109 -113 George Street

  • The two-storey house with attic built by Rev. Rowland Hassall, Photo taken c1870s by the Mills family.

The Project

Excavation of this site took place between 15 November 2004 and January 2005 with some additional work on the well on 28 February 2005. The client was Landcom, an agency of the NSW Government. Significant Aboriginal archaeology was also undertaken on this site by Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management.

Historical Background

Rev. Rowland Hassall was given a grant of 1 acre by Governor John Hunter, 18 October 1799. Rowland Hassall and his wife Elizabeth had arrived in Tahiti as a missionary with the London Missionary Society but had fled to New South Wales where he continued to preach, as well as acquire land and government posts. He was government storekeeper and was in charge of the granary at Parramatta until his dismissal in September 1802 for not discovering the fraud. His preaching veered towards Methodism, but he retained a strong working relationship with Anglican priests such as Rev. Samuel Marsden. He confined his preaching to his home in Parramatta where the barn served as the place for services. He also opened a store to supply settlers. In 1814, he was appointed as superintendent of Government Stock. His acquisitions of land were a boon to his large family. Not only did he endow them with land, he also passed on his religious convictions and fervour. There were to be many ministers with the surname Hassall in New South Wales over the next century.


The archaeological investigation at 109-113 George Street, Parramatta found remains associated with the 78-year occupation of the site between c1804 and 1882. The site was considerably disturbed by 20th-century building activities as well as the extensive demolition of the early buildings on the site in 1882 where the building materials were sold off leaving little reaming of the main house.

The structural remains found at the site mostly relate to the occupation by Rowland and Elizabeth Hassall (c1804-1834). Following Elizabeth’s death (1834) the property was leased out. Rowland Hassall was a missionary and he and his wife and children fled from Tahiti to New South Wales in 1798. Among the tenants were the Mills family who operated a school there in the 1840s and the Griffiths who also operated a school there in the 1850s and 1860s.

The surviving remains included:

  • The base of the cellar of the c1814 Hassall House.
  • A well associated with the 80 year-occupation.
  • Remains of an eastern building with chimney/flue and associated features.
  • Remains of a central building, possibly a dairy.
  • A series of recut pits behind the house, including a timber-lined pit.
  • A second group of pits, two of which had brick-lined bases.
  • Remains of pottery and other ceramics including hair brushes and combs

Ceramic items associated with the occupation of the Hassall House associated with day to day necessities, wash basin "Italian Scenery" pattern, "Lady Peel" patterned chamber pot, two pomatum (hair grease) lids and a blue handpainted and glided Chinese porcelain lid. Pomatum was a scented ointment used originally on the skin and as a lip salve, however later it became more commonly used on the hair as a grooming aid.


Casey & Lowe undertook this excavation for NSW Landcom, who proposed to redevelop the site.


The photos used in this report on the webpage were taken by Franz Reidel, Tim Adams and Mary Casey. Dr Terry Kass undertook the original historical research for this project. We have also made use of historical images and information from the State Library of NSW, State Records of NSW, Land Titles Office, Ken and Shylie Brown and Rosemary Hooke a descendant of the Mills family.


Other Related Reports and Publications

Casey & Lowe, Archaeological Monitoring, 140 Macquarie Street, Parramatta

Gunson, Niel, “Hassall, Rowland (1768-1820)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hassall-rowland-2166/text2777. First published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol 1, (MUP), 1966.


Preliminary Information

109 -113 Site information leaflet PDF

Preliminary results PDF

Complete set of reports for the 2004/2005 excavation:

Volume 1: Main Reports

Volume 2: Subsidiary Reports

Volume 3: Appendices




109 -113 George Street


Nov 2004 - Feb 2005