Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Early Days in Port Stephens

Compiled by Gordon Bennett in 1926

In 1926 the Dungog Chronicle printed a series of articles touching on the history of Port Stephens.

Included were extracts from the diary of Sir Edward Parry which began when he arrived at Port Stephens in 1830.

Below is a list of the contents of each article with a link to the relevant newspaper.


First references to Port Stephens in Captain James Cook's log

Notes from master's mate Richard Pickersgill describing Port Stephens in 1770

Surveyor Charles Grimes report in 1795

Visit to Port Stephens by H.M.S Providence in 1795

Description of Runaways John Tarwood, George Lee, George Connoway and John Watson
David Collins' Account of the escapees

Convicts escaping from Coal River (Newcastle penal settlement) est. in 1804, stopped at Port Stephens

First Encampment at Soldier's Point

Australian Agricultural Company's Settlement - Commissioner Robert Dawson

Dungog Chronicle 7 September 1926


A.A. Co's Settlement

The Genesis of Port Stephens

Carrington Settlement

The new Commissioner - Sir W. Edward Parry

Gregson's History of the A.A. Company

Dungog Chronicle 17 September 1926


Parry at Work - A Thorough Supervisor

2 August 1830 - Indented servants to guard stores.

5 August 1830 - Mr. Wetherman to issue Chief Constable John Field ammunition and six flints for the service on which he was about to proceed.

23 September 1830 - Medical Regulations at Stroud and Booral - Dispensary orders - Mr. Stacy and Mr. White

25 October 1830 - Shearing orders

Dungog Chronicle 21 September 1926


Trials and Pleasures

15 December 1830 - Company servants to assist Chief Constable John Field in apprehending bushrangers

22 December 1830 - Prizes to school children at Stroud

24 December 1830 - Prisoners recreation at Christmas - games and prizes

1 January 1831 - Dinner for indented servants in the afternoon. The whole day a holiday

Parry's human side - pen picture by historian Ida Lee

Parry's visit to the Myall River

The Parrys to Booral by boat. - An account by Lady Parry

Stone laid by Parry for the first church at Stroud.

Colonel Dumaresq to take over as Commissioner of A.A. Company

Parry's legacy

Dungog Chronicle 28 September 1926


Sir Edward Parry's original Journal found in the library of a fine old English home of his descendant had laid undisturbed for 80 years.

Parry's first trip to Port Stephens in January 1830 and his description of the mill and row of cottages, barracks, watch house, hospital, brickfield and tan yard.

First Difficulties

22 February 1830 - female servant hanged herself in the watch house - great deal of sickness - medical department and hospital disgraceful

23 February 1830 - Finding a suitable site for wharf with Mr. Corlette

2 March 1830 - Visited the horse station

3 March 1830 - Dealing with drunken constables and watch house keepers

4 March 1830 - Visited the cattle station

8 March 1830 - Land trip - Left Tahlee at 6am by Boat accompanied by Dr. Nisbet and Mr. Burnett and rowed up the Karuah to Booral and then to Stroud. - An account of the buildings and settlement

28th March 1830 - Storm - Parry's misgivings about the location of the site of the settlement as chosen by Robert Dawson

Dungog Chronicle 1 October 1830


Towards Gloucester

Tuesday 9th March 1830 - Set out for Gloucester with Dr. Nisbet Messrs Burnett and Hall. Description of Telligherry district

Wednesday 10th March 1830 - Arrived at Wards River and set off for Barrington and The Buckets. - Description of Gloucester Tops

15th March 1830 - Commissioner's tasks - duties for women and children of indented servants and problems of grinding wheat

2 April 1830 - Servants free and bond subpoenaed on two trials at Maitland - difficulties of getting them there.

7 April 1830 - Convict burial

15 April 1830 - Terrible gale at Carrington

16 April 1830 - Maitland trial

Mr. Ebsworth's popularity attested to

25 April 1830 - A description of the Church

Dungog Chronicle - 19 October 1926

Article No. 7

20 April 1830 - Working Conditions of servants at Stroud

27 April 1830 - Mr. Ebsworth departed the settlement

1 May 1830 - Unexpected Visitors arrived on the schooner Harlequin. They had been bound for Hobart and were blown off course

