Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Captain James Wallis

Commandant at Newcastle 1816 - 1818

James Wallis of the 46th regiment arrived on the General Hewitt in 1814. He was Commandant at Newcastle penal settlement from June 1816 to December 1818. Following is Governor Macquarie's commendation published December 1818

Government and General Orders

Government House, Parramatta, Thursday, 24th December, 1818.
Civil Department.
His Excellency the Governor, in relieving Captain James Wallis of the 46th Regiment, from the Command of the Settlement at Newcastle, by the Appointment of Captain James Morisset of the 48th Regiment, to that Station, avails himself of the Opportunity afforded by the Relief proceeding to New- castle, to express publicly his high Sense and unqualified Approbation and Acknowledgment of the various important Services rendered to the Settlement of Newcastle by Captain Wallis during the Period of his Command, which commenced in the Month of June, 1816.

The Zeal, Ability, and Judgment manifested by Captain Wallis, as Commandant of the Settlement on Hunter's River, where the relative Duties were at once so peculiarly arduous, and invariably demanded the most vigilant and prompt Attention ; whilst they merit the highest Commendation for their public beneficial Effects, reflect the greatest Credit upon Captain Wallis as an Officer and a Gentleman. The humane and judicious System adopted by this Officer towards the large Population of Convicts at Newcastle (now amounting to nearly seven hundred persons), entitles him to His Excellency's warmest Commendation, considering in what Degree the Condition of those unfortunate Persons has been ameliorated and improved since he took the Command of the Settlement.

Yielding to that charitable Consideration towards a Description of our Fellow Creatures, however debased in moral Principle and Conduct, and justly appreciating that humane benignant Line of Conduct pursued by Captain Wallis during his Command, which was at least calculated to lead to Improvement and Reformation ; His Excellency feels it equally a Tribute due to that Officer's Merits, to notice with suitable Commendation the grand scale of Improvements by which he has advanced the Settlement at Newcastle, from the Appearance of an humble Hamlet to the Rank and Capabilities of a well laid out, regular, and clean Town ; in effecting which Captain Wallis must have had to encounter various Difficulties, which could only have been surmounted by the Exercise of superior Judgment, Perseverance, and Ability.

It would far exceed the Limits of a Government and General Order to enumerate in detail all the Improve merits and Advantages which the Settlement of Newcastle has undergone by Captain Wallis within the short Space of two Years and an Half: But it would not be doing him that Justice which his Claim to public Commendation entities him to, were not some Specification brought to View of the important Buildings constructed and compleated under his Direction, at once interesting, and ornamental to the Settlement, and promising a permanent Footing and Security to Religious and Civil Establishments.

FIRST, A very handsome Church, capable of containing upwards of 500 Persons, with an elegant Spire.

2. An excellent Hospital, well aired and well situated, constructed with Stone with a Veranda round it, and inclosed with a suitable Paling.

3. A large commodious Gaol, well aired and well situated, and strongly built of stone.

4. A commodious Barrack built of Brick, for two Subalterns.

5. A good brick barrack for the assistant surgeon

6. A large comfortable Barrack for the Convicts.

7. A Guard-House.

8. A Watch-House.

9. A Boat-House.

10. A Lime- House.

11 A new Lumber-Yard, with the necessary Work- Shops for Mechanics and Artificers.

12. The old Wharf considerably enlarged and improved.

In Addition to the foregoing useful and permanent Buildings, Captain Wallis has commenced and made great Progress in another most important Undertaking, namely, constructing a strong Stone Pier across the Channel dividing the main Land (on which the Town is situated) on the South Side of the Harbour from Coal Island (or Nobby), for the Purpose of confining the Whole of the Water of Hunter's River to the principal Channel by which Vessels enter the Harbour of Newcastle, and preventing that Channel from being blocked up, and consequently rendered dangerous, if not impracticable for Navigation. This useful Work was commenced on early in August last, at the Time His Excellency was on his Visit of Inspection to Newcastle, and had himself an Opportunity of personally laying the Foundation-stone of the Pier. Considering the great Skill and Attention necessary to bestow on Works of such Magnitude and Utility, Captain Wallis's intelligent and comprehensive Mind was not only equal to the Undertaking, but led him, highly to his Honor, to devise the best means of effecting the Reformation and Comfort of the Convicts under his Charge, as well as to the Instruction and Improvement of their Children.

With this laudable View he established an excellent School, where the rising Generation are taught and brought up in the pure Principles of the Christian Religion ; nor was that Officer less attentive to the moral and religious Duties of his Troops, to whom, as well as to the Convicts, he personally read Divine Service every Sunday at the new Church. From the Opportunity the Governor had of witnessing the various Improvements at Newcastle on his late Tour of Inspection to that Settlement His Excellency is led duly to appreciate their Importance, and to render this public Suffrage to Captain Wallis's Arrangements, as well as in respect to the Convicts under his Direction, whose ameliorated Condition was every Day more manifest, and gave every reasonable Hope of eventually producing the wished for Reformation.

These, His Excellency is persuaded, will long remain honourable Testimonies of Captain Wallis's Merits, when the Voice of Commendation shall have passed into Oblivion. The Governor will consider it his Duty, as it will be his highest Pleasure, to make the most early and favourable Report to His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State, of the meritorious Conduct and Services of Capt. Wallis.

By His Excellency the Governor's Command, J. T. Campbell Secretary. - Sydney Gazette 26 December 1818

Notes and Links

1). Wallis, James, 1785?-1858. An historical account of the colony of New South Wales and its dependent settlements : in illustration of twelve views / engraved by W. Preston from drawings taken on the spot by Captain Wallis. To which is subjoined An accurate map of Port Macquarie and the newly discovered River Hastings / by J. Oxley London : Printed for R. Ackermann by J. Moyes, 1821 Photographed by Associate Professor Allan Chawner and prepared by Gionni Di Gravio

2). Australian Dictionary of Biography Online

3). Colonial Military Officers

4). Ships bringing detachments of the 46th regiment to Australia - The Headquarters of the 46th regiment commanded by Lieut-Col George James Molle arrived on the Windham and other detachments arrived on the Lord Eldon, Fame, Recovery, Larkins, Three Bees, General Hewitt, Guildford, Surry, Surry, Shipley, Ocean, Sir William Bensley, Marquis of Wellington, Elizabeth Canada and Bencoolen.

5). Commandants at Newcastle -

March 1804 - February 1805 - Lieutenant Charles Menzies Age 21
March 1805 - 20th March 1805 - Ensign Cadwallader Draffen Age 23
20th March 1805 - December 1805 - Charles Throsby Age 28
December 1805 (Temporary) - Lieutenant William Lawson Age 31
December 1805 - September 1808 - Charles Throsby Age 29
September 1808 - December 1808 - Ensign Villiers
December 1808 - February 1810 - Lieutenant William Lawson Age 34
February 1810 - December 1811 - Lieutenant John Purcell Age 37
December 1811 - February 1814 - Lieutenant Skottowe
February 1814 - June 1816 - Lieutenant Thomas Thompson
June 1816 - December 1818 - Captain James Wallis (46th regiment) Age 31
December 1818 - 1823 - Major James Thomas Morisset Age 38

6). Colonial Appointments