John Lees1

M, #981, b. circa 1777, d. 28 August 1836
Relationship4th great-grandfather of Keith Graham Bassett
Last Edited24 Feb 2015
Birth*circa 1777 Stafford2,3 
Enlistment*18 July 1796 England;
Enlisted as a private in the NSW Corps (102nd Regiment of Foot)4 
Immigration*2 June 1797 "Ganges", Port Jackson, NSW, Australia;
NSW Corps5,6 
Birth of Daughter7 September 1802 Sydney, NSW, Australia;Principal=Maria Lees1 
News-Arct26 February 1804 "The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser", NSW, Australia;
A few days since a temporary residence on the Nepean belonging to John Lees, lately discharged from the New South Wales Corps, and among the number that embraced the offer of becoming Settlers, unfortunately took fire, and was shortly consumed, together with every article of wearing apparel, and its various other contents. Upon a representation to HIS EXCELLENCY of the unfortunate event, he has since been furnished with such articles of cloathing from the Store as his immediate necessities required, and his general character rendered him deserving of.7 
Grant*4 June 1804 NSW, Australia;
Grantees Name: John Lees
No. of Acres: 90
Grant or Lease: Grant
District: Evan
By whom Granted: P. G. King
When Granted: 4 June 1804
Annual Quit rent: 3s
When Quit rent commenced: 4 June 1809
Witnesses' names: J. Houston, D. D. Mann, G. Blaxcell
Description of Grant: Bounded on the S. side by Fieldhouse on the E. by a N. line on the N. by Frederick and on the W. by Field including a road on the W. and N. sides on the river Nepean

