Free Settler or Felon?

Hunter Valley Settlers


Index to Settlers & Estates
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The Hunter River Valley was the largest of the lowland plains on the New South Wales coast. It was the first area outside the Cumberland Plains to be permanently occupied by white settlers, however these first settlers were small farmers, allowed the indulgence by Governor Macquarie. After the Governor's first visit to Newcastle in January 1812, well behaved convicts John Reynolds, Benjamin Davis, George Pell and Richard Binder and son of convict storekeeper John Tucker (John junior) were permitted to take up land on Patterson's Plains.

In 1817 and 1818 more settlers were allowed farms as well, including John Tucker senior who had retired from his government position at Newcastle; John Powell, John Swan, William Evans, Robert Whitmore Thomas Addison, John Reynolds, Anthony Dwyer and John Reeves.  The conditions under which the farms were held were mentioned in an order published in March 1818 warning the farmers that: they were not to regard the land so given them their own property, the right being exclusively vested in the Governor and that they were only allowed to cultivate and to reside on their Farms so granted during their good conduct and the pleasure of His Excellency the Governor.

Governor Macquarie described the country in his Journal on 30th July 1818 :-

'Thursday 30th. July. Got up at Day-break and Breakfasted immediately so as to prosecute our Journey up the River.  At 10 a.m. we arrived in the Gig at Point Reception, and at the confluence of the 2d. & 3d. Branches of the River. -- We proceeded up this Branch to the Farms some time since permitted by me to be occupied by 6 well behaved Convicts and two Free men. Arrived at the first Farm (young Tucker's) at 1/2 past 11 o'clock, distant about 9 miles from Point Reception, where we landed and walked about for some little time examining the improvements and nature of the Soil, which last is most excellent. We then proceeded to view the rest of the Farms on both sides of this beautiful River -- finding the soil of all of them very good -- and much more ground cleared & cultivated than I had any idea of. -- After we had explored most of the Farms, we quitted the Boat entirely and walked across the Country to the 3d. Branch -- leaving orders with the Gig to meet us next day at Reception Point on our way back. -- The Country between the two Rivers thro' which we travelled was principally fine open Forest Land, very fit for grazing but not for cultivation but we also passed through some very close thick Brush Country and indifferent land. '

In the early 1820's there were other trusted ex - prisoners who were allowed to settle near Maitland also -
George Mitchell, Molly Morgan, Richard Martin, Patrick Riley, John Allen, John Smith, Thomas Boardman, Patrick Maloney and John Cahill and William Jones.  William Eckford and William O'Donnell were also early small settlers.
Because of the Newcastle Penal settlement there was a deliberate refusal to allow any large scale settlement of the Hunter Valley. Other than the indulgences to the small farmers mentioned above, the granting of acreages in the Hunter Valley was delayed until after the penal settlement closed and convicts were transferred to Port Macquarie. Consequently the majority of the valley's settlers were new immigrants whose enterprise, together with the natural resources of the valley produced a rapid development of both agriculture and stock raising.

After Commissioner Bigge recommended closure of Newcastle penal settlement and relinquishment of the land of the Hunter Valley for free settlement these new settlers began pouring into the area. The river banks of the lower Hunter and their surrounds had been denuded of timber in the preceding years and the land was now seen as a resource for wealth and revenue via agriculture.
The new settlers included merchants and military men, agriculturalists, doctors and sea captains. They sailed sixty miles up the coast from Sydney in little colonial vessels and disembarked at the stone wharf at Newcastle. They then transferred to smaller vessels to make the voyage up the river.

Many came with wealth and privilege and under the new laws in NSW had great potential to extend this wealth. They were granted land according to their resources and allocated a convict for every 100 acres able to be effectively developed. Some were also allocated allotments in the township of Newcastle.

Many of these early settlers were still on their land when Robert Dixon surveyed the district in 1832. Dixon returned to England in 1836 and while there published a map in dated 1837. 
Select here to find out more about Robert Dixon

As well as the 1837 maps, there are Wikimapia maps on each page. Use the controls in the top left hand corner of the map to zoom in and out and to move the map left to right etc. Or click and drag the map.

Map 1:

A. A. Company 
Adam Beveridge 
William Bradridge 
George Brooks 
William Brooks 
John Eales 
John Field 
George T Graham 
Vicars Jacob 
William MacLean 
Francis Moran 
William Peppercorn 
John Laurio Platt 
Henry Rae 
James St. J. Ranclaud 
Alexander W. Scott 
Francis Shortt 
Richard Siddons 
Edward Sparke 
William Sparke 

Jonathon Warner 

Joseph Weller
George Weller 
Richard Windeyer 

Map 2:

James Adair  
Samuel Adair  
George Adair  
Edward Cory  
Gilbert Cory  
John Cory  
William Cummings  
Andrew Dixon  
Robert Corum Dillon  
Leslie Duguid  
William Dun  
William Evans  
George J. Frankland  
Standish Lawrence Harris  
William Hicks  
Beresford Hudson  
Richard Jones  
James Kelly  
James Thomas Lamb  
Andrew Lang  
Robert Lethbridge  
Alexander Livingstone  
James McGillivray  
George Muir  
Thomas McDougall  
James McClymont  
Timothy Nowlan  
Henry Dixon Owen  
James Phillips  
Richard Charles Pritchett  
James Reid  
George Shaw Rutherford  
Walter Scott  
Gentleman John Smith  
John Galt Smith  
Hugh Torrence  
John Tucker  
Susannah Matilda Ward  
William Charles Wentworth  
John Wighton  
George Williams  
Caleb and Felix Wilson  
Thomas W. M.  Winder  


Map 3:

