John Wylie Paton Breckenridge Senior (1818–1899) emigrated from Scotland with his wife Lilias Reid (1826–1870) and two children John Wylie Junior and Agnes on board the “Nimroud” in 1859.1 His occupation was listed as a circular sawyer and he initially joined his brothers working at Karuah before moving to Forster in 1867 to set up a sawmill.2
With the addition of three daughters and two sons it was arranged with other Forster pioneer families to engage a Cambridge graduate Mr Underwood who opened the first school in a building they provided under Pilot Hill. Unfortunately, John’s wife Lilias died in childbirth with their eighth child in 1870.3 Two years later John married my great grandmother’s sister Maria Wesley Croker. She was 30 years younger and they reared seven children.4
By 1883 John had established a second timber mill on the Wallamba River at Failford, so named after the family home in Scotland. Needing boats to transport the timber to his Forster mill (which was taken over by Harry Miles in 1884), John constructed flat bottom punts using poles pushed into the river bed to drive them forward.5 His Failford mill embraced this new venture and it soon included a shipyard and shipping service.
By the time of John’s death in 1899 he had established a vibrant settlement at Failford which would be carried on by his descendants. John passed away at his residence in Forster aged 81 and is buried with his family in Forster Cemetery.6
Author: Marilyn Boyd
1 Ancestry.com.au, NSW Assisted Immigrant Passenger List, April 1859, Nimroud.
2 Great Lakes Heritage Study, 2007, p. 31.
3 Findagrave.com, Lilias Reid Breckenridge, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/49639850/lilias-breckenridge.
4 Breckenridge Family Tree: Geni.com, Pioneer Register Book 2: My Heritage.
5 Janine Watson, John Wylie Breckenridge, prolific pioneer, Wingham Chronicle, 19 October 2017. https://www.winghamchronicle.com.au/story/4999257/whats-in-a-name-john-wylie-breckenridge/
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 4 November 1899, 4.