8
John Lee's land grant at Castlereagh
Birth of Daughter25 June 1804 Sydney, NSW, Australia;Principal=Hannah Lees1 
Birth of Son10 August 1805 Sydney, NSW, Australia;Principal=Richard Lees1 
Muster 1806*1806 Nepean, NSW, Australia;
Name: John Lees
Wheat: 8 acres
Maize: 6 acres
Pasture: 146 acres
Total: 160 acres
4 male, 4 female hogs
3 bushels maize in hand
Not victualled by the Government: himself, wife, 3 children, 1 convict
Remarks: Grant Nepean9 
News-Arct18 January 1807 "The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser", NSW, Australia;
ABSCONDED
From the Farm of John Lee, at the Nepean,
GEORGE SMITH an indebted Government Servant, a young man, middle stature, well set, light short hair. All persons are strictly charged not to employ or encourage him, but to render every information and assistance in apprehending the said George Smith.
By Command of His Excellency,
J. HARRIS, Superintendant of Police.  10 
Birth of Son19 September 1807 Windsor, NSW, Australia;Principal=John Lees1 
Birth of Daughter27 September 1809 Sydney, NSW, Australia;Principal=Mary Lees1 
Marriage*20 December 1809 St Philips Church, Sydney, NSW, Australia;John Leese & Mary Stephens by banns;Bride=Mary Stephens11 
Transfer*1810 NSW, Australia;
Transferred from the 102nd Regiment of Foot (the NSW Corps) to the 73rd Regiment4 
Birth of Daughter12 January 1812 Windsor, NSW, Australia;Principal=Esther Lees1 
Birth of Son12 November 1813 Windsor, NSW, Australia;Principal=Samuel Lees1 
Birth of Son19 December 1815 Castlereagh, NSW, Australia;Principal=Timothy Lees1 
News-Arct16 March 1816 "Sydney Gazette and New South Wles Advertiser"", Sydney, NSW, Australia;
WATERLOO SUBSCRIPTION.
At a MEETING of the CLERGYMEN, MAGISTRATES and principal INHABITANTS of the several Districts of the Hawkesbury, held at Windsor the 19th of February, 1816, in Pursuance of an Advertisement in the Sydney Gazette of the 3rd ultimo; WILLIAM COX, Esq. being called to the Chair, it was unanimously resolved to subscribe to the RELIEF of the noble SUFFERERS under the gallant DUKE of WELLINGTON, on the 18th of June last; and also to request His Excellency the GOVERNOR to be pleased to transmit the same to England by His Majesty's Brig Emu, now on the eve of sailing.
The Districts of the Hawkesbury being so wide and extensive, it was Resolved, that the Magistrates should go round their respective Districts, with some of the principal Inhabitants, in order to collect from the Absentees; when the following Persons voluntarily offered their Services on this Occasion; viz. Mr Richard Fitzgerald, Mr Wm. Baker, and Mr. John Howe, for the District of Windsor; Mr. Fitz and Mr. Thorley, for the District of Richmond; Mr. Arndell, Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Paul Bushel, Mr. Andrew Johnston, and Mr. Edward Reynolds, for Wilberforce, Caddie, and Portland Head; Mr. Gilberthorpe and Mr. George Hall for the District of Pitt Town; and Mr. Charles Hadley and Mr. Pierce Collett, for the District of Castlereagh.
It was also Resolved, that the Subscriptions should be paid into the Hands of Mr. Fitzgerald, as Treasurer, at Windsor; and that a Deputation of James Mileham, Esq. and Mr. Richard Fitzgerald, should wait on HIS EXCELLENCY with the Subscriptions so collected.
WILLIAM COX, Chairman.
Subscribers at Castlereagh District.
Rev.
Mr Fulton Magistrate £3 0s 0d
Mrs. Colletts £2 0s 0d
John Lees £0 18s 0d
Edward Field £0 9s 0d12 
Birth of Daughter20 April 1818 Castlereagh, NSW, Australia;Principal=Sarah Lees1 
Death of SonJune 1818 Castlereagh, NSW, Australia;Deceased=Samuel Lees13 
Death of Daughter13 December 1819 Sydney, NSW, Australia;Principal=Maria Lees2 
Correspondence10 May 1820 Castlereagh, NSW, Australia;
To His Excellency Lachlan Macquarie Esq, Governor in General, and Commander in Chief, in and Over His Majesty’s Territory of New south Wales, and its Dependencies
The Petition of John Lees, of Evan, Free, came as a Soldier
Most humbly Sheweth
That your Excellency’s humble Pettr came to this Colony per Ship Ganges in the year 1797, In the capacity of a Soldier in the New South Wales Corps, Your Pettr still holds a part of the original Grant given him for his services, But your Excellency’s Pettr having a Wife and Seven Children to support, merely from his own industry. Your Pettr now approaches your Excellency, in humble hopes of being thought by your Excellency, an object worthy of your Excellency’s benign Consideration, as your Pettr is sanguine in his hopes his deportment in life, has been most rigidly blended with the utmost decorum and propriety, which can never fail of attracting your Excellency’s human approbation.
Your Excellency’s humble Pettr Therefore, most humbly Solicits your Excellency to be most graciously prevailed upon, to have the condescending goodness to Grant your Pettr Such a Quantity of Land and Number of Cattle from the Govt Herd, as your Excellency in your Great Goodness may deem expedient for the wants of your humble Pettr
And your Excellency’s humble Petitioner as in Duty Bound
Will Ever Pray
John Lees

Petr is a very worthy industrious Man
Jn Jamison
Henry Fulton
Castlereagh House
10th May 18206 
Birth of Son25 July 1821 Castlereagh, NSW, Australia;Principal=Cornelius Lees14 
Correspondence20 January 1825 Evan, NSW, Australia;
20 January 1825
To His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane Governor and Commander in Chief
The Memorial of John Lees of Evan
Most Respectfully Sheweth
That your Excellencys Memorialist came to this Colony in the 102d Regt. That he is married and has a large family that he occupied an extensive Farm in the District of Evan which was granted to memost as a remuneration for his services which he cultivates and has in a high state of improvement. That Memost regularly keeps and imploys [sic] Four Government Servants off the Stores. That being desirous of extending his agricultural pursuits he approaches your Excellency praying for the indulgence of a Grant of Land.
Memost therefore most respectfully solicits Your Excellency to be graciously pleased to give Memost a Grant of Land agreeable to the terms specified in the Government and General Order of the 8th Novr 1824
And Memost regularly as in duty bound will ever pray
John Lees

