Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

George Bowman - Settler

Map 5

George BowmanGeorge Bowman arrived in New South Wales with his parents as free settlers on the Barwell in 1798. His father John Bowman settled on the Hawkesbury river.

In 1821 he was promised a land grant of 600 acres. This was located on the northern banks of the Hunter river in the Parish of Ravensworth.

George Bowman married Eliza Sophia Pearce in 1820 and together they produced 9 sons and 2 daughters. Although they lived on their farm at Richmond, George Bowman took up another grant of 1130 acres in the Hunter Valley in 1824 which became Arrowfield where he established a stock station.

He purchased another 2000 acres adjoining his grant in 1825. This was situated on the southern bank of the Hunter opposite the junction of Fal Brook with the Hunter. This estate was named Archerfield.

He also established a cattle station at Wybong in 1828.

The estates at the Hunter River were managed by his sons.

Martin Cash who arrived on the Marquis of Huntley in 1828 was assigned to George Bowman and sent to work on the Wybong property. Cash later became one of Australia's most notorious bushrangers.

In 1846 10,049 acres, part of the Skellatar estate of Francis Forbes was purchased by George Bowman.


George Bowman died in August 1878 and Eliza Sophia Bowman in April 1884 aged 87 years.


The name of this gentleman, who died at his residence, Richmond, on the 26th ultimo, has been associated with the colony for many years. He was as greatly esteemed as he was widely known.

Mr. Bowman was born in 1795, and was only three years old when he came to the colony. His father, John Bowman, was a native of Fifeshire, in Scotland: his mother belonged to Cornwall, in England. They were among the earliest free settlers who came to take up their abodes in this new land. George was the second and last surviving member of his father's family. The eldest, John, died in India many years ago. The youngest, William, died at his residence in Richmond about four years ago, and Mrs. Chisholm died in May last.

The facilities for education in the early days of the colony were not very abundant, but such as were available were made the most of Mr. Bowman acquired, in his youth, those habits of method, of order, and of self-reliance, which contributed largely to his future success in life. He was one of the first who, after its discovery, penetrated through the mountains to the Hunter River, and pitched his tent on its banks, where his sons are now all located. He had many interesting tales to tell of the hazards which had to be run and the hardships which had to be endured in those early days. On one occasion, when travelling from Richmond to Sydney in his gig, he was stuck up by a gang of bushrangers, headed by the notorious
Donohue. They took from him his coat and vest and striped him even of his shirt, and turned him back, jauntily advising him to go and report as soon as possible what had taken place. On a subsequent occasion he was travelling along the same road in his gig, and was again stuck up by the same gang. This time he had Mrs. Bowman with him. They took from him again his coat, vest, watch, &c., but did not, this time, denude him of his shirt. As one of the gang was endeavouring to take the rings off Mrs. Bowman's finger, finding difficulty in doing so, the finger being somewhat swollen, one of them called out, "cut the finger off." Whereupon Mrs. Bowman said to them, "do you know Matthew Pearce of Seven Hills, I am his daughter." On hearing this they desisted, and left with her both her finger and her rings.

He was one of a party who went on an exploring expedition to the Clarence River, in one of the first steamers afloat on these waters. Leaving the steamer, they penetrated, partly by boat and partly on foot, into hitherto untrodden regions, and ran no small risk of being killed by the blacks.

By dint of industry, enterprise, and perseverance he soon began to get on in the world. Wealth began to increase, and he appears to have entertained from the outset an enlightened idea of the responsibilities which attach to wealth, and of the higher ends and uses to which it ought to be devoted. Though, like Samuel Budgett, "The Success ful Merchant," he was exact and keen in matters of business, he was, like him, free-hearted in the distribution of what he had acquired.

It was a ruling ambition with him to obtain for his children the best possible education. He was one of the largest, if not the largest, contributors to the Australian College, established by the late Dr. Lang ; and in this college the elder sons were educated, while the younger ones passed through the Sydney University. His fourth son, Matthew, after receiving such education as was available in the colony, was sent to Scotland to study theology in the new College in Edinburgh, shortly after the disruption of the Church of Scotland. After completing his studies he returned to the colony, but was cut off before he had actually entered on the office of the ministry. The fifth son, Robert, was sent home to study medicine, and became an M.D. of the University of Edinburgh. After returning to the colony he practised his profession for several years in Sydney, but his health failed, and he died at middle age. The two youngest (twins), after graduating in the Sydney University, were sent to London to study for the legal profession. After being admitted as barristers by the Middle Temple, and having obtained the degree of LL.B. from the University of London, they returned to the colony, but instead of following their profession they have preferred to devote themselves to pastoral pursuits. The seventh son. Alexander, was at the last election returned to Parliament as one of the members for the electorate of the Hawkesbury. Mr. Bowman had, in all, nine sons and two daughters, of whom six sons survive and one daughter, wife of Rev. James Cameron, M. A., of Richmond. Besides these, he has left behind him about thirty grandchildren.

