Captain Arthur Phillip’s instructions on landing in January 1788 were to found a settlement and to cultivate the land using convict labour. Early food production by convict labour however was generally a failure and Phillip had realised by July that he needed experienced farmers.
He wrote on 9th July 1788 to Evan Nepean, Under Secretary of the Home Department:
‘If fifty farmers were sent out with their families, they would do more in one year in rendering this colony independent of the mother country, as to provisions, than a thousand convicts.’
Finally, four years later, the British Government sent out a small group of settlers with their families, numbering fifteen.
Thomas and Jane Rose and their then family of four, Thomas, Mary, Joshua and Richard, were among this group who had sailed from England in the Bellona on 8 August 1792 and disembarked at Port Jackson on Wednesday 16 January 1793. This family was the first family of free settlers to arrive in the colony, hence the area where their grants were made, became known as Liberty Plains. Thomas and Jane’s family increased by the births of John, Sarah and Henry in the intervening years.
Within a week of their arrival, Thomas and Jane in accordance with their agreement with the British Government took up their grant of land of 120 acres at Liberty Plains on the right bank of the rivulet Powell’s Creek, and named it Hunter’s Hut. A further grant of 70 acres was made to them on 10 May 1798. The land however was poor and the crops were unpredictable in quantity and quality.
In 1794 however, much better farming land was being opened up by Lieutenant-Governor Grose on the banks of the Hawkesbury River. By 1802, Thomas Rose had gone into partnership with his son-in-law William Green and had purchased a property on the Wilberforce Road, Laurel Farm which remained in the family for 110 years.