Jn MacHenry Residt Magiste
Henry Fulton Clergyman

[Convicts: Thomas Clarke (Mary 1822), Thomas Woodbridge (Mary 1822), John Hughes (Mary 1822) and Robert Deaken (Surrey 1823)]6 
Correspondence*24 April 1825 Evan, NSW, Australia;
District of Evan
24th April 1825

Sir
I beg leave to Request the Indulgence of two Government Servants & as I Carry on Extensive farm men brought up In Agricultural Pursuits will be most Acceptable

I have the Honour to be
Sir
your Obt Servt
John Lees

To
Frederick Goulburn Esq
Coln Secrety6 
News-Arct*6 January 1827 the Sydney Gazette;"To Be Let, for the Term of five Years, at the yearly Rent of £40 sterling, a capital Verandah House, containing 10 rooms; there are also the following Outhouses, &c. a Granary, Store-house, and Shed, * large Pig sheds and Styes, a Barn 60 feet long and 20 feet wide, with a skilling and large yard attached; a Kitchen, with 2 rooms, a long Shed for fowls, &c.; besides a Cow-yard and 3 other Yards, together with between 6 and 7 Acres of good Land, all cleared, of which there is one acre and a quarter laid out in a capial garden. The above can be seen by applying to Mr. John Lees, Castlereagh.

