Thomas Icely was a prominent grazier, businessman and politician who established the Coombing property close to the subsequent township of Carcoar. Icely initially took up properties at Saltram, near Bathurst (1823), Bungarribee, near the present site of Blacktown (1827), and finally Coombing in 1831. By 1838, Icely had disposed of Saltram and Bungarribee, preferring to concentrate on developing Coombing which consisted of 26,000 acres (10,500 ha) by 1839.
At Coombing he ran 25,000 Merinos, supplied Beef Shorthorn stock to the burgeoning western districts, and bred racing and cavalry horses destined for India. The descendants of Icely’s Indian Army ‘chargers’ would become known as Walers and would see service in the Sudan, the South African Boer War and the First World War. Icely’s Coombing operation also included a cheese factory, copper mine, a foundry, and an attempt to capitalise on a reputed 1842 gold discovery and Cobb & Co.
In addition to primary production, Icely at times engaged in commercial ventures, including a mercantile partnership with Matthew Hindson from 1824 to 1827 and interests in the Savings Bank from 1843 to 1844. He was a committed member of the Church of England and assisted with the construction of the Church of England parish church, St Paul and subsequently acted as warden, trustee and Church Society representative. Icely was also one of the driving forces behind the establishment of Carcoar Hospital, acting as Chairman for the Carcoar Hospital and Benevolent Society from 1857.
With the exception of an incident in 1851, Thomas Icely’s political career as a nominee in the Legislative Council (1843 to 1856) was largely without controversy. Always supportive of the Governor, Icely was recommended for a proposed colonial order of merit in 1844.