Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Molly Morgan and the Angel Inn

West Maitland

Former convict Molly Morgan is credited with building the first Inn at Maitland, the Angel Inn. Molly Morgan was born Mary Jones in Shropshire, England in 1762, daughter David and Margaret, (nee Powell) Jones. On 25 June 1785 she married William Morgan, a wheelwright and carpenter from the village of Hopesay. [1]
View of High Street, West Maitland, Engraving from The Illustrated Sydney News 31 March 1855 page 142
View of High Street, West Maitland, Engraving from The Illustrated Sydney News 31 March 1855 page 142, showing the location of Walker and Dickson's Stores, close to the site of The Angel Inn


At the Shrewsbury, Salop Assizes on 8 August 1789 Mary Morgan, aged 27, mother of three, was sentenced to fourteen years transportation.[2] She had been convicted of stealing hempen yarn from a bleaching factory. According to investigations many years later by Registrar of the Supreme Court Mr. Manning, William had escaped from the constables who arrested both Mary and William Morgan under a joint warrant. [3] Mary was transported on the Second Fleet convict ship Neptune in 1790. William Morgan followed or accompanied her to the colony. The couple's children including, James Morgan remained in England. [3]


Mary was one of the few women to ever escape the colony. In 1794 she escaped with several others in the store-ship Resolution.. David Collins gave an account....On the morning of the 9th the ships Resolution and' Salamander left the cove, purposing to sail on their fishing voyage; soon after which, it being discovered that three convicts Mary Morgan and John Randall and his wife, were missing, a boat was sent down the harbour to search the Resolution, on board of which ship it was said they were concealed. No person being found, the boat returned for further orders, leaving a serjeant and four men on board; but before she could return, Mr. Locke the master, after forcing the party out of his ship, got under way and stood out to sea. Mr. Irish, the master of the Salamander, did not accompany him ; but came up to the town, to testify to the lieutenant-governor his uneasiness at its being supposed that he could be capable of taking any person, improperly from the colony. On the day following it appeared. that several persons were missing, and two convicts in the night swam off to the Salamander, one of whom was supposed to have been drowned, but was afterwards found concealed in her hold and sent on shore. The Resolution during this time was seen hovering about the coast, either waiting for her companion, or to pick up a boat with the runaways. [4]

2nd Transportation

After her return to England, Mary lived for some time in Plymouth and worked as a dressmaker. She bigamously married Thomas Mears, a brassfounder.[1] Having committed another crime she was again sentenced to transportation and arrived in New South Wales on the Experiment in 1804.

Once more in Australia, Mary did not connect with her husband William Morgan who had followed her to the colony so many years before. William Morgan had formed a new relationship and fathered a new family.

Mary Morgan/Mears resided at Parramatta where she kept cattle. In these years she was feisty and not afraid to stand up for her interests. In August 1810, she brought an action against James Pendergrass of the Hawkesbury, to recover 100 bushels of wheat for which she paid the sum of £50 three years previously under his promise to deposit the wheat in the stores upon her account which he had not done. Her servant Burns is mentioned several times in Court. Mary won the case and was compensated £60 and court costs. [5]

Newcastle Penal Settlement

In March 1814 when she was fifty-two years of age, Mary was found guilty on a charge of receiving, knowing the same to have been stolen, a cow belonging to Government, valued at £3. Penalties for such offences were harsh and Mary was sentenced to be transported to Newcastle for 7 years hard labour. [6] She was transported to Newcastle on the Endeavour on 29 April 1814.

