Finding Your Farming Ancestors in Australia

Rolls of gathered hay on the lands - High Contrast Black and White (browntone)
Call them farmers, or orchardists, agriculturalists, pastoralists, or even stockmen. There are numerous related words that describe our “ag lab” ancestors. These are men and women who worked on the land.

They are the ones who helped make our country what it is today. But they are also people who are often the hardest to find in records. Why? Because they aren’t criminals, and they aren’t nobility both of which created oodles records. In fact for the most part they are simply good mannered, hard working citizens, which doesn’t tend to leave much of a papertrail.

However I’m here to tell you about a heap of titles that you can use to help find your farming ancestors in Australia. Possibly even some that you didn’t know existed.

= AUSTRALIA =

A Glance at Australia in 1880: Embracing a Squatters and Farmers Directory of the Whole of Australia
Written by H. Mortimer Franklyn, and published in 1881, this “shows the present condition and production of some of its leading industries, namely, wool, wine, grain, dressed meat, etc. The amount of each produced and exported. To which is appended the rise and progress of some of the leading mercantile houses in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Also included is a 100 page pastoral and agricultural directory of the whole of Australia which lists people in two columns, followed by heap of advertisements, many of them illustrated.
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Ebook version

Australian Pastoral Directory Compendium 3
If you are researching ancestors who were stockowners in Australia, the Pastoral Directories are a great resource. This compendium contains facsimiles of the years 1913, 1923, 1925, 1931, 1939 and 1954. Published yearly each edition of the pastoral directories lists thousands of stockowners and agents for most states in Australia. The information listed contains the name of the station and the owner, however the larger states (New South Wales and Queensland) contain more detail including numbers of cattle and sheep.
CD version
Ebook version – to come

 

= NEW SOUTH WALES =

New South Wales Country Directory 1895 (Hall)
In 600 pages, this edition of ‘Halls Business, Professional and Pastoral Directory and Gazetteer of New South Wales for 1895’ is rather like a regular directory except that it also covers regional NSW, and has a whole sections dedicated to agricultural and graziers and related occupations, each giving name and address of the farmer.
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Ebook version – to come

New South Wales Country Directory 1899-1900 (Hall)
The 1899-1900 of Hall’s Directory is divided into four sections; firstly country towns, then alphabetical list, pastoral directory and lastly a gazetteer. The Pastoral Directory gives a list of owners, name of run, number of stock and postal district.
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Ebook version – to come

Yewen’s Directory of Landholders, New South Wales, 1900
This was the “first broad attempt at publishing a complete directory of landowners in New South Wales …” Divided into approximately 1900 postal localities grouped under 87 larger districts, there is an introduction and summary to each district. It indicates for each landholder whether they are dairy farmers, graziers or agriculturalists and what crops are under cultivation in the following categories – wheat, maize, barley, oats, potatoes, tobacco, sugar, other crops, grapes and orchard fruits. This a wonderful, extensive guide to over 70,000 landholders throughout NSW, by district and postal address.
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Ebook version

 

 

= QUEENSLAND =

Brisbane Directory and Squatters’ Guide 1876
Directories are a valuable resource for local, family and social historians as well as for researchers in other fields of Australian history. This Brisbane Directory and Squatters Guide contains a comprehensive Brisbane Street directory, Brisbane and suburbs alphabetical and trades and professional directories and much more. It also includes a Queensland Squatters directory which lists the names and address of many squatters (pastoralists) in Queensland in 1876.
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Ebook version – to come

The Grazier’s Review Volume 10: April 1930-March 1931
A large publication of over 1200 pages, the Graziers’ Review was the official publication of the United Graziers’ Association of Queensland, and It included much information of particular relevance to graziers – on the weather, meat market, live stock market, stud stock, stock movements and much more. Importantly, it also mentioned the people involved – a “personal” section, obituaries, lists of shearing contractors, and reports from the various district meetings. As well, it has good information, in the advertisements, about many of the properties.
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Ebook version – to come

The Grazier’s Review Volume 11: April 1931-March 1932
Like the previous year, this volume contains literally 1000s of entries relating to graziers, farmers, pastoralists in Queensland during the 1931/1932 period. The “personal” section is the really interesting part, as is lists obituaries, lists of estates for which probate has been granted, lists of shearing contractors, and reports from the various district meetings. As well, it has good information, in the advertisements, about many of the properties.
CD version
Ebook version – to come

The Grazier’s Review Volume 13: April 1933-March 1934
Slightly smaller than the previous two volumes, maybe that was an indication of less farmers around, or less registering? Anyway there’s still plenty of information to be found in the 900+ pages in this book. Containing not only information useful for those in the agricultural industry (weather, markets as so on), the personal section is particularly useful, detailing engagements, weddings, obituaries and estates.
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Ebook version – to come

Queensland Brands Directory 1920-1921
Did your ancestors in Queensland own horses or cattle? If so, have you thought of looking in the Brands Directories for more information on them? These are a unique, but incredibly useful source for genealogical information, when looking for those who had stock. In case you’re not familiar with what brands are … those who had horses or cattle, branded them with a unique symbol and/or letters. This identified who the animal/s belonged to. This large volume contains many tens of thousands of such brands for those in Queensland from 1920 to 1921.
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Ebook version – to come

