The village of St. Albans is situated on the banks of the Macdonald river branching off the much larger Hawkesbury river about 100 kilometres north west of Sydney, the largest City in Australia, and considering the areas historical links with the early Colony of New South Wales and the close proximity to Sydney the village of St. Albans is relatively unknown.
In fact the valley has been for many years been referred to by the locals as the "Forgotten Valley" as it has been by-passed over time by all the major road and rail routes leading north from Sydney.
The Macdonald River was discovered in June 1789 by Governor Arthur Phillip on his third exploratory voyage to Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury, he named it "The First Branch" presumably because that is what it was. He spent two days investigating the lower regions and was excited at the prospect of good farming areas promising the colony a reliable source of farm produce.
Settlers, mostly escapees, emancipated convicts or their freeborn sons, began arriving "unofficially" soon after. The first "official" Grants along the Hawkesbury River were not allocated until 1794 to James Ruse and Charles Williams who simply added their number to "the list of those already established". By 1796, in an official survey, had 400 "white" people along the banks of the Hawkesbury. It is well documented that there were many people living up the narrow valleys who were not counted and many indeed "up the Branch". By the time the river flats were surveyed in 1833 the "First Branch" had been renamed the Macdonald after John Macdonald of Pitt Town, an early bushman, explorer and settler of some repute.
It has been understood, and written in many publications, that the name St. Albans was given in memory of the English birthplace of one William Bayley [now Bailey due to miss spelling, a common occurrence due to wide spread illiteracy in the colony]. This has been proven to be untrue as William Bayley has been identified in the English records as born in Staffordshire in 1756 and was sentenced in Staffordshire [30th. July 1788] to seven years deportation arriving aboard the "Matilda" in August 1791 aged 35 years. St. Albans is in the English county of Hertfordshire some considerable distance away.