4 May 1830 - Lambton returned to the settlement having been blown off course for two weeks

7 May 1830 - boring for water at Cockrenoyo

11 May 1830 - The cutter Emma from Sydney arrived at Salamander Bay with Mr. Richard Stubbs

12 May 1830 - arrival of the horse Grampus from England and also Mr and Mrs. Mawson who were to be schoolmaster and schoolmistress

17 May 1830 - Convicts flogged for drunkenness. Charles Olive fined 20 dollars for harboring convicts illegally. School children mustered at Tahlee House

18 May 1830 - Sir Edward set out on a trip to Newcastle via George Graham's on the Hunter. Description of the wretched condition of Graham's slab hut

19 May 1830 - On horseback to Mr. Maclean's a little lower down the river from George Graham's

Dungog Chronicle 26 October 1926


2 June 1830 - Sir Edward left Talee at 6.30 accompanied by Mr. Donelan and Dr. Nisbet and proceeded to the cattle station where he met with Charles Hall, John Armstrong and Henry Hall

3 June 1830 Overland trek to Boola-deela (Bulahdelah) where they rested overnight

4 June 1830 - Crossed the Myall

5 June 1830 - Wollongut River

9 June 1830 - Tallowah Hill

10 June 1830 - Richard's River

11 June 1830 - Reached the Manning River

Dungog Chronicle - 2 November 1926


12 June 1830 - at the Manning River - description

13 June 1830 - exploring the countryside

29 June 1830 - The Bona Vista owned by Richard Stubbs sailed for Sydney

4 July 1830 - Improvement to church

6 July 1830 - Dr. Nisbet visiting Mr. William Cromarty

12 July 1830 - Free storekeeper Mr. Richard Stubbs now allowing drinking at his store

17 July 1830 - Henry Dangar surveying north to the Barrington

18 July 1830 - Daniel Ivey's house robbed during Divine Service at Tahlee House

19 July 1830 - Hunt for the stolen money by everyone at the settlement

23 July 1830 - Sir Edward began a short tour of inspection with Messrs Donelan, Harry Hall and Henry Darch

Dungog Chronicle 9 November 1926


29 July 1830 - Magistrates Bench held at Tahlee. Thomas Stafford (per James Pattison) sentenced to 2 years in a penal settlement

Henry Dangar completed his survey to the north of the Manning River

The Carrington, the ship that had formerly been named the Bona Vista, owned by Mr. Richard Stubbs arrived at Port Stephens after being 3 weeks at sea from Sydney, the crew was almost starved.

2 August 1830 - Outrage by Blacks at Lawler's station. Shepherd Matthew Delaney speared. Sir Edward accompanied by Lieut. Donelan, John Stacy and George Jenkins proceeded to Lawler's station

3 August 1830 - Sir Edward returned to find convicts had opened the stores and helped themselves to alcohol.

7 August 1830 - Vengeance on the blacks - Constable John Field found the tribe of aborigines who had speared Delaney and ordered the soldiers to fire on them

8 August 1830 - Major Archibald Clunes Innes on his way to his estate near Port Macquarie called at Carrington. Also Major Kidd of the 57th regiment. In the evening Dr. Moran arrived to visit the blind boy Aaron Matthews. Also in the evening a visit from Major Sullivan from Stroud.

9 August 1830 - Constable Field dispatched in pursuit of Hogue's murderer

Dr. Nisbet returned from his exploration to the North

19 August 1830 - Constable John Field returned to Port Stephens having succeeded in finding the murdered of Hogue, a native called Nicodemus who was killed by the Port Stephens natives. Two others Tim and Yabbi were severely wounded

31 August 1830 - Sir Edward left Tahlee for a visit to Maitland. He was met at Maitland by Lieut. Wood and Captain and Mrs. Aubyn. He visited the 40 acre veteran allotments and observed an enormous native fig tree 101 ft in circumference on the land owned by Peter McIntyre (Pitnacree). Word was received by Capt. Aubyn the bushranger Jack Donohoe was in the neighbourhood.

