Clayton speach

1926 - BENJAMIN CLAYTON -

BY FLORA A. TIMMS,

When young Benjamin Clayton finished his medical course, and received his diploma, away back in the early part of the eighteenth century, he heard the call of the wonderful new land of the Southern Cross, and being the successful applicant for the post of 'ship's doctor,' he came to Australia and settled at Windsor, one of the outposts of Civilisation at that time. While there he rnnrviprJ a. fl.mie-htp.r nf f!OTniYiissa.rv 'Rrouffhitpn; but the young enthusiast could not content himself with a mere 'practice,' he wanted to do his bit on the land, and influenced no doubt by the fact that his wife's relatives had accompanied Hamilton Hume when he formed his cattle station, soon after the discovery of Gunning, he went to that district in 1840, and purchased a fine block of land (his name is also mentioned among the first batch of grantees) in its virgin state (a portion, if not all of it is now included in Old BoAreong), and called it 'Baltinglass', after the village in which he was born, not far from Dublin (some of the old residents who remember Dr. Clayton will never call the place by any other name), and there he built a fine house (some of the ruins still remain), and laid out an orchard of three acres of the most choice trees, including all the English fruits, also six acres of vineyard, in which it was said every known variety of grape has been experimented with, and thousands of gallons of wine of a superior quality, of which he sent an exhibit to France and received a medal for it, was manufactured there. Traces of the collars may still be seen.

And beyond, the orchard and vineyard, on those fine slopes, the 'Baltinglass' flocks and herds grazed in large numbers under the care of stockmen and shepherds. How the young English medico adapted himself to the new life was a marvel to his friends. So taken up was he with his land, that he would gladly have given up his profession, but this he was unable to do as there was no medical man nearer to Gunning than Goulburn and Yass. It was nothing to him to answer a call 30 miles away, and naturally in the undeveloped state of the country many, serious accidents occurred. In all cases his charges were merely nominal, and where the patient's family were poor, they were nil.

Dr. Clayton brought, by mail coach from Sydney, the first hive of bees that went to those parts.

On several occasions 'Baltinglass' received a visit from the bushrangers. Mr Benjamin Clayton writes:

On one occasion they took my mother's watch, which was given to her by her mother as a wedding present, and by pursuasion of my father it was handed back. At another time when they were in the house, one of the men placed his hand on my head I was only three or four years old at the time and said: 'My little man, I hope you will never come to this!' (This sounds very like Ben Hall) . And on an other occasion, one of the bushrangers took some lollies off, the mantelpiece and put them in his mouth, when the other man remonstrated with him, saying 'Don't be eating the child's lollies!'

They took a horse from my father, which eventually they returned. Full as his life was, his beloved Erin was not forgotten by Dr. Clayton; and more than once during the famine resulting from the potato failure, he sent money to the starving people of Ireland. In all these things he was helped by Mrs. Clayton, of whom old residents always referred to as 'the sweet little lady so humble and gentle.' There is a touch of reverence in the way those who remember the Doctor speak of him. 'A fine stamp of a man he was, good looking and pleasant mannered, a man who lived before his time and a keen sport.

His for own mare always ran in the races held on the river flats. To go to 'Baltinglass' and see the fruit trees in blossom, or laden with fruit, and the genial hustling man who controlled it all, and 'the sweet little lady,' and the jolly little Claytons, and the Irish gardner who couldn't speak a word of English, was one of the greatest treats for the kiddies of that time, and the sweet fragrance of it all lingers with them still, notwithsanding their alloted span has long since been past.

With all his public activities, Benjamin Clayton took his share in the public life of the day. He was one of the first Justices of the Peace appointed in that district, and was also a member of the Council (similar to a Shire Council), with its headquarters at Yass, There was a touch of reverence in the regard with which Benjamin Clayton was held both as a doctor, and a man by the w live hearted settlers of that early day, and his cures were bordering almost on superhuman.

Mr. E. Pursehouse recalls the wonderful cure of a lad (son of Mr. William Dodd), who was bitten in the abdomen by a savage boar inflicting such a ghastly wound that his life was despaired. First-aid (Dr Clayton was in Yass, and there were no wires or phones then) was rendered by Mr. William Grovenor (the first William), and on the doctor's arrival the wound was dressed. It was several months before the lad could walk; the wound had been of such a shocking nature, and it was firmly believed that no one else could have pulled him through.

