Marine Officer, Convict Wife : the Johnstons of Annandale

George Johnston played an important part in creating a viable colony out of pitiable beginnings. He gained enduring notoriety for deposing govenor Bligh in 1808 but his wider role as a soldier and entrepreneur was no less important. In a new book written by Alan Roberts of the Annandale Urban Research Association Johnston’s achievements, and their personal cost to him, provide for a fascinating read.

More striking is the depiction of Esther, a young milliner transported for stealing 21 yards of silk lace who rose to play a key role in managing Johnston’s large pastoral properties. The name of Johnston will always be associated with Annandale, if only for Johnston Street. Marine Officer, Convict Wife is a study of place as well as personality, tracing the development of Annandale from 1793 when the family farm and mansion dominated the district just west of Sydney, to the 1870s when it began to take shape as a suburb.

Paintings, drawings and photographs illustrate a new world being created in an unfamiliar landscape. Funded through Leichhardt Council’s Local History Grants Programme, Marine Officer, Convict Wife will fascinate not just those who enjoy local history and architecture, but anyone with an interest in the early days of white settlement in Sydney. Available from all good bookstores, Marine Officer, Convict Wife retails at $29.95

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