What’s in the names of Chatswood?

Chatswood is such a familiar name to us now that we barely give it a second thought. However, the name has its origins in a real person.

In 1840, the Irishman Richard Harnett first arrived in the settlement of New South Wales. At the time, Sydney was experiencing an economic depression and employment was hard to find. Ever resourceful, Harnett walked all the way to the Wellington settlement and managed to get a foot into the cattle industry.

Harnett moved from job to job, going from a general merchant firm to commercial brokerage before he finally settled into land development. In 1870 Harnett entered into partnership with Alexander Stuart, and together they would become well known for opening up the North Shore.

Now mayor of the North Willoughby council, Harnett bought large amounts of land in Mosman, which was at the time still sparsely populated and full of bushland. He was responsible for many developments there such as starting the first ferry service, building the roads, and running horse drawn omnibus services.

One of the lands he acquired was the 900 acre King’s Plains Estate. It is said the blue gum forests there were a favourite walking area for Charlotte, his second wife. When Richard subdivided the land in 1876, he named the new area ‘Chattie’s Wood’ after her.

Over time, the abundant trees of the estate were cleared away for farming and grew into the bustling town we know today.


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