Ferdinand Anley  
Alexander MacDuff  Baxter  
Charles Boydell  
Crawford Logan  Brown  
Matthew Chapman  
James Dowling  
Francis Gibbes
Duncan Forbes  Mackay
Henry Gooch 
Grayson Hartley
John Hooke
Henry John Lindeman  
John Lord  
John McIntyre  
John Mann  
Lawrence Myles  
Alexander Park  
Joseph Rookin   
Major Smeathman  
Benjamin Sullivan
George Townshend  
John Verge  
Charles Windeyer  

Map 4:

Archibald Bell junior  
James Black  
William Brooks  
James Busby  
John Cobb  
Henry Dangar  

John Earl  
John Gaggin  
William Harper  
William Kelman  
John Larnach   
David Maziere  
James Mitchell  
James Mudie
Robert and Helenus Scott  
Alexander Shand  
Benjamin Singleton  
Alexander Brodie Sparke  
Thomas Steele  
William M. Shaw Stewart   
Joseph Underwood  
George Wyndham  
George Boyle White  


Map 5:

William Simms Bell  
George Bowman  
James Bowman  
David Brown  
John Martin Davis  
Robert Dawson  
George Dight  
John Gaggin
James Glennie  
James Hale  
Rev. Richard Hill  
Richard Hobden  

Robert Hoddle
John Howe  
Sampson Marshall  
James Mein  
George Galway Mills  
Archibald Mosman  
Joseph Onus  
Thomas Parmeter  
Robert Pringle  
Robert Adamson Rodd  


Map 6:

Alexander Anderson 
James Arndell  
Thomas Arndell  
James B Bettington  
John H. Bettington  
George Blaxland  
Charles Cameron  
Peter Cunningham  
Cyrus MatthewDoyle  
John Hoskings  
Rev. John McGarvie  
William Ogilvie  
James Robertson  

Map 7:
Francis Allman  
Joseph H. Bettington  
William Buchanan  
William Carter
William Cox  
Henry Dumaresq  

Francis Forbes  
George Forbes  
Donald McIntyre  
Captain John Pike  

Samuel Wright  

Map 8:

Hugh Cameron 
William Dangar
William Dumaresq
Thomas Potter Macqueen 
Peter McIntyre 


Map 9:

John Bingle  
William Bell Carlyle  
Stephen Coxen  
Joseph Docker  
John Dow  
Mary Anne Fennell  
George Hall  
Archibald Little  

Francis Little  
Alexander Livingstone  
Donald McIntyre  
Peter McIntyre  
Hamilton C. Sempill  
James White  

Map 10:

Joseph Pennington  
Thomas Gill  
Jacob Newton  
D. McLeod  
George Mossman  
Duncan Sinclair  
William Caswell  
Francis Allman  

William Fisher  
Hugh Torrence  
Andrew Dixon 
John Wighton  
Thomas Bartie  
Joseph Thew  


1. Australian Medical Pioneers Index

2. Backhouse, James., A Narrative of a visit to the Australian Colonies in 1843

3. Bateson, Charles, The Convict Ships 1787 - 1868, Library of Australian History, 1983

4. Boyle, H.F., Lieutenant Commander Frederick Bedwell R.N, Paterson Historical Society

5. Census of New South Wales. 1828

6. Clouten, Keith H., Reid's Mistake; the story of Lake Macquarie from its discovery until 1890. Boolaroo NSW; Lake Macquarie Shire Council, 1967

7. Convict Indents

8. Decisions of the Superior Courts of New South Wales 1788 - 1899

9. Early Days of Port Stephens - Extracts from Sir Edward Parry's Diary. Dungog Chronicle

10. Hainsworth, D.R. The Sydney Traders, Simeon Lord and his Contemporaries, Cassell Australian, Melbourne, 1872.

11. Hunter, Cynthia., The Settlers of Paterson's Plains, Paterson Historical Society, 1997

12. Hunter Valley Gazette

13. Index to the Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788 - 1825

14. Maitland Mercury

15. Mitchell, C., Hunter's River, Estate of Cecily Joan Mitchell, 1984

16. Newcastle Coal Report: History of Newcastle Mines under Crown and Australian Agricultural Company

17. New South Wales Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages

18. Proceedings of the Old Bailey

19. Sydney Gazette

20. Sydney Morning Herald

21. The narrative of a voyage of discovery performed in his majesty's vessel the Lady Nelson of sixty tons burthen, with sliding keels; in the years 1800, 1801, and 1802, to New South Wales

22. Turner, J.W., Manufacturing in Newcastle, 1801 - 1900. Newcastle History Monographs No 8., Newcastle Public Library 1980

23. Uebel , L., The Port Jackson Convicts Anthology, 2001

24. 1832 Directory

25. General Return of Convicts to New South Wales 1837

26. Roope, C., Gregson, P., 'An Organised Banditti,The Story behind the Jewboy Bushranger Gang.,Lake Macquarie, 2002

27. Sydney Herald,December 10th 1840.

28. 1832 Directory

29. Sydney Gazette12 May 1835

30. Sydney Gazette 4 October1834

31. AO 1046 6/6007 CSOL 1832 -1833, 32/972

32. Commercial Journal 4 September 1839

33. Maitland Mercury 24 May 1845

34. Sydney Gazette 4 June 1831

35. Sydney Gazette 9 April 1835

36. Maitland Mercury 17 October 1849

37. Maitland Mercury 10 November 1849

38. Wood, Allan, Dawn in the Valley, Wentworth Books, Sydney, 1972. p131.

39. Turner, J.W. Newcastle as a Convict Settlement: The Evidence before J.T. Bigge in 1819 - 1821, p.128



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