The Late Hon. James Tyson – a Sketch of his Family History

I was searching the internet for some photos of or about James Tyson and accidentally tripped over a scan of an amazing article in a newspaper called The Queenslander. It was published on Saturday 10 December 1898, just six days after Tyson’s death.

Here’s the link to the scan of the page: It’s a little hard to read, so I’ve transcribed it below.




The following particulars concerning the late Hon. James Tyson will doubtless be read with interest:—

James Tyson was born at Cowpasture, near Sydney, 11th April, 1811. His father, William Tyson, was the scion of a good old Cumberland family, but, having offended his parents by marriage against their wishes, he found things so unpleasant at home that he enlisted in the army. His discharge was purchased about 1818. When he emigrated from England in the service of Mr. Commissioner Bigge, who was sent out to investigate the charge that had been made against Governor Macquarie, Mr. William Tyson was kept by Mr. Bigge some time in his service at Government House, Sydney, and was asked by Mr. Bigge to accompany him to India, but, having a son (William Tyson, of Geramey), Mrs. Tyson objected to go to India, thinking the climate would be prejudicial to the child.

Mr. William Tyson then commenced farming near Baulkham Hills, and afterwards received a grant of a farm near the Cowpastures, where he held the office of district constable, and where his son James was born. Mr. William Tyson did not succeed very well with his farm, and he received the grant of another at East Bargo, where he died. After assisting his mother some time on the farm at East Bargo, James Tyson entered the service of Messrs. Vine, at Brook’s Point, near D’Arrietta’a farm (near Douglas Park), as working overseer, at a salary of £30 per annum. He afterwards transferred his services, in the same capacity and at the same salary, to the late John Buckland, Esq., of the Owen River. His next step was to a similar situation, with a rise to £35 per annum, at Jugiong, with the late Henry O’Brien, Esq., of Douro, near Yass. From here he went to the same gentleman’s stations at Groongal, on the Lower Murrumbidgee, and remained there till he joined his brother William in the formation of a station called Goonambil, on the Billabong.

View of the Tinnenburra Station woolshed

View of the Tinnenburra Station woolshed, built by Tyson and believed to be the largest woolshed in the world

After putting up a hut, yard, and paddock, the task devolved upon James of going to Burragorang for a draft of cattle, which Mr. Graham, of Campbelltown, had agreed to place In the hands of the brothers Tyson. James Tyson, to prepare for the Journey, cooked as much rations as he could carry on his horse, and of money he had Just one shilling, which when he reached Gundagai was demanded of him by the puntman for ferrying him and his horse over the Murrumbidgee. Thinking he might want the shilling for a still greater need, Mr. Tyson determined to save it, and, declining to use the ferry, swam over the river, if not at the risk of his life, at any rate greatly to the detriment of his rations.

After numerous shifts and difficulties, Mr. Tyson got the cattle together, and drove them as far as the Murrumbidgee, where he met his brother, who had been compelled to abandon the newly-formed Goonambil station on account of the water having utterly failed, and who had sold the run and improvements for £12, but did not get the money!

They then went to the stations now held by James near the Junction of the Lachlan and the Murrumbidgee rivers. Whilst his brother William carried on a dairy, James went jobbing and cattle droving, until a few of his stock were fat and fit for market. He then joined with the neighbouring stockowners, and made up a mob for Sydney, selling his first lot to Mr. Thomas Sullivan (now of Sullivan and Simpson), at £3 a head for the pick and £2 for the remainder, whilst the same buyers purchased a lot from the Murrumbidgee at 8s. a head, which were afterwards sold at 6d. profit to a Mr. Inches for boiling-down purposes.

The run near the Junction of the Lachlan and the Murrumbidgee was taken up by the Tyson brothers, 8th July, 1846, and was held by them for about four years without a license, the Government having refused to grant licenses for the runs on the north side of the Lachlan, as no Commissioner of Crown Lands had been appointed for that district. The runs were afterwards thrown open for tender, and the Tysons sent in one which was not accepted. The Tysons, however, purchased the right of lease from Mr. Flood, who was the successful tenderer, and so remained in undisturbed possession of the Towong or “Tysons’ run.” They also held a licensed run on the south side of the river opposite Towong; and when the brothers dissolved partnership, Mr. WilliamTyson took the run on the south side, and Mr. James Tyson that on the north, and it has ever since remained in his possession.

In 1861, when the gold discoveries were made, James Tyson commenced cattle-droving to Sandhurst, where he opened a wholesale and retail butchering business, and where he made large sums of money. After carrying on business successfully at Sandhurst until 1855, Mr. Tyson purchased the Royal Bank Station near Deniliquin; he afterwards purchased the Juanbong and other stations on the Murrumbidgee, then the famous Hayfleld station In Gippsland; he next extended his operations to Queensland, where he purchased the Felton station on the Darling Downs ; he afterwards acquired several immense atations on the Warrego where, as in Victoria and this colony, he now holds large areas of freehold land.

Mr. Tyson was a broad-shouldered, robust man, standing 6t. 3½in. He has never had a day’s illness in his life until recent years; had lived much in the open air, and prefered it; was a keen sportsman and a good shot. He was a true friend and s staunch protector of the aboriginals on his various stations, who are all very much attached to him, and render willing service.

He was of a very retiring disposition, and had always refined to allow Parliamentary or other public honours to be thrust upon him until some years ago he was prevailed upon to accept a seat In the Upper House. He was a bachelor, and mingled but little in society; was. however, very fond, of children, and had always been a liberal supporter of local schools, and also a liberal subscriber to local hospitals and other popular institutions, although generally desirous to avoid having his name paraded before the public.

The amount of Mr. Tyson’s wealth cannot be easily estimated, but it may be mentioned that many years ago he was able to offer the Government of Queensland a loan of half-a million of money towards the construction of a proposed transcontinental railway.

Mr. Tyson owed his good fortune mainly  to his energy, his untiring industry, and his great self-denial. He had never indulged in a glass of wine or spirits or in tobacco in his life, and those who knew him best say, as Disraeli said of Gladstone, that he had not “one redeeming vice.” His temper was so even that under the most trying circumstances no profane word had been heard to escape from his lips; and the frugality and simplicity of his habits disarmed the envy of those who might be disposed to covet his great riches.

On the same page of the newspaper is another story entitled Three Days with Tyson. It’s an account of a sea voyage with Tyson almost five years before his death. The contents are spell-binding; you can read a transcript here.


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3 Responses to The Late Hon. James Tyson – a Sketch of his Family History

  1. James Tyson says:

    As James Tyson never married, I am desentant from Peter Tyson.
    I have been in the room where J.T. died before he went to Cambletown.
    Also to Cunnamulla Qld were
    William 1 & 2 are at rest.

    • Greg Hill says:

      Thanks for your information, James. I’m a descendant of isabella and William Tyson through their daughter Barbara. I have a copy of the Tyson, Doneley, Sheil family tree online. Here’s the link:
      By default, only the deceased are visible. To see more just register and I’ll approve you.
      Cheers, Greg.

    • Greg Hill says:

      Peter Tyson (1832-1877) was married twice. Which wife are you descended from?

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