Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Thomas White Winder (1789–1853)

by Elizabeth Guilford

This article was published:

Thomas White Melville Winder (1789?-1853), merchant and farmer, was born in London and became a sea captain. He traded for some years in the East and West Indies, but ill health forced him to retire and he decided to settle in New South Wales. He arrived at Port Jackson in 1817 in the Frederick. Governor Lachlan Macquarie granted him permissive occupancy of an allotment in Bligh Street, and there he opened a store. From May 1819 to March 1820 he visited Calcutta and in August, with Samuel Terry, established the Lachlan Flour Mills at Kensington. In 1821 he and Terry entered into partnership with William Hutchinson, Daniel Cooper, George Williams and William Leverton and renamed the mill the Lachlan and Waterloo Flour Mills. In October 1821 he told Macquarie that his property amounted to more than £7000 and sought a grant of land. Macquarie granted him 700 acres (283 ha), which he took up on the Hunter River. In 1823 Winder was exporting cedar from this estate before he withdrew from his commercial partnership. He also claimed to have secured with his Hunter River grant a ten year monopoly of all coal won from the Newcastle penal settlement, apart from that required for government use. In February 1826 Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling complained to the Colonial Office that this agreement was highly inconvenient to the inhabitants of Newcastle, although Winder had received only 600 of the 2000 tons specified in the agreement. The Colonial Office admitted that a lease had been proposed but denied the existence of any formal agreement. Thereupon Darling discontinued Winder's monopoly, for in the meantime a monopoly of coal-mining around Newcastle had been granted to the Australian Agricultural Co. by the British government.

In 1824-25 Winder acquired some 4000 acres (1619 ha) near Lochinvar and named his estate Windermere. Like other settlers on the Hunter Winder had trouble with Aboriginals who threatened his crops and livestock, but he still managed to become a substantial pastoralist and wheat-grower. He had foreseen the need of regular shipping between the Hunter and Sydney: in October 1824 with a partner he bought the packet Lord Liverpool, and soon acquired the schooner Jessica and the hulk St Michael. All three were sold in May 1828 when he employed convict labour to build the 90-ton Currency Lass.

As one of the largest proprietors on the Hunter Winder held 7400 acres (2995 ha) by 1828 and by 1831 had acquired another 2600 acres (1052 ha) . In 1836 William Charles Wentworth tried to buy the estate but the sale fell through and Winder leased the land and returned to Sydney. After a trip abroad he returned to Maitland and in the early 1840s, in partnership with Wentworth and Charles Nott, he opened a successful boiling-down establishment at Windermere. In 1851 he sold the estate to Nott and returned to Sydney. Winder died on 30 September 1853. About 1819 he had married Ellen Johnson; they had nine children.

Winder was typical of the enterprising settler who made good in the early years of New South Wales. Like many of his contemporaries he blended his landed interests with varied commercial affairs. Although he shunned activity in politics his signature on many petitions indicated his interest in local movements. He played a major role in the development of the northern shipping trade, which proved extremely beneficial to settlers of the surrounding districts, and was the first to enjoy a monopoly of coal mined in the Newcastle district.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 10-12
  • J. F. Campbell, ‘The Genesis of Rural Ssettlement on the Hunter’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 12, part 2, 1926, pp 73-112
  • E. S. Lauchland, ‘Homes We Visited: "Windermere"’, Monthly Journal (Newcastle and Hunter District Historical Society), vol 3, part 3, Dec 1948, pp 33-38
  • Sydney Gazette, 13 Feb 1823, 14 Oct 1824, 16 May, 29 Sept 1828
  • Maitland Mercury, 5 Oct 1853.

Citation details

Elizabeth Guilford, 'Winder, Thomas White (1789–1853)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


London, Middlesex, England


30 September, 1853 (aged ~ 64)
Maitland, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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