After the Blue Mountains were crossed by Europeans in 1813, William Cox completed in 1815, the construction of the first road to Kelso and Bathurst. Settlement was initially limited to the eastern banks of the Macquarie River therefore the first settlers naturally looked for land towards the north. James Blackman and William Lawson led successive expeditions from Bathurst to the Cudegong River and the future site of Mudgee in late 1821. Settlement by William Lawson and brothers George and Henry Cox occurred in February 1822.
Settlement was initially confined to the banks of the district’s watercourse and largely comprised of convict shepherds and overseers. Many of the district’s early landowners were absentees. Agitation for the establishment of a town led to the proclamation of the town of Mudgee in January 1838 and the first blocks of land were released inAugust the same year. Development was slow until the discovery of gold in the district in 1851. The town then developed rapidly as a service centre for the surrounding goldfields so was proclaimed as a municipality in 1860.
The parish map of the land on which this house is located is within Section 7, indicating its very early land development and sale. The entire block/section was initially granted to William Blackman. See plan below. William Blackman lived at that time just out of Mudgee along the Lawson Creek, at Oakfield. He died there in 1854 and is buried at Mudgee.
Samuel Alfred Blackman was one of William’s three sons. Born at Wilberforce in 1830 and became the next owner of the land (Section 7) in 1848.
In 1878 and again in 1884, Samuel A Blackman sold potions of the land in section 7, which would later be the location for the house, 152 Mortimer St, to Thomas Robert Randall.
Mr T Randell is believed to have been a local Mudgee grazier. His death was reported in the Maitland Daily Mercury in 1920;
Death of Mudgee Resident: Mrs Rapkins, wife of the Rev JS Rapkins of Hinton has sustained the bereavement of her father, Mr Thomas Randell, of Mudgee. The late Mr Randell, was 79 years of age, and had been indisposed for some considerable time. He had been engaged in pastoral pursuits for many years.
In 1885 William John Sheppard appears on the title. He was to own the land for 21 years and so was likely to be the owner and builder of the present timber house.
Mr WJ Shepherd may have been the former owner or publican of a Mudgee Hotel, which was situated close by this house. The Mudgee Guardian in August 1903 reported:
Deathof Mr W Sheppard: News has been received of the death of Mr W Shepherd, who some years ago kept the Mudgee Hotel, now occupied by Mr C Harper….. The deceased was a brother of Mrs G Arnold and Mrs G Tomkins, and an uncle of Mr Albert Sheppard, of Mudgee.
Ernest Hume who was born in Bathurst I 1869 also wrote an early “History of Mudgee”. On page 128 he provides the following information of the publicans of the Mudgee Hotel, which was at the corner of Court and Mortimer St next to Gordon Stoddart’s premises:
‘John Schipp conducted the Mudgee hotel. It was first opened by F. Dengate, then RW Heard, then John Hill then Schipp. Then conducted by Charles Sheppard, R Jones and Charles Harper. In this instance the Christian name to the publican is given as Charles, which is so far, a mystery.
A very early History of Mudgee by GHF Cox includes an advertisment for the Mudgee Hotel which was initially owned by William Blackman.
There are only a few mentions in the papers of the Mudgee Hotel. It was one of Mudgee’s oldest hotels having been built circa 1840-50’s.
After the death of Mr Shepherd the house became the property of Willina and Mary Wisbey in 1906 and in turn was passed onto their daughters Eunice and Pinetta.
In 1940 Sarah Ellen Babbage owned the house and she sold to Robert Wilson in 1953. The property was then acquired by William Russell Lumsden who owned it up until recent years and whose grandson was residing there in 2017. Barbara Hickson Architect and Heritage Adviser.