History of Camden

John Macarthur   

Elizabeth MacarthurBW

In 1795 cattle which had strayed from the colony at Farm Cove were discovered in the Camden area. This prompted Governor Hunter to visit the area and name it "Cowpastures". In 1803 Governor King visited the area and Mrs King became the first white lady to cross the Nepean River. The Governor instructed that the cattle herd be preserved, and in early 1805 the first house in the district was built near the river ford where Mrs King crossed. The house was built to accommodate Constables Warby and Jackson who were present to ensure that the cattle herd was preserved. The road from Prospect to the area was called Cowpasture Road, a name it enjoys to this day.

During 1803, Lord Camden, the Colonial Secretary, ordered Governor King to grant John Macarthur "not less than 5,000 acres" for the purpose of sheep breeding and allowed Macarthur to import the first pure merino rams and ewes from the Royal Stud at Kew. Thus the great Australian Wool Industry was established, an industry which has dominated the world wool market and was the source of much of Australia’s wealth. In 1830 prominent citizens petitioned the governor to establish a town near the Nepean. The Surveyor General, Major Mitchell, suggested that Macarthur surrender 320 acres of his land for this purpose. Macarthur declined to do so, but in 1836, two years after his death, his sons had the area surveyed and offered allotments for sale in 1840. Thus the town of Camden was born.

On 18 August 1883, a meeting of citizens was held to formulate action for the incorporation of the Town of Camden as a Municipality. This incorporation took place in February 1889, and on 24 April of that year the Council held its first meeting. At that time the Council served some 342 people of whom 180 were males and 162 were females. The Unimproved Capital Value of the Municipality was 151,000 pounds and total revenue, including a 500 pound Government Grant, was 961 pounds. In 1948 the Municipality gained Narellan, Catherine Field, Leppington, Bringelly and Rossmore areas from Nepean Shire which had ceased to exist. In this way the area’s borders that exist today were established.

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