a young man who emigrated from the neighbourhood of Gorey to Australia, some time since. It is given verbatim and will be seen to be the production of a person in humble life. We deem it interesting to our readers in many respects :-

May 11th 1839

My dear Father and Mother,
You will think by my silence that I have forgot you; but I was waiting to see how I would like the country, which I would say, pretty well.

Dear Father and Mother, I hope this will find you all in good health as it leaves us at present, thank God for it. About two months after we left home (as I still call it), George Black took ill, and was bad for five months, so much so, that we thought he would never recover. The Doctors gave him up for death, but it pleased God to recover him, and they are all healthy now.

Dear Father we had a very quick passage, they sailed from Plymouth on the 15th of June, and we anchored in Sydney harbour on the 8th of October, 1838. I am sorry to inform you of my sister-in-law, Christine Moffit’s death. She only lived to the 21st of October; she is buried in Sydney, in a beautiful church yard, there are geraniums growing all round her grave.

Dear Father and Mother, I was engaged on the 4th of November, by a gentleman in Sydney to be a steward, and Jesse to take care of milk and butter and rear fowl. The farm we live on is about 25 miles from Sydney, There is a town 8 miles from us, called Parramatta. I have nothing to do in regard to work; we pay our men from 3 to 4 shillings per day, that is a labourer’s wage, or 10s. per week and the best of victuals; this is a good place for a steady young man to come and make his fortune, and go home again. We have £30 per annum and support for the family — that is, flour, tea, sugar, beef, pork, potatoes, oatmeal, soap, starch, blue, pepper, mustard, vinegar, cheese, all of the best description, milk and butter that we wish to use. We drink tea here three times a day, the weather is very warm in summer; the name of the farm is Castle Hill — and the hall door stands opposite the blue mountains. We are in the County of Cumberland; we have neat cottage to live in — parlour, bedroom and kitchen, all boarded; a beautiful fruit garden of lemons, oranges peaches and all kinds of fruit. We often give them to the pigs. The people don’t live on potatoes and milk here, they live on bread, meat and tea.. It is great to get a treat of tea at home.

Our situation is worth a great deal for everything is so dear, if be had to buy. We have agreed for a year; if we would go two hundred miles up the country, we would have double the wages, but we are as well as we need wish to be thank God; there is a man to milk — but I have the care of all. Mr. Strickland, that is the gentleman’s name, he is an Englishman, came here a few year’s ago; he and his family drive up their gig and stop for a few days about every quarter. We are well liked; the man brings all the water, and we have as much firewood as would do for ten years to come. They are very kind to us, we get presents from them very often. Wine, raisins, spices, currant too, and part of everything they have. He has two shops in Sydney; we have rice and tobacco in our rations, (that is what it is called here).

Dear Father, the prices at present are high. Horses from £35 to £100; cows and pigs much as at home. I gave 35 for horse for the use of the family, as we all work with bullocks; the Church is 8 miles off; we call that horse our own; it does not work, only goes in the jaunting-car whenever we wish to drive; we generally go to Church every Sunday and often drive to take the air; but all belongs to the master. Hens are 2s. 6d. each, chickens 1s.3d., eggs 3s. a dozen, butter 4s. per lb., sweet milk 6d. per quart, turkeys 5s. each, geese 6s. each, flour £2 a cwt., best oatmeal 5s. per stone, tea 2s.6d. a lb., sugar 3d, per lb., wines 6s. per quart, whisky 10s. per quart, rum 3s.6d. per quart, hay £20 per ton, straw 8s. per cwt. Wheat £5 per barrel, mutton 5d. per lb., beef 4d. per lb., pork 9d. and bacon 1s per lb., though every thing is dear it is easier to live here, for the wages are good and great demand for workmen. Tell William Morris ( a shoemaker) that he could earn 30s. to £2 a week. Blacksmiths £1 per day. George Burn ( a carpenter) from Courtown, earns 6s. and 6d. a day; he lives in Sydney; has constant employment. The colony is full as good as the papers said it was; this season looks well, everything is flourishing here now, the grain is sown here at the same time as at home, only it is the winter all grows here instead of summer. May June July, the three winter months.

I was speaking to one of the Kinselas; one is under Government, the other is with a master. There is plenty of Irish here; nearly the first man we met when we went ashore was a man from Gorey, of the name of Dillon, his brother is a baker with Mr. Furnvey. He came to the vessel and brought us cakes and wine to treat us. I knew him in Gorey when I was going to school; he was transported and now he is worth two hundred pounds. There is many a transportee better here than farmer’s sons at home. There were three hundred and seventy six on board the ship; one man, three women and eleven children died. The ship was very large, and we had plenty to eat all the way. I got a glass of wine every day; we had storms to speak of. If William Morris wish to come, tell him that money need not prevent him. Let him send word that he is coming; I will meet him in Sydney. He wants no money from the time he goes on board ship until he lands.

