The Pilcher and Hungerford Connection

by Ann Ashby [Great-great-granddaughter of Henry Incledon Pilcher]

[Editor: This article was first published in HAFS Journal Vol 1 No 3, May 1992.]

Eliza Sophia (Pilcher) Hungerford (1827-1909)

On 1 February 1854 Septimus Hungerford [E.7], seventh son of Captain Emanuel Hungerford and his wife Catherine Loane, married Eliza Sophia Pilcher, eldest child of Henry Incledon Pilcher and his wife Eliza Bradley, so joining two prominent Maitland families. The following is some background on the Pilcher family.

Early Years in the Colony

Henry Incledon Pilcher, with his wife Eliza and three year old daughter, Eliza Sophia, arrived in Port Jackson on 16 April 1830 on the 220 ton brig Elizabeth from Plymouth. The 202 day voyage was marred by the death of their dear baby son Edward, aged five and a half months, “near five degrees of the line”. Also on this voyage were Henry Dangar, who was returning to Australia, and Gilbert Cory (younger brother of Edward Gostwyck Cory) who was coming to Australia for the first time.

The family stayed at the Cummings Hotel in Sydney while Henry set about the business of applying for a land grant. Before coming to Australia, he had travelled to France to study “the cultivation of the vine and the making of the tonic”, so intended settling in the Hunter Valley for this purpose.

He immediately rented Vineyard Cottage Farm, near Paterson, from Edward Gostwyck Cory, where there was already a small plantation of vines. By 25 June 1830 he had planted about 25 acres of wheat, and was intending to sow as much again, as well as preparing more land for vine growing.

Henry’s Land Grant

photo of Henry Incledon Pilcher (1799-1845)
Henry Incledon Pilcher (1799-1845)

Henry had already applied for his land grant – eight days after landing. In 1830 a man’s assets determined the size of his grant, so to this end he deposited 500 pounds sterling in the Bank of Australia, and presented a list to the Land Board of goods he had brought with him to sell or exchange for stock. He nominated Henry Dangar’s brother, Thomas, as his referee. He was granted 960 acres but managed to have it doubled after writing to Governor Darling to explain that 1 it was entirely inadequate to my purposes as a Settler on the following grounds:

First: I have purchased and paid for more than 500 head of fine woolled sheep, 35 head of cattle and 2 horses independent of other things. The usual computation is that 1 sheep requires 3 acres of natural grass to support it thro’out the year – therefore my sheep alone would overstock the grant your Excellency has been pleased to direct to be made to me.

Secondly: I have property independent of the cash proportion to which your Excellency seems to have directed the grant, with which I am now negotiating exchange for cattle and sheep but which I must decline taking if I have not more land to support them.

Thirdly: The lowness of prices and the depression of the times have enabled me to make purchases of stock equal to what a Settler four years since could have done with five times my capital.

Henry chose his 1920 acres at Wollarobba, between Paterson and Dungog, and named his property Wallaringa. In 1838 he applied for a further grant, which was refused as he had not improved the original grant to the required standard. He indulged in a great deal of correspondence on the refusal as he had poured a lot of money into his other, purchased, properties, and felt that this should have been taken into consideration. However this argument did not impress Governor Gipps and his request for reconsideration was refused.

Legal Practice in Maitland

As he was already a Solicitor of the High Court of Chancery and an Attorney of the Law Courts of Westminster, he wished to practise law in New South Wales. He therefore applied for a town grant in the new town of Maitland, and after he was admitted as an Attorney, Solicitor and Proctor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales on 1 September 1830, he set up his practice in the High Street.


Henry built a home in West Maitland for his growing family and called the 60 acre property Telarah – the suburb now bears this name. The home was:

a handsome and substantial stone edifice with a splendid flagged verandah, supported by stone columns

and contained 

a large entrance hall, spacious dining and drawing rooms, elegantly fitted with marble chimney pieces, study; four large bedrooms; stores, pantries, etc.

The outbuildings consisted of

a barn and granary, 60′ x 20’6″, height 12’; a strong substantial slabbed building, floored and shingled; 8-stalled stable and coachhouse, two kitchens each 20’ square, cart shed, gardener’s hut, etc.

The grounds were tastefully laid out and were in the “highest state of cultivation” and the orchard and the garden were “abundantly stocked with the choicest fruit trees”.

Eliza’s Land and Family

He continued to buy up land in Maitland. However he signed over to his wife a great deal of land in a Deed of Grant in 1843; this was possibly something to do with the depression of the times or perhaps the 1840s version of a “bottom of the harbour” deal. In any case it was a lucky move for his wife as Henry died of apoplexy (stroke) less than two years later at the age of only 45.

Henry and Eliza had 11 children (two of them died in infancy), so Eliza was left with 9 children to bring up, the youngest only 14 months old.

image of Pilcher Family Tree

  1. Letter dated 22 July 1830

Leave a Comment