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Kemps Creek

The suburb of Kemps Creek is shared between Penrith Council and Liverpool Council.

Colonial Land Grants

Kemps Creek is named for Anthony Fenn Kemp, an ensign in the New South Wales Corps. Kemp received his first land grant of 120 hectares on 1 January 1810, and later an additional adjoining 200 hectares. Kemp named his property Mount Vernon, possibly after George Washington’s home in Virginia, USA as he had travelled around the United States for a year, then through France before taking up his commission in the Corps. Kemp was a key participant in the 1808 Rum Rebellion which attempted to overthrow Governor Bligh. As a result, he sold his grants and returned to England.

In 1816 he returned to Australia and received a grant of 285 hectares in Tasmania. He was a successful businessman, living in Tasmania until his death in 1868 at the age of 95.

The Murder of John Brackfield

“The majority of settlers were time-expired convicts who had themselves suffered from the same treatment; and by that curious twist in human nature, they mostly took pleasure in visiting the same hardships they had endured upon the unfortunate men who were assigned to them.” -- Ralph Rashleigh (aka James Rosenberg Tucker (1803-1866)), Adventures of Ralph Rashleigh: A Penal Exile in Australia, 1844.

Perhaps this cost John Brackfield his life. An ex-convict himself, in 1813 he received a land grant of 50 acres at Wianamatta-South Creek, now Wianamatta-Kemps Creek. In 1824, his assigned servants murdered him.

He had five convict servants – Martin Benson, James Coogan, John Sprole, Anthony Rodney and Eliza Campbell. Coogan and Rodney had already been in trouble, sentenced to 100 lashes for drunkenness and smashing up their hut. When arrested, Coogan threatened to make a shipwreck of the farm and, driving his foot through some boxes nearby, said that if the old bugger (Brackfield) came out he would treat him the same. Three months later, Rodney was punished with 100 lashes for drunkenness, disobedience and striking his master.

Brackfield’s wife suffered from insanity, and there is evidence that Eliza Campbell had been his mistress for some time. The prosecution alleged that Eliza crept from Brackfield’s bed and let in the others, led by Martin Benson. Eliza claimed that unknown men had burst in, and then strangled and bashed their master to death with hammers. Later some of Brackfield’s stolen property, tea sugar and clothing were found hidden in the bush. Two of their fellow convicts gave evidence against them and all were found guilty.

All were hanged.

Kemps Creek Public School

Kemps Creek Public School began as a provisional school with nineteen pupils in 1885 on land in Western Road near Elizabeth Drive. The school was small, measuring 17 by 14 feet. It had two windows and a brick fireplace. The school was classified as a Public School on 1 January 1898 as enrolment had risen to 29. This was short-lived, as in 1909 the school was closed due to poor attendance (only 8 pupils were enrolled). For the next four years the school continued as a ‘subsidised school’, regaining provisional status in 1913. A new school was erected on the same site, with the addition of an extra acre in 1915. The school returned to being subsidised between 1920-1944. It was again closed in 1948 and re-opened in 1952.

In 1954 the fourth school was opened with an extra brick veneer building added in 1962 and extended twice. This building was burnt down on 5 December 1962. Demountable buildings were supplied with a limited amount of furniture, but no stores, books, pencils or chalk arrived. Ron Hollands, the new principle, spent many mornings visiting neighbouring schools to borrow supplies.

The sixth Kemps Creek School was built on land in Cross Street by September 1980.

Kemps Creek Today

Kemps Creek is an active rural and research area in Western Sydney with the University of Sydney and Western Sydney using the area for research purposes.

Tucker, James. Adventures of Ralph Rashleigh: A Penal Exile in Australia, 1825-1844 (London: Johnathan Cape, 1929). The Adventures of Ralph Rashleigh

See something missing?

You know your suburb better than anyone. If you think an important part of your suburb’s history is missing, whether recent or distant, reach out to the Local Studies Team through our online Local and Family History enquiry form. We are always looking for new ways to bring the vibrant history of Liverpool to life!