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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hall, Thomas Simpson (1808–1870)

by Nancy Gray

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

Thomas Simpson Hall (1808-1870), pastoralist, was born on 19 August 1808 at Bungool on the Hawkesbury River, son of George Hall and his wife Mary, née Smith. His parents arrived in the Coromandel in 1802 with four children, as members of a small group of Presbyterian immigrants who settled on the Hawkesbury and founded at Ebenezer the chapel which is the oldest church on the mainland of Australia. George Hall, whose family had been tenant farmers of the Dukes of Northumberland, built Percy Place in Windsor, became a substantial farmer and encouraged his sons to search for new grazing land. They were among the first settlers in the Upper Hunter district and selected land in biblical fashion with Archibald Bell of Richmond. By 1828 the Hall family held 4700 acres (1902 ha) at Dartbrook and at Gungal and employed nine convicts, eight of them Protestant.

Thomas managed the Dartbrook property for the family partnership and later inherited it. He bred station horses, Durham cattle and merino sheep. He responded to the urgent need for good cattle-dogs and imported a pair of wall-eyed blue 'merles', a cross between the Scottish collie and Italian greyhound. In 1840 he produced a merle-dingo cross that combined the speed and silence of the dingo with the collie's intelligent obedience. 'Hall's Heelers' became famous among Hunter Valley cattle-men and were in much demand for station work. After 1870 a pair were taken to Sydney where the breed was improved, chiefly by the Bagust brothers, who 'bred a lot and drowned a lot' until by 1890 the blue cattle-dog bred true.

By 1850 the Hall brothers had over 200,000 acres (80,938 ha) in the Maranoa district of Queensland and over 270,000 acres (109,266 ha) in New England and the Liverpool Plains and by 1870 their estates included Gundibri, Nandowra and St Heliers in the Upper Hunter, and leaseholds of 100,000 acres (40,469 ha) in the Gwydir district, 525,000 acres (212,462 ha) in New England and 437 square miles (1132 km²) in Queensland. Despite his far-ranging pastoral interests, T. S. Hall was an efficient magistrate, a member of the first Scone District Council and on the committee of the Scone Benevolent Association. His support for the Presbyterian Church was generous and sustained. He retained strong links with his birthplace, contributed to the building of the Windsor School of Arts and in 1856 presided at the first meeting of the Windsor Literary Society. He died at Dartbrook House on 28 May 1870 and was buried in Dartbrook private cemetery. He was survived by his wife Anne, née McGinnis, whom he married on 1 July 1835, and by eight daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Steele, Early Days of Windsor (Syd, 1916)
  • Sydney Mail, 13 Apr 1938
  • biographies of Hawkesbury pioneers (privately held).

Additional Resources

  • profile, Windsor and Richmond Gazette (NSW), 1 May 1925, p 6

Citation details

Nancy Gray, 'Hall, Thomas Simpson (1808–1870)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 22 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

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