Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Archibald Little - Settler

Cressfield - Map 9

Archibald Little was born on 16th March 1803 at Cressfield, Ecclefechan, Scotland, son of Dr. William Little and Sarah nee Carlyle. He arrived in Australia on the ship Triton in October 1825. Francis Little, older brother of Archibald, arrived in Australia in January 1823 on the Morley on which vessel their uncle William Bell Carlyle was employed as surgeon-superintendent.

Map showing the location of Satur (W.B. Carlyle) 1837


Archibald Little's estate Cressfield was established on land adjoining his brother and uncle's estates. A stone mansion was built using convict labour and gardens and vineyards were planted. Archibald was appointed Magistrate in 1834 and there was probably a constant stream of visitors to the estate.

In recollections ninety years later a descendant remembered being told of a visit by Charles Darwin to Cressfield. Two pack horses with saddle bags were prepared and Darwin was accompanied to collect fossils and visit the Burning Mountain at Wingen.(1) This visit is not confirmed, however Charles Darwin on the Beagle visited Sydney in January 1836.

In April 1839 Archibald married Susan Sophia Bell, daughter of Lieutenant William Bell of the Royal Veterans at Windsor.

A few months later the estate was advertised for lease....The beautiful estate of Glencairn, containing three thousand three hundred and sixty acres of land situated nine miles from Invermein in the upper district of Hunter's River, formerly the property and residence of Archibald Little, Esq., J.P. and known by the name of Cressfield. The Mansion is built of stone, and consists of handsome outer and inner halls, drawing room, dining room, bed rooms and other conveniences with detached kitchen and offices. The garden contains about five acres of ground, and almost every kind of fruit tree grown in the colony. Half a pipe of wine was made last year from the grapes. The paddocks are most excellent and abundant and the quantity of cleared and stumped land is very considerable. The mail from Sydney passes through the estate twice a week. The mansion may be had furnished and the tenant may have the option of renting sheep, cattle, horses, working bullocks, drays and every other necessary requisite on an establishment of respectability. Immediate occupancy offered [2]


The Ship News in the Australian dated 7 April 1840 reveals the reason that Cressfield was so hurriedly advertised - the entire family was soon departing for England - The Argyle will sail for London at daylight on Tuesday morning. The following is a list of her passengers: Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Little, Mr. Francis Little, Masters William and Archibald Little, Miss Sarah Little, Misses Frances and Caroline Bell, Miss Maria Fennell.

Back at Cressfield

Back in Australia a daughter Susan was born in 1849 and son Francis in 1850. Both were baptised in St. Luke's Church, Scone.

In 1849 Archibald Little was appointed Coroner for the district a position he held for many years. Travelling by coach in the Upper Hunter was described in 'The Newcastle Packets and the Hunter Valley' by J H M Abbott - Down past Captain's Lagoon and Cressfield - it was from Cressfield, over a century ago, that Dr. Little discovered the Burning Mountain at Wingen - and across the long flats on old St. Aubin's station, leaving the Black Mountain on their near hind wheel, and they came to the Golden Fleece Hotel in Scone, where they changed horses, and whence they presently drove on through Segenhoe to Muswellbrook. Here again they changed horses - the coaches were well-horsed, and liberally, in 1855. 'Boshy' Nowland had the mail contract, and though he was reckoned 'a bit of a nailer,' there was nothing mean about the way he dragged his coaches up and down the Valley. Cobb and Co. hadn't yet arrived on the old North Road.


Archibald Little died on 9th August 1888 at Ferndale, Gladesville age 85 years. Susan Sophia Little died at Ferndale in June 1897. Select here to find out more about Archibald Little and convicts who were assigned to him at Cressfield.

Notes and Links

1). Memories of Pioneers - Scone - by Mary Graham 'Sydney Morning Herald 6 April 1935'

2). Cressfield Park - Incorporating stone quarried for a house of 1827, Cressfield was rebuilt in the 1900's upon a Georgian floor bplan. The simple proportions were buried underneath heavy stone and timber verandahs -

Cressfield Park
click to enlarge.

3). 'Rev. William Stack' performed Divine Service at Cressfield four times a year - 'The State of Religion and Education in NSW'


[1] The Scone Advocate 21 April 1926

[2] The Australian 24 October 1829