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Biography: DOUST, David

(28th October 1836-19th January 1937)


Biography about David DOUST and his achievments in Australia.

David DOUST was born in Lamberhurst, in the county of Kent on 28th October 1836, the year before Queen Victoria ascended the throne of England. In 1858, he felt that, conditions in England were such, that he could see very poor prospects there. He consulted his friends & fiancee. Given that fact that his mothers brother James BOORMAN (7/6/1806-27/3/1899) & James's wife Jane Beaumont WATTS, had already migrated to Australia in 1841, on board the sailing ship Moffatt, and having a desire to improve himself & provide for the future he decided to come to New South Wales. His fiancee Mary WATERS, born about 1837 Horsemoden, Kent, agreed to marry him & accompany him to Australia.

Married on July 27th 1858, David & Mary sailed from Liverpool, England on the Admiral Lyons (sometimes shown as Admiral Loyens), departing on September 25th, 1858, reaching Sydney Heads on December 29th, 1858.

Early Sydney

In David's "Reminiscences" he wrote:- "Several days we lay off the Quarantine Station, then were towed up the harbour to just opposite what is now Circular Quay. It was then a sandy beach with a large grass plot. We were fascinated with the wondrous natural beauty of the harbour, & impressed with the possibilities of future progress and development. Many of the city streets were not formed; others were in vary bad condition."

"St. Andrew's Cathedral was in the course of construction; a burying-place where the Town Hall now rears its noble proportions. A two-railed fence ran from Bathurst street down Brickfield Hill. After landing we walked up George street, got through the fence & walked across a large paddock, taking a short cut to Surry Hills, where we stayed a few days with the wife's uncle before proceeding up country. In this interval we saw a good deal of Sydney."

"We rode in the train as far as Parramatta (then the terminus), walked to a place known as Prospect, about four miles & there for the first time saw farming operations in Australia."

To Bolwarra to work for his uncle James BOORMAN

David DOUST and his wife Mary travelled to Newcastle near Morpeth via steamer, & thence onto Bolwarra, near Maitland, where David worked for his uncle, James BOORMAN. It was there that their first child Reuben DOUST was born on 14th October 1859. Reuben married Mary Jane SHORT (27/3/1863-24/4/1962). Mary was the daughter of John SHORT & Tryphenia BOORMAN, & the granddaughter of James BOORMAN & Jane Beaumont WATTS. Therefore Reuben DOUST & Mary Jane SHORT were second cousins.

Life in the Clarence River Area

Their uncle James BOORMAN, two years after their arrival left for the Clarence River, & they accompanied him, arriving in February, 1861. Here James followed farming persuits. This is how David describes their early experiences....

"The land was rich & heavily laden with fine timber; white people were scarce, but the natives & mosquitoes were in great numbers. There was neither hut or home, so with that dauntless determination for which old pioneers are deservedly praised, we set about building. For weeks we had to camp, 10 in number, on bags of straw, on the earthen floor"

"My new furniture I made myself from the bush material. It was solid not stately made to wear and last, not for appearance, The hut was destitute of windows, the floor of earth. Bush life is not a velvet couch, yet there is a liberty and healthy happiness, the cramped, pale care-worn city man fails to enjoy. Under these rough but homely, circumstances, our second boy was born."

The second boy was William Colin DOUST (1861-23/8/1949) who married Emily APPS, daughter of Moses APPS & Harriett EGGINS.

After a period of time David accepted another job across the river. This necessitated daily crossing of the river. David had no boat so crossed the river on a raft, composed of three cedar logs fastened & nailed together, forked sticks for row-locks, a box to sit on, & paddles. The trip was a half mile in length, leaving home at 5am arriving back at 7pm. His wage was 15 shillings & remuneration of one single ration. David remembered ...

"During my stay with my uncle on the river, my wife had a great deal of sickness, with consequence heavy doctor's expenses, so that I was unable to save money. However after 6 months across the river, we were able to put by about 13 pounds, & from then on I was my own master"

"With my own small capital I took for five years a farm of standing timber, a dense scrub cleared and one crop taken off. For this I had to pay a little rent, and found it necessary to again erect a home, as there was merely a roofed building without walls. For this new structure I had to go into the bush & carry most of the material on my back. Many long hours of labor I spent felling that scrub, a proceeding full of danger & risk unknown to the city dweller."

"After felling much timber I planted my first crop of maize, most of which I carried in from the field to the shed on my back. For the first 3 years of the 5, the crop was planted with a hoe. Thence since nature always rewards the hard, persevering worker, I was able to get some farm implements & a team of bullocks"

"After my 5 year lease expired , I selected a 250 acre block on the opposite side of the river & successfully carried out the difficult operation of towing a cow & my bullocks across the stream behind the boat, also a dray, buoyed up by means of an empty cast fastened thereto."

