The Hubbards worked on at their first farm and their Land Grant was offically registered on 22 February 1792 with terms of no rent for the first ten years thereafter a
quit-rent of one shilling per annum, provided they continued to cultivate the land for five years; in default, forfeiture of the land and all the labour expended on it.
A contemporary portrait
of Watkin Tench (3)
Life continued at The Ponds and the hard graft was always required. Infestations of insects and marauding rats would have kept the farmers busy just trying to see
their crops through to harvest. After the departure of Phillip, the colony was under the direction of Lieutenant Governor Grose from the New South Wales Corps
and the military took control of things. The Corps was permitted to import rum and already had full authority over imported goods which they onsold at usurious
rates. Chief among the military bandits was John Macarthur whose exploits are well documented.
The period of nearly three years of Grose's governership until he resigned due to ill health in 1795 saw unparalled growth in the colony but most of the new lands
under cultivation had been allocated to military officers and soldiers who were also given sufficient convict assignees to carry out the actual work for them.
Another devastating consequence of this control was that the settlers at The Ponds, due to high and changable prices, were forced to borrow funds to keep their
farms viable. The next crop and sometimes the one after that, were mortgaged to keep the farming enterprise afloat. It is therefore not surprising that by February
1798, Governor Hunter after a visit to the region, called together the inhabitants and listened to their "heavy grievances". A petition was delivered to Governor
Hunter and it is almost certain that William Hubbard, Matthew Everingham and the other settlers at The Ponds put their names to it. The petition spoke of
exorbitant prices for tobacco, sugar and tea which were being sold by "dealers, pedlars and extortioners...they are the engines of our destruction".
Governor Hunter appointed Reverend Samuel Marden and Doctor Thomas Arndell to investigate the complaints and they reported to Hunter that of the original
fourteen settlers at The Ponds, only four remained, the rest having been bankrupted or having given up the arduous task of farming (5).
Just prior to this time, on 15 August 1796 William and Mary's second child Thomas was born and the birth registered at Parramatta (6). Thomas was baptised a
month later also at Parramatta. The period between the first child and the second was quite lengthy but this was probably made necessary by the need for both
parents to work consistently at the farming.
The land at The Ponds was proving much more capable of growing seed and plants than the land around Sydney Cove and most
of the settlers reported good crops of corn, wheat, barley and vegetables. A visit by Governor Phillip in May of 1792 was recorded
by a Magistrate at Parramatta, Richard Atkins and he was effusive in his praise for the settlers there, their food output for the
colony and of Governor Phillip's encouragement of the scheme. These words were obviously an attempt to curry favour with
Phillip who would have been aware of Atkins' dissolute lifestyle and his increasing desire to escape his creditors (4).
The settlers at The Ponds were producing good crops which were readily purchased either by the Government Stores or the
general public after they were taken to Sydney by small boats along the Parramatta River. A particular bend in the river near to
where William and the others would have loaded their produce became known as Kissing Point. This was one part of the River
where it became quite shallow and the boats' hulls were often "kissing" the bottom. Kissing Point Road exists today in the same
In the same month the Hubbards' land grant was registered the government sent an experienced gardener, David Burton out to
the Parramatta area to observe and comment on the land under agriculture. He again praised the efforts of William and Mary and
some of the others at The Ponds but as this was only a couple of months after Watkin Tench's visit, it at least confirmed a soldier's
knowledge of farming (5). In December of that year, Governor Arthur Phillip returned to England after five years and his
stewardship of the infant colony was going to be missed.