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This unusually fine cancellation of the rays ‘261' in duplicate on a strip of three of the pale blue Two Pence stamp of N.S.W. is on a cover addressed to T.B. Bennett Esq., Bruton Somerset, England. The dates of sending, the date of receiving and the name of the sender are all identified in the manuscript: 22nd Aug 1867, Mr. Joseph Barling, recd 20th Oct, 1867, and another manuscript shows that this is ‘No 3' in a series of letters (Figure 1).

The reverse has five almost completely legible postmarks (numbered in dated order): 1. the Type 1A postmark of LIMEBURNER’S CREEK/ AU23/ 1867/ N.S.W (which confirms originating rays ‘261'); 2. the Type 1A postmark of RAYMOND TERRACE/ AU 23/ 1867/ N.S.W: 3. the transit SYDNEY/ AU 24/ 1867/ A/ NEW. SOUTH. WALES; 4. a transit in England, BATH/ OC 20/ 67; and, a reception postmark of A/ BRUTON/ OC 20/ 67 (Figure 2).

In total, quite an impressive group of postmarks with clues about the routing. My first impression of the routing in N.S.W. was that the route was by land from Limeburner’s Creek to Raymond Terrace and thence overland to Sydney. However, unless an incorrect inwards postmark was used at the Sydney G.P.O., this is unlikely because of the special Sydney postmark used in the period 1858 to 1868, similar to the one used between in 1857-1858, yet quite distinctive.

These two postmarks were the only inwards mail to the Sydney Ship Letter Room postmarks that used NEW SOUTH WALES instead of N.S.W., as backstamps. The earlier, Type S20 is quite different than the later one, S21 which was used on the reverse of this cover (John S. White The Postal History of New South Wales, 1788-1901, pages 50-51). This cover shows one of the five time codes used below the date, namely ‘A’, rather than the other codes ‘B, C, D, or G’.

The distinguishing features of S21 are a ‘dot’ on both sides of SYDNEY instead of a ‘star’, a ‘dot’ after NEW and SOUTH, as well as the code ‘A’ below the date, not above (Figure 3).

The regions from above Limeburner’s Creek (red arrow) and Raymond Terrace extending south to the proximity of Sydney are shown in Figure 4.

The ship mail from Sydney to England usually off loaded at Southampton with post marks at the port and London, but this was not the case. The first place in England was a transit postmark at Bath, and the cover travelled by land due south to its destination at Buton, Sussex with the same day postmarks of October 20, 1867. Buton is shown as the red circle on the map, and Bath is shown ca. 30 km north of Buton (Figure 5).

Joseph Barling, the letter’s sender, was born on 21 April 1839 at Poole, Dorsetshire England the eldest son of Joseph senior, ironmonger and later grazier in Scone N.S.W. The family arrived in Sydney in the Caduceus in February 1856. He was first appointed to the NSW Public Service in 1861 as a clerk (engineer’s branch of the Harbours and River Navigation Department) and gradually rose to a chief clerk and acting accountant. By 1887 he was the chief clerk for the Department of Public Works and was appointed as under-secretary the next year. He was very effective in organising the Department and was well aware of his responsibility to his minister and he held many important and powerful positions as a public servant.

He had leave in England in 1901, fulfilled numerous managerial positions and finally returned to Australia in 1920, and died in his home in Mosman on 21 September 1921. In 1868 he had married Margaret Euphemia Vernon, and they had one son James Eric Vernon, who became a medical practitioner, and three daughters. Joseph Barling’s photograph is seen in Figure 6.

The only information on a T.B. Bennett is that he was a member of the House of Commons, London, and he was the mover of the Qualifications for Offices Bill in 1862.

The term Limeburners Creek derived from the early days of European settlement when oyster shell from the creek were burned in prodigious numbers to produce lime for mortar. Free settlers moved into the area in the 1830s when the penal settlement at Port Macquarie was wound down. The area adjacent to the creek was declared the Orara Gold Field in 1881, though the returns seem to have been insubstantial. After their initial decimations, oysters returned and the creek is now the region’s principal source of the shellfish.

This greatly reduced information on Joseph Barling has been derived from the on-line edition of the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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