First Settlers

The first purchaser of land in the Hunters Hill-Woolwich peninsula was William Morgan, sometimes known as “Billy the Bull”. He paid 25 guineas for 10 acres in July 1834. After Morgan came John Clarke, who purchased 10 acres for 75 pounds in February 1835. On it he subsequently built the first house in Woolwich which he named ‘Viewforth’. He afterwards replaced it with a stone house and later still built ‘Woodstock’, a two-storey house, which he used as a dwelling and subsequently as an office. ‘Woodstock’ still stands as the oldest existing house in the Woolwich-Hunters Hill area.

Land was also acquired at Woolwich in 1835 by Samuel Onions after whom Onions Point was named; also by Thomas Edwards and James Chisholm.

Late in 1835 Mary Reiby acquired 30 acres in the Fig Tree area for 30 pounds while John Glade, after whom Gladesville was named, was another early purchaser.

In addition to purchasing land at Gladesville, Glade also rented 50 acres at a peppercorn rental, subject to him carrying out certain improvements to the land. It is of interest to note that one portion of the original land acquired by John Clarke, the huge Woolwich Dock was subsequently constructed, the soil and sandstone from the excavation being used to reclaim land at Clarke’s Point nearby.

What we know these days as Woolwich Point and Valentia Street Wharf were in the early days and for many years known as Onions Point and Onions Point Wharf.

Mary Reiby, after her earlier acquisition of 30 acres at Fig Tree, subsequently acquired considerably more land in the Fig Tree or central Hunters Hill area. She was acknowledged as a most astute business woman. Her original home ‘Reiby Cottage’ was unfortunately demolished when the north-western expressway was constructed in the early 1960s, along with the famous ‘St. Malo’.


Compiled by Roy D. Stuckey, OBE, Hon. FIMA,
Town Clerk of the Municipality of Hunter’s Hill from
1935 to 1967
President, Hunters Hill Historical Society
1961–1968 and 1969-1978