Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Jonathan Warner - Settler

Map 1

Birth: c. 1786 Huntingdonshire
Arrival: Orpheus 1826
Land Grant: 1280 acres at Lake Macquarie 1829
Occupation: Military Officer; Surveyor
Marriage: Mary Dunkley 1817
Death: Warner's Bay 1843

Arrival in the Colony

Lieutenant Jonathan Warner was born circa 1786, the son of Charles Warner (1745-1794) and Sarah Nicholson (Mackaness/Mackness) who was a widow Mackeness when she married Charles Warner in St Andrews, Kimbolton on 26th December 1780. Jonathan Warner was christened on the 12th February 1786 in the parish church of St Andrews, Church of England, Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire England. [6]
He arrived in Australia on 12 September 1826 on the Orpheus with other members of the Royal New South Wales Veterans including Lieut-Colonel Henry Dumaresq and Captain Robinson.

Surveyor of Roads and Bridges

After retiring from military service, Jonathan Warner worked as an assistant surveyor of roads and bridges. In 1828 he examined a line of road recommended by Percy Simpson, causing him to travel through the Lake Macquarie area. It was here in July 1829, that he selected 1280 acres at the northern end of the lake.

The land was authorised as a reserve by Sir Ralph Darling on 1st July 1829 but converted to a grant 8th February 1831. Quit rent one farthing the promise being a disbanded officer of the NSW Royal Veteran Corps. [4]

He was also permitted to depasture stock on land adjoining his grant.
Ash Island - Alexander Walker Scott John Laurio Platt Australian Agricultural Company Joseph Weller George Weller William Brooks Jonathon Warner George Brooks Richard Windeyer and Adam Beveridge William Peppercorn Richard Siddons John Maclean G.T. Graham William Sparke Henry Rae Vicars Jacob Francis Shortt Francis Moran John Eales William Bradridge Edward Sparke John Field George Thomas Graham Early Settler Map 1

Warner's Bay

Jonathan Warner had settled on the land by 1831 and established a farm with an orchard and a house overlooking the bay.
An official estimate of the land under crops in the Newcastle district and the quantity of produce to be taken therefrom was made by the police in November 1838 at the request of the Colonial Secretary. Jonathan Warner was noted to have ten acres wheat, six acres maize and seven acres oats. Yield: 100 bushels wheat, 60 bushels maize and 30 bushels oats. [3]
From his farm a track led over the hills to Newcastle. His estate 'Biddaba', adjoined that of William Brooks and George Weller.

Assigned Convict Servants

Convicts assigned to Jonathan Warner included:

Ann Clarke per Buffalo 1833

Patrick Reilly per Ferguson 1829

James Morris per Captain Cook 1836

William Gilbertson per Captain Cook 1833

Simon Smith per Calcutta 1837

Henry Shepherd per Exmouth 1831

John Couzenor per Tottenham 1819

John Richardson per Surry 1823

Joseph Hughes per Royal Admiral 1830

Mary Fitzgerald per Sir Charles Forbes 1837

Matthew Colgan per Portland 1833

Eliza Doherty per Pyramus 1836

Brisbane Waters

Jonathan Warner was appointed Magistrate for Brisbane Waters in 1833. He travelled to Brisbane Water from the lake each fortnight by horse.
In 1835 he completed a temporary cottage for the reception of his family at Brisbane Waters and advised Headquarters that he was anxious to move his family from Lake Macquarie to the cottage without delay in February 1835. Henry Donnison was to perform his duties as Magistrate in the few days he would be absent from Lake Macquarie [1].


In 1840 a portion of land from Warner's estate was laid out for a township in 1/4 acres lots and advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald. It was called 'Lymington' and was described as being on the north eastern side of Lake Macquarie with a gradual ascent from the lake and an abundance of grape vines. There were no sales made and the lots were re advertised once again in 1855 however again failed to sell.
Lymington subdivision was again offered for sale by 'the Messrs Warner Brothers' in 1885. Quarter acre blocks fronting the lake at the north side of the Estate, close to the New Sydney Railway, the new reserve for Wallsend. Seven miles from the court house in Hunter St. Newcastle. [2]

