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Faithfull, William Pitt (1806–1896)

by Dianne Patenall

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

William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896), by Myra Felton, 1867

William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896), by Myra Felton, 1867

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an9024543

William Pitt Faithfull (1806-1896), pastoralist, was born on 11 October 1806 at Richmond, New South Wales, the eldest son of William Faithful and his wife Susannah, née Pitt. He left school at 15 and entered the office of his uncle, Robert Jenkins, a Sydney merchant. After his uncle died he worked for five years as an overseer on the property of his aunt, Mrs Jemima Jenkins. Faithfull did not take up his option for a grant of 320 acres (130 ha) and in 1827 applied for land with acreage more appropriate to his means. The land board assessed his capital at £2232 and in October he was granted 1280 acres (518 ha) on the Goulburn plains. Originally Cooranganennoe, the property became known as Springfield. Faithfull consolidated his assets and in 1835-37 acquired land on the Mulwaree Chain of Ponds. In 1838 with his brother George he overlanded sheep and cattle to Port Phillip. Although attacked by Aboriginals, George founded Wangaratta station on the Ovens River, a district where he bred and grazed sheep with his brother in 1846-48.

Faithfull had founded the Springfield stud in 1838 with ten rams from Sir William Macarthur's Camden Park flock. One of the earliest to recognize the importance of selective breeding, he improved his flock by buying ten rams a year from such noted studs as those of George Cox of Burrundulla, N. P. Bayley of Havilah and Edward Cox of Rawden. By 1854 Faithfull held Brewarrina, 32,000 acres (12,950 ha) in the Murrumbidgee district. In 1871 his son Augustus Lucian took over the management of the stud and concentrated on breeding a pure flock of high class, stronger, heavier-woolled merinos mostly from Tasmanian rams.

W. P. Faithfull became a justice of the peace in 1836 and returning officer for Argyle and warden of the Goulburn District Council in 1843. In 1846-48 he was an elected member of the Legislative Council for Argyle and after responsible government served in the Legislative Council from 13 May 1856 until May 1861 when he joined Sir William Burton in resigning in protest against an attempt by the governor to swamp the council in order to pass the land bill.

On 20 January 1844 in Sydney Faithfull married Mary, daughter of Thomas Deane of Devonshire. Springfield House was built in the early 1840s, and by 1858 its garden was well known for its 'English flowers of every shade in perfection'. His wife got roots and seeds from England every year. The stone woolshed, built in the late 1840s, was one of the earliest in the colony. Faithfull died at Springfield on 24 April 1896 and was buried there by the Anglican bishop of Goulburn. He was survived by five sons and three daughters. He left an estate worth £335,253 with Springfield, grown to over 20,000 acres (8094 ha), Brewarrina, and land in Melbourne, Wangaratta, Mittagong and Sydney. The Springfield stud was left to his youngest son, Lucian, in whose hands it remained until he died in 1942, when it went to Lucian's daughter, Mrs Maple Brown. It is claimed to be the oldest registered merino flock in Australia in the possession of one family.

Select Bibliography

  • C. McIvor, The History and Development of Sheep Farming from Antiquity to Modern Times (Syd, 1893)
  • R. M. Bedford, Think of Stephen: A Family Chronicle (Syd, 1954)
  • Gala, ‘The Pastoral Homes of Australia: Springfield’, Pastoral Review, vol 19, no 10, Dec 1909, pp 1052-55
  • C. H. Bertie, ‘Pioneer Families of Australia: The Faithfulls’, Home (Sydney), Nov 1931
  • E. W. Cox, ‘Famous Merino Studs: Springfield, the Property of A. Lucian Faithfull’, New Nation Magazine, no 94, Sept 1935, pp 30-31
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1838
  • S. Uren, Massacre of the Faithfull Party (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Faithfull family papers (National Library of Australia)
  • Mowle papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Colonial Secretary's in-letters, 1838 (State Records New South Wales)
  • manuscript catalogue under William Faithfull (State Library of New South Wales)
  • newsclippings under William Faithfull (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Dianne Patenall, 'Faithfull, William Pitt (1806–1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/faithfull-william-pitt-1136/text5359, published in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 31 August 2014.

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

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