07 October 2011

Thomas Huxley and Tom Uglys Bridge

In the south of Sydney, on the Georges River, there is a bridge called Tom Uglys Bridge. It was named after Tom Uglys Point, which is found where the northern end of the bridge reaches land.

There is a theory that Thomas Huxley lived in the area and it was named after him, using the pronunciation of the local Aborigines - "Tom Ugly" instead of "Tom Huxley". Whilst this mispronunciation is possible, no records survive that show Thomas Huxley actually lived on the Georges River. All the surviving documentation shows that Thomas Huxley lived and owned land on the Hawkesbury River, which is to the north of Sydney, almost 100kms away.

I was at the NSW State Records Centre the other day and looked at some documentation regarding land that Thomas was requesting to acquire next to the 40 or 50 acres (it is unclear exactly which - the documents appear to contradict each other) that he already had at Lower Portland Head, on the Hawkesbury. He was granted the 40/50 acres by Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, and he wanted to purchase at least 40 more, next to it. This was granted by Sir Ralph Darling in 1831. There was nothing in the letters to the Colonial Secretary regarding land on the Georges River, only on the Hawkesbury River.

There is a possibility that land was purchased on the Georges River using one of Thomas Huxley's aliases - Jones, Huckles, Oxley, but I have not looked into those - I'll have to save that for another visit to the records centre. On the face of it though, my conclusion is that Tom Uglys Bridge is not named after Thomas Huxley.

1 comment:

  1. I'm also descended from Thomas Huxley and Anne Forbes. As he was reported as telling the story of being Tom Ugly, I wonder if it was in another name. I read somewhere that he was granted land at 'Botany Bay' at one point, as well as his grants on the Hawkesbury.