A quote from "A Place of Pioneers" by Philip Geeves states;

"The most notable early resident of Kissing Pt was unquestionably James Squire. His enterprise and his product attracted to Kissing Pt men of every station. They came to Squire's jetty on the Parramatta River not merely to bandy words, but to sample his brown ale. He put his faith in Englishmen's thirsts and prospered accordingly. Sailors of many nations who were vague about the locations of Ninevah or Babylon, could find their way to Squire's in a thick fog."


The entry goes on to wax lyrical about this man apparently without peer! His tombstone epitaph reads;

"He arrived in this Colony in the First Fleet and by Integrity and Industry

acquired and maintained an unsullied Reputation. Under his Care the HOP PLANT was first Cultivated in this Settlement, and the first BREWERY was Erected, which progressively matured to Perfection. As a Father, a Husband, a Friend, and a Christian He lived Respected and died Lamented".


Not a bad blurb for a bloke who was convicted of Highway Robbery, and was transported on the Charlotte. In 1789 he was charged with theft of medicines from the hospital stores and a pound of pepper belonging to Surgeon White. For this he received a sentence of 350 lashes. He was assigned to as servant to Lt Ralph Clark after this incident, until Clark left for Norfolk Island. He fathered a son by Mary Spencer who was sent to Norfolk Island while pregnant. James Squire’s son Francis was born on the island and is mentioned in Squire’s will.

Just as an aside while on Francis Spencer, James Donohoe in his book Norfolk Island 1788 – 1813-The People and their Families writes …“Every Anzac Day someone writes into newspapers claiming certain persons to be the first or the youngest enlistment in the armed forces to serve their nation. Possibly the real honour goes to Francis Spencer. In 1792 aged 2 yrs, he was enlisted into the NSW Corps as a drummer boy. In line with practices he was rotated with personnel of the Corps’ Headquarters at Chatham in Kent then transferred to the 11th Regt of Foot (the Devonshires). His unit served in action against Napoleon’s Army in Europe. At age 17, he returned to NSW and was pensioned out. He then operated a bakery for his father, James Squire, in Kent St next door to the family of fellow Norfolk Islanders, Mr and Mrs Nathaniel Lucas whose son, William married Francis’ half-sister, Sarah.”


So, back to James Squire – while still a government servant he brewed small quantities of beer which he sold for 4 pence per quart. In July 1795 while holding a conditional pardon he was given a 30 acre plot at Eastern Farms. The early Governor’s were concerned about the trade in hard liquor, which was becoming the principal currency of the colony. The brewing of beer was encouraged officially in the hope that it might slake the Gargantuan thirsts of the colonists, and for this matter Governor King endeavoured to import hop plants from England.

By 1798 James Squire was licensee of the Malting Shovel public house at Kissing Point, strategically placed to wet the whistles of passage boatmen shuffling between Sydney and Parramatta. By 1802 he was experimenting with hop cultivation and by 1804 he was advertising for “any amount of barley from ten to a thousand bushels”. He picked his first crop in January 1805. This interested Governor King to the extent that he “directed a cow to be given to Mrs Squire from the Government Herd”.


By 1811 Squire had 5 acres under hops and produced 1 ¼ tons. Dogged enterprise and the rich soils of Kissing Pt made Squires a wealthy man, acquiring land to the extent that in 1817 he was able to offer 1000 acres for sale by private contract, together with his dwelling, brewing house and cellar on the Point. In 1820 he gave evidence before Commissioner Bigge as follows. “I have been in the Colony from its earliest establishment and for 30 yrs I have been a brewer. I have brewed beer from English Malt ... Indian Corn … and Colonial Barley. I find the Colonial hops very good, but I think that they grow better at the Derwent than they do here…” 

James Squire died in 1822 one of the wealthiest men in the colony.  He was buried in Devonshire St Cemetery on the site of the current Central Station, but was later moved to Botany Cemetery and interred beneath a headstone too faded to identify.


During his life he demonstrated a warm sympathy for Australia’s aborigines, a trait lacking in many of his contemporaries. Bennelong who in his heyday had been presented to the court of George the Third, was buried on Squire’s property at Kissing Point along with his wife. The same plot contained the grave of Surgeon White’s adopted aboriginal son Andrew Sneap Hammond Douglass White.


A press notice of 1828 mentioned “the garden of the late proprietor of the Colonial Brewery is celebrated for containing the remains of Bennelong, the native chief who accompanied Governor Phillip to England. He lies between his wife and another chief, amid the orange trees of the garden. Bidgee Bidgee the present representative of the Kissing Point tribe is a frequent visitor at these premises and expresses a wish, after his death, to be buried by the side of his friend Bennelong.”

In May 2016 a memorial plaque to James Squire Convict "Charlotte" was installed in the First Fleet Memorial Park in the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park


Glenda Miskelly, December 2009

#7643, Descendant <pinot4u@aapt.net.au>

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