Cromarty Descendants Meet To Hear Historian Speak

Dr Kilmartin with some of the Cromarty descendants at the talk.

THE Tomaree Museum Association recently organised a talk by Dr Leslie Kilmartin, a direct descendant of William Cromarty.

Cromarty was employed by the famous Arctic explorer and mariner, Sir Edward Parry, when they were both based in Port Stephens during the early nineteenth century.

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Landmarks around the region are named after Cromarty and Magnus Street in Nelson Bay is named after his son.

Leslie Kilmartin is himself a learned and interesting man; a sociologist, former pro Vice Chancellor at Latrobe university, HR consultant and now determined researcher of family history.

More than 100 people attended the talk, including many who, like Leslie, are direct descendants of the man who was the first European to settle in the Port Stephens area at Soldiers Point.

The talk touched briefly on William Cromarty’s early life in the Orkney Islands, his seafaring days, his marriage to Cecilia and their separate voyages to the young colony of NSW.

During the time he served as Harbour Master at the Port of Newcastle, Captain Cromarty became known for three qualities not often found in the one man – honesty, hard work and sobriety.

It was this combination which apparently led Sir Edward Parry to supply him with a glowing reference and describe him as a ‘rara avis’ – a rare bird.

Gabrielle Carrick of the Tomaree Museum Association told News Of The Area, “Audience participation was encouraged during the talk, with much lively debate and colourful local experiences shared, but time was limited which unfortunately meant Dr Kilmartin was forced to omit many of the anecdotes from his book.

“He summed up by recounting the mystery surrounding the final hours of William’s life and (presumably) death, as his body was never found,” said Carrick.

Following the talk, Leslie Kilmartin signed copies of his biography, ‘The Elusive Captain William Cromarty’, as well as his novel written through the eyes of a seven year-old girl, ‘The Cromartys of Port Stephens’

In his introduction, Chris Peters, historian and committee member of the Tomaree Museum Association and U3A, highlighted Leslie’s determination in finally making the journey to the Hunter region which was originally planned nearly a year ago but had to be repeatedly postponed due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns.

By Marian SAMPSON

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