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last updated:    18 October 2004

 

 

 

 

 

8. THE WELSH CONNECTION - DAVID CHRISTMAS

David was a Welshman born in 1797.  At age 22 he had married Jane Wall in Llanbadarn and thereafter he had been employed as a horse groom and     servant.  Unfortunately the marriage was doomed to an early disruption.  Appearing in Cardigan Court on the 7th March 1821, David was accused of having entered the home of a gentleman farmer named Humphrey Pugh and “had taken, stolen and carried away 10 guineas in gold, 40 shillings in silver and local notes to the value of 20 pounds, the property of the said Humphrey Pugh.”

David was found guilty and as the amount approximated 2 years earnings, was sentenced to transportation to Van Diemen’s Land.  He arrived without his wife, on July 23rd 1822.  As was the custom, David was allocated a master who subsequently had him lashed 25 times for “insolence to his master.”

David’s natural enthusiasm was unchecked by this event and on January 3 1825, he received 50 lashes for the same offence.  This second flogging apparently quelled his manner sufficiently to allow his free pardon on March 13, 1826.

David eked out a meagre existence for the next 10 years in Van Diemen’s Land and in June 1836 boarded the schooner “The Champion” which was transporting sheep across the strait, to Port Phillip.  Six years later in 1842, although he stood just 5’ 4”, with badly scarred fingers, he sufficiently impressed Joseph Stevenson with his welsh pluck and determination to be hired as a shepherd.

Left to find his own way out to the junction of Watsons Creek and Five Mile Creek, Christmas became hopelessly lost.  After aimless wandering for days during which time he is said to have eaten his dog, he was rescued after staggering through the bush toward the sound of bells.  These hung from Joseph Stevenson’s bullocks and in recognition of Christmas’s salvation, Stevenson named his 9600acre run “Christmas Hill Station.”                       

David Christmas died some years later and was buried near his shepherd’s hut, in the Stevenson front paddock.  150 years after his arrival, the people of Christmas Hills gathered to celebrate the event.  On the 11th October 1992, they unveiled a plaque of a memorial erected above the bush grave of David Christmas.  Afterward to the lilt of the Welsh nation air “We’ll keep a welcome on the hillside” a toast was drunk in remembrance of the Welsh shepherds’ exploits.

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