The headland at the junction of Blackwattle and Rozelle bays was at one time popularly known as Jarrett’s Point after the builder of Venetia, a double-storey mansion, and Bellevue, its adjacent four-bedroom cottage. A bequest from his mother Lady Windeyer enabled William Archibald Windeyer, a solicitor and long-serving Hunters Hill alderman, to purchase both houses in 1913 after which Venetia was soon knocked down. Bellevue has survived despite ongoing problems re its usage. It was saved from illegal demolition in 1975 by community activists (including Glebe Society members) and re-roofed by Leichhardt Council after it bought the foreshore parkland in 1981. Bellevue was finally restored by the City of Sydney in 2007, and is in use as a café.
At the end of his life William Jarrett’s local properties included, in addition to Venetia and Bellevue, four terraces comprising St Aubyn’s on Kennedy St (now Leichhardt St flats) and the Gaza-Alma stretch 433-445 Glebe Rd, plus dwellings in Brougham, Campbell and Mitchell streets. He also owned the Fairlight farm at Mulgoa and houses, shops and land at Leichhardt, Petersham, Ashfield, Marrickville, Canterbury and Campbelltown.
Born in Canterbury, England, William Jarrett arrived in Sydney in 1853 aboard the Beejapore with his 20-year-old wife Margaret née Roberts and their daughters two-year-old Marianne and Emily Beejapore born on the ship, which was overcrowded and rife with measles and scarlet fever. (On the voyage out 56 people died plus a further 62 after the vessel was put in quarantine at Spring Cove.) Jarrett was a carpenter and joiner, not to be confused with a young assisted immigrant with the same name and trade who landed in Sydney in 1854.
Glebe’s William Jarrett had settled in the suburb by 1855 when, in a dispute with Richard and Philip Coleman Williams over money, he was struck with a hammer.
Although Jarrett himself was armed with an iron bar, Jarrett successfully sued the brothers for assault. By 1858 he was building a string of double-storey houses in Mitchell St, and the next year appended ‘Esq’ to his surname. As licensee, he lived in the Tradesman’s Arms in Norton St and later the Tynemouth Castle on Glebe Rd.
With other locals, Jarrett speculated in land. He was steward of the Mutual Benefit Building Society, its chair George Wigram Allen, and secretary of the Industrial Benefit Building Society. In 1871 Jarrett established the Industrial & Provident Permanent Benefit Building, Land and Investment Society and Bank for Savings, targeted at working class subscribers wanting to own their homes rather than rent. Glebe ‘gentlemen’ on its Board of Management included architect Ambrose Thornley jnr, surveyor William Elphinstone and plasterer William Cary. Jarrett remained this Society’s manager until his death, surviving the 1890s Depression.
With the extension of the railway system, the drift back to the city from the goldfields and a steady influx of overseas migrants, Sydney real estate was booming. In 1880 Jarrett co-founded (with William Cary and Ambrose Thornley snr and jnr) the Excelsior Land Co. which bought and subdivided suburban tracts of land, and then offered for sale a range of house styles for 10% deposit, the balance payable over 12 years. The scheme appealed to the middle and working class with large or small pockets, and many purchasers were women.
Excelsior’s first big project was the Elswick House Estate at Leichhardt, serviced by the new Petersham Railway Station. Bounded by Norton, Marion and Elswick Streets, the subdivision included thoroughfares named after the building society directors including Jarrett. Political influence guaranteed the extension of the tramway along the length of the Norton St boundary, not along Johnston St Annandale, a more logical choice. Subsequent purchases by Excelsior were the Warren Estate at Marrickville and the Birkenhead Estate at Iron Cove. Jarrett, who was involved with Excelsior until 1892, also supported the Starr-Bowkett co-operative system and was manager of the Industrial Mutual Fire Insurance Company. In 1871 he became a Glebe alderman following the death of Alderman Brown, and in 1875, his profession ‘accountant’, was nominated as a candidate for Outer Glebe Ward. In 1885 he was appointed a magistrate.
In 1873 William Jarrett bought two lots on the Blackwattle Bay foreshore, his neighbours being Ambrose Thornley snr and jnr, and in 1875 moved into his new house at 2 Kennedy St. With seven bedrooms and four reception rooms, a brick coach house and a bathing house, Venetia was the venue for fancy dress balls and meetings of the Glebe Point Cricket Club. In 1876 Jarrett bought a 2500-acre farm on the Nepean River at Mulgoa where he built a house Fairlight and a separate building containing a dairy, creamery, men’s quarters and a kitchen. Here he retreated from city life to breed horses and grow grapes.
On 21 March 1883 Jarrett was farewelled with a banquet at Compagnoni’s Restaurant in Pitt St and sailed for Europe the next day. His wife did not travel with him, probably remaining to comfort their daughter Rebecca Ann Thorn whose daughter had just been stillborn.
Margaret Jarrett died aged 58 at Fairlight on 5 November 1891. The next year her widower married Lucy Ann White née Beadle. William Jarrett died aged 71 at Fairlight on 24 April 1901, survived by his second wife, two sons (Elias Denis and Arthur Edward), three married daughters (Isabella Field, Emily O’Connor and Lila Mary Goldrick) and numerous grandchildren. Executors of his will were his stepson and public servant William Thomas John Malcolm White and politician and relative by marriage Thomas Michael Slattery. William Jarrett was buried in the family vault in the C of E section at Rookwood. Probate was granted in 1903.
