John Wylie Breckenridge (1846-1917) was the eldest son of John Wylie Paton Breckenridge of Forster. He married the daughter of Henry Miles, Mary (1850-1928)1 and in the tradition of large families had twelve children.
Expanding on the Failford mill his father established in 1883, John created an extensive sawmill and shipping yard which produced sailing vessels to haul the sawn timber to market mostly in Sydney and NZ.2 One of the best known vessels was the combined sail and steamer the “Commonwealth” which was launched in 1901. It served the Breckenridge line of steamers between Cape Hawke and Sydney until 1916.3
The settlement at Failford grew to encompass a general store, post office, public school, small hall, Breckenridge residences and employee cottages. “John Breckenridge” was a household name from Newcastle to Cape Hawke and he became known as the “Laird of Failford”.4
In 1907 John erected a large sawmill at Kendall to tap into the rich timber sources of Camden Haven and Comboyne.5 The business was then known as “Breckenridge and Sons” with two of his sons managing the Failford and Kendall mills.6
In 1909, after more than 45 years living in the district, John and Mary left Failford to spend a quieter life in Drummoyne where they had large water frontage to oversee their wholesale timber trade and boats.7 On their departure the employees of Failford and Kendall, and friends of the district gave the couple a huge send-off praising them for being instrumental in the advancement of the district and their kindness and generosity.8 John Wiley Breckenridge and wife Mary are buried in the Failford Cemetery.
Author: Marilyn Boyd
1 NSW BDM, birth index No. 398/1850, marriage index No. 3267/1872, death Index No. 3196/1928.
2 Sydney Mail and NSW Advertiser 16 June 1900, 1386.
3 Great Lakes Manning River Shipping NSW, https://www.flickr.com/photos/glmrsnsw/14103331150
4 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 7 Apr 1906, 8.
5 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 1 Sep 1906, 7.
6 Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 27 January 1910, 5.
7 Clarence and Richmond Examiner, 27 January 1910, 5.
8 Gloucester Advocate, 27 March 1909, 10; Daily Telegraph, 23 March 1909, 5.