Monday, February 11, 2013

Bringing Hawkesbury History to Life

If I'm not careful, the accusation directed at Mozart - 'too many notes' - might well apply to my Forrester web page - 'too many words'. So, despite receiving regular feedback up to the present, my daughter's commentary in 2011 was the last reader response published on that web page. However, via this blog, I'm now sharing a message from John Ernst of Tarrayoukyan in Victoria (interested in Margaret Forrester's Ridge 'line'), describing the Forrester book's influence on his enjoyment of his visit to the Hawkesbury just after Christmas:
Recently I read your book on Robert Forrester, which I really enjoyed. The book is meticulously researched & very well written. How you can discover so much is a tribute to your forensic history skills. I am full of admiration for your work. You are ‘populating’ the history of the Hawkesbury with superbly researched, insightful and compassionate narratives of the lives of its pioneers.
In late December last year I spent a fascinating afternoon under a scorching Sydney sun at St Matthew’s Windsor. I found the historic burial ground full not just of old memorials but of people because of your wonderful book: the Forresters tucked away in an unassuming little corner, symbolising perhaps the modest & quiet struggle of their lives; Richard Ridge and a couple of his family in a more prominent place, but overshadowed (around the corner of St Matthews) by the impressive monument of ‘currency lad’ Richard Ridge junior, the successful businessman, publican & civic figure; the resting place of the beneficent Andrew Thompson ennobled by the eloquence of Gov. Macquarie himself; and the substantial tomb of the magisterial William Cox sitting triumphantly a hundred metres or so from the graceful Anglican manse that he built.
You show in your Forrester book that the Hawkesbury settlers were strong supporters of Gov. Bligh in his battles with the NSW Corps. One of the striking minor features of the Ridge family (I am a small, virtually invisible leaf on the Ridge extended family tree) is the naming of the children, where ‘Bligh’ was often given as a second name. As I have written elsewhere, throughout the Ridge family tree the name ‘Bligh’ is displayed like a loyalty card in the naming of children across different branches and generations.
You are probably right about the history of the Ridges being best written by a member of the family, but who could possibly write it anywhere near as well as you would?
Thanks for the compliment, John, but your own writing proves that you could give me a good run for my money. I'll write the Margaret story (eventually), then you can take over as the Ridge family chronicler!

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