Hartley Valley was first seen by the explorers Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth with their 4 servants in May 1813.
The valley was one of forest land covered with trees and good grass. In November that year George Evans the surveyor also entered the valley and camped by the River Lett north-westerly from Mount York. He followed the course of the river and crossed it just above the site of Hartley.
Late in 1814 the first road was made by William Cox that bought people off the top of the mountain down into the valley.
The first European inhabitants of the Hartley Valley were Government stockmen and those of private individuals. Recognizing the value of the good pasture country for stock Gov Macquarie quickly established a stock station for heads of cattle near Mount York.
W Hassall, the Superintendent of Government Stock found that it was too cold and that a large number of the cattle had died through the severe cold of the winter and relocated the stock station to Glenroy where it was more sheltered and in the following year in 1816 stockyards and huts were built there.
The government kept the land in the valley for its own purpose and
In 1821 Gov Macquarie issued the first orders for land to individuals in the Vale of Clwyyd for permanent settlement. These orders were issued to Edward Field for 80 acres on Butlers Creek which later passed on to William Field. John Grant of Liverpool received 50 acres known as Moyne Farm near the foot of Mt Victoria after having “squatted” on this land around 1819 and William Orrell of Sydney, 200 acres near Blaxland Swamp. These areas were in 3 different parts of the valley-the north eastern, the southern and western locations. in Pierce Collits had also had acquired temporary occupation of an area near Mount Blaxland under a system called a Ticket of Occupation. Collitt had become an inspector of Meat in the Nepean district for cattle bought in to the government yards in Emu plains.
When Gov Brisbane changed the regulations regarding land grants, settlement in the valley showed some activity. In order to preserve land for future Government purpose in about 1823 a tract of 4,000 acres was reserved extending 3 miles up the River Lett from a little south of Glenroy. It had a width of two miles and covered land on both sides of the river. The reserve was not used for settlement until after Major Mitchell’s new road was opened in 1832.
The first land granted under Gov Brisbanes order’s were issued in 1823 was to J Birt and R Fellows each receiving 100 acres at Blaxlands Swamp. It was late in that year that John Wood of Bringelly obtained a ticket of Occupation for 3,000 acres about the same spot only a scrubby hill dividing it from Collitts on the north. In 1824 promises by Gov Brisbane were honoured by Orders for land to Robert Martin Snr of Mulgrave Place, Robert Martin Jnr of Richmond and John Hall of the Nepean. These were at the Mount York end of the Valley. It was also in this year that larger areas were given to settlers of the country down the Coxs River from the vicinity of Lowther Creek . These were given to John Oxley, James, Nathaniel and John Norton, William Redfern and Thomas Wills..
In 1825 James Porchmouth and Samuel Morris of Mount Clarence Farm were given orders of land around Mount York and the River Lett. Year. Pierce Collits had already established his inn at the foot of Mount York
Near the Coxs River, Thomas Wilsford, the Rev S. Marsden , W H Hovell and John Wood of Lowther also received orders for large areas. In 1828 Simeon Lord received orders, John Maxwell in 1830 for his land which became Liddelton Station and Michael Flannagan received 100 acres at the foot of Mt Victoria in 1831 upon which he built the Harp of Erin.
In 1831 changes were made to the regulations in relation to the Governments disposal of Crown Land. Under these regulations all land applied for was advertised for sale and put up for public auction. This did not affect settlement in the valley until about 1837 when the Town of Hartley was established. The Government reserve of 4000 acres was gradually reduced as settlers purchased large areas particularly in the vicinity of the town and down Cox’s river between 1837 and 1841.
Amongst the new landowners in the Township and surrounding area were John T Hughes, T Breillat, William Lawson Jnr, William James Blackett, Michael Finn, Nelson Lawson, John G Bowman, Robert Granger, Michael Scott, Thomas Morris, B Butta, Isaac Titterton and Jeremiah Grant.
In 1829 Governor Darling had proposed to locate some of the Navy and Military veterans on good land near the River Lett. The Surveyor General recommended that a Village Reserve be established between Martins and Portsmouth farms and the River Lett., and that any part of it would be eligible for the Governors purpose . It was not however used for the Veterans. This area in the vicinity of the Londonderry Bridge, was surveyed in 1855 and later called the Village of Clwydd.
A cottage and office on the reserve at this time had some years previously been used as the residence of the Police Magistrate at Hartley.
To get land in those years the son of a colonist could apply for a grant of land on attaining his majority and a daughter on the occasion of her marriage.
The Largest Land Holdings
Originally granted to John Oxley and Nathanial Norton in 1824 it contained 10,000 acres which was re-surveyed and came up to 12,150 acres. The major portion of this land was let to farmers. In 1875 the estate was bought by Ebenezer Vickery who employed J W Berghofer as the manager. An additional area of 4000 acres was bought from the estate of Dr Redfern bringing the land total up to 18,670 acres of freehold land. At one period nearly the whole of the Megalong Valley was held under lease but this area was lost in the 1880’s when the government land was thrown open for selector’s.
The whole of the freehold land was fenced and subdivided with wire fencing it being the first property in this locality to use wire as a fencing material.
A new homestead was built of locally made bricks on a stone foundation and roofed with flat iron about 2 miles from the original Norton hone and adjacent to the Cox’s River road. The bulk of the land was ringbarked and generally improved and stocked with cattle. Later on sheep were introduced but were never used for breeding during Mr. Vickery’s ownership. Wethers were bought in the western districts, shorn then fattened for the Sydney market. The carrying capacity was approximately 1000 head of cattle and 10,000 sheep and the horses necessary for the working of the property.
In the 1890’s the property was leased to H G Lomas a western grazier who stocked up with sheep. On completion of his tenure, J C Berghofer was employed as manager and had the property wire netted. Again it was leased and Oliver Bros operated the property for a short term and in 1919 E G Harvey of Wellington bought 16,200 acres of the freehold land, the balance being bought by adjoining holders. After Mr Harveys death the holding was subdivided and sold with exception of 8500 acres now held by his grandson George Stoneman.