Lucy Ann Jarrett and her daughter Florence Frances White remained at Venetia for about 12 months before moving around the corner to another Jarrett property Abna, 445 Glebe Point Rd. Circa 1908 they shifted to Marrickville where Lucy Ann died aged 83 in 1927, having outlived all but one of her stepchildren. Florence died unmarried in 1933.
Belle Vue, completed by 1896, is believed to have been built for William Jarrett’s youngest daughter Lila Mary but she married the next year and the house was rented out to publican turned hotel broker and business agent James George Warden (ca 1860-1937).
Warden, from Hackney, migrated to Sydney in 1878 and went into hotel broking with his father. In 1887 he married Mary Jane Dwyer in a Catholic ceremony at Leichhardt and settled at Enmore where Charles Henry died aged three months in 1888. Next son Sidney George (1890-1959) trained as an architect in Sydney and London, returning home to design or alter hundreds of Tooth & Co. hotels, including the Hotel Broadway. (His archive is held by the Powerhouse Museum.) Other children born to James and Mary were: Ellen (1892-1954), Henry Harold (1895-1956) and William Edward who was born at Glebe on 6 June 1899, became a farmer at Binnaway and died in 1949. In November 1903 Mary Jane Warden died, leaving her widower with five young children. By that time the family had moved to McMahons Point.
Next occupier of Bellevue was Arthur G Hill, followed by the family of Thomas Reilly who lived there from 1906 until 1922. Irish-born Thomas, who in 1874 married Isabella Selina Stanbury, was for 24 years headmaster of South Bathurst Public School. He died on 8 March 1915. Selina and Robert’s children were born at Sofala and Bathurst: Maurice William (1876-194), veterinary surgeon), Reginald Robert (born 1878), Harold (born 1881 engineer), Walter (born 1885, he was a WA farmer when he enlisted in 1916), Norman Noble (1887-1954, a veterinary surgeon, he was a driver in WW1 and enlisted in WW11) and Kathleen Mary (1892-1982).
After the Reillys’ departure Bellevue was occupied by Albert McLeod and George Cavanagh before being absorbed by the Vanderfield & Reid timber yards.
In the 1970s the house’s replacement by four three-storey unit blocks was delayed by the collapse of Parkes Developments.
Postscript: the known Jarrett children
What happened to Marianne Jarrett who landed in Sydney as a two-year-old in 1853 is unknown, as is the birth year of Isabella Jarrett who at St Barnabas on 10 September 1874 married Glebe Rd boot manufacturer James Archibald Field. Their first child Venetia Margaret Jane Field died as a baby on 9 October 1875. Her funeral left Venetia for the C of E section at Rookwood. A son William Jarrett Field was born and died aged 3 months at Mitchell St Glebe in 1880. Field was declared bankrupt in 1878 and again in 1884 after which the couple went to Melbourne where two more daughters were born. Isabella waited until 1914 to ask for a divorce on grounds of desertion; her application was dismissed. Isabella Field died at Marrickville in 1946.
Emily Beejapore in 1872 married Bernard Gerald O’Connor, a Leichhardt grocer and brother-in-law of Thomas Slattery MLA, a staunch Catholic who married two of Bernard’s sisters (in succession). Mother of six, Emily died at Annandale on 8 June 1906 and was buried in Waverley Cemetery.
Rebecca Ann, born 1857, married Louis James Thorn in 1882. Their daughter was stillborn at Venetia on 21 March 1883 and on 14 February 1885 Vernon James William Thorn died at Venetia aged six weeks. Louis J Thorn was born at Summer Hill on 27 May 1886 but died the same year. Rebecca Annie Thorn died in January 1887 and was buried at Rookwood.
It was customary to give a new baby the same name as a deceased and at least three boys named William Jarrett were born and died at Glebe in the period 1859-64.
Elias Denis, born 1862, married Rosa J W Levey in 1883. Their children included Venetia and Lila Beejapore. Elias Denis Jarrett died at another Venetia Howard St Canterbury on 5 November 1911.
George William Jarrett died aged 4 months on 12 November 1870.
Arthur Edward, born 1872, in April 1902 married Eva Mary Richards, but died seven months later at his wife’s family home Avondale Bridge Rd Glebe.
Charles Henry Jarrett died aged 11 months at Venetia on 20 August 1875.
William and Margaret’s youngest daughter Lila Mary married Glebe Rd chemist Thomas Martin Joseph Goldrick on 1 September 1897 at St Mary’s Cathedral. The wedding reception was held at Venetia. The Goldricks had four children born at Glebe in the period 1899-1903. Lila Mary Goldrick died on 9 Jan 1918 at Lang Rd Centennial Park and was buried in Waverley Cemetery, joined by her widower who died aged 78 on 10 January 1945.
‘The Parramatta song bird’ Venetia Jarrett is a possible descendant of Glebe’s Jarrett family.
Sources: Jarrett, William Industrial & Provident Permanent Benefit Building, Land and Investment Society, and Bank for Savings; NSW births, deaths, marriages registry online; NSW cemetery records; NSW electoral rolls; Pettit, John Excelsior; Sands Directories; State Records NSW; Trove website.