1860 – Tyson expected to shear 80,000 sheep


This article gives a vivid picture of how much James Tyson had achieved by the age of 41. He was already becoming an iconic member of the squattocracy, not only for his personal success but also for what was seen as his important role in the economy of the country.

Note that the term squatting, which today is a pejorative description for people who occupy something they do not own, has a very different meaning in the history of Australian white settlement. When the British colonised the eastern part of Australia they considered it was essentially empty and did not belong to anyone (terra nullius), conveniently ignoring the indigenous population who had been here for 50,000 years or more, and so claimed it all as belonging to the Crown. As the colonies grew in the early to mid-1800s, the demand for beef, mutton and wool increased rapidly. The western parts of New South Wales contained land ideal for grazing sheep and cattle, so speculators would occupy large areas of unused Crown land. Often they would have no rights to the land, but later it would be legitimised through government leases and sometimes as freehold title. Some of these speculators were wealthy British free settlers, and others were entrepreneurial emancipated convicts or, as in the case of James Tyson, children of convicts. They were leading the push to settle remote areas of the country, and were generally held in high regard by the public of the day.

Many of the squatters became influential in advancing their needs with the government. The term squattocracy was coined to describe squatters who had become the new aristocracy of the day.

Here’s a transcription of the  article:

SQUATTING IN THE DENILIQUIN DISTRICT. – Some notion may be formed of the grand scale in which squatting is carried on in these districts when we record the number of sheep to be shorn this season on the runs belonging to Mr. James Tyson as 80,000. The average weight of the wool is 3½ lbs. per sheep. This would give 280,000 lbs. of wool, which at 2s. per lb., would realise £28,000. If the sheep increase as we may expect, Mr. Tyson in five years will shear 500,000 sheep, giving employment to hundreds of men. – Pastoral Times.

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APA citation
COUNTRY NEWS. (1860, October 22). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13047564


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