The Dobroyd Estate

Chapter One

In 1789, the British Home Secretary Lord Grenville, who was at that time also in charge of colonial matters, sent a letter to Governor Arthur Phillip outlining a new policy for the NSW colony. It implored the Governor to hand out parcels of land to military officers, in attempt to develop the colony’s agricultural base. Importantly, it was under this policy that fourteen years later in August 1803, Governor King would grant the whole area that now constitutes Haberfield to a Lieutenant of the NSW Military Corps, Nicholas Bayly, who named it ‘Sunning Hill’. This was all despite the fact that Bayly had been court-martialled for the possession of liquor the year before, and that just a month after his grant he would be arrested for distributing a lampoon (a satirical pamphlet) which derided the Governor himself. Bayly’s tenure was only short however, he would sell the estate in 1805 for no less than £850 to Simeon Lord – a man who was described as one of the colony’s ‘new rich’. The property was then renamed ‘Dobroyde’, after a castle which was associated with the family of Lord’s mother.

Simeon Lord

It was on 31 March 1825 that Simeon Lord’s daughter, Sarah Ann Lord (1806-1889) , would marry David Ramsay (1794-1860), and that the Dobroyd Estate would be gifted as a dowry, but with the expectation that Ramsay would pay to a certain degree for the property. There was also an additional qualification written into the marriage contract, which ensured that the land would only pass to the husband of the female heir (as was custom) after the death of both Sarah and David. The pair would live on the Dobroyd Estate until their deaths, and spent much of that time cultivating extensive gardens and nurseries along Long Cove Creek (now Hawthorne Canal) which became well known throughout Sydney. Notably, it was in 1856 that their eldest daughter Mary Louisa Ramsay would be ceded her portion of the inheritance early, upon her marriage to Alexander Learmonth - together they would construct the now famous Yasmar Estate (Ramsay spelt backwards), which to this day remains as one of the greatest homes of 19th Century Sydney. After the death of David Ramsay, the estate was eventually split up into twenty pieces and distributed to Ramsay family members. But by the end of the 19th Century, ‘Ramsay’s Bush’ as the area became known, had reportedly degenerated into a hangout for vagrants; a fact which fuelled the anxieties of the increasingly middle-class residents nearby and encouraged the desire for an overhaul of the area.

Dobroyd Map 1890s

Map of the Dobroyd Estate and & Surrounds 1890. The Dobroyd Estate consists of the yellow shaded peninsula in the Top-Right of the image - the area which is today Haberfield.

'The Garden City'