|Two swagmen resting beneath a tree, Australia,
c1887. J.W.Lindt, NLA
Her family history is by turns complicated and fascinating. Born in 1828, Ellen Rosetta Hughes was the daughter of John Terry Hughes and Esther Hughes, and the granddaughter of Samuel Terry, a convict transported for theft who had arrived in the colony in 1801. By 1807 a freed Samuel Terry was well on his way to making a great fortune. He arranged for John Terry Hughes, his nephew, to come to the colony to join him in his business endeavours. John married Samuel Terry's step daughter Esther.
Ellen was brought up in one of the family properties "Albion House" in Surrey Hills. She married a cousin, Samuel Hughes in 1847 and they had four children. Through her various inheritances, which included the ownership of Moreton Park, Mrs Hughes became a very wealthy woman. She and her husband built the house at Moreton Park which still stands today.
The kitchen was described as "...a beautiful old kitchen and beside it, it had the storerooms, and the places where all the hams and bacon hung and all that, and the great big spit and the old ovens, 'cause they'd be cooking an immense lot at night time, there'd be thirty or forty swagmen there some nights. But over the top of this big fireplace she had written into the stone "Enough and to spare". It's still there. " The swaggies "....were supposed to come to this enormous table, and they could have their night meal and their breakfast, and then go down the sheds, and then they were to move on, but some of them were there for weeks!"
Moreton Park was run with tenant farmers, and other examples of Ellen's generosity included Christmas gifts and a Christmas party every year for all the children of the tenants. In 1896, during serious drought conditions, Ellen, now Mrs McMullen, suspended rent from her tenants for six months owing to the losses they had sustained.
Ellen Rosetta McMullen died in 1914, and was buried in St John's Cemetery, Camden. Such was her reputation that even years after she was gone swaggies would continue to show up at Moreton Park hoping for some of her famous hospitality.
Written by Claire Lynch
Oral History with Mrs Cora Wrightson, Campbelltown City Library
Mountbatten Group at Moreton Park Conservation Management PLan 2013