James Badgery was born on 9th January 1769 in Heavitree, near Exeter in Devon and married Elizabeth Lundie in 1793. With two of his brothers, William and Samuel he migrated to London in 1795. James worked for a time for Sir Joseph Banks on his farm Spring Grove in Chelsea and left England in 1799 to emigrate to Australia. Elizabeth gave birth to three children but all died. Elizabeth was pregnant when she left England and Anne was born in March 1800.
The Badgerys came to New South Wales on board the Walker on her maiden voyage. James was employed by Captain William Paterson who was returning to the colony with his wife Elizabeth. The trip took four months and reports indicate that the Patersons and the Badgerys had an unpleasant trip out as the ship developed many teething problems. As James did not have money, he would not have been eligible for a land grant so he leased eleven acres along the Hawkesbury on which he undertook intensive farming. However this was not sufficient to support the family so he set up as a miller in Sydney. The business flourished and by 1801 it had become a bakery which he extended and added a house, mill-house and pigsty. The bakery continued to succeed and James was granted 100 acres along the Hawkesbury in 1803. The first grant had included a large area of swamp so James was granted further land.
For reasons which do not seem to be clear, James joined in the arrest of Governor Bligh and was present in Sydney on the day of the arrest. During the time after Bligh's deposition James Badgery applied to Paterson for land and was granted land for himself and his family at Bringelly, on South Creek, a tributary of the Hawkesbury. By the time of the land grant application the Badgery family had grown, Ann was born in 1800, Henry in 1803, Andrew in 1806 and William, shortly after the application in 1809. James received land in his children's names which was changed by Governor Lachlan Macquarie to 640 acres in James' name.
When the house was built two farthings dated 1799 were placed in each corner of the footings. These were found in September 1973 by Margot Badgery, the wife of a great great grandson of James and Elizabeth Badgery, when with Peter and Jack Nobbs she was excavating what remained of the Badgery house. The property was called Exeter Farm after his home town in England. There he produced grain, cattle, sheep and horses. His herd had increased since 1806 and at a big sale in the Sydney markets in 1817, James received top prices for his offering of cows in calf and a longhorn bull. His horses were also well-known. In August 1811 James' horse Jockey Boy won the Magistrates Cup and in 1819 a 'bob tailed nag' Rob Roy won a silver cup at the resumed race meetings on Hyde Park Course. This cup has remained in the possession of the family ever since. James remained interested in horses all his life with many other winners in his career as an owner.
One nasty experience occurred at Exeter Farm in 1812 when Ann, walking from the kitchen to the back of the house, was bitten on the foot by a black snake. She screamed and first aid was immediately applied but Ann woke up the next morning none the worse for her adventure.
James continually sought to increase his amount of land, firstly by unsuccessful attempts to have the 200 acres restored to him and then by purchase. By 1820 he had purchased a further 1300 acres and owned 450 cattle, 16 horses and more than 650 sheep. He was granted 500 acres which he called Spring Grove in 1822 at Sutton Forest. However it appears that the land had been used for grazing since 1820. He was by then a wealthy man, owner of an Oatley clock, signed by the maker and dated 1820 and donor of cattle to the Benevolent Society. The Badgery boys were sent away to school, probably at Castlereagh.
James' daughter Ann married William Roberts at St. Luke's church on 20th November 1823. That night there was a convict revolt at the Badgery farm with an Irish convict by the name of Connor complaining about a flogging dealt out apparently at the request of Henry. During the revolt one man, Jack Molloy, was fatally injured. Coroner Carne after interviewing witnesses who had suffered from convenient memory lapses, found that Molloy's injuries were inflicted by 'a person or persons unknown'.
Another wedding occurred on 17 October 1827 when Henry married Margaret, the daughter of Scottish engineer and mill-wright James Dickson, in Sydney with Rev. Dunmore Lang presiding. James, who had made his will shortly before Ann's wedding, died at Exeter Farm on 1 December 1827 and was buried at St. Luke's Liverpool. Elizabeth remained at Badgerys Creek for many years with frequent visits from her grandchildren and many letters back and forth from Exeter Farm to Henry's property Spring Grove. During 1839 Elizabeth, possibly accompanied by grandsons Jam and Willie moved to Andrew's property at Jembaicumbene, near Braidwood where she remained until her death in 1949.