Description of Lake Macquarie in 1870

Rev. John Dunmore Lang visited Lake Macquarie in April 1870 -
From Mr. Speer's station we skirted the lake for a few miles towards the heads, till we reached the residence or Mrs. Warner and her family, which is beautifully situated on the face of a hill sloping down to the lake and planted with orange trees. The view, from the balcony of Mrs. Warner s house is one of the most beautiful I have ever seen anywhere, a deep bay in front, with projecting points or heads corresponding to each other on both sides ; the opposite shores stretching along with little bays or indentations to the right and left, and a line of hills of moderate elevation wooded to the water's edge ; while the glassy water itself, sparkling in the sunbeams, seemed like a great cauldron oi molten silver. Mrs. Warner, who is now well up in years, is the widow of a military officer who, I believe, was commandant of one of the earlier settlements in the penal times of the colony. He had selected his grant of land on Lake Macquarie, and I cannot sufficiently admire his taste in fixing on so beautiful a site for his house. Mrs. Warner had called at my house with a friend on some business of her own twenty-seven years since, and that was the only time I had seen her or she had seen me. She is a Baptist, from Dublin, and a great admirer of Mr. Spurgeon's, whose sermons she gets out from home. She was very much gratified when I told her that I had heard Mr. Spurgeon repeatedly during my last visit to England, and that I had never heard him use a single word or expression out of joint [7]

In 1870 a traveller to the Lake described the estate:

My first sight of the lake was by moonlight, and at a point the view from which Dr. Lang has recently characterised in the columns of this journal as one of the finest even he, with all his varied experience, ever saw. Nor can I accuse the venerable doctor of exaggeration, for, without doubt, the view obtained on a fine sunshiny morning, or a clear moonlight night, from some of the slopes running down to Warner's Bay or Cockle Bay as it is marked upon the maps, magnificent and lovely beyond description.

At the time of my visit the moon was nearly at the full, and, having only recently risen, threw its long fiery gleam of red light across the waters as far as the eye could reach. The lake itself calm and dark, stretched away league after league in front of us to the far horizon, and save the occasional ding dong of a bullock bell the screeching of some night bird, or the distant and solemn roar of the waves of the great Pacific, as they broke at intervals on the rock bound coast at the Heads not a sound rose on the evening air to break the impressive silence which prevailed. Looking back in the direction of the creek we had just emerged from a low silvery fog had risen over it, and as I stood up in the boat, I could see it stretching its huge snake like length into the solitude of the surrounding bush, winding with the stream and gradually diminishing in the distance. On either side of us lay the thickly wooded shores of the lake and the margin of which in many placed is fringed with thick dark looking groves of acacia and fig tree but more commonly with stunted oaks and gums.

Proceeding up the lake in a westerly direction about five miles from the mouth of Cockle Creek, the visitor has his attention drawn to the residence of Mrs. Warner, the family to whom Dr. Lang paid a flying visit on his recent trip to Wallsend. The principal attraction here is an extensive orchard, the produce of which I have frequently hear spoken of in highly flattering terms. This is about the nearest point on the lake to Newcastle, and if the scale on the authorised map is to be depended upon, it is not much over eight miles distant there from in a direct line; by the ordinary route taken by Newcastle tourists, I daresay the distance is fully twelve or fourteen miles. Not having gone ashore at this spot, I cannot speak in such confident terms of the prospect obtained from Mrs. Warner's house as did Dr. Lang, in his sketch above referred to; but, from its eligible situation and its proximity to the water's edge, I can readily believe the view to be all that the doctor claims for it.[5]


Jonathan Warner died in 1843.

Notes and Links

1). Death - Warner - Died on 15th July 1876, at Lymington, Lake Macquarie in her 78th year, Mary, relict of the late Lieut. Jonathan Warner, leaving a large family and numerous friends to mourn their loss.

2). Trove - The Warner family of Australia : the story of Lieutenant Jonathan Warner and his family 1786 - 2008 / Suzanne Lotocki, Waldemar Lotocki . Also available at the Newcastle Library and the Warner's Bay Family History Society.


[1] Gosford (Brisbane Water) Court of Petty Sessions, Letter Books 1826 - 1874, 12 February 1835, Letter No. 35/6 (Ancestry)

[2] Newcastle Morning Herald 17 January 1885

[3] Newcastle Morning Herald 2 November 1902

[4] Government Gazette 27 April 1839

[5] Maitland Mercury 16 June 1870

[6] Suzanne and Waldemar Lotocki, The Warner Family of Australia, Helensvale, Queensland, Australia, 2008. p. 2.

[7] Newcastle Chronicle 28 April 1870