Thomas and Mary Best’s Bicentenary in Middle Dural

A celebration of the bicentennial of settlement at Middle Dural by Thomas Best, his wife Mary Becket Best and little daughter Esther, was held at Glenroy Cottage, Middle Dural, during History Week, on Sunday 8 September.

Around 80 Bests attended, from interstate and country NSW, as well as those sending their best wishes from the UK. Most were relations of Thomas Samuel, the eldest son of Thomas, however we also welcomed representatives of Thomas’ siblings Peter (Gunning), and Robert Holt (Wagga Wagga) and Sarah Best Hancock. Mayor Dr Michelle Byrne, Pam Wilson from the Hills District Historical Society and Michael Bell President of the Dural and Districts Historical Society were special guests.

Liz Pellinkhof welcomed us to Glenroy Cottage, named in memory of the original house of James Frederick (Glenroy) on the corner of Cranstons Rd and Old Northern Rd which burnt down in mysterious circumstances following its sale (after the death of the last family member, Roy Spencer Best).

Michael Bell spoke of the joys and difficulties of defending and maintaining heritage buildings in the Hills District; nearby photographic displays of the last remaining Best houses, St Elmo and Springhill, on the Old Northern Rd ridge (between Cranston’s rd. and Middle Dural Rds) illustrated his point.

Jo Hambrett spoke on the recent restoration of three of the Best graves in St Jude’s cemetery.

Sisters, Shirley Best Clark and Barbara Best Churchill, daughters of Fred and Ness Best sponsored the restoration project. Thomas Best and his brother John rest in Gunning Church of England cemetery in a family vault.

Rod Best, a family historian on the Best Family gave a very colourful and highly entertaining talk on the changing of social attitudes in the years between convicts George and Martha and the future generations.

The formalities ended and the Best clan was free to enjoy the displays and partake of afternoon tea. The generosity of the descendants of Thomas Samuel was staggering – displays of a sword gifted to Thomas Samuel by the Governor and a branding iron, wonderful photographs, a suitcase of letters and a family Bible to mention a few.

Dr Byrne, Mayor of Hills Shire Council reflected on the celebrations “We are fortunate in the Hills to have a rich history full of amazing people who have contributed to making the Hills what it is today. “It was wonderful to be part of the 200 years celebrations of the Best Family Dural and to learn more about our wonderful history right here in the Hills. It was incredible to see the cottage and the barn and to meet family members who gave me a real insight into what life would have been like in Dural 200 years ago!” “It is important that we remember and celebrate our history and ensure future generations have an appreciation of where we have come from as a community and the people who have shaped our community over the past couple of hundred years” To hold such a significant event in the home built by Fred (great grandson of Thomas), and Ness Best, now owned by Liz and Eric Pellinkhof, added an extra meaningful dimension to the significance of Middle Dural’s first settlers.