At an early period Mr. Bowman was placed on the list of the magistracy. He also served for several years in the Legislative Council as representative for the electorate of Northumberland, or Hunter. In politics his sympathies were with the liberal party. He was remarkable for his integrity, his high consciousness, and force of character. He had a remarkable quick eye to discern any divergence from the perpendicular. Anything crooked or awry was an offence to him ; and the strong repugnance he felt to what was crooked in the literal sense, found its counterpart in his detestation of all morally crooked ways, and mean and dis honourable actions. He took a lively interest in the welfare and prosperity of the town of Richmond, in which the greater part of his life was spent. He was ever ready to use his influence with the Government, and to expend his own means in promoting objects of public usefulness. To him Richmond is largely indebted for its public buildings and public institutions.

When Richmond was erected into a municipality, Mr. Bowman, though by this time infirm, and little fit for business, was elected its first mayor, an honour to which he was regarded by all classes as justly entitled. He was a loyal and liberal supporter of the Presbyterian Church, the Church of his fathers.

During the three years of his residence at Archerfield, on the Hunter, it was his regular practice to drive four-in-hand into Singleton every Sabbath to church, taking all his family with him, in a large carriage built for the purpose. With such roads as then existed, this was no easy task, but it was not a small thing that would keep him at home on the Lord's day. He served for many years as representative elder in the Church Courts, and took a lively interest in the business. The Presbyterian Church in Richmond, which was built entirely at his own cost, has recently been improved by the addition of a handsome tower and spire, the expense of which has been borne by him. It was long his desire to erect a public clock for the benefit of the town, but although the clock has been ordered from London, and is probably on its way, he has not lived to see his desire accomplished. While liberal in his giving to his own church, he knew how to be generous to other denominations.

He was naturally of a buoyant and cheerful disposition, and even amid the infirmities and sufferings of later years, his natural vivacity did not wholly forsake him. He will be missed by the com munity in the midst of which he lived so long, he will be missed by the church to which he belonged, and by the congregation, of which he was the mainstay. He will be missed by many a friend in need, to whom kindness and help were extended of which but few were aware
. - Sydney Mail 7 September 1878

Convicts and Workers employed by George Bowman :
(Ship and years employed)

Barnes, John
Lady Harewood 1832; 1832-1837

Barnslie, William
Fairlie 1834; 1837

Bentley, William
Waterloo 1829; 1836-1837

Birnie, James
Lord Lyndoch 1833; 1837

Brown, John

Cavenagh, Richard
Lord Auckland from VDL; Archerfield 1846

Davis, John
Superintendent at Patrick Plains estate

Dillon, Morty
Recovery 1836; absconded 1836

Dyball, William
Hindostan 1821; 1837

Farrell, William
Lord Auckland from VDL; Archerfield

Fincher, Thomas
Norfolk Island expiree; shepherd

Grimes, Mark
Norfolk 1825; assigned on arrival

Hawkins, William
Lady Feversham 1830; 1830 - 1837

Irwin/Erwin, John
Employed by Bowman in 1850

Johnson, Joseph
John Barry 1836; 1837

Jonedre, Parick
Indentured from the Orphan School

Koor, Gaw
Chinese; absconded in 1852

Maloney, Bryan
1838; shepherd

Maloney, Patrick
Hive 1835; 1837

McAlister, James

McGowan, John
Employed by Bowman in 1850

Radnidge, John
Claudine 1829; 1837

Waterford, William
Superintendent at cattle station at Peel River

Notes and Links

1). Australian Dictionary of Biography - Robert, Alexander and George Pearce Bowman, sons of George and Eliza Bowman

2). Archerfield estate was visited by Rev. Lang 12 November 1850

James Bowman John Gaggin George Bowman James Glennie David Brown alt=James Mein Dight Family Robert Hoddle George Galway Mills Thomas Parmeter James Hale Richard Hill George Bowman William Sims Bell Robert Adamson Rodd John Howe John Martin Davis Richard Hobden Robert Pringle Sampson Marshall Robert Dawson Archibald Mosman Early Settler Map 5