Willingdon to Park Farm

Book Review

History and Life of Samuel and Martha Mewett nee Balcombe

Author: Darryl Mewett

October 2019

For decades a book needed to be written about our South Australian family pioneers. Now Darryl Mewett has fulfilled that want with a publication that is revealing in its detail and presented with very good taste and an all-encompassing narrative.

Its 40 pages in A4 format with appropriate hard cover include a background of East Sussex geography, the hard times of farm labourers of that era in England, the conditions of a sea voyage for steerage passengers and their disembarkation in the mangrove mud of Port Misery (Port Adelaide), and the desire to be a landowner (firstly of five acres at Modbury and then 80 acres at Kersbrook).

I found the chapter covering the Birth and Origins of Martha Balcombe to be enlightening, especially the details of Bastardy Examination, Bonds and Documents under Parish and Poor Law.  Darryl has done his research thoroughly and presented the results in a sympathetic and readable way.

I have often wondered what prompted Samuel to name his 80 acres at Kersbrook as Park Farm. All is explained by Darryl on pages 4 and 5; there was a Park Farm in Willingdon owned by a Mr Denman whereon there were many head of livestock including  15 horses, more than 100 cows and calves, and in excess of 1,000 sheep. We might suppose that Samuel lived and worked there as labourer and shepherd. Details of an auction of the livestock in 1832 are given on page 5.

Photographs and maps accompany the text and provide faces for many of those named in the text. 

The last 12 pages are devoted to a listing of a Three Generation Descendant Report which includes my father’s generation.  The book will be a great help to those descendants of Samuel and Martha researching their family history. Darryl acknowledges his indebtness to his cousins both English and Australian whose research has provided a base for his literary work.

A sale price is not given in the book but Darryl’s email contact is <mewettss@bigpond.com> for availability and cost.

On my first reading of the book I emailed Darryl saying: I am impressed. Well done, Darryl. As they shout at the Opera: Bravo!

– Alan Mewett

Published in: on May 2, 2020 at 12:54 pm  Leave a Comment