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Guide to Tocal

John Kidd

It is a reflection of Tocal's convict beginnings that a horse-thief later played a key role in its operation as a leading Australian horse stud.

John Kidd was 25 years old and married when he received a life sentence in Cambridge in 1829 for horse stealing. He arrived in Sydney later that year on the ship Norfolk and was initially assigned to B Sullivan in the Hunter Valley and then in turn to James Webber and the Wilsons at Tocal.

He was well behaved and received his Ticket of Leave for the Paterson district in 1837. His Ticket was altered to the Maitland district the following year but reverted to Paterson in 1840. In that same year he married a free woman, Ann McGuire. By 1842 John and Ann were living at Cory Vale, Vacy, just north of Paterson.

In 1845 John received a Conditional Pardon on the recommendation of two magistrates and his former Tocal employer Felix Wilson.

By 1856 John, Ann and family were back living and working at Tocal. This was the start of an association between the Kidd’s and Tocal which would continue unbroken for three generations.

John and Ann lived at Tocal until their deaths in 1881 and 1900 respectively. Their sons William and John grew up at Tocal, married and worked there all their lives as stud grooms. Like their father before them, they were the backbone and mainstay of the Reynolds family cattle and horse stud operations. At this time Tocal was a leading Australian Hereford cattle and Thoroughbred horse stud.

The contribution to the success of Tocal by emancipated convict John Kidd and his descendants has largely gone unrecognised. It is an excellent example of a convict rebuilding his life after transportation.

photo of the Kidd's at Tocal

Above: William Kidd in Cart, Darcie Reynolds in centre, John Kidd jnr on right. Behind is Tocal's stone barn (photo courtesy of Esme Meehan)