This estate belonged to John Eales who was born in Devonshire in 1799.
Arrival in the Colony
John Eales arrived in Hobart on the brig Francis on 19th August 1823. He was accompanied by his servant 'Jim the Londoner' . Other passengers on the Francis included Mr. and Mrs. Holmes and 4 children, Mr. Cookney, Mr. H. Hall, Mr. James Ash, Mr. Watts, Mr. Scarr, Mr. Cox, Mr. Moorhouse, Mrs. Ross and child, Mr. and Mrs. Glover and 3 children, Mr. Mead, Mr and Mrs. Bye and 3 children, Mr. and Mrs. Pike and Mr. and Mrs. Giles and child, John Cobb and his young wife.
John Eales was granted 2100 acres on the Hunter River 4 miles east of Morpeth and six convicts were assigned to him.
Here he cleared the land for crops and built a slab hut. He named his estate Berry Park.
John Eales added to his estate by purchasing land nearby that had been granted to Dr. Moran in 1822. Here he built Duckenfield House, a 45 room two story house made of stone, complete with ballroom, billiard room, gymnasium, drawing room dining room breakfast room, servant and store rooms. In 1880 Duckenfield House was described as being on a beautiful site that overlooked rich pasture meadows and fronted the river where large steamers wended their way to and from Morpeth.
John Eales worked hard and prospered. He was wealthy enough to survive the devastating depression in the 1840s, constructing his own boiling down works at Berry Park. He also acquired runs on the Liverpool Plains. - Walhollow and Quipolli among others. Charles Humphrey was superintendent at Walhollow in 1846.
John Eales was the first director of the Hunter River Steam Navigation Company and constructed a dry dock 2 miles below Morpeth to service the Company's steamers.
In 1838 Eales offered a portion of his estate for Scottish immigrants from the Midlothian. They were to be given 2 months rations and transport to his estate by the Government. Eales offered to allow them undisturbed possession of the land for 5 years at a moderate rent and at the expiration of 5 years they were to pay a higher rent in proportion with the increased land value; in the mean time he was to supply them with 12 months provisions, the cost of which would be defrayed by them from the produce of their farms. Included in the offer was land for the erection of a Church and school. However after representatives of the immigrants travelled to Eales estate to view the location they declined the offer stating that the land was flood prone. They later settled on Andrew Lang's land.
John Eales life was not without hardship. Tragedy struck the family in 1844 when his 13 year old son Walter was dragged 1/4 mile after his pony shied. He was badly injured and never regained consciousness. His father was away from home at the time.
Assigned Convict Servants
Absconding, dishonest or incompetent servants caused constant disruption - assigned servants John Kirkton and George Shapton absconded in 1846. In 1845 James Burns was sentenced to 14 years transportation for stealing 300 sheep and in 1848 Eales was offering £30 reward for the conviction of persons who destroyed a hut, sheep yards and a well at his station Dumble on the Liverpool plains.
Convicts assigned to John Eales on this estate included:
Joseph Burrell - Royal Sovereign 1835
Lawrence Moran - City of Edinburgh 1832
George Fowler - City of Edinburgh 1832
Mary Collins; - Burrell 1832
Thomas Mather - Portland 1832
Eliza Patterson - Burrell 1832
Patrick Bennett - Hooghley 1825
Barney Berle - Mangles 1828
John Byrne - Mangles 1828
Paul Corrigan - Bencoolen 1819
Thomas Casey - Earl Grey 1836
James Shaw - Neptune 1818
James Wool - Lonach 1825
William Wood - Bussorah Merchant 1828
John Stafford - Phoenix 1826
John Sullivan - Phoenix 1826
Michael Fahey - Mangles 1826
James Kent - Bussorah Merchant 1828
Edward Kirkham - Princess Royal 1823
Charlotte Leopard - Grenada 1825
John McCarthy - Eliza 1827
John McFarlane - Manlius 1827
John Taafe- Marquis of Hastings 1827
George Morgan Manlius 1827
Francis Glancy - Bussorah Merchant 1831
Thomas Sherman - Asia 1832
Daniel Jones - Hercules 1832
Mary Collins - Burrell 1832
Hannah Quigley - Elizabeth 1828
William White - Strathfieldsaye 1836
James Forrester - Lady Harewood 1832
William Carter - Boyne 1826
John Mepsted - Mellish 1829
John Bennett - Vittoria 1829
John Pearson - Parmelia 1832
John Quirk - Guildford 1829
James Shorthouse - Bussorah Merchant 1828
Charles Wrightson - John 1832
Thomas Ostler - Norfolk 1829
Daniel Kirby - Governor Ready 1829
Patrick Ryan - Governor Ready 1829
Joseph Jeffries - Mellish 1829