Dictionary of Sydney

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Leane, Lucy

Lucy Leane was an Aboriginal farmer and landowner on Williams Creek near the Georges River in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Born Lucy Burn, in Holsworthy around 1840, she had grown up on her Dharug country. In 1865 she married an Englishman, Willam Leane, at Liverpool, and purchased two blocks of land with him on the eastern side of Williams Creek, just upstream of Jonathon Goggey's family home. There they reared 13 children and developed a flourishing farm of 82 acres (33 hectares) with a 10-acre (4-hectare) orchard and a vineyard employing Italian immigrant workers. They sent their younger children to school and their older children sought independent work and married (two of them married Italian farmers). [1] They also owned milking cows, horses, carts and farming implements. Their farm was noted as operating successfully in 1892 by the Aborigines Protection Board, which recognized Lucy's Aboriginality.

Lucy developed good relations with the dignitaries of the settler community at Liverpool and was held in high regard by the mayor of Liverpool in the 1890s who had known her for over 30 years.

In 1893 Lucy decided to write to the Protection Board, requesting the allocation of a boat to use in selling her farm produce along the river. In her petition, she described herself as:

The only surviving Native Woman of the Georges River and Liverpool District, residing here ever since her birth, Fifty Three years ago, as the undersigned witnesses can vouch for and attest.

Her petition was signed by the mayor, numerous alderman, the bank manager, schoolteacher and other leading gentlemen, who described her as 'a most deserving woman'.

She was not given her boat, but she and her family continued to farm their land. Lucy died in 1895 but the farm stayed in the Leane name until at least 1925. It was profitably farmed by Lucy's extended family and provided funds to assist in the establishment of a number of satellite farms owned by their children, including their daughter Mary and her husband Salvatore Passanisi. [2]


Heather Goodall and Allison Cadzow, Rivers and Resilience: Aboriginal People on Sydney's Georges River, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2009

Family history supplied by Judith Joyce


[1] W Saunders, Senior Constable Liverpool Police to Aboriginal Protection Board, 18 July 1893, Colonial Secretary's In Letters, 5/6135 [93/7210] State Records of New South Wales

[2] Heather Goodall and Allison Cadzow, Rivers and Resilience: Aboriginal People on Sydney's Georges River, UNSW Press, Sydney, 2009, chapter 3