Thomas Hunt

At Newcastle, Mary came in contact with convict Thomas Hunt. who had been convicted at the Old Bailey of violent theft and highway robbery near the king's highway upon William Green on 16th October 1811....William Green's wife Susannah Green gave evidence......
Susannah Green - I am Mr. Green's wife.
Q. Were you at home the evening that your husband was robbed -
A. I was. I had a candle in my hand; my husband cried out; I ran out with my candle in my hand; I thought he had slipped down; I saw Joe the Marine lift up his hand and knock my husband down.
Q. Did you know the prisoner's person before by the name of Joe the Marine -
A. Yes, I had known him a twelvemonth before; I had served him with goods. I sell oysters by the side of Fleet market when I am not out at work. I jumped off the step at the moment and catched hold of him by the jacket; he wrenched himself out of my hands. Thomas Hunt was sentenced to death which was later commuted to transportation.[7]

In the convict indents of the Fortune, Thomas Hunt was described as a 21 year old brickmaker from London 5ft 8 in sallow complexion and black hair.[8]

Wallis Plains

In 1812 the district of Maitland was also known as The Camp and Schank's Plains. Lachlan Macquarie in his Journal kept on his visit in 1812, referred to the area as The Burying Ground. [9]

After this it was re-named Wallis Plains after Captain James Wallis, commandant at Newcastle. After Macquarie's visit in 1818 the land was opened for settlement in a limited way. The first three men to settle in the district were John Eckford, John Smith, and William O'Donnell. The fourth person to receive a promise of land was Mary Morgan, who became so well known as Molly Morgan that for a number of years the district was known as 'Molly Morgan's Plains,' and the track from the settlement to Singleton as 'Molly Morgan's line of road'.

There were few buildings in the district in 1820 when a great flood swept through the land. Many years later John Eckford described the only buildings then in existence in the densely wooded brush.....there was a hut of William O'Donnell's, nearly opposite the site of the later Waterloo Hotel; a hut belonging to Molly Morgan, situated nearly on the site of where Messrs Dickson and Co later built their stores; and a hut built on the slope just in rear of the later Angel Inn. All three were nearly on the line of what would become High Street, West Maitland. The 1820 flood reached O'Donnell's wall to the shingles and was up to Molly Morgan's window sill. [10].

The above-mentioned hut may have been the original wine shanty/ home of Molly as the later Angel Inn was built of brick. [11]

According to Maitland Solicitor C.E. Norrie who recalled the old place from his boyhood, Molly Morgan's hut was a substantial structure of ironbark slabs with bark roof. Many years later it was shingled and floored and was used as a kitchen by the Norrie family. [12]


Eight years after they must first have met - the marriage of Mary aged 60, then known as Mary Mears, and Thomas Hunt, a prisoner for life aged 30, also of Wallis Plains was noted in the records of Christ Church, Newcastle dated 5 March 1822. Witnesses were Thomas Boardman and Maria Mitchell and the Minister Rev. G.A. Middleton.

Thomas Hunt's Petition

In a petition to the Governor dated 6 January 1823, Thomas Hunt stated that he had arrived as a prisoner for life on the Fortune in 1813. After two years in the colony, he was accused by his Superintendent of neglect of duty and sent to Newcastle penal settlement (in February 1814, one month before Mary arrived there) where he gained the approbation of Commandants Scottowe, Thompson and Wallis and had remained at the settlement voluntarily since. He had together with his wife acquired property consisting of six horses one hundred and twenty head of cattle besides pigs and other farming stock. He petitioned for emancipation to enable him to prosecute with more success his objects viz the cultivation of land and increase of stock. [13]

Promise Of Land

By the early 1820's Molly Morgan had cleared the land that had been promised her and was selling provisions to government. [1] Impressed with her industry or perhaps because of Thomas Hunt's petition, the authorities promised Molly Morgan 159 acres of land on 4 November 1823.

Although the Christ Church records state Thomas Hunt's abode as Wallis Plains, and he was assigned to Mary there he was apparently still supposed to be at Newcastle. Everyone who arrived and departed from the penal settlement required the Commandant's permission to do so.

