Dictionary of Sydney

The Dictionary of Sydney was archived in 2021.

Lewis, Biddy

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Lewis, Biddy

A land grant of three acres (1.2 hectares) on Marramarra Creek was the first permanent home of Biddy Lewis (also known as Sarah Wallace). Title to the land was granted to her in 1835, though Biddy and her husband John Lewis (also known as John Ferdinand) may have lived on the site for some years previously.

Biddy was the daughter of Matora, wife of the Sydney Aboriginal identity Bungaree. In the absence of clear genealogy, some of her descendants believe that Biddy Lewis was Matora's grand-daughter. Biddy Lewis was born in about 1803. Her death certificate names her father as 'Richard Wallace, Aboriginal', but some of her descendants believe that he may have been British.

It is said that she met her husband, a convict, while he was working at the farm granted to Bungaree by Macquarie in 1815 at Georges Head, where Biddy was living.

Biddy Lewis died in 1880 and was buried on Bar Island, at the mouth of Marramarra Creek. Her grave has not been located.

From the rich river flats on Marramarra Creek the family produced shingles for roofing, cabbage-tree grass for thatching, lime for mortar, fish and oysters. Biddy had seven surviving children, mostly born on this site, some of whom took up land further down Marramarra Creek. Elizabeth, for example, lived with her husband Israel Rose at Doughboy Beach. The historian Tom Richmond identifies the probable site of the house in the photograph as their farm. Another child, Catherine, married Joseph Benns and lived on Scotland Island.

Lewis's farm site today can be visited by water during very high tides, or by the Marramarra Ridge walking track. The cleared spaces of the farm, and those of other land grants nearby, are easily discernable today. An adjoining grant, probably abandoned in the 1950s, still has an orange orchard.


Interviews with Bob Waterer, Tracey Howie and Lynne Stewart, conducted by Peter Read and Julie Janson, May 2008, held in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Data Archive, University of Technology, Sydney

Tom Richmond, Bar Island and Lower Hawkesbury River Settlement, Deerubbin Press, Hornsby 2005

Tom Richmond, Love Among the Prawns, Deerubbin Press, Hornsby 2003