Edward Elliott is unusual in being one of the few convicts with a rural background recorded as a ‘husbandman.’

Convicted of burglary at the Surrey Assize in Croydon on 18 August 1783 he left his home in Coulston, Surrey, and spent some time on Ceres hulk before sailing in the First Fleet on Scarborough.


Due to his experience he was an early recipient of a land grant at The Ponds, an area near Parramatta. Being a single man this grant was limited to 30 acres. He soon remedied this on 11 September 1791 by marrying Ann Smith at St John's, Parramatta. A convict, she had arrived two months earlier aboard Mary Ann.


Another partnership in December of that year was formed with his neighbour, Joseph Marshall, who had been granted 30 acres, though a weaver by trade. The partnership was dissolved in 1796, but not before the Superintendent of Agriculture, David Burton, had referred to them as men "who cultivated their ground in a very slovenly manner, and are very dilatory." In view of his later success Elliott may have been correct in protesting that his poor results were caused less by incompetence and more by the infertile land. This may have been his reason for taking a partner in the first place or Elliott and Marshall may have determined upon a partnership because the nature of grants predisposed this course of action.


John Hunter recorded how "in laying out the different allotments, an intermediate space, equal to what was granted to the settler, was retained between every two allotments, for the benefit of the crown; and as this set them at some distance from each other, and there being a wood between every two settlers, in which the natives might conceal themselves, if they were inclined to mischief, several musquets were distributed amongst the settlers."


By October 1792 Elliott had some six acres under grain and a further three cleared. It is possible that this initial lack of success arose from expectations that this husbandman should "plough the Field." Judge Advocate David Collins by 1796 was giving him praise for having bred a flock of 22 sheep from a single ewe which Governor Phillip had given to him in 1791. He was the sole recipient of Phillip's largesse who kept and prospered from his legacy.


It was, then, with sheep that Elliott was successful. His flock by 1800 mustered 120 head and by 1806 had increased to 565 head. Excluding members of the Corps he was one of the largest flock owners in the Colony. His run was 96 acres acquired at Seven Hills on 28 January 1805 for 14 pounds from First Fleeter William Browning. This was the same locality as the Macarthurs' Seven Hills farm, where Elizabeth Macarthur was successfully managing her family's flocks. Elliott had earlier sold his grant by mid-1800 to James Thompson and had purchased and sold a parcel of 50 acres at Northern Boundaries.


He served between 1804 and 1805 as a volunteer private in the Parramatta Loyal Association — a civil militia formed to assist the Governor in a period of civil unrest. With the arrival of Governor Bligh, Elliott, like his fellow settlers in The Hills, supported the Governor and was a signatory of petitions in his favour. However, despite the theories of some historians that the Corps were principally motivated in destroying opposition to their entrepreneurial endeavours and the growth of their flocks when they overthrew Bligh, Elliott does not appear to have suffered during these years. On Governor Macquarie's arrival, his flocks then numbered over 400 and were still intact.


Regrettably nothing further is known of him until his death on 19 April 1822, aged 70 years. Only in the 1802 Muster is he shown to be supporting a child, but no other details of this child or of his wife are known.



Copyright Fellowship of First Fleeters