We are indebted to Mrs Mary Clancy's evergreen memory for the following story of a wonderful effort and achievement: One day, so long ago that the date cannot to recalled, two men, Lawrence Bartley and Michael Hewitt left Gunning for Wheen, with the intention of bringing a mob of cattlo from Isaac Shepherd's. Bartley was riding a well known racing mare, and when negotiating a narrow hill track, the mare stumbled on a loose stone, and falling, crushed her rider against the bank, breaking his thigh bone. The unfortunate man lay alone for hours, while his mate returned for Dr. Clayton, who arrived as dusk was setting in, and with much difficulty set the broken limb. When Bartley was told he would have to go to 'Baltinglass,' a distance of 25 miles, the next day, he lost heart, and said it could not be done.

But the sturdy doctor, did not understand the word 'defeat,' and assured his patient that it could and would be done; as he was a stout, full-blooded man, and the wound had been unattended for, so many hours, there was a danger of blood poisoning setting in. But how to do it taxed even the doctor's brain to the utmost. There was no road over which any vehicle could travel, no sawn timber, and the patient was a very heavy man, and it was winter. Fires were kept going all through that long night, which Hewitt Spent in gathering up their neighbors, who mustered thirty strong next morning acting under Dr. Clayton's instructions, four green saplings were secured and made into a frame, covered with two sheets of bark, and legs on which to rest when bearers changed places, and the patient was covered with blankets. It requires no stretch of imagination to realise what the weight must, have been, and it was many months before the men's shoulders healed. Four stalwarts bore the stretcher at a time their comrades leading their horses, and evening was well advanced when they reached Boureong, where Mr. John Madden, father of the late Mrs. Downey, receiving the weary men, and word haying been sent on had a sumptuous meal waiting for them.

For seven weeks the injured man lay at 'Baltinglass' nursed night and day by the doctor and his wife, and in order to keep down the ever threatening fever, blooding was often resorted to. Bartley was unable to walk without crutches for six months, and to the end of his life he used to tell of that terrible journey across country, and how he owed his life to Dr. Clayton and the kind neighbours, who carried the marks of that day's work on their shoulders for many a long day.

When it was known that Dr. Clayton had decided to leave the Gunning district, the general feeling amounted to consternation, and he was presented with a gold watch, and the following address. Typed from copy of address received from Mr. B. Clayton, August 3rd, 1921, son of Dr. Clayton, who lives at Harden:

Sir, Individual merit is seldom appreciated until those who have had opportunities of deriving advantages from it are about or lose it; such we feel to be our present position. We, the inbahitants of Gunning and its vicinity, experienced unfeigned regret at your departure from this district, in which your long residence, your kind and human conduct as a man, your unremitting attention and zeal in the discharge of your professional duties, your impartial administration of justice as a magistrate, and your gentleman like demeanour in every relation of life, have so endeared you to the residents generally that we cannot permit you to go without some memento of the respect in which we hold you. We therefore solicit your acceptance of this watch, as a testimonial, which of itself is of trifling value, but enhanced, we hope, by the feelings which accompany it.

To yourself, your amiable lady and family, we say farewell. May health, happiness and prosperity await you in the future scene of your labors. We remain, sir, your obedient servants, James Downes, William Grovenor, senr., William Grovenor, junr'., Richard Grovenor, Peter Best, Mrs. Grovenor, W. R. Reynolds, etc.

REPLY To Mr. James Downs, Mr. William Grovenor, and others signing the above address, My Good Friends; I thank you most cordially for your kind expressions towards me, on my leaving this neighborhood. At my parting with you, it is a matter of no small satisfaction to know that I have merited your commendation which you have evinced, not only by Words but by the very handsome testimonial presented to me, which I shall ever value, not merely for its intrinsic worth, but for Us association with the complimentary assurances of esteem and regard.

Mrs. Clayton and my family unite with me in returning thanks for your good wishes and kind farewell; and, with them I sincerely hope for your prosperity and that of your families and for the general welfare, of the district from which I ain now separated. With grateful remembrance, I am, yours faithfully, B. CLAYTON.

The late Dr. Benjamin Clayton was the first medical officer to come and stay in New South Wales, and was married at St. Peter's Church, Campbelltown. The children of the late Dr. Clayton number seven, they being:

Bland Clayton (Minto),

Benjamin (2nd) Clayton (Harden),.

Kennedy Clayton (Yass),.

Mrs. Hume (Campbelltown),

Mrs. J. R.. Garland (Sydney),

Misses M. J, and U. Clayton (Campbelltown).

Both Mrs. Hume and Mrs. Garland were married in St. Peter's Church of England, Campbelltown

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