Dungog Chronicle 12 November 1926


4 September 1830 - Lambton sailed for Sydney with draft of valuable rams and was later blown on shore in violent weather. She was re-floated by the extraordinary efforts of Dr. Nisbet, Mr. Corlette, Charles Hall and Mr. Ebsworth and others

8 September 1830 - Nest of scoundrels residing at Sawyer's Point all of whom Sir Edward thought lived off the company

11 September 1830 - The brig Mary and Elizabeth and the sloop Fairy sheltering at Nelson's Bay during bad weather

18 September 1830 - William Barnes junior taken ill with inflammation of the lungs

20 September 1830 - Site chosen for a slip for hauling up the Lambton just within the entrance of the North Arm on the west Shore. This appears to be the first reference to occupation of the place that is now Tea Gardens.

Cattle and other thieves at Port Stephens

7 October 1830 - Sir Edward visited Booral accompanied by Mr. Mathison (brother-in-law of Mr. Davidson one of the Company directors)

Dungog Chronicle 16 November 1926


10 November 1830 - The Liverpool sailed from Port Stephens for Sydney with Mr. Charles Cowper and eight bushrangers who had been captured on Liverpool Plains and brought to Port Stephens

Difficulties with shearing and wages for shearers

18 November 1830 - Sir Edward accompanied by Mr. Scott and Mr. Daren for Booral and Stroud. Proceeded to the Washpool where floods had swept away men's huts. Arranged with Mr. Leman to build a small school house at Stroud

19 November 1830 - Set off the sheep shed with Charles Hall. Letters from home lost when the Lord Liverpool was driven on shore at Nobbys

20 November 1830 - First meeting of the Savings Bank committee held in Sir Edward's office.

Sir Edward and Dr. Nisbet both seriously ill

Bushrangers on the road between Stroud and Carrington

17 December 1830 - Adam Howitt's wife assisted by Sir Edward after her husband violently assaulted her.

18 December 1830 - Outrage committed at Stroud by the soldiers sent to look after the bushrangers.

Lieutenant Blackburn commanding the Maitland Mounted Police arrived at Port Stephens

Correspondence from William Barton imputing to lady Parry an insult offered to Mrs. Barton in not giving her a front seat in her (Lady Parry's ) carriage

21 December 1830 - Holiday festivities - A tent erected on the Carrington Flat for distributing prizes to the school children and then giving them a dinner

22 December 1830 - festivities begin

24 December 1830 - Lady Parry distributing Xmas boxes to the whole of the indented servants

Dungog Chronicle 23 November 1926


25 December 1830 - A general holiday and Divine service in the forenoon. Extra mutton was service to officers and indented servants and a few extra allowances to the prisoners including half a pint of rum each.

31 December 1830 - Wheat crop on No. 1 farm failed

1 January 1830 - Public dinner given and afterwards perhaps the first cricket match played north of Sydney. The prisoners put together a good band of music

4 January 1831 - Difficulties with Mr. Burnett and Mr. Barton

11 January 1831 - Sir Edward set off on horse back for Newcastle

12 January 1831 - Accompanied by Dr and Mrs Brooks, rode to Maitland and called on Capt. Aubyn and Mr. Bloomfield and Mr and Mrs Wood.

14 January 1831 - Visitors Mr. Dent and Henry Darch.

14 January 1831 - Belton one of three runaways from the Farm was shot by William their black constable. He brought back Belton's blanket and red short and threw the body into the Barrington River.

15 January 1831 - new stables near Booral

Alexander Walker Scott at Sir Edward's house having come in the Monitor bound for Newcastle but overshot their mark. Mr. Walker Scott was intending to meet the governor at Newcastle

17 January 1831 - Visiting farm at Stroud with Mr. Dent and Lieut. Donelan. Suffering from rheumatism making him unable to accompany them to Telligherry

Difficulties transporting crops because of bad weather

3 February 1831 - Difficulties with servants

4 February 1831 - Business dealings with Duncan Forbes Mackay of Williams River

6 February 1831 - Singleton, miller at Williams River came to visit Tahlee

14 February 1831 - Sir Edward visited Sydney and was disappointed to find his wool shipment had not proceeded to England. Numerous social occasions while he was in Sydney

14 February 1831 - Lieut. Donelan of 57th regiment hastily recalled from Port Stephens and about to embark for India.

17 February 1831 - A meeting between Sir Edward and His Excellency the Governor to talk over lands at Port Stephens and at the Manning and also to discuss a replacement for Mr. Donelan

Also at this time a meeting with Hamilton C. Sempill who informed Sir Edward of the fertility of the land on the Liverpool Plains

Dungog Chronicle 26 November 1926


5 March 1831 - Sir Edward returned to Port Stephens with Captain Robert Gerald Moffatt and wife of the 17th Regiment. Captain Moffatt had been appointed to fill Lieut. Donelan's place. In Sir Edward's absence in Sydney old John Adams, the horse shoer had been drowned crossing a flooded creek near Stroud and a prisoner named Booth was killed by a falling tree.