Also,
A Capital Farm, of Fifty-nine Acres, the whole of which is fenced in, through which runs a fine creek of water, well-stocked with fish; there is a good House erected on the Farm, with a Barn and Yards for Cattle, &c. This Farm and House will be Let at 25s. per Acre, and may be taken together or separate from the foregoing Premises. Apply as above."15 
News-Arct8 October 1830 "The Australian", Sydney, NSW, Australia;
A TRIP TO PENRITH & ITS ENVIRONS.
BY PETER PUMPKIN Esq.
Sydney, 10th Sept. 1830.
To the Editor of THE AUSTRALIAN, MR. EDITOR, A few leisure days on hand. I ventured a ride to Penrith and its vicinity. Having passed through Parramatta, we got on the western road, leading to Penrith, where we arrived about two o'clock, and put up at the "King's head." I threw myself on the sofa and began to read your interesting paper, which had been handed to me by the landlord.— To surprise me the more agreeably, my friend Mr. G—, came in as dinner was announced— and feeling similarly disposed with myself, he readily acquiesced with my proposal, to join me in discussing some of the substantial fare, which decorated the board before us. Our repast consisted of a brace of roast ducks - a boiled leg of mutton, and a pair of fowls—with abundance of vegetables and good wine, and porter, succeeded by some delicious pastry. I must not forget the zeal and attention to our comfort and convenience, evinced by the worthy host and hostess. Dinner over, I suggested to my friend, a walk to the Emu Ferry on the Nepean river, about a mile further on.
We visited in succession the Police Office, Post Office and Gaol. I found the Western road extremely good. We discovered other pendent insignia, denoting the existence of an inn kept by Mr. C. W—n, a relative I am told, of Mr. J— , in Sydney. My attention was attracted to a variety, of building materials, which with a newly erected brick Stable and granary, upon an extensive scale, induced me to conjecture that it was the intention of "mine host," to improve his accommodations, which surmise was afterwards confirmed.
From where we now stood we could observe the Nepean River beneath us, about 150 yards broad —and the punt was plying to and fro. On the opposite side we beheld spacious plains of Emu, and to our left were pointed out to us, several buildings, as the Govt. House, —the Theatre, —the Camp, &c. &c. Having so far satisfied our curiosity, we returned to the "King's head." 
Next morning, I resolved to have a look at the settlement of Emu, and having ordered the horses, I wished my friend "good day," and proceeded on my little tour. We again took the road to the ferry for about three quarters of a mile, and then turned off towards the right along a kind of bye road. My attendant informed me that I was now on Capt. M—'s farm, of which Mr. McH—y is the lessee. Proceeding along the same bye road, for about half a mile, I found myself' entering the estate formerly granted to Mr. Chapman, and lately purchased by Mr. McH—y. Here appeared a rapid progress of improvement, fencing, felling and clearing "by Arson," ploughing &c. I am told Mr. McH has let a great proportion of this Estate in small farms, varying from 30 to 40 acres, with a lease of 14 years. The income from such tenantry, it is supposed will amount to 1,360l. annually. Several of these tenants are native Youths, who unable to procure land, have had recourse to the alternative of becoming Mr. McH's feudatories. About half a mile from the south side line boundary of this property, Mr. McH. has erected a water mill on the Nepean river. It is not yet completed, but from what I have heard, and the information given at the mill, besides my own personal observation, I would consider the arrangementents [sic] and mechanical part especially to be of the first order, if indeed Mr. McH. by to a nicety of improvement, in the mechanical construction, does not render the attempt unsuccessful, I discovered as I proceeded, that the banks of the Nepean, forming the settlement, had been populated by settlers for many years. The crops looked highly promising. Little attention I perceive, is paid to the comfort or durability of their habitations or out buildings —most of them presenting a wretched, tattered, and dilapidated appearance. In this remark, I speak as relates to the generality of those I have seen, —there were, notwithstanding few, of a more encouraging aspect.
I had now arrived at a spot which my servant informed me, is called "Bird's Eye Corner," where the river from running westerly, takes a northerly direction. "Whose little cottage is this James," I asked my servant as we approached it.—"This belongs to Mr. Pierce Collett of the "Golden Fleece -Mount York," he replied, at present occupied by Mr. Edward Field, his son in law,— but his poor wife dying about a year ago, leaving (though a young woman) a very numerous family— he finds it necessary to "take another" to himself, and I believe he is about asking the fair hand of Miss — "Old Parson — s daughter— he is an industrious, respectable young man, Sir, I assure you."—" You seem to know all about the matter James" I said— but where is Jacksons' Water mill you promised to show me?" O' sir, we have just passed it —but we can if you like, go to it through Mr. Field's yard; he will have no objection." I agreed to my servant's proposal and followed him for about a quarter of a mile, through several shifting pounds until we arrived at the mill. The late rains had caused the water in the river to rise, so as at prevent the mill's working. It is a compact little wooden building, and I undersand [sic] the proprietor has a considerable income therefrom. I staid but a few minutes at the mill, and then retraced my way into the road again. 
At Mr. Field's back gate I found a high road, running north and south. I was informed that this was the north and south communicating between Richmond and Evan; and the road by which we were to proceed. Riding onward, the first object was a wooden building, over the door of which, facing the road, I perceived a aintedp [sic] board with the following inscription: "Prepare to meet thy God !'' I was not a little struck at this memento mori, and enquired of James, to what purpose the building was designed; he told me that it was a Missionary Chapel, commonly called "Lee's Chapel," that he believed it was used at present as a public school house, where Mr. John Pringle taught the "first rudiments." On the left, opposite, resides Mr. Jackson, the proprietor of the mill I have just mentioned; and about one hundred yards lower down, on the same side, is a public house kept by John Blackman. On the right, as we approached Blackman's, the eye was entertained with extensive fields of some thousands of acres of cleared and cultivated land, belonging to Mr. Samuel T--rr--, extending to the bottom of the highland hills, and on the top, were conspicuous— the elegant little cottage residence or Mr. Fraser, Clerk of the Court of Magistracy; the parsonage house, occupied by the Rev. H. Fulton; and finally, Mount Pleasant, the Rev. H. Fulton ; and finally, Mount Pleasant, the rural seat of the wealthy proprietor of the vast lowlands beneath. For a mile further on, on the left hand side of the road, the lands are occupied for the most part by Mr. Terry's tenantry.
Mr. Single's cottage now began to heave in sight, and being slightly acquainted with that gentleman, I resolved to give him a call on my "maiden tour" to this part of the country. I had heard much of Mr. S's establishment, and of the rich quality of the soil on his estate. It was satisfactory to find the description, in fact, too faintly drawn. Having alighted at his cottage door, I was welcomed with every generous demonstration, and received throughout, the most hospitable kindness from both Mr. and Mrs. S, I indulged myself with a regular survey of his farm, his barns, granaries, stabling, and offices of every description, erected in the most substantial and uniform manner, The whole of his cultivated land, amounting to upwards two hundred and fifty acres, is all divided into paddocks by five-rail fences, contain - from ten to fifty acres, agreeable to his judgement of necessity and propriety. He has forty acres of the finest growing wheat, barley, and peas I ever witnessed. The potatoes he produced of this year's growth, were of the largest size and best quality I have seen. And then, there is such a stud of well-bred horses,— and his entire chesnut [sic] horse by "Chilton." Sties full of fat pigs,— and a poultry yard, diversified with every species "after its kind.' It were needless to extend the various sources from which this gentleman derives contentment, happiness, and affluence.
I forgot, however, to observe that Mr. S. has a full view of "Regent Ville," and the windmill lately erected by the wealthy proprietor, from the verandah of his cottage. It is Mr. S's. intention shortly, to erect a spacious building upon the high lands, above his present residence, whence the view will be extensive, grand, and picturesque; and will immediately overlook his present establishment; from whence, he may look down upon the soil, that assisted by his industry and exertion, has rendered him independent. My hospitable host assured me, there was little worth seeing further down the settlement; and I agreed, at his suggestion to return to the "King's Head," by way of Castlereagh, over the high lands, by which means I should describe a circular kind of course on my return. About two miles from Mr. Single's, the building occupied as the Castlereagh Church was pointed out to me, on my left,— a neat looking edifice, but enveloped in a forest. A little farther on, on the right, I passed close by the front of Mr. Fraser's cottage, before-mentionede [sic] as seen from the low ground ; it forcibly brough [sic], to my recollection, a country villa in India, belonging to Captain Points,, an intimate friend of mine. I must not forget the garden— which appeared to contain about four acres, and was, though evidently in its infancy, truly superb— and described with much taste. The Parsonage was neat,— " Mount Pleasant" succeeded, and was the last "left behind," until I arrived at the "King's Head," rather fatigued, but much gratified with my day's excursion.
I omitted to mention, that as I approached the Inn this evening, the august person of the venerable chief constable presented itself, returning to his antique villa, demurely sitting in a gig.— No doubt cogitating for the public safety.
I went to bed early— arose— breakfasted— and wishing my landlord and lady a good morning, began to retrograde to the metropolis;- where I arrived about, 4 o'clock the same evening; and where I am at present, dictating them new memoranda, for your service, if you think them fitting.
Your's truly,
PETER PUMPKIN.
P. S. I forgot to mention, that while at Penrith and Evan, I heard serious and public complaints about the roads leading front the settlement into the Western Road; there being no practicable passage thence, for the market carts at present. The Government should assuredly listen to a representation of this matter, and afford those industrious farmers some free outlet to the main road.
P. P.16 
Note Nepean, NSW, Australia;Lees enlisted in the New South Wales Corp in September 1796 whilst still in England and sailed in the Ganges, arriving in the colony on the 2 June 1797. His future wife Mary Stevens arrived as a convict on the Earl Cornwallis on the 12 June 1801. His official land grant of 90 acres was awarded by Governor King on the 4 June 1804, but he was living in the Nepean district prior to that date. In February of that year the Sydney Gazette reported that his temporary residence was destroyed by fire and all of his belongings lost.
John and Mary had ten children together, the first being born in 1802 and the last in 1821. They were married at St Phillips Church in Sydney on the 20 November 1809.
John Lees was known for his love of alcohol, and while he seemed to keep it under control whilst establishing the farm, it soon began to control his life to the point that some of his land and a lot of his possessions were gone. It is purported that one night whilst getting a log of wood for the fire, he instead picked up a deadly snake that bit him on the wrist, although a second version of this tale implies that he dreamt the episode. Whichever mode the snake was visited upon him, it changed his life dramatically. He became a devout Christian and gave up the drunkenness of his old life. He gave an acre of land to the Wesleyan Church, built a small chapel on it and cultivated the land, giving whatever grew there to the church to spread the word of the Lord.
John Lees died on the 28 August 1836 and was buried at the Church of England Cemetery at Castlereagh. A new church at Castlereagh was built in 1847 and in 1921 Mary and John Lees were re-interred at that site.5 
Death*28 August 1836 Nepean, NSW, Australia2,5 
Burial*31 August 1836 Church of England Cemetery, Castlereagh, NSW, Australia;
age 59, arrived "Ganges" 1797, Settler