Thomas Hunt seems to have been devoted to Molly, even on one occasion disobeying the Commandants orders to remain at Newcastle he returned to her at Wallis Plains, a decision which landed him in the Magistrates Court at Newcastle in July 1824..........Thomas Hunt (off the stores to his wife Mary Hunt), charged with quitting Newcastle in disobedience to the Commandants orders. The Principal Superintendent states....I communicated to Mary Hunt on her return from Sydney that it was the Commandants order that she was on no account to take Thomas Hunt away from this settlement. I also communicated the same to him but in the course of last week, I missed him and reported accordingly....Edward Gaynor states....I was ordered in pursuit of Thomas Hunt. I went to Wallis Plains and found him at his wife's farm. Thomas Hunt states....I am sorry for disobeying the Commandants Order - I was anxious to get to my wife... Thomas Hunt recalled to Government Employment for one month. [14]

In 1825 Mary petitioned the authorities for permission to purchase more land as she had more stock than her land could support. Understanding that by a late Regulation of Government Individuals are permitted to purchase Lands under stated Regulations I am therefore with great respect emboldened to address your Excellency to state that I hold a Farm at Wallis's Plains of a small extent and quite inadequate to sustain my present Stock consisting of 303 head of horned cattle, 18 horses, including 8 brood mares, and 100 sheep which stock I mean to add to should your Excellency be graciously pleased to allow me to purchase land. [15]

The Angel Inn

The Angel Inn was built prior to 1826 in the centre of Molly Morgan's lease [1]. It was constructed of brick and timber and Thomas Hunt being a brickmaker by trade probably made or supervised the making of the bricks for the Inn. Interestingly in 1900 when the old inn was being removed a number of old coins were discovered in the building including four shillings, all Royal Georges, bearing dates 1819 to 1826.[16]

The original Inn was erected some distance from where the footpath later came into being and the mail coaches for many years started from the hotel from the open space in front of the hotel. [17]

A traveller to Wallis Plains in 1826 described their visit to the Angel Inn: -
From Nelson's Plains, we proceeded early in the morning to Wallis's Plains, and there breakfasted. The navigation of Hunter's River may be said to terminate at this place, which provincially is called ' the Settlement at the Banks.' It consists of a cluster of detached cottages, which may be designated a hamlet. You would suppose the inhabitants were only tenants at will, who did not care to build on other people's ground. It's a sorry sight to see bad buildings anywhere, and its very grating to an Englishman when he leaves the dusty streets to take a turn amongst the rural virtues of a village life, there to find nothing of the sort.

The people generally appear a very hardy race, with a great capacity for being industrious, cleanly, honest, and obliging - all special virtues in a peasantry. I put up at the Angel Inn, which has every accommodation for travellers; a quarter of a pipe of wine on draft, plenty to eat, and good beds. A young man (a native), told me he wished to rent it of the landlord, and had offered him £100 per annum; but he asked £200 per annum ! for an obscure pot-house; only think of that

Although the Angel Inn was built by Molly Morgan, she did not hold the publican's licence herself. She applied unsuccessfully for a licence to sell spirits in 1828. [19]. Thomas Hunt applied for a publican's licence at the end of 1828.


The Australian, 23 January 1828, mentioned Molly Morgan as one of the large landholders on the Hunter River. The 1828 Census revealed that Thomas and Mary Hunt (Molly Morgan) had cleared 40 acres and 40 acres were cultivated; they owned 24 horses and 337 head of cattle.

Assigned Convicts

Some of the convicts assigned or employed to Molly Morgan in 1828 included:

Thomas Stapleton per Three Bees 1814

Robert Wilson per Surry 1814

James Featherstone per Neptune1818

Hugh Finnigan per Countess of Harcourt in 1822

Edward Halton per Guildford 1816

Isaac Lancaster per Baring 1815

Elizabeth Lesurf per Wanstead and her son Michael Parker

James Richardson per Fortune 1806

Maria Burns per Caroline 1833

Charles Satchwell per Indefatigable 1815 [20]

Land Grant

Although Mary and Thomas Hunt had settled on the land, the lease was not officially granted until 1 January 1829 when it was described as being bounded on the west by O'Donnell's allotment; on the east by Jones allotment and north by the Hunter River. [21]

