b. Ramelton, County Donegal, on Lough Swilley, Ireland 1835
(Parents: Mr Gamble and Anna Scott Dill)
d. 10 December 1908 at Inverell NSW, Australia. Aged 73 years
Interred: Graman Cemetery NSW near Inverell NSW, Australia.
Married: 21st January 1862 at Wellingrove Presbyterian Church NSW to
(Parents: Neale O’Donnell and Caroline Collins)
Alexander grew up in Ireland in a Christian home, where it is understood he was to follow in the footsteps of his forebears and be educated as a Presbyterian Minister.
His grandfather, the Rev William Gamble, b.1763 in County Derry, after necessary preliminary education, was educated at Glasgow University c 1780. Ordained 23rd July 1788 and settled at Ballygrey between Milford and Ramelton. Described as an able minister, a zealous member of the Covenanting Church and an upright Christian man, being physically as well as mentally a very strong man. It is said he died in harness, coming to assist in a communion at Derry in 1839 and having to ride in his own gig, he became severely wet. He performed his work in Derry with great difficulty and returned to his home at Greenhill with the shadow of death on him.
However, Alexander departed Ireland during the 1850’s to explore other opportunities in Australia.
His elder brother William, also departing Ireland about this time, but for America. William was a passionate missionary and went on to become Head of the American Presbyterian Mission Press, going to China and inventing a technique of letterpress moveable type for printing press to spread the Christian word to the Chinese. The brothers’ departure from Ireland would have coincided with the ‘Great Famine’ and a fight for better opportunities.
Arriving in Victoria, Australia in September 1852 aboard the “Jane Pratt”, Alexander disembarked and it was here he spent 12 months before travelling north through New South Wales, finding work on sheep stations to sustain him along the way. This journey north took him through Port Macquarie to Walcha and on to the Glen Innes region. It was somewhere along this part of his journey he met a young Fanny O’Donnell. Fanny was the first child of Neale O’Donnell and his wife Caroline Collins.
Alexander and Fanny were married at Wellingrove Presbyterian Church in 1862 and together made their way by horse and dray to a new adventure in this New England district of New South Wales.
Wellingrove Church c.1854
The first record of European exploration of this area came in 1818, followed by a botanist despatched by the Governor to survey the land and ascertain its suitability for settlement. When news of the discovery of these rich pasture lands had reached England, emigration to the colony began. These pioneers began to look further afield, to the unoccupied land beyond the Range where the Government were powerless to prevent occupation.
In 1836 a compromise had to be made by the Government who by 1846 began to issue licences to the squatters on which was now classed as Crown Land. Hugh Gordon laid the foundation for a vast sheep empire in 1839 when he leased ‘Strathbogie’.
In 1860-61 in NSW two Land Acts were passed. The Acts provided prospective purchasers to pay one quarter of the purchase price and pay the rest over three years. This opened up the area and the population grew, with stations employing many workers.
Alexander arrived in this district by 1863 and found employment on Wallangra Station. By the late 1860’s he was overseer on the Gullengutta Sheep Station Graman Run, consisting of the properties Gragin 90,000 acres and Graman 84,000 acres, land which had been claimed by the Gordons of Strathbogie and managed by his sons.
When selectors began moving in to the region, the Gordons placed Alexander and his then small family on a section of property, as what was known as a dummy selector. The reason for this being when the Government began calling to register owners, Alexander was to place Gordon’s name down as the selector. However, Land Registrations, approx 1870’s show Alexander D Gamble with 2,284.5 acres and Fanny Gamble with 2,560 acres at Ottley Creek, a total of almost 5,000 acres which had been part of Gullengutta Sheep Station, Gragin. A shrewd move no doubt by Alexander, or perhaps just seizing the opportunity when it was presented. Family have told of an altercation which ensued between the Gordons and the Gambles. It would seem the Gambles won on that occasion.
Alexander erected a homestead on Ottley Creek and named it Oakbank. With renovations over the years it was still habitable in 2014 (see p.14). A gnarled old grape vine along the back veranda was still bearing a very good crop at this time.
Scattered along Ottley Creek are signs of occupation showing that this area was once quite a settlement. Gangs of Chinese were employed in the 1890’s ring-barking trees and clearing land.
Daily bible readings and family prayers were the practise in Alexander Dill Gamble’s Christian home. Nightly after a hard day’s work he would gather his children around the table and teach them their letters and to read from the family Bible. They had no other text book and there were no schools at this time.
It was in 1884 at Oakbank that Alexander lost his wife Fanny, the day following the birth of their 13th child. Alexander remained on Oakbank until 1906 when he suffered a stroke, leaving him with paralysis of the left side. He then moved into Inverell into the care of his daughters Fanny, Catherine and Rachael. He remained there for two years until his death, which was finally caused by cerebral haemorrhage.
Overlooking Oakbank May 2017
After Alexander’s death his entire estate was sold up and divided among his eleven surviving children. There was no other way to divide things equally albeit that some siblings were still living on Oakbank with their families. The entire estate was sold for 30,000 pounds.
RECORDED LAND REGISRATIONS: Oakbank then Girrawheen and now Ottley
Alexander D and Fanny Gamble 1870’s - 1908
Laban E Wisemen by 1912 - 1921
James See 1921 - 1928
John L Wardlaw 1928 - 1937
John Shearston 1927 - 1940’s
Shelton 1940’s - 1947
New Zealand and Land Co 1947 - 1949
Wallace T Edwards 1949 - 1962
I A Simpson Pty Ltd 1963 – about 2000
Mr Hamilton 2000 – about 2006
Harris Family 2006