2,5
John Lees headstone
News-Arct11 October 1921 "The Sydney Morning Herald", Sydney, NSW, Australia;
A PIONEER METHODIST.
REMOVAL OF THE REMAINS OF JOHN LEES.  
The remains of John Lees, the pioneer Methodist of Castlereagh, who gave the first acre of ground owned by the Methodist Church of Australasia, and who built thereon the first Wesleyan chapel in the Southern Hemisphere, were exhumed on Friday last from the historical cemetery, between Penrith and Richmond, preparatory to their removal next Saturday to the burial ground which adjoins the Methodist Church at Castlereagh. The Board of Health had signified its consent, and the Archbishop of Sydney had given his permission to carry out the removal, so, in the presence of representatives of the police, whose duty it was to see that the health regulations were obs erved, and a few friends and relations, the 85-year-old grave was opened. The remains were reverently gathered together, and placed in a new casket, which was lined with metal and soldered down at the graveside.
It is proposed to take the casket from the Castlereagh Church to the new place of interment next Saturday afternoon, when a memorial tablet, which the trustees are placing on the walls of the church, will be unveiled. The new place of interment is part of the acre which John Lees gave and consecrated by devoting its produce to the church, and upon which the present church and Sunday school now stand. A part of this land was set aside as a burial ground after the death of John Lees, and many members of his family have been interred there. The new grave is to be just inside the gateway of this cemetery, within a few yards of where he personally built the first Wesleyan chapel.
John Lees was buried on August 25, 1836, twenty years before the registration of deaths and burials was required by law, so that the only reliable record of the death is the tombstone, which reads: "Sacred to the memory of John Lees, who departed this life, after seven years' severe affliction, August 23, 1835, aged 65 years."
It is the intention of the Castlereagh trustees to have a suitable monument placed over the grave, as well as the tablet in the church. There will also be placed on the outside of the church a marble tablet bearing the words: -Methodist Church, 1847, erected in the place of the First Wesleyan Chapel in Australia, built by John Lees. 1817.