Molly Morgan's Benevolence

As the settlement at Wallis Plains grew Molly Morgan subdivided her lease and disposed of small portions of the land as a quick means of making money. She also donated £100 to build a school at Maitland. The land transactions were not always ratified which many years later caused great legal difficulties. Her wealth rapidly decreased as she disposed of her land and at her death she no longer possessed anything deemed of value, but left everything she did possess to Thomas Hunt. She had previously mortgaged for £1100 everything she had not otherwise disposed of including the racecourse to Mr. J.T. Hughes, to whom also Thomas Hunt afterwards sold the equity of redemption supposed to be vested in him by the will. [22]


After an extraordinary and often successful life, Molly Morgan's last years were spent in penury at Anvil Creek. She and Thomas had lost almost everything. In April 1835 Thomas Hunt, alias Joe the Marine, was incarcerated in Newcastle Gaol as a debtor, although he was released three days later. - [23]

Many years later Joe the Marine was described in an article in the Evening News.....Joe the Marine, for several years afterwards, drove a wood cart belonging to some of the towns people who had settled and got wealthy on that land which had formerly been his own. Poor Joe! He was a really good looking, fine grown fellow, natty in dress and appearance to the last, and always good tempered and liberal, according to his means.


Molly Morgan died at her home at Anville Creek on 27 June 1835, three months after Thomas Hunt had been sent to Newcastle gaol [1]. She was buried in the Glebe Cemetery.

The Australian published her obituary.....She was at one time possessed of a most valuable property in Maitland, during which she was in the constant habit of lending the most valuable assistance to all who asked it; the settlers of the years 1820, to 1826, have reasons to remember her, as many without the aid rendered by her, would not have borne themselves through the trying seasons of that period, while many from her ignorance of accounts fattened themselves on her good will. The writer of these remarks, often favored by her, only regrets that her latter days were not those of enjoyment of the comforts of this life to which she was entitled from the numerous acts of kindness she had evinced to all around her. [24]

Molly Morgan is remembered today as a woman who in her heyday must have been possessed of charisma, foresight and ambition, however by the 1860s her name had almost been forgotten. A correspondence to the Maitland Mercury described Molly Morgan...... she is almost fallen out of the memories of men, and only a few of the older residents can recall the figure of the little old woman, with her age stooped back, her clutch on the shoulder, her nodding head, and her impressive gestures, as she gave the ever ready advice. [25]

Henry Hewitt

Prior to 1830 Henry Hewitt was innkeeper at the Angel Inn. In 1831 Hewitt moved to his newly built Albion Inn. Many years later Henry Hewitt was the proprietor of the Royal Hotel and took pride in describing himself as the first man who had opened an inn in Maitland. [26]

George Yeomans

According to recollections of R.G. Yeomans, his father George Yeomans kept the Inn before 1831. [27]

John Taylor

John Taylor owned the premises and held the publicans' licence for the Angel Inn
in the 1840s.

John Stone

John Stone formerly of Crown and Anchor at Lochinvar was leaseholder in 1845 - 1849. The Inn, a substantial brick building, was advertised for sale by John Taylor in 1846 when he was planning to travel to England. The Angel, the 'oldest established Inn in the district, was said to be in full trade; the proprietor Mr. Stone was described as a most respectable tenant who held a lease of about 18 months at £104 per annum. The Angel had always been conspicuous for the extraordinary trade it had commanded and it was said that most of the residents of the neighbourhood knew of several ample fortunes realised by succeeding occupants. Also advertised for sale was the neat three room cottage residence of the proprietor, enclosed in an effective six foot paling fence with a lawn and flower garden in front and fruit trees in the rear.

In 1846 Charles Vavasour Earl's London Medical and Chemical Repository was opposite the Angel and clock maker S. M. Street was next door to the Repository.