Queensland Brands Directory 1945-1948
Those who had horses or cattle, branded them with unique symbol and/or letters. This identified who the animal/s belonged to. This large volume contains a listing of over 75,000 such brands for those in Queensland from 1945 to 1948. But what information can be found from brand directories? You can find an image of the brand registered, earmark registered, cheek brand, or symbol, name of owner, address of owner, and sometimes the certificate number.
CD version
Ebook version – to come

Queensland Brands Directory 1949-1952
Listing brands for horses and cattle, this directory contains over 1000 pages of names, addresses and the brands that each stockowner had.
CD version
Ebook version – to come

 

= SOUTH AUSTRALIA =

Brands Directory of South Australia 1901
Stockowners were required to register and get a “brand” for their stock which identified what stock belonged to who. This Brands Directory for South Australia from 1901 contains brands for sheep, horses and cattle. In it you’ll find all the registered brands along with, certificate number, former brands, name of proprietor, run where the brand is to be used (address), and nearest post town.
CD version
Ebook version – to come

Brands Directory of South Australia 1936: Sheep Brands
In this volume you’ll find 1000s of stockowners who owned sheep in South Australia in 1936.
This volume is divided into three sections: sheep brands; sheep earmarks and firebrands; and alphabetical list of names of owners.
CD version
Ebook version – to come

Brands Directory of South Australia 1938: Sheep Brands
Like the earlier Brands Directories, this volume contains names, addresses and details of the sheep brand for South Australian stockowners in 1938.
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Ebook version – to come

Geelong, Western District and Squatters Directory 1866-1867 (Stevens)
This book is an extremely comprehensive directory of the western districts of Victoria, and Mount Gambier, Port McDonnell and Penola in South Australia. For the full description, look under Victoria.
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Ebook version

Pastoral Pioneers of South Australia
One of the most important publications available for those researching their South Australian farmers, this two volume set (now on CD) contains approximately 300 biographies of South Australia’s Pastoral Pioneers and Old Colonists. The Foreword claims that ‘… this is the most comprehensive collection of biographies ever produced in relation to the pastoral industry of any state’. A photograph accompanies each entry, as well as extensive biographical details. Those falling into the ‘Old Colonists’ category had arrived in the state prior December 28, 1846 (which was the 10th Anniversary of the Province). A large percentage of the entries in these volumes contain previously unpublished information (other that the Stock Journal), including information that has been supplied by descendants and old friends of those listed, which includes details and stories that would have otherwise gone unknown.
CD version
Ebook version – to come

 

hay bales

 = VICTORIA =

Geelong, Western District and Squatters Directory 1866-1867 (Stevens)
This book is an extremely comprehensive directory of the western districts of Victoria including several areas in the south eastern corner of South Australia. This title contains street directories, alphabetical directories and commercial directories covering places throughout western Victorian, and eastern South Australia (Mount Gambier, Port McDonnell and Penola). This directory is unique in that it contains a squatters directory as well. It you’re unfamiliar with the term squatter in relation to farmers, Wikipedia says the following “The term ‘squatter’ derives from its English usage as a term of contempt for a person who had taken up residence at a place without having legal claim. The use of ‘squatter’ in the early years of European settlement of Australia had a similar connotation, referring primarily to a person who had ‘squatted’ on unoccupied land for pastoral or other purposes.”
CD version
Ebook version

Gippsland Directory 1884-1885 (Middleton and Maning)
Beginning with a heap of advertisements from local businesses of the time, this is followed by a short gazetteer of places around the region, as well as general information on the districts of Gippsland. The main part of the Directory consisting of about 100 pages, is the Alphabetical Directory. Listed alphabetically by surname under each region, this lists heads of household (mostly male but there are a few females mentioned), together with their occupation and address. Among this list you will find farmers, labourers, coach painters, dairywoman, teacher, saddler, brickmaker, merchant, laundress, hotel keeper, minister of religion, dressmaker, grocer, grazier, gasfitter, seedsman, coachbuilder, engineer, auctioneer, upholsterer, fowler, journalist, surveyor, musician, traveller, watchmaker, solicitor, restaurant keeper, blacksmith and miner … just to mention a few. So in other words it is not just “business owners” mentioned in this directory it is everyone.
CD version
Ebook version

Victorian Directory (Sands and McDougall) 1900s to 1940s
The Sands and McDougall directories, or Sands and Mac as they tend to be known as, are one of the most comprehensive statewide directories available for Victoria. Covering Melbourne as well as regional areas, they list head-of-the-household street-by-street for bigger regions, and name, occupations and addresses for people in the state at the time (including farmers). We have 28 various years available on CD, and some of . Each are full copies of the original volumes, and are fully searchable.
CD versions
Ebook versions

 

= WESTERN AUSTRALIA =

Centenary Catalogue of Farms and Stations for Sale in Western Australia
Consisting of 95 pages plus large foldout map, this publication begins with a list of properties sold by Joseph Charles between January 1921 and April 1929 with locality, acreage, name of the vendor and name of the purchaser – around 120 properties, 90 of which were rural properties ranging in size from under 100 acres up to 280,000 acres. Then follows details of approx 650 rural properties offered for sale with details of each such as: location, acreage, water (dams, wells), description of paddocks and fencing, description of hous/s on the property, description of sheds and other buildings, description of plant and equipment and stock included in the sale.
CD version
Ebook version – to come

2 thoughts on “Finding Your Farming Ancestors in Australia

  1. For Victoria I would also suggest “The Weekly Times” newspaper which has been partly digitised and accessed via Trove http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/title/621

  2. Great, thanks for that Liz. Much appreciated.

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