Friday 1 May 2015

Did James Ruse Suicide Here?

The old stone cottage on Mercedes Road, Ingleburn has a mysterious past. In 1988, a descendant of Australia's pioneer farmer James Ruse made the sensational claim that his ancestor lived in the cottage and committed suicide by hanging himself there in 1837. He had been depressed by the recent death of his wife Elizabeth so took his own life. This claim was disputed however by a woman from northern Sydney suburb who explained that the cottage had no connection with Ruse and had been the home of the McInnes family. She was the granddaughter of master stonemason Malcolm McInnes who started building the cottage in 1890. The McInnes family moved into the cottage in 1892 when the woman's father was six weeks old. She lived in the house from her birth in 1926 until 1932. Her uncle occupied the home until the 1960s.

Supporting the woman's claims are details from the council's local heritage register. Although it finds it difficult to date, the stone outbuilding being of rusticated, not ashlar stone, denotes a later date. It describes the fa├žade as not strictly symmetrical; windows have four panes, and the door four panels.

The suicide claims have never been substantiated and are dubious to say the least. Details of James Ruse's later years are scant. Most sources have him working as an overseer for Captain Brooks of Lower Minto in 1828. We do know he was living at Macquarie Fields in 1834 and died on September 5 1837. He was buried in St John's churchyard in Campbelltown. Ruse carved his own epitath on his tombstone which was removed from St John's in 1994 due to the threat of vandalism. It was relocated to a secure area in the grounds of the Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society's headquarters at Glenalvon.

Written by Andrew Allen


Macarthur Advertiser January 13, 1988

Ruse, James Pamphlet File at local studies section, H.J. Daley Library

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