7 March 1831 - Mr. Burnett's conduct vexatious to Sir Edward and brickmaker Charles Olive wishing to leave the Company

11 March 1831 - Heavy hailstorm

Convict Hewitson committed for trial at Stroud for stealing from settler named Simmons

15 March 1831 - Sir Edward and Lady Parry to Booral for the opening of the school. This was the first time Lady Parry had been able to leave the children to visit Booral. Thomas Simes was constable and schoolmaster. In the afternoon they rode out to Telligherry (Barnes' station)

1 April 1831 (Good Friday) - Offensive correspondence from Mr. Barton and Sir Edward decides to attempt to dismiss him

5 April 1831 - Mr. (Francis) Mitchell who had been visiting Sir Edward left to visit Rev. Richard Hill at Newcastle

6 April 1831 - Mr. Mitchell returned to Port Stephens with Rev. Hill

Dungog Chronicle 10 December 1926


8 April 1831 - Dr. Nisbet and Charles Hall arrived from their pioneering expedition west of the Barrington. Rev. Hill preaching at the settlement

14 April 1831 - Captain Moffatt discovered the gang of thieves who had been causing so much trouble

16 April 1831 - Mr. Barton causing difficulties. Worker William Haly in trouble for insolence

16 April 1831 - Indented servants refusing rations of beef because of the bad quality and extra proportions given. Sir Edward sat on the Bench and reprimanded the watch house keeper for improper conduct

21 April 1831 - More trouble from Mr. Barton

22 April 1831 - Henry Hall and Mr. Sempill prevented from travelling from Stroud to Segenhoe because of swollen creeks.

27 April 1831 - The Lambton arrived with Charles Hall, Mr. Tozer's daughter, two prisoners and a woman servant for Captain Moffatt

30 April 1831 - A visit from Mr. (Michael) Henderson of Roslin Castle (Williams River) re cattle

Dungog Chronicle 14 December 1926


2 May 1831 - Troubles from Mr. Barton who according to Sir Edward was a strong minded man

10 May 1831 - Sir Edward and visitor Mrs. Aubyn set off for Newcastle at sunrise. His horses did not arrive at Sparke's place and so Sir Edward had to walk 12 miles into Newcastle.

12 May 1831 - Sir Edward with Mr Dangar set out on horseback from Newcastle at 8am bound for Mr. Sparke's and then to Sawyers Point and Tahlee which they arrived at 3.40pm

16 May 1831 - The Lambton arrived at daylight with Dr. Nisbet and Lieut. Holman, the blind traveller.

20 May 1831 - Another consultation re sending Mr. Barton the accountant away

25 May 1831 - Sir Edward informs Mr. Barton of his intention to send him to Europe in the course of the month of July

26 May 1831 - Sir Edward sat on the Bench to hear the case of Thomas Macguire who was accused of horse stealing and of Cockett a free man charge with stealing a watch.

26 May 1831 - Proceeded to Booral in a boat accompanied by Lady Parry and family where they rested before travelling onto Stroud. They stayed at the cottage that had lately been occupied by Simon Kemp

27 May 1831 - The Parry's visiting indented servants at Stroud

31 May 1831 - They visited Mr. Tozer's family and drove in their carriage towards Telligherry

1 June 1831 - Drove to Barne's station at Telligherry

2 June 1831 - With Thomas Laman, visited the lime deposits

3 June 1831 - Fog in the morning and later Sir Edward rode over to the Karuah to examine rocks near the river. Visited by Henry Dangar in the afternoon who had completed surveying a road

4 June 1831 - Dinner and prizes for the school children and their parents at Stroud

Dungog Chronicle 21 December 1926


13 June 1831 - Lady Parry indisposed. Sir Edward visited the Tozers who had many complaints. He next met with the miller Thomas Sawkins who wished to have a better house for his wife.