In 1851 George Grey's cabinet making business was situated next door to the Angel and W. Lamberts boot and shoemaker warehouse was opposite

William Wilkinson

William Wilkinson was granted publican's licence in 1852 - 54

Demise Of The Angel Inn

When the old Inn was being demolished in 1900 quite a crowd of onlookers gathered in the vicinity, many of whom recalled the history of the old Inn. Mrs. Tamar Brown who came to the town in 1832 remembered the Inn well and recalled that it was once known as the Red and White Inn. Mr. Roland G. Yeomans of Campbells Hill knew the place in 1831 having gone to school as a boy at a little place close by. He remembered the name being the Angel Inn.

The Maitland Show

The Hunter River Agricultural Society held its first show on 14 May 1844 at the rear of the Angel Inn. Shows and ploughing matches were held in 1844, 1845, 1846 and 1847. [28]

Notes and Links

1). A map of the location of Molly Morgan's lease/grant can be seen here

2). Family History by Clayton Talbot

3). Nicholson v. Healy.
Justice Therry.
Case of ejectment in which Willian Nicholson was plaintiff and Michael Healy defendant. The land in question consisted of one rood eleven perches of land then a market garden adjoining the High street, West Maitland. This land formed a portion of 159 acres granted to Mary Hunt in 1824 under the hand and seal of Sir Richard Bourke, then Governor of the colony. Mary Hunt was then a married woman. From the year 1824 to 1831 various small portions of this grant amounting altogether to 50 acres were conveyed to various parties. In 1831 the husband of Mary Hunt conveyed all further interest in the said grant to John Terry Hughes and John Hosking. In February 1842, Terry Hughes, John Hosking and Martin Foxlawe conveyed all their interest to the Chairman of the Bank of Australia and from a subsequent chairman of the said bank the property was conveyed to the plaintiff in the present action. - Justice Therry stated during the case that he was the only one present who had the pleasure of knowing the lady in question....I have had many conversations with her; she was then called Molly Morgan and her husband was styled Joe the Marine.
Northern Times 26 September 1857


[1] Elizabeth Guilford, 'Morgan, Molly (1762 - 1835)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University

[2] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 1150; Item: [SZ115]; Microfiche: 621.

[3] The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Thu 2 Jul 1846 Page 2

[4] An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, Volume 2 By David Collins

[5] Sydney Gazette 25 August 1810.

[6] Sydney Gazette 26 March 1814

[7] Old Bailey Online

[8] Convict Indents. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 12188; Item: [4/4004]; Microfiche: 634

[9] Governor Lachlan Macquarie's Journal 30 July 1812 - State Library NSW

[10] Maitland Mercury 4 August 1857

[11] The Maitland Weekly Mercury 28 July 1900

[12] Maitland Weekly Mercury 26 February 1935.

[13] Title: Petitions To The Governor From Convicts For Mitigations of Sentences Source Information New South Wales, Australia, Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1856. dated 6 January 1823

[14] NSW Courts Magistrates, Newcastle Police Court: 1823-1825 (Ancestry)

[15] Source Citation Series: NRS 899; Reel or Fiche Numbers: Fiche 3001-3162 Source Information New South Wales, Australia, Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1856

[16] Glen Innes Examiner 27 July 1900

[17] Maitland Daily Mercury 3 May 1933.

[18]The Monitor 23 June 1826

[19] Wood, W. Allan, Dawn in the valley : the story of settlement in the Hunter River Valley to 1833 Sydney : Wentworth Books, 1972.p. 251

[20] 1828 Census

[21] State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, NSW, Australia; Archive Reel: 2705; Series: 1216; Description: Copies of Deeds of Grant to Land alienated by Grant, Lease or Purchase Vol. No. 22 Land Grants 1832-35.

[22] Sydney Morning Herald 2 July 1846.

[23] Newcastle Gaol Entrance Books 1835

[24] The Australian 3 July 1835

[25] Maitland Mercury 13 June 1868

[26] Maitland Mercury 5 December 1893

[27] Maitland Weekly Mercury 28 July 1900

[28] Newcastle Morning Herald 26 February 1935