NAME Arthur John Rafferty
BORN Abt. 1892
DIED Poss. 1957
MILITARY SERIAL NO. NIL – 2nd Lieutenant
UNIT 18th Battalion
ENLISTED Sydney 16 February 1915
DISCHARGED Sydney 21 May 1918 – medically unit – after being shot at Gallipoli – one of his arms was later amputated.

Arthur Rafferty was a fully trained Chemist before enlisting. At the time of his application for his loan he was receiving a weekly pension because of the loss of his arm. He applied for his Advance on 7 December 1919 and his loan was approved on 2 March 1920.  His original block consisted of 4070 acres in the Country of Clarke, Parish of Bigg Hill, Land District of Armidale. His address was Top Creek, Upper Macleay, via Armidale.[1]

 In time he was to have two Homestead Farms:

  •  HF 19.7 – confirmed 9 Dec 1919 –   4446 acres (increased acregage from 4070??) 
  •  HF 25.2 – confirmed 28 Jul 1925 – 4851 acres 

On 15 May 1920, he wrote requesting progress payments for ringbarking at the rate of £25 per month, so that he could pay the four men working for him.[2] Before payment could be made an inspection of the work was required by the local Armidale and Dumaresq Shire Repatriation Committee.  They complained about this stating that ‘the property is a long distance from any person who would like to inspect this’ and the ‘country is very rough travelling’.[3] The property was over 50 miles from Armidale.  The Committee considered it unfair to ask any person to inspect every £25 worth of work done. Because of these difficulties, the inspection was eventually undertaken sometime around 24 June 1920 by PA Wright, a ‘government nominee’ who lived in the vicinity.

 On 25 November 1920, Rafferty wrote to the Director of Soldier Settlements stating that, ‘it was almost impossible to purchase stock at market value as the majority of people do not wish to deal with the Repatriation … or else up goes their price.[4] Early on, despite only having one arm, a Department of Lands inspector reported gave Rafferty a positive report.  ‘It is wonderful the amount of strenuous work he is able to perform, such as fencing and ringbarking.  He is very energetic and constantly at work’.[5]

There is mention in the file of a Colonel Sadler, who apparently owned the adjoining homestead farm. Around October 1921, Sadler and his wife were sharing with Rafferty the only small residence on Rafferty’s property.  The residence needed enlarging, but there was no road from Georges Creek ‘whereby a vehicle could travel’ and Rafferty was unable to get the necessary timber and iron to his property. 

The inspector went on,

This is very annoying, and I maintain something should be done to give proper access to these soldier settlers.  I am of the opinion that this soldier has every prospect of being successful in his undertaking, provided he is favoured with ordinary good seasons and the cattle market improves.[6]

On 2 July 1923 Rafferty requested the balance of his loan for improvements and stock.    He stated that he did not owe any money, except what he had received for his advance and had no mortgage to any one.[7]

Around February 1926, Rafferty contacted the Department of Lands stating that he would not be able to meet his arrears until the end of September 1926.  These amounted to £71.14.6.  On the 31 January 1927 a further amount of £69.16.4 would also become due. [8] Around July 1927, the Department of Lands wrote to him stating that they believed that he had sold his first holding to meet his debts.[9]  Rafferty angrily denied this.

 In November 1927 Rafferty converted his Homestead Farms to Crown Leases.

  • HF 19/7 to CrL 27/4 
  • HF 25.2 to CrL 27/5
  • He also owned another piece of land – Special Lease 20/17 of 50 acres.

Floods  caused him severe losses in 1929 preventing him meeting his repayments again and because of this he received time to make the repayments. Between 1929 and 1932 he received many letters requesting repayment of his arrears which to a large extent he ignored.  Although he did state on 9 July 1931, that he intended paying half of his arrears in October of that year.[10]

 On 30 June 1932 he stated that he would be able to send along a few pounds during October toward the rent and the Loan.  

But should you see fit to forfeit my holding would you advise me by return mail. I have written many letters explaining the situation before, but I do not seem able to make myself understood – to answer the correspondence I would require a secretary.[11]

There were also problems with insurance as Rafferty’s house was destroyed by fire. As the Department of Lands held the mortgage, he wanted them to support him in a claim against the Insurance Company – they refused. In March 1933 he applied for a revision of indebtedness on the grounds of loss of stock through drought, sickness and the effects of the depression.  By December 1933, he had disposed of all his cattle and his stock was on agistment.

On 19th July 1934 the Under-Secretary for lands wrote to Rafferty outlining issues and problems they were having with him, in very stern terms.

I have to inform you that I have personally looked into your case and find that you have yourself entirely to blame for any threat of consideration of termination of your occupancy. You have failed to answer quite a number of letters this year and I am sure you will agree on reflection that the Department cannot be expected to allow this condition of affairs to continue.[12]

Throughout much of 1934 after finding a buyer for his property, Rafferty continued to have problems, not only about a fair sale price but also in regard to money he still owned for his advance, land arrears and shire rates.  After all arrears were assessed, the Dept of Lands were questioning if it would be acceptable to write off the £809 due to the Crown.  This amount appears to have been reduced to around £685.

The property was transferred to a Mary Gertrude Fitzgerald sometime around February 1935.


[1] SRNSW:  Lands Department; NRS 8058, Returned Soldiers loan files [12/6902 No. 3060] Arthur John Rafferty, Application for loan 7 December, 1919.

[2] Ibid, Arthur John Rafferty to Director Soldiers Settlements 15 May 1920.

[3] Ibid, Secretary Armidale and Dumaresq Shire Repatriation Committee to Director Soldier Settlements 28 May 1920.

[4] Ibid, Arthur John Rafferty to Director Soldier Settlements 25 November 1920.

[5] Ibid, CP Inspector’s Report 24 November 1921.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid. Arthur John Rafferty to Minister for Lands 2 July 1923.

[8] Ibid, Under Secretary to District Surveyor 22 December 1926.

[9] Ibid, Under Secretary to Arthur John Rafferty 2 July 1927.

[10] Ibid, Arthur John Rafferty to Under Secretary 9 July 1931.

[11] Ibid, Arthur John Rafferty to Minister for Lands 30 June 1932.

[12] Ibid, Under Secretary to Arthur John Rafferty 19 July 1934.

Sources used to compile this entry:

State Records NSW: Lands Department;  NRS 8058, Returned Soldiers loan files [12/6902 No. 3060] Arthur John Rafferty.