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Today in History - March

Glance through the history of New South Wales and the State archives day by day and month by month.

March 1

On this day in 1900 the NSW Bushmen's Contingent departed Sydney to fight in the Boer War in South Africa. NRS 1254 is a series of photos of the Bushmen's Contingent, including the encampment at Kensington Racecourse, Sydney and the actual departure of the troops.

March 2

On this day in 1959 work began on Stage 1 of the Sydney Opera House when Premier JJ Cahill laid a plaque. Stage 1 included the building of the upper podium and the work was carried out by Civil and Civic P/L.

March 3

On this day in 1818 Charles Throsby, along with James Meehan and Hamilton Hume set out to find an overland route from Sydney to Jervis Bay. The party set out from the Liverpool region and arrived at Jervis Bay a month later.  The party returned to Sydney naming the Goulburn Plains after Henry Goulburn, the Colonial Under Secretary, on the way.  Charles Throsby's journal of this Tour of Discovery can be found on Reel 6043 [4/2743 pp9-76].

March 3

On this day in 1818 Charles Throsby, along with James Meehan and Hamilton Hume set out to find an overland route from Sydney to Jervis Bay. The party returned to Sydney naming the Goulburn Plains after Henry Goulburn, the Colonial Under Secretary, on the way. Charles Throsby's journal of this Tour of Discovery can be found on Reel 6043 [4/2743 pp9-76].

March 4

On this day in 1804 the Castle Hill convict rebellion started led by Irishman Phillip Cunningham. Martial law was declared and Major George Johnston led the NSW Corps to meet the convict rebels. A short battle ensued which ended the the rebellion being put down and Cunningham being executed without trial in Windsor.

March 5

On this day in 1868 Lucy Osburn, accompanied by five other trained nurses selected by Florence Nightingale, arrived in Sydney to take up the position of Lady Superintendent at the Sydney Infirmary. Osburn remained at the Infirmary until her retirement in 1884.

March 8

Today is International Women's Day.

March 9

On this day in 1870 Granny Smith died. Granny Smith, or Maria Ann Smith, gave her name to a tart green apple that was supposedly propagated on her property in Ryde, Sydney. Maria Ann Smith came to NSW with her husband, Thomas Smith, and family in 1838 on board the Lady Nugent. They bought 24 acres on the edge of the Field of Mars Common and started an orchard.

  • For the Entitlement Certificates of the Smith family see Reel 1291 [4/4831] under Lady Nugent.
  • For map of Ryde district showing location of Smith family orchard see Parish Map 2575 (Sheet 3, Lots 12 & 13)

March 10

On this day in 1794 Reverend Samuel Marsden arrived in the Colony of NSW. Marsden became the first rector of the St John's Church Parramatta from its opening in 1803 and he was buried there when he died in 1838. Marsden is perhaps best remembered in NSW as the "Flogging Parson". He was appointed to the Bench of Magistrates Parramatta where he quickly developed a reputation for extreme severity.

March 12

On this day in 1868 Australia's first attempted political assassination occurred when Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, was shot while picnicking at Clontarf beach by Henry James O'Farrell. The Prince was hospitalised for two weeks and recovered fully.  O'Farrell was arrested at the scene and quickly tried, convicted and then hanged on April 21, 1868.

March 13

On this day in 1827 general lighting in Sydney was turned on. In the previous year on April 8 the first street lamp in Macquarie Place was lit.

March 14

On this day in 1863 Goulburn was proclaimed a City, becoming the first inland city in New South Wales. Goulburn is 195km southwest of Sydney in the Southern Tablelands.

March 16

On this day in 1826 the Australian Subscription Library was founded in Sydney. The Library opened its doors on December 1, 1826 in Pitt Street, Sydney. By 1869 though, the Library was seriously in debt and was bought by the State Government. It became the Sydney Free Public Library, the forerunner of the State Library. An Archives Department was created within the Public Library in 1953.

March 19

On this day in 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened.

We have created a video montage showing the construction. The photos are from our collection - series NRS 12685 - and the whole set, 1923-1933, is available on Photo Investigator.

March 20

On this day in 2006 the State archives convict records were inscribed into the Australian UNESCO Memory of the World Project Register at a ceremony at the Sydney Records Centre. The convict records archive is one of the most important and extensive penology archives in the world and covers the period 1787-1842.

March 24

On this day in 1827 John Busby, an engineer, began work on a scheme to pipe fresh water from the Lachlan Swamps to a resevoir at the Racecourse (now Hyde Park). This pipeline became known as "Busby's Bore" or the "Lachlan Tunnel". Convict labour was used to bore through 3.6 km of mostly sandstone over a ten year period. Once the water reached the resevoir it was distributed throught the city by horse drawn carts. For a sketch of the pipeline see Map 5780 in the reading room.

March 27

On this day in 1874 a group of Communist exiles, led by Henri Rochefort, arrived in Newcastle, NSW on board an Australian ship. France used New Caledonia as a penal colony from 1864 and despite numerous assurances that no convicts would escape many did end up in New South Wales. Henri Rochefort soon left the Colony for California on April 11.

March 29

On this day in 1885 a NSW contingent arrived in Sudan, the first time Australian troops fought in an imperial war. The NSW contingent consisted of an infantry battalion and an artillery battery, totalling 758 men.They left Sydney on March 3 and returned on June 19. While the contingent did not fight in any major battles, there were three wounded soldiers and seven deaths from fever or dysentery.

March 30

On this day in 1816 Francis Greenway was appointed as Civil Architect by Governor Macquarie. He had arrived in NSW as a convict aboard the General Hewitt in February 1814 to serve a fourteen year sentence for forgery. Greenway designed, among other buildings, the lighthouse at South Head, the Female Factory at Parramatta, the Convict Barracks in Sydney, churches at Windsor and Liverpool and the Courthouse at Windsor.