Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

John Gaggin

Map 4

John Gaggin arrived from Ireland in January 1819 as a free passenger on the Globe. Others arriving on the Globe included Frederick Drennan, Deputy Commissary General and two sisters Miss Eliza Walsh and Miss Ann Walsh.

Reserve of Land

John Gaggin was employed as a storekeeper in the Commissariat Department at Windsor and was issued with an order for a reserve of 2000 acres of land in November 1821 [5]


According to correspondence in the Colonial Secretary's Office, John Gaggin attempted to give a woman by the name of Lucy Freeman five or six head of cattle, as the portion for her illegitimate child, however Lucy Freeman refused to accept the cattle. [4]

John Gaggin married Mary Louise Brabyn, daughter of Captain John Brabyn on 8th October 1822. John and Mary Louise Gaggin had nine children over the next eighteen years.

Farm Offered for Lease

By the early 1830's he had lost the lease on his Hunter River land and in 1838 Charles Throsby obtained the lease by auction 'the land known as John Gaggin's farm'.

Location of Gaggin's land on the right of the map below....
Archibald Bell James Black William Brooks John Cobb Henry Dangar John Earl John Gaggin William Harper William Kelman John Larnach George Wyndham George White Joseph Underwood A.B. Spark Benjamin Sullivan Alexander Shand Helenus Scott James Mitchell George Wyndham Helenus Scott John Larnach Shaw Stewart Early Settler Map 4

The Gaggin family remained in the area and continued to live in the Hunter district at Sydenham at Falbrook, possibly an estate originally acquired by John Brabyn. John Gaggin's eldest son John James died there age 13 in 1837. In February 1847 John Gaggin was one of the settlers introduced to Governor Sir Charles Fitzroy on his visit to Singleton.

Commissioner for Crown Lands

In March 1851 he was appointed Commissioner for Crown Lands for the district of Patrick Plains, Merton and Muswellbrook. He was sworn in as a Magistrate in January 1852, residence Sydenham.

Henry Gaggin

In 1853 an extraordinary case was heard at Maitland when John Gaggin's son, Henry Gaggin was accused with two others Fitzarthur Hogue and William Smith of stealing from the person of an elderly man at Clarencetown in September 1852.[1]

They were eventually found not guilty, although John Gaggin in correspondence to the Maitland Mercury dated 23 March 1853, objected to the way the case was treated in the press.....When reputed thieves and highway robbers are charged with an offence and are brought to trial, the report of the case is of little consequence to the public beyond the fact that they are found guilty; but when respectable persons are charged with the commission of offences which their characters and position in society place them above the probability of doing, it does, I think become necessary, nay, I think it is the duty of public journals to publish the whole case Nothing extenuate, or set aught down in malice.[6]

John Gaggin's Downfall

The series of events below led to his disgrace and downfall......

In 1856 a verdict against John Gaggin in a case of wrongful imprisonment was found in the case of Dutton v. Gaggin and Gaggin was ordered to pay the sum of 300l in damages. He was in serious financial difficulties by early 1858.......

Sheriff's Sale - In the Supreme Court of NSW - Dickson and Others v. Gaggin; The Attorney General v. Gaggin. On Wednesday the 31st March at Noon at Sydenham near Singleton the residence of defendant the Sheriff will cause to be sold by public auction, A quantity of Household Furniture, 4 saddle horses, 1 chestnut colt, 2 milking cow, 1 calf 2 working bullocks, 3 bows, 2 yokes, 1 chain, 1 plough 1 barrow and 140 bushels wheat unthrashed in the barn with every other description of property belonging to said defendant unless these executions are previously satisfied [8].

Police Gazette - District of Singleton - A warrant has been issued on the 29th March 1858, for the apprehension of John Gaggin late of Patrick Plains in the district of Singleton, charging him with embezzling the sum of three hundred and thirteen pounds two shillings, the property of Her Majesty the Queen, on the 29th June 1855 - Information received at this Office 5th April 1855. [3]

Police Gazette December 1858..... District of Sydney - 150l Reward....Whereas Donald Rankin McDonald, late Commissioner for the sale of Crown Lands for the District of Mudgee, John Gaggin, late Commissioner for the sale of Crown Lands for the District of Singleton and Alexander Macalister, late Commissioner for the sale of Crown Lands for the District of Braidwood respectively stand charged with having by virtue of such employment, fraudulently and feloniously embezzled certain sums of money the property of Her Majesty, with which they were entrusted and which they received into their possession as commissioners of Crown Lands: Notice is hereby given, that a reward of 50l will be paid by the Government of New South Wales for the apprehension or for such information as shall lead to the apprehension of each or either of the individuals above named. [7]

Donald Rankin McDonald and John Gaggin are charged with embezzling the moneys of the Government. Description: McDonald is about 45 years of age, about 5ft 10 inches high, dark ruddy complexion, dark hair inclined to grey, dark eyes, small dark whiskers, medium build, right leg shorter than the left inconsequence of having been broken above the knee, which makes him appear bow legged, has been shot in right ankle, the scars of which he now bears; Gaggin is about 57 years of age, about 5ft 7 inches high, slight make, short grey hair, ruddy complexion, was formerly in the Commissariat Department at Liverpool in this Colony. [2]


According to a Newspaper Family Notice in the Sydney Morning Herald, John Gaggin died in Victoria in August 1859. [9]

Notes and Links

1). Petition of Walter Rotton and Frederick Williams of Singleton.


[1] Maitland Mercury 12 March 1853

[2] State Records Authority of New South Wales; Police Gazettes 1862-1930; Roll: 3608; Year: 1858. Source Information: New South Wales, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930

[3] State Records Authority of New South Wales; Police Gazettes 1862-1930; Roll: 3608; Year: 1858; Page: 2. Source Information: New South Wales, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930

[4] Colonial Secretary's Papers 1788-1825 (NRS 897) Main series of letters received, 1788-1825 Item: 4/1785 Page: 174

[5] New South Wales, Australia, Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825 Series: (NRS 898) Special bundles, 1794-1825 Item: 9/2652 Page: 107

[6] Maitland Mercury 23 March 1853

[7] 14th October 1858 - State Records Authority of New South Wales; Police Gazettes 1862-1930; Roll: 3608; Year: 1858. Source Information: New South Wales, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1854-1930

[8] Maitland Mercury 27 March 1858

[9] Sydney Morning Herald 22 September 1859