AFTER the initial land sales at Tomerong in 1855, the Conditional Purchase laws of the 1860s resulted in more land becoming available but in smaller parcels. Whilst some land purchasers were speculators or investors, others had the intention of settlement and farming. The descendants of some of these families may still be found living locally, whilst others have long moved on. Of the 21 first land purchasers from 1855, only the Parnell and Barham families would settle the area and remain for more than the first few years. But other settlers such as Joseph Suffolk followed, and these pioneers and their families, many of whom intermarried, would form the embryo of a new community.


Family names of those early land purchasers, early settlers and of those who settled later but impacted upon the community include: Aldous, Andrews, Barham, Bartlett, Bettens, Blacket, Bryce, Comerford, Crawford, Duncombe, Ganderton, Gould, Harriss, Hart, Hawken, Henry, Herbert, Kells, Kelly, Lackersteen, Langlands, Mathie, McGuire, McKinnon, Mison, Nelson, Pantlin, Parnell, Pepper, Rogers, Schutz, Shepherd, Smith, Stapleton, Suffolk, Turner, Warne, Watt and Wrightson.


Richard Bartlett, his wife Lydia and their infant daughter arrived in Australia in 1841. Richard purchased portion 21 in the first land sale at Tomerong and the family made their home here for a short time before moving on to Milton in 1860. The Bartlett land was eventually sold to the Hart family who had conditionally purchased an adjoining property in 1883, although they had been residing in the district for some years prior to this.

Hawken family and John & Isabella Bryce

Thomas and Mary Langlands and family. Thomas was headmaster at Tomerong Public School for 20 years.

Bryce family at Rosebank

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The Pantlin’s were another family who spent only a few years at Tomerong. James, his wife Mary (nee Chapman) and James’ brother Frederick arrived in Australia from Surrey in 1856. Frederick conditionally purchased portion 107, south-west of Tomerong, in 1865. Records indicate that Frederick, James and Mary resided here as early as 1860. In 1865, whilst land clearing, one of the brothers had a close encounter with a snake and the story was reported in the ‘Kiama Independent’. ‘I have another somewhat peculiar snake story to communicate… a neighbour of mine, Mr Pantling was occupied in a paddock burning off, accompanied by his dog, a very valuable but rather ferocious specimen of the canine tribe. On moving two logs a large black snake was unearthed, which was instantly seized and shook by the dog. Hoping to avoid the consequences to the dog, Mr P and an assistant endeavoured to prevent a second attack in vain, for Ponto true to his nature again seized the snake, but this time was twice bitten in the shoulder by the snake. Having dispatched his snakeship, the dog most unmistakably objected to being examined, and left the paddock in the direction of home. Mr P being desirous to save his dogs life if possible, went home to cut away the bitten parts, but found the dog had not arrived. Nor was he seen by any one for seven days, and the general opinion was that he was dead, but to the surprise of all, on the eighth day the dog made his appearance, and what is most surprising, the places where the snake bit him presented two large holes, the poisoned flesh evidently having either fallen off or been eaten away by the dog, which is still alive and doing well.’ The family remained at Tomerong until about 1870. Frederick was shown to be engaged in woodcutting and residing at Woollamia in the 1872 electoral role, but the families eventually moved to the Milton area.

Thomas Kelly of Terara purchased 100 acres (portion 5) east of the Shoalhaven to Ulladulla Road at the confluence of Stewart and Suffolk Creeks. However, Thomas did not come to live at Tomerong and was residing at Numbaa in 1869 when his land at Tomerong was advertised for sale.


The Comerford family also did not settle on the 199 acres (portion 71) which was purchased by Charles in 1855. Records indicate that William Bryce had purchased this land by 1890.


Reuben Mison conditionally purchased 100 acres of land (portions 157 and 117) in 1869. He married Isabella Suffolk (daughter of Joseph and Ellen) in 1874. Following the death of Isabella and their only child a year later (probably in childbirth), Reuben married Isabella’s older sister, Sarah, in 1879. Whilst at Tomerong, Reuben was engaged in a butchering business and was also the proprietor of a sawmill situated south-west of the village. He moved out of the district after establishing another sawmill at Bomaderry.


The family of James and Ann Henry (nee Mathie) was residing at Tomerong Creek from the early 1890s, but in 1899 James was farming at ‘Tippet Hill’, Ann’s former home…


For More Information on the Bryce, Barham, Parnell, Suffolk, Watt, Mathie, Turner, Smith, Kells, Pepper, Ganderton, McGuire, Crawford, Harriss, Hawken, Langlands, Blacket, Warne, Lackersteen, Schutz and McKinnon families consult “From Bullocks to Bypass”.