"Once again we felled the timber and built a home, & ploughed the only suitable portion of our new selection, about 15 acres, the rest being a swamp, forest ridges, poor land, but good for grass. Very hard toil and long hours were my first portion here, as my circumstances would not permit of the employment of labour. To this we added a dry spell, resulting in poor crop, which bought such a low price that we were burdened of the anxiety of seriously low finances. Indeed, our circumstances were so stretched that, rather than be in debt, we subsisted for months mainly on cornmeal porridge three times a day."

"After the night, the dawn; after a season of struggle & worry we reaped the fruits of perseverance & industry. The rain came, and a good crop, bringing renewed hope and gladness. About this time the sugar industry was introduced to the Clarence River, This being more profitable then maize growing, I planted a considerable area, which brought such good returns, I was able to save money & build a comfortable home. Then I advanced my position by purchasing the adjoining farm, for my boys, being now at a useful age, & fortune favoring us."

"In a short time I was in a position to buy a second farm, making altogether 350 acres. The idea came to me of draining the large swamp by means of a box drain, which I did at a cost of five hundred pounds, thus adding about 100 acres of good cultivation, also large paddocks of grass. I further increased my banking account by breeding cattle and horses. Once again I speculated by buying another farm, this one at a cost of nearly two thousand pounds. By this time my family had grown up some of them married & settled on my land. Floods came sometimes, resulting in much damage & loss. For instance, the great 1893 flood (the largest the Clarence has known) destroyed the whole of my maize crop, amounting to 1000 bags"

"In the same year the Government of New South Wales offered a prize of 50 pounds for the best worked and managed farm on the North Coast of New South Wales. I competed against 40 other farmers, & won the prize."

The farms were at Lower Ulmarra, & Southgate on the Clarence River near Grafton, which is where David DOUST remained until he retired. David named one of the farms "Bayham" after the "Bayham" estate at Lamberhurst where his father Sam lived. In April 1893 David DOUST & his wife Mary took a holiday to England, and it was after their return in the following year that David retired, to live in a cottage which he erected in Villiers Street, Grafton. After three years David & Mary went to live in Sydney for 3 years then return to Grafton where David purchased the premises of the old Tattersall's Hotel in Queen street. They resided there until Mary's death on 11/7/1909, when David went to Sydney to live at Chatswood, where he married for a second time, until the death of his second wife. He then moved to Bellingen to reside with his second son William Colin DOUST. His second wife was Martha ROBENS daughter of Stephen ROBENS (from Sussex, England, the first missioner for the Sydney City Mission) and Sarah CATT (from Sandhurst Circuit, England).

The Church

David DOUST was a local preacher of the Wesleyan Church from the time that he was 18 years of age. He conducted services until advanced years caused him to relinquish this side of church work when over 90 years old. He was always devoted his church & filled many office in connection with it.

Church & community grew together in the pioneering days. In 1861, David DOUST gathered together the settlers of the Ulmarra district, in the Clarence River area, obtained the use of a rough barn building, with David preaching the first sermon. Again at the village of Brushgrove, David used corn bags for a pulpit.

A shop became the first Methodist Church at South Grafton at the rear of the Australia hotel in Wharf street. David DOUST was one of two men who removed the shop fittings, built the platform for the pulpit, painted the walls, installed seats and an organ and was ready for the first service held there on January 21st, 1906.

In Australia around 1898, the Methodist Church & Weslayan Church merged becoming the Methodist Church.

Public Life

David DOUST was an Alderman of the Grafton Council for a period. He was also a member of the Clarence P & A Society. Grandchilden Harold & Arthur DOUST (sons of William Colin DOUST & Emily APPS) were also councilors at one time. 'Doust Park' on the road to Lawrence via Southgate is named after the brothers. The park is located after you pass 'Boorman Creek', bridge. 'Boorman Creek' was 'dug' by Walter BOORMAN, son of James BOORMAN & Jane Beaumon WATTS, to enable Walter to improve farm cultivation on his farm.

100 years of age.

David celebrated his 100th anniversary of his birth on Wednesday 28th October, 1936, while living with his son, Reuben DOUST, at Bellingen, with widespread recognition. Functions were held at Bellingen, Grafton, Brushgrove, & other centres. There was also a family reunion celebration at which five generations of the family were represented. He was also the honored guest at the annual tea meeting of the Grafton Methodist Church on Monday, November 9th 1936. A few weeks before his death he suffered injuries as a result of a fall, & he gradually became weaker, until he passed away on the morning of 19th January 1937.


Linked toMoses APPS; James BOORMAN; Jane Ann BOORMAN; Philadelphia BOORMAN; Ruth BOORMAN; Thomas BOORMAN; Tryphena BOORMAN; William BOORMAN; Thomas DIPLOCK; Alice P M DOUST; Reuben DOUST; Winifred DOUST; Harriet EGGINS; Elizabeth PINLEY; Ruby Kate SHAW; Thomas SHAW; John SHORT; Mary Jane SHORT; Jane Beaumont WATTS; Joshua WATTS

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