On 1 January 1817, hard work and loyalty to the Crown were rewarded when Governor Macquarie granted Thomas 800 acres of land on the banks of the Macquarie River.  Having married just one month earlier - to Susannah Hortle, daughter of Private James Hortle of the New South Wales Corps. - the land grant enabled Thomas to establish a family home and begin building a secure future for his children. His son, Thomas William, was born a year later.

Thomas named the property Woolmers, after a property in his home county of Hertford. Situated in the rich farming land of the Norfolk Plains, Woolmers had excellent water frontage, good cropping soil and extensive grazing runs.

On a gentle slope overlooking the meandering Macquarie River, with the Western Tiers in the background, Thomas built his farmhouse. The house reflected Thomas' travels; a New South Wales colonial style bungalow, with a wide sweeping sandstone verandah.  Modest in construction and furnishings, it served as a comfortable base from which to expand Woolmers and house his young family.

In 1821 he resigned from the colonial administration and concentrated on further developing Woolmers and expanding his stock of cattle and sheep. A combination of excellent wool prices, cheap labour and enterprise enabled him to develop Woolmers into a self-sufficient estate, with numerous outbuildings, including a large store, cottages for workers and a chapel.

Although Thomas had resigned from the colonial administration, his commitment to the public life of the colony and its development was still strong. In 1829 he became a member of the Legislative Council of Van Diemens Land, a position he held until 1844. He also became a key advocate for the abolition of transportation and the closing of penal settlements.

A change in direction...

When Thomas Archer died in 1850, Woolmers was a substantial grazing property of 12,271 acres. As well as Woolmers, he also owned the properties of Fairfield (12,061 acres) and Cheshunt (9,940 acres).

Tragically, Thomas' son, Thomas William, had died six years before him, leaving a young wife, son and daughter. The boy, Thomas Chalmers, was only 10 when his grandfather died - too young to take on the day-to-day management of the properties. The estate was held in trust for him while he was sent to England to be educated.

For the first time since Thomas Archer was granted the land in circa 1817, Woolmers was not farmed by an owner, but passed into the hands of tenant farmers.

This was the turning point for Woolmers. The estate that Thomas Archer had strived so hard to build into a magnificent legacy for his family would, in fact, never be farmed by his direct male descendants.

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