Peat of Peats Ferry
Copyright Carol Baxter 2012
Prepared for Peat descendant Jeanette Bradley
Kent Street land
Having experienced difficulties in obtaining the titles to his Portland Head land, and having suffered from bureaucratic red-tape in attempting to acquire land at the Hawkesbury River, George probably decided that it would be wise to secure the title deeds to his land in Kent Street, Sydney. Although the process of acquiring these deeds appears to have been smooth, problems arose regarding the boundaries of his land, as discussed in a letter George wrote in 1847 complaining that he had been deprived of his water frontage:
I have held a grant of land in Kent Street, Sydney, running back from the Water of Darling Harbour for upwards of 34 years. In or about the year 1838 the Government continued Sussex Street from Erskine Street to Margaret Place thereby depriving me of Water frontage and preventing me from carrying on my business of Boatbuilding on which spot I had done so for so many years. I have therefore the honor most respectfully to request that you will obtain the permission of His Excellency the Governor that I may be enabled to take as much land as my neighbours (in proportion) have done leaving off where they have and preserving my original frontage to the Harbour.
When George’s Kent Street land was officially granted to him on 23 September 1839, it was described as being bounded on the East by the “building line of Kent Street” and on the West by the “high water mark of Darling Harbour”. As parish maps reveal that George’s block only ran between Kent and Sussex Streets and not as far as the water line, his complaint appears justified. However the authorities disagreed, with the Surveyor General reporting:
Mr Darke’s sketch showing the position of Peat’s and other properties in its neighbourhood are transmitted herewith – and by which it will be perceived that Sussex Street does not touch any part of the land originally granted to them but affords them a considerable extension by filling up to the street thus substituting street frontage for water frontage. The original frontage of Peat’s allotment having been on Kent Street, the effect of this permission (if granted) would be to give him three street frontages and one water frontage, vizt two in Sussex Street, one in Kent Street and one on Darling Harbour but to which there would not perhaps be any other objection [but] that at present the west side of Sussex Street is accessible to the public which would not be the case if private individuals were allowed to run[?] [?] – the difference between this case and Day’s is that Sussex Street was not formed when Day obtained a conditional sanction to fill up to deep water – and which assisted in making the street.
After due consideration, the decision was made that it “would not appear advisable to accede to this application” and as a result George’s request failed. It seems surprising that George had suffered from this situation for nine years before complaining, and raises questions as to how he had accessed water frontage for his shipbuilding operations during these years. Perhaps if he had drawn attention to the discrepancies when the deeds were prepared, the problem would have been resolved in his favour.
Over the following two decades, a further two transactions involved George’s Kent Street land. On 14 August 1855 in consideration of the “natural love and affection” George felt for his son William, he conveyed to him a small section of the western part of his land although reserving a right of way along the northernmost part of the land comprising a strip of land eight feet wide for the passage of George himself, those authorised by him and for “horses, cattle, carts, or other vehicles”. As William was not named as a beneficiary when George assigned his property to a trustee a decade later, it appears that this conveyance effectively served as William’s inheritance.
On 1 February 1866, George and Frances mortgaged the remaining Kent Street land to Samuel Neale for ₤500. The mortgage was still held at the time of George’s death and the land passed out of the family’s hands a few years later.
Although George apparently owned no other land in Sydney in his own right, his wife Frances inherited land in William Street, Balmain from her father William Ternen after his death in 1845. Frances’ mother, Margaret Ternen, was allowed to remain at her home, and the land was eventually divided between George and Frances’ surviving five children after Margaret’s death in 1866.