The convict surgeon Henry White reprimanded by Sir Edward

Thomas Barnes junior wishing to leave the Company

17 June 1831 - Visited by Archdeacon William Grant Broughton

19 June 1831 - Two services as usual. Two children christened by the Archdeacon

20th June 1831 With the Archdeacon visited the Carrington school

22 June 1831 - The Archdeacon received into the church a number of children who had been already baptized by Sir Edward

23 June 1831 - Thomas Simes and Honor Hinton married in the a.m.

24 June 1831 - Touring with the Archdeacon

28 June 1831 - The Archdeacon departed on the Lambton

29 June 1831 - Sir Edward set off for Newcastle and spent some days dealing with the affairs of the Coal Mines of the Company

11 July 1831 - The Prince of Denmark schooner ran on shore within the South shore and three of the passengers of the Kains also came to the settlement being short of water

16 July 1831 - Sir Edward gave authority for the Kains to receive 2 days provisions

20 July 1831 - Meeting in Sydney with Captain Edward Biddulph of the steamer Sophia Jane

26 July 1831 - Sir Edward and Lady Parry to Newcastle and Sydney on the steamer Sophia Jane

27 July 1831 - Visiting with the Governor

12 August 1831 - Sir Edward stayed in Sydney until 12 August.

Dungog Chronicle 7 January 1927


13 August 1831 - Sir Edward returned home by steamer disembarking at Graham's where a horse awaited

14 August 1831 - Glad to meet his congregation again. New Zealand missionary Rev Yates to visit the following week

15 August 1831 - Sir Edward to Booral and Stroud

17 August 1831 - Catechizing children at the Stroud school. New house for Thomas Simes and family. In the afternoon to Telligherry with Charles Hall to see new lambing shed

20 - 26 August 1831 - Sir Edward attending to office work at Carrington and 26 assigned servants arrived and were distributed to sheep and agricultural depots.

21 August 1831 - Rev Yates held two services and gave Communion

25 August 1831 - Sir Edward in Sydney and received instructions from the AA Company member Hart Davis. James Edward Ebsworth appointed accountant and Sir Edwards 'second' in place of Dr Nisbet and Mr. Barton to receive six months notice to quit. He dined with Colonel Despard and the officers of the 17th regiment. At Port Stephens three runaways from Port Macquarie were captured

13 September 1831 - Sir Edward met with Col. Dumaresq in Sydney. While in Sydney received word from Carrington that all was quiet except for Mr. Burnett who was determined to cause trouble. The schoolmaster at Carrington Mr. Manson very ill.

15 September 1831 - Lady Parry was safely delivered of a fine girl

1 October 1831 - Sir Edward returned to Port Stephens

2 October 1831 - Church services well attended. Mr. Manson recovered.

7 October 1831 - Sir Edward to Sydney regarding trouble at the Newcastle coal mines

28 October 1831 - Returned to Tahlee with Lady Parry and children

7 November 1831 - Henry Dangar to leave for the Liverpool Plains the following week. Sir Edward to Booral accompanied by Messrs John Armstrong and Henry Darch. On arrival at the landing they were met by Messrs Henry Hall, Thomas Jones and Thomas Laman. He promised Jones whose agreement with the Company expired in February next to apply for a free license for his intended house near Mr. Cory's. They inspected shearing shed and washpool. On to Stroud where he met with Mr. Tozer who was afflicted with a complaint in his eyes.

8 November 1831 - Sir Edward set off from Stroud for the Gloucester accompanied by Henry Hall and Mr. Darch. They reached there at 3.15. The home was beautifully situated with bold mountain scenery called Hinne's Craigs and Melville Peaks.

Dungog Chronicle 11 January 1927


9 November 1831 - After vising stock yards they rode over to the stations of William Telfer and McIntyre at the Barrington River. Decisions about whether to use Gloucester flats or Barrington flats to grow maize the following year. Returned over the pass called The Buckets. Fished for perch in the Gloucester River

10 November 1831 - Sir Edward decided to establish a dairy for both cheese and butter to sell on the Company's estate. Garden of Eden on Stroud River not suitable for a mill

11 November 1831 - Returned to Carrington having met with Captain Moffatt and surgeon James Ward Martindale of the 17th regiment on the way

