Meeting of Cultures
In 1811, Governor Lachlan Macquarie proclaimed that the square at Windsor would be renamed Thompson Square, in honour of Andrew Thompson.
In 1794, the first settlers on the Hawkesbury were granted allotments along South Creek by Lieut. Governor Francis Grose. The area changed rapidly after this, with occupation of the region spreading quickly and extensively.
The impact of the expansion was devastating to the Boorooberongal, who had lived in the area for tens of thousands of years. Within a short period of time, many had died from infectious viruses such as smallpox, possibly due to a lack of immunity to western diseases.
The ability of the Boorooberongal to cultivate and care for country became almost, but not quite, impossible. However, conflicts escalated as the clan sought to access resources such as kangaroo, wallaby, fish, crayfish, mussels and yams. With the land on the waterways the most sought after by the settlers, the Boorooberongal were continually faced with forced alienation from their ancestral home.
So Fine a River
Early in 1795, a government store was constructed for the nearly 400 European settlers then occupying around 30kms of riverbank. Violence increased – five Europeans were killed and several wounded, together with an unknown number of Darug who resisted occupation. Acting Governor, Colonel William Paterson reported:
“It gives me concern to have been forced to destroy any of these people, particularly as … their having been cruelly treated by some of the first settlers … however had I not taken this step, every prospect of advantage which the colony may expect to derive from settlement on the banks of so fine a river as the Hawkesbury would be at an end.”
[Paterson to Henry Dundas, Secretary for War and the Colonies, 15 June 1795]
As a response to the incursions, New South Wales Corps troops were despatched from Sydney to subdue the local Aboriginal population. Troops were permanently stationed in the area. As more instances of violence occurred, retaliatory attacks by both Aboriginal and European populations continued. The situation escalated across the year, culminating in a violent and brutal battle that would become known as The Battle of Richmond Hill.
In January 1810, shortly after his arrival in the colony, Governor Macquarie appointed emancipated convict Andrew Thompson as Chief Magistrate of the Green Hills precinct. This controversial decision made Thompson the first ex-convict to be appointed as a magistrate in the colony and reflected Macquarie’s belief that convicts could be turned into industrious citizens. In poor health after suffering prolonged exposure damp and cold in successive floods during the winter of 1809, Thompson died in October 1810, enjoying less than a year in the position.
Following Thompson’s death, Macquarie was bequeathed parts of Thompson’s Estate, including his residence, store and granary, and ordered the building of a military barrack, complete with parade ground, stockade surround and a prisoners’ barrack.
As 1810 drew to a close, Macquarie announced the creation of five new towns along Hawkesbury-Nepean River: Castlereagh, Pitt Town, Richmond, Wilberforce and Windsor. Based on British town layouts, all towns were to have a public square. The square at Windsor was to be known as Thompson Square and became the civic and military hub of the settlement.