Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

The Barley Mow - The Plough Inn


Benjamin Singleton established the first punt service across the Hunter River at Singleton in the 1820s. This became a popular river crossing for those travelling further north.

He built the Barley Mow Inn nearby and opened a flour mill adjoining the Inn. The Inn was situated in John Street Singleton and later the site became part of the approaches and abutments of Dunolly Bridge. [1]

Joseph Singleton

The Inn became known as the Plough Inn when Benjamin's brother Joseph Singleton held the license in 1826 - 1828. Rambles in New South Wales (1827) XYZ (Letter III) is attributed to W.J. Dumaresq. He describes arriving at the Plough Inn in 1827.

Benjamin Singleton was granted a publican's license for the Barley Mow in July 1834 [1]

William Singleton was granted a publican's license for the Barley Mow in July 1835 and Benjamin Singleton took over again from 1836 until 1840[2]

Thomas Balden Cox

Thomas Balden Cox was granted a publican's licence for the Barley Mow in June 1841, 1842. He was granted a publican's license under the sign of The Forbes Inn in 1843 - 1846. ....... T.B. Cox in returning thanks for the liberal support he has received since his entering into business, begs to inform families and the inhabitants of the Hunter river district that he has completed his new Inn, which will enable him to provided visitors with private sitting rooms and airy bed rooms; and which, for comfort and accommodation, will vie with any other in the colony. He has also laid in a new and extensive stock of wines and spirits and trusts, by a constable attention to the comfort of those who may favour him with their support, to receive a considerable share of public patronage. Superior stabling for forty horses and loose boxes for racers. Book office for the Singleton and Maitland Mail. [3]. Thomas Balden Cox was granted a publican's licence for the Queen Victoria Inn in Day Street East Maitland in 1847.[4] He moved to the Bush Inn at Black Creek in 1848. [5]

Walter Rotton

Walter Rotton who had previously been at St. John's Tavern at Darlington was granted a publican's licence for the Forbes Inn in 1847[2]. He had been in the Colony over twenty years when he took over the Inn having arrived free on the Mariner in 1821 and being employed in the business house of merchant Vicars Jacob who had recently arrived from India. He was convicted of embezzling the goods of his employer - Upon the clearest testimony the prisoner was unhappily too satisfactorily proved, and adjudged to by guilty, and was, in consequence of that verdict, consigned to 7 years transportation.'

Walter Rotton was transported to Port Macquarie and by 1823 was petitioning to be assigned to his brother John Rotton who had arrived on the Lusitania in 1821 and had obtained land in Patrick Plains. A Ticket of Leave was issued in 1828 and Walter Rotton began re-building his life. In 1832 he took out the license for the Freemasons' Arms in West Maitland. In 1847 he was granted a publican's license for the Forbes Hotel in Singleton. Despite the bad weather and muddy street, on 26th January 1847 he put on a 'splendid dinner' to celebrate the anniversary of the colony. No expense was spared in serving up a first-rate dinner. Mr. J.J. Harpur was in the chair and David Stolworthy officiated as vice president[6].

In 1849, Walter Rotton was refused a licence for the Forbes Hotel and he decided to try his luck on the Californian gold fields. A dinner was held in his honour at the Rose Inn and over fifty people attended to farewell him. Dr. Stolworthy made a speech to Mr. Rotton whom he had known for 8 years: 'Mr. Rotton had invariably stood up to defend political rights which he advocated openly and fearlessly. He had been a most useful man in local affairs and had been mainly instrumental in the formation of all their local institutions such as the Benevolent Society. ......[7]

Frederick William Thrum

In August 1849 Frederick William Thrum obtained a licence for the Forbes Hotel [8]. He stated in October that he had outlayed a great deal to put the Hotel in good repair. The premises had also been thoroughly cleaned. The hotel offered stables that could accommodate forty horses and were the most spacious in the district. He and his wife intended to give every attention to patrons and hoped that the Forbes would be restored to the glory of former days. In 1852 the Singleton Steam Mill owned by Mr. Kingston and situated next door to the Forbes Inn burned down.

Notes and Links

Over fifty years later in reminiscences printed in the Singleton Argus the writer recalled that the old original weather board Forbes Hotel was situated on the site of the old Argus Office in John Street which was demolished c. 1906. - Singleton Argus 1 May 1906.


[1] Windsor and Richmond Gazette 15 October 1926.

[2] Certificates for publicans' licences, 1853-1861. NRS 14403, reels 5063-5066, 1236-1242. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. (Ancestry)

[3] Maitland Mercury 11 February 1843

[4] Maitland Mercury 24 April 1847

[5] Maitland Mercury 19 April 1848

[6] Maitland Mercury 6 February 1847.

[7] Maitland Mercury 7 July 1849

[8] Maitland Mercury 8 August 1849