Dear Father, you may tell my cousin Edward Blake (a blacksmith) that he can earn £1 per day here — four shillings for putting on one set of shoes. You may let my friends know that we are better than I ever expected. I will expect a letter from you to know how you are, and then be able to send something to help you if I thought it would go safe. I often think of my near friends, for fear they might be in want. I could often give them something if I was near them now, for the world has altered with me for the better. John Hudson and Joe Kennedy are within twenty miles of us with one employer.

I remain, dear parents, your loving son and heir.
John Black.
"Direct your letter John Black (Emigrant by ship Coramandel) Sydney New South Wales."

It seems likely that they stayed at Strickland’s Castle Hill farm for about three years for two children - Mary Ann and James Edward were born there in 1842 and 1844 respectively. The family then moved to Dural where Edwin Joseph (1844), Joseph Ebenezer (1846) and Christina (1848) were born. (The last two children - William Thomas (1851) and Frederick Robert (1853) were born at Box Hill near Windsor.) As an experienced farm manager his services were probably keenly sought. He may have initially worked on several properties before earning enough to buy a place of his own. In March 1854 he was able to pay John Williams of Baulkham Hills £1200 for 1089 acres along the Great North Rd at Dural. Most of the land was part of an original grant of 1500 acres at Glenorie made to George Acres in 1811 and known as Springhill. Eighty nine acres came from the Hathaway grant.

By this time Dural was already a quite well established area. The main north road from Castle Hill through Dural to Wiseman’s Ferry and the Hunter Valley had been opened in 1828 and the new Church of St Albans was finished around 1847. John called his property Woodlawn and it remained in his family for the next 130 years. The original wooden house on the site that he built stood there until 1958.

No sooner had the family become established with their own property, and the two eldest sons married, than Jessie died in February 1856. She was buried in St. John's Churchyard at Parramatta and, perhaps later, a substantial sandstone memorial was erected in her memory. In 1857 John Black married Elizabeth Sarah Fuller (nee Moore), where her first husband, Edward, had died in 1853. John had four more children with his second wife over the next eight years – Elizabeth Sarah born in April 1858 at Castle Hill, Phyllis Elizabeth born at Dural in July 1860, John born in June 1863 and Eleanor born in November 1865.

In March 1866 John Black had taken James Pye, an orange grower and the Mayor of Parramatta on a visit to Pennant Hills to discuss the cause of the Orange Blight disease. About midday the return journey began from Bellamy's farm down Castle Hill Road when they came upon some men working on the road near Suttor's Farm. Black's horse took fright, shied, and the gig rolled over throwing him out on his head. Dr. Sutter was called but John had died on the spot near the Cross Road at Baulkam Hills from head injuries. (The Castle Hill Rd referred to is now called Old Northern Rd. and the accident occurred near the present junction of Old Northern Road and Windsor Road.) He was sixty years old and a 'highly respected citizen' of the district. An inquest was held at Schofield's Horse and Jockey Inn, Baulkam Hills. He was buried in the then new cemetery at St. Simon's Castle Hill. He lies next to his youngest daughter Phyllis who died as a child aged seven in 1868 and beside his daughter-in-law Dinah.

John had made a will in 1862 and appointed his three eldest living sons - Henry, George and James as executors. John had already sub-divided his 1000 acres to provide land to Henry and George when they married and although James was still single it seems that he too had received land. At the time of John's death we can assume that Edwin and Joseph ran the property for the widow Elizabeth Sarah and she and Mary Ann cared for the seven young children who ranged in age from eighteen years to four months.

The will left his house, the twenty acres surrounding it, the two orchards and all his household goods and furniture together with a plough and harrows to his youngest son Frederick (then thirteen). The girls received small bequests. Mary Ann (then twenty-seven) got two horses, two cows, £50 and 'the bedstead bed and bedding she has been in the habit of using'. Christina (then eighteen) got one horse, one cow and £50. Elizabeth (then eight) and Phyllis (then six) both got £10. All the remaining horses were divided equally between Edwin (then twenty-two), Joseph (then twenty), William (then fifteen) and Frederick. (Edwin and Joseph also received ploughs). The four younger sons were to share the proceeds from the two orchards bequeathed to Frederick until he reached the age of twenty one. William inherited the land and orchard known as Sanderson's farm at Dural together with 30 acres adjoining that farm. However until William reached twenty one all the younger sons would share the proceeds of the orchard.
The will ended with his 'express will and desire that all my children shall pay due respect to my dear wife Elizabeth Sarah.'