History of our local area – Cathy Stewart

Warden v Warden – how two feuding brothers shaped our towns

Scotsman David Warden was in Ulladulla before 1840. James joined his brother in 1844, and together they prospered as shipwrights and merchants. Each bought land in the district – David at Croobyar and James at Boolgatta Flat (just north of Milton). Both grew rich from their tenant farmers and built substantial stone houses which still stand.

From this wealth came local influence and political power, with David Warden elected Ulladulla Mayor 1874-1877 and James MLA for Shoalhaven in the NSW Parliament from 1871-1877. But by the late 1850s the two brothers had fallen out, beginning a deep and bitter feud that intensified in the 1870s and split the district into rival factions – if you were received at David Warden’s Airlie House, you were not by James at Boolgatta. Their feud affected development all over the district, from roads, post offices and schools to churches, council chambers and courthouses and went all the way to the top tiers of government. And we still live with its fall-out today.