17
John Lees exhumation. Photo courtesy of Penrith City Library.
John Lees reinterment. Photo courtesy of Penrith City Library.

Family

Mary Stephens b. c 1778, d. 26 Jul 1839
Children

Citations

  1. [S1220] NSW Baptisms 1788-1855.
  2. [S1223] NSW Deaths 1788-1975.
  3. [S1411] Gransden Family Web Page.
  4. [S1638] Pamela Statham, A colonial regiment: new sources relating to the New South Wales Corps, 1789-1810.
  5. [S1241] Penrith City e-history.
  6. [S1233] Colonial Secretary Correspondence, 1788-1825.
  7. [S1565] Trove digitised newspapers, online http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sunday, February 26, 1804.
  8. [S1634] NSW Registers of Land Grants and Leases, 1792-1867, online http://ancestry.com.
  9. [S1324] Land and Stock Muster 1806 for Sydney, Australia.
  10. [S1565] Trove digitised newspapers, online http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sunday, January 18, 1807.
  11. [S1219] NSW Marriages 1788-1857.
  12. [S1565] Trove digitised newspapers, online http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/, Sydney Gazette and New South Wles Advertiser, Saturday, March 16, 1816.
  13. [S1473] NSW Death Indexes.
  14. [S1464] Unknown title.
  15. [S1470] NLA Australian Newspapers (Trove), online http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/
  16. [S1565] Trove digitised newspapers, online http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/, The Australian, Friday, October 8, 1830.
  17. [S1565] Trove digitised newspapers, online http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/, The Sydney Morning Herald, Tuesday, October 11, 1921.
  18. [S651] NSW BDM Indexes.