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The Kidds of Tocal

Introduction

This is the story of four generations of the one family whose lives revolved around the Tocal estate. This long and intimate involvement by the Kidd family stockmen enabled the famous Tocal horse and cattle stud enterprises to thrive under the direction and management of the Reynolds dynasty.

The story began with the transportation from England to Australia of John Kidd. John, born in 1802 in Wimpole, Cambridgeshire was 26 and married when he received a death sentence for horse stealing. This was commuted to transportation for life, and he arrived in Australia in 1829. His occupation on arrival was described a 'ploughman' and he was immediately sent to the Thalaba estate on the Williams River in the Hunter Valley.

John arrived at Tocal in 1833 after Thalaba was sold. Under the ownership of James Phillips Webber, Tocal was already a thriving estate employing at least 34 workers with an astonishing output of agricultural products, including 40,000 lbs of tobacco.

In the year after John Kidd's arrival, however, Tocal was sold to Sydney merchants Caleb and Felix Wilson. In 1835 Tocal experienced a great fire that destroyed the outbuildings, and in 1841 the Homestead was build under the instruction of Felix Wilson.

In 1837 John Kidd applied for and received a precious Ticket of Leave. This meant he could live where he pleased within a prescribed district, work for an employer of his choice for wages, and only had to report to the police quarterly. It was John's first step towards freedom.

Below: Tocal in 1834

layout of Tocal in 1834

Like to know more? Buy the book! This web exhibition is based on the book "At Home Amongst the Stock": The Kidds of Tocal [details]