Milbrodale Named by Rev Richard Hill (1782-1836)
Milbrodale originally 'Milbro Dale' was a land grant by Governor Lachlan Macquarrie to Rev Richard Hill in 1832. It was 1200 acres west of Wollombi Brook.
Rev Richard Hill came out from England with his wife (Phoebe Saphira) by ship as free settler to assist in pastoring the Sydney church. His wife Sapphira and Richard set sail on the ship Hibernia bound for Hobart Tasmania to offload male convicts at Port Arthur.
Richard talked at length and assisted the prisoners throughout the journey and showed care and concern for them. He asked the medical officer to help with there health and well being but found that the medical officer (Charles Carter) did not care for the prisoners. This frustrated Richard and got to the point that the medical officer forbade him from seeing the prisoners. Now Richard was really concerned and stressed over the matter.
Upon arrival at Hobart, Richard boarded the first available shuttle ship and arrived at Sydney. Upon arrival he went straight to Governor Lachlan Macquarrie not caring for any courtesy stormed into his office and vented his spleen (to put it nicely).
Well the Governor immediately requested the medical officer to come to Sydney urgently.
After hearing the medical officer's explanation of what he had done, Governor Lachlan Macquarrie sacked him and forbade him to ever work for the government again.
Thus struck a bond and very good relationship between the Governor and Richard.
Richard after a few years became the first minister of the newly constructed St James Church (1824) in King St Sydney.
Richard with his wife worked tirelessly in the colony assisting the underprivileged, convicts and aborigines.
He pioneered several benevolence societies and pioneered new organisations which still exist today.
Governor Lachlan Macquarrie (who was the head of the first pastoral company AA Company (Australian Agricultural Company) and lived in Stroud (one the earliest settlements outside Sydney and the first to grow vineyards in the north of Sydney regions) granted Richard 1200 acres in the Hunter Valley.
Richard and Sapphira together with several convicts and a manager and wife set out for his new property in the Hunter. Traveling to Windsor and then by horse overland on long a faint track that became the first route of the Great North Road. Traveling North through the Colo River and mountains and on to the Bulga Mountains along what is almost the the Old Putty Road he came to his land in the Hunter Valley. He made a large stone house at the junction of the Wollombi Brook and Parsons Creek. The land was hard and unforgiving. Richard returned to Sydney to pastor the newly built St James Church leaving his wife, manager and convicts to look after the new property.
When ever he could find time and at the earliest opportunity Richard would travel by horse on his own to the property. The route was sometimes hostile and troublesome as the Bulga aborigines tribe became hostile to outsiders.
Richard continued his work with orphanages and caring deeply for the welfare of the aborigines. He adopted a few children as Sapphira and him could not have children of their own. He was so concerned for the welfare of the children and especially the children of the convicts.
Richard dearly loved his parents which I will mention more later. He sent a lot of money back to England to look after his mother. Richard was not good with money and gave most of it away to the benevolent societies he founded.
On 30 May 1836 in the vestry at St James Church, giving a sermon, Richard collapsed and died. He was found to have appopsia which was baffling to the colony given his young age.
Sapphira having no money sold the farm and moved back to humble cottage in Darlinghurst for the rest of her life.
So where the heck did the name Milbro Dale come from. There is nothing written down anywhere about it.
Upon investigation and discussion with St James Archivist, the name is derived from the love of Rev Richard Hill's mother. His parents were Joshua Hill and mother was Marlborough Arm.
Richard must have had a good sense of humour and tremendous honour to his wonderful mother. His mother was called 'Milbro' for short. So his new land was the valley (Dale) of Milbro. Richard's name is Hill...hill and dale...get the idea. A little bit of humour and strength.
Whether Richard in his wisdom new that the Dale he now owned was like the strong 'Arm of the valley' no one will ever know. The Marlborough Arm the "Milbro Dale".
Over time it has been changed to Milbrodale both for the land and the road that goes through it.
When Richard died it is said their was not one dry eye (including all the men) in the whole of Sydney. He was the most honored and loved person in the whole of the colony.
As I said to the archivist: The Rev Richard Hill is one of the founding fathers of this nation (even though he never had children)... he was a father to the nation... and they loved him so much. The archivist said that he did adopt a convict child and there are children to this day who have the honour of knowing that they have a great and personal father.