Belfield – land grants

The suburb of Belfield is divided at Punchbowl Road between Strathfield and Canterbury Councils.  The Strathfield section is composed of a number of land grants including a grant of 100 acres to John Terry Hughes (1802-1851), a whaler, brewer, flour merchant was granted 100 acres.  J T Hughes was the nephew of Samuel Terry.  120 acres was granted in 1810 to James Morris (1759-1813), a private in the NSW Corps who arrived on the Second Fleet.  Smaller grants were allocated Harriott Carr (30 acres in 1810) and J Mollett.  A large part of this area was set aside as Enfield Park by the Enfield Municipal Council.  The land was resumed by the NSW Government in 1916 and redeveloped as the Enfield Marshalling Yards.

The Alford Grant of 1810 was later subdivided as the ‘Clareville Estate’.  Water St (Belfield), Victory St, Elliott St and Clareville Close and Bark Huts and Elliott Reserve are built on this estate. Fortunately, land title searches and historical documentation have been made available thanks to the efforts of Scott and Christina Robshaw and Peter Jones and Sandra Austin, who have undertaken considerable research on their homes in Water St.  With this information available, it is possible to detail a history of the ‘Clareville Estate’.

John Alford, an ‘animal doctor’, received a grant of 60 acres in 1810. The conditions of the grant did not permit sale of property for a period of five years.  Alford’s grant was bounded by Cooks River and two public roads which appear to be the current Coronation Parade and Punchbowl Rd, which on a 1831 Cadastral map is a continuation of the same road.  Part of the grant deemed 15 acres to be made available to the government for further public roads.  The Crown also had rights to timber on the land for naval purposes. Alford was also granted 60 acres at Holsworthy in 1831 and died in 1858(2).  Incidentally, the grant to Alford was one of the last free land grants in NSW as regulations were introduced in 1831 for all lands to be sold by public auction.

Apparently, Alford established a small farm on the grant before selling his grant to Henry Marr, a dealer from Sydney, in March 1815 for the amount of £100.  In 1818, the land was transferred to Edward Wardropper, presumably upon the death of Marr, either through purchase or inheritance (there is insufficient documentation).  By 1826, the land was seized by the Sheriff, John Mackaness, after the death of Wardropper, possibly for unpaid debts or possibly he died intestate without family. I have not been able to locate any details regarding death of Wardropper in NSW.

The land was transferred by conveyance to William Henry Moore on 5 September 1826, prior to its’ sale to John Stephen on 13 September 1926.  I am unsure whether the land transferred by feoffment(3) to Moore because of Moore’ position as Crown Solicitor or because he was also the owner of ‘Brighton Farm’ which bounded Alford’s grant on the Cook’s River and had a personal interest in the property. Moore’s land is situated where Coronation Parade is located today (on the Burwood Council side).   Moore was also known to John Stephen, through legal connections, who eventually purchased the Alford land holding and the sheriff John Mackaness is known to be a close friend of Stephen’s son Francis (detailed in the Australian Dictionary of Biography reference to John Stephen).  The documentation describes the transaction as:

‘land was lately purchased by him the said William Henry Moore of John Mackaness Sheriff of New South Wales aforesaid by virtue of an execution issued against Edward Wardropper the late proprietor……that for the consideration aforesaid by the said William Henry Moore hath granted unto the said John Stephen…..’

William Henry Moore (1788-1854) was a prominent Sydney solicitor.  In 1815, Moore and F Garling were appointed as the first non-convict solicitors in the colony of NSW for the salary of £300.  Moore continued his lucrative private practice but ‘his career as a public servant was chequered’ resulting in Governor Macquarie terminating his salary and privileges after Moore continually let the Crown down in criminal case(4).  However, in 1917, Earl Bathurst censured Macquarie and Moore was reinstated with all his privileges.  Moore continued as Crown Solicitor until 1834 when Governor Bourke suspended Moore for neglect of duties.  Bourke’s decision was upheld.

In November 1826, the land was sold for £60 to Justice John Stephen of the Supreme Court of Sydney.  Stephen also acquired the former grants of John Nichols and Joseph Broadbent and built a country estate, which he named ‘Clareville’, on the 250 acres he now owned.  ‘Clareville’ was located on the north side of Punchbowl Rd, near the Cook’s River crossing.  The Cadastral Map of ‘Clareville’ is dated 1831-1839 and clearly shows the location of the property near the Cook’s River(5).  In the book Belfield: History & Memories, ‘Clareville’ is described as Alford’s farm, which was cleared, fenced, had wheat planted and had forty head of cattle on it(6).

The Stephen family are a prominent family in government, law and the arts in British and Australian history.  The Stephen family in Australia are prominently associated with law and government, the legal firm Stephen & Stephen (now Mallesons Stephen & Jacques) was founded by this family. The Stephen family are also prominent in the Arts.  Sir Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), nephew of John Stephen, established the British National Dictionary of Biography.  Writer Virginia (Stephen) Woolf and artist Vanessa (Stephen) Bell were his daughters.


Clareville, Parish of Saint George Sydney (cartographic material), 1831-1839, National Library of Australia at

‘Crown Solicitor’s Office’ at

Curry, C H ‘John Stephen’ Australian Dictionary of Biography 1788-1850

Fortier, R & Muir, L., Belfield: History and Memories, Canterbury District Historical Society, 2002.

Fox & Associates, Strathfield Heritage Study, Strathfield Council, 1986

Mowle, L. Pioneer Families of Australia, pps 327-342

Society of Australian Genealogists, Rookwood Cemetery Transcriptions, 2003.

Thomas, Bryan ‘The original colonial landholders of Sydney’, 1982

Wise’s Post Office Directory


(2) Thomas, Bryan ‘The original colonial landholders of Sydney’, 1982.  Information provided by Alford descendent Jenny Forward in July 2006 confirms Alford’s date of death as 4 August 1858, verified by obituary in Sydney Morning Herald on 5 August 1858.

(3) Feoffment is a term used in the Old Titles System, which is a conveyance in fee simple with a livery of seisin.  The process involved a ceremony accompanied by witnesses whereby the grantor passed to the grantee a sod of earth.  Source: Butterworth’s Concise Australian Legal Dictionary, Second Edition.

(4) ‘Crown Solicitor’s Office’ at

(5) Clareville, Parish of Saint George Sydney, 1831-1839, National Library of Australia

(6) Fortier, R & Muir, L ‘Belfield: History and Memories’, Canterbury District Historical Society, 2002.

Author and Copyright information

This article was written by Cathy Jones, 2006.  This article is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without permission of the author.