10 October 2011

Parish maps and Thomas Huxley

In an attempt to try to solve the issue of Thomas Huxley and Tom Uglys Point/Bridge, I've been looking at old parish maps. I can easily find the land Thomas Huxley Snr (of purported Tom Uglys Point fame) and Thomas Huxley Jnr owned at Lower Portland Head. I helpfully had a description of the location of the land in letters to and from the Colonial Secretary which I read through the other day at the State Records Centre in Kingswood. The land was described as being right at the junction of the Colo and Hawkesbury Rivers, and this is exactly where I found it. Interestingly, right beside these two plots of land is a parcel of land of 70 acres which was owned by one Thomas Jones. "Thomas Jones" was one of Thomas Huxley's aliases... maybe it was also his, although it could have been a completely different person who just happened to be named Thomas Jones. Below is my hand drawn map based on the parish maps.

Over on the other side of Sydney there are no maps of Tom Uglys Point which show land owned by any of Thomas Huxley's aliases. The land the point is on was owned by a Robert Townson, so it doesn't sound like the point was named after him either. It is possible that the available maps do not cover times when Huxley owned land there, or it is possible the whole story is a furphy!

Incidentally, the way I found these maps was through the NSW Department of Lands. First I looked up the parish name using the name search on the Geographical Names Board website - in the case of Lower Portland Head it was "Hawkesbury". Then I looked at the Hawkesbury parish maps using the Parish Map Preservation Project webpage until I found one which had the junction of the Colo and Hawkesbury Rivers, and there was the name Huxley - Bingo!

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