12 November 1831 - Sir Edward informed by Attorney General that it would be illegal for him to sit on the Bench in cases of convicts and imprudent with free servants. Mr. Manson appointed postmaster at Carrington

14 November 1831 - Judge Therry visited Port Stephens having ridden from Maitland

15 November 1831 - Sent disguised samples of poor wool via Captain Corlette of the Lambton to Sydney

16 November 1931 - Singleton's vessel took 280 bushels of the Company's wheat to be ground

18 November - The steam boat Sir Edward was having built at Carrington - one of the first to be built north of Sydney was nearing completion

19 November 1831 - Resignation of Mr. Sawkins ignored and Sir Edward ordered him to build a mill

20 November 1831 - Mrs. Gorton's child baptised

21 November 1831 - Trouble with the new steamer. A visit from Lawrence Myles from Williams River with offer to trade maize for two bulls.

28 November 1831 - New steamer almost ready. Sir Edward and Lady Parry visiting houses found they were greatly improved. Ringing of evening bell altered from 7pm to 8pm, as the men had behaved very well.

30 November 1831 - Launch of the first steamer at Carrington. The Karuah paddled about the harbour at about 3 knots

1 December 1831 - Sir Edward sat as magistrate in the case of an aboriginal boy who robbed an assigned servant of Captain Cromarty.

2 December 1831 - Decisions about a proper situation for a water mill near Booral. Alderley Stables almost ready for reception of horses. A cottage being built for the farrier and his family.

Dungog Chronicle 18 January 1927


5 December 1831 - Sir Edward and Mr. Ebsworth to Carrington via Alderley on a new road. Countryside devastated by bushfires

6 December 1831 - Mr. Armstrong to Stroud to prepare for the new mill. Sir Edward received word from Mr. Croasdill in Newcastle that the new Governor had arrived in Sydney and he arranged to travel to Sydney to meet with him

10 December 1831 - Returned to Port Stephens

14 December 1831 - Mrs. Stubbs' infant baptised by Sir Edward

15 December 1831 - One of the servant maids almost put her foot on a diamond snake at the back door of Tahlee House

17 December 1831 - The Lambton arrived from Sydney with 11 assigned servants. The land close around Carrington on fire. Night watches kept

18 December 1831 - Fire close to Tahlee and all hands sent to put it out. Sir Edward's order of a fire break saved the house. No 1 farm threatened by the fire as well.

19 December 1831 - 40 bales of wool sent on the Stirling Castle for London

23 December 1831 - Dispute between Constable John Field and Captain Moffatt. Disputes also between William Wetherman and Captain Moffatt. Sir Edward and Lady Parry thankful for the preservation of their three children from great danger. The twins were in a little carriage and the infant carried by a maid servant, when a large limb of a tree fell down. The man who was drawing the carriage heard it crack and drew it on quickly in consequence so that it fell about two yards behind them all.

25 December 1831 - Sunday - Holiday throughout the estate and the usual extra allowances given. Annual public examination at the Carrington School. Cricket game between officers of the Company and indented servants. Band of music by the prisoners.

27 December 1831 - A dinner in a large and handsome booth on the Flat to all the indented servants and families and military 90 in number

29 December 1831 - Capture of bushranger William Elder per Manlius who was in company with Haines an absconder from the company's employ who had planned to rob Sir Edward and escape in a Company boat

2 January 1832 - A groom at Carrington suspected of stealing and fencing Company goods. corporal Hogan of the 17th regiment complaining of ill usage by his sergeant.

Dungog Chronicle 25 January 1927

Notes and Links

1). In the Service of the Company Vol 1 Letters of Sir Edward Parry, Commissioner to the Australian Agricultural Company

2). Convicts assigned to the A.A. Company

3). Journal of Richard Pickersgill, Third Lieutenant of the Resolution, Captain James Cook (JOD/56) - University of Cambridge

4). Convict Ship Salamander

5). Port Stephens as it looked on 16th March 1795

6). William John Whitlaw and Henry White - convicts employed as medical practitioners at Port Stephens

7). John Edward Stacy, Colin Buchanan and James Douglas - early medical practitioners at Port Stephens

8). Charles Grimes and the natives of Port Stephens

9). Surgery at Port Stephens

10). Raymond Terrace

11). Colonial Military Officers

12). Hunter Valley Settlers

13). St. John's Church Stroud