Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Matthew Chapman - Settler

The Grange - Map 3

Matthew Chapman's estate The Grange could be found near the head of Uwarabin Creek and the village reserve of Uwarabin. It was situated in a grazing district known as Wallarobba where the grass was plentiful and timber scant. [5]

Ferdinand Anley Matthew Chapman John Hooke John Mann Benjamin Sullivan Alexander McDuff Baxter James Dowling John Lord Alexander Park Charles Boydell Francis Gibbes John McIntyre Joseph Rookin John Verge Crawford Brown Grayson Hartley Duncan Mackay Major Smeathman Charles Windeyer Henry John Lindeman George Townshend Lawrence Myles Early Hunter Valley Settler Map 3

A Visit from James Backhouse

Missionary James Backhouse described his two day visit to Ann and Matthew Chapman in July 1836....

19th 7th mo.

Leaving the alluvial flats of the river, we crossed a number of poor, grassy, forest-hills, extending most of the way to -Walaroba, the residence of Matthew and Ann Chapman, distant about ten miles from Dingadee, and about eight from the navigable parts of the William's and Paterson's Rivers : here we received a very cordial welcome, and had much conversation respecting the family of this hospitable pair in England. M. and A. Chapman are from Whitby, but resided many years in Lancashire, where most of their property was lost in farming in unpropitious times.

When they emigrated to this country, Matthew Chapman's knowledge of agriculture and of cattle, gave him great advantage over most of the settlers in New South Wales, who having generally been brought up to other occupations, have much of their experience to purchase at a dear rate. The land at Walaroba is suited for horned cattle, of which M. Chapman has about nine hundred head: he has also a good stock of horses: his cultivation is limited to the supply of his own establishment, and is conducted on a succession of wheat, maize, and fallow, with manure, which is generally wasted in this country, and fresh land broken up when the pieces in cultivation are run out. His young orchard is promising, and stocked with fruit-trees, adapted to this climate, among which, grape-vines, oranges, lemons, and peaches, hold principal stations.

He obtained an original grant some years ago, and has added to it, by subsequent purchases, till he now possesses about four thousand acres: it is well situated for water, which he says is scarce in dry weather in many parts of the neighbourhood. In the evening the servants (eleven in number) were assembled, and we had an open religious opportunity.

It was pleasant to find a kindly feeling toward the poor blacks in Matthew and Ann Chapman; about whom these poor creatures live in quietude and in confidence. The Chapmans say, that they are quite convinced, that the misunderstandings between the blacks and whites always originate with the latter, many of whom would destroy the blacks if they happened to take a few cobs of Indian-corn from the fields taken up from their own country. Matthew Chapman strongly deprecates the indiscriminate vengeance often returned upon this hapless people, when any of their number have committed outrages, by the government sending armed police, or soldiers upon them, often before the merits of the case can be ascertained. Within about five years the number of blacks in this neighbourhood has diminished from about two hundred to sixty : many of them died of small-pox.

20th 7th mo. One of the blacks had brought M. and A. Chapman a present of a small species of kangaroo, called in this part of the colony a paddy-melon: making allowance for difference of form, it may be said to be about the size of the hare of England, which it is said to resemble when roasted.

In the evening we had a meeting with the people of this establishment, and some of their neighbours: the company amounted to about thirty, and we were enabled to preach to them the unsearchable riches of Christ, under a precious feeling of the Divine presence, directing them to the convictions and guidance of the Holy Spirit
. [1]

Aboriginal Workers

It seems it was a common practice to allow natives to have guns at The Grange, however Matthew Chapman came into trouble when he allowed two natives to borrow his guns to kill paddy melons as Magistrate Captain Thomas Cook kept an eye open for armed natives. On November 2nd he wrote to Matthew Chapman as follows:

A complaint having been made to me that two blacks, 'Possum' and 'Cocky,' were found near your place on Sunday last with arms in their possession contrary to law I have to request that, as it appears they acted under your orders, that the culprits be sent in on Friday next, or at farthest, Friday week to answer for the offence; and that you appear personally to give the necessary explanation. No white or black can now carry firearms on a Sunday for pleasure or profit with impunity. The fine is not more than £5 nor less than £2.' Matthew Chapman appeared in person at the Dungog court and explained that he had lent the arms to the blacks for the purpose of shooting wallabies. The natives were admonished and Matthew Chapman was fined £4. [4]

Life as a Settler

Matthew Chapman worked hard to establish the horse stud at The Grange and had maintained his holdings as the depression took hold of the Colony, however there were many challenges facing settlers including drought, flood, bushrangers and cattle thieves. In June 1842 Chapman was offering, in conjunction with the Williams River Association, the very large reward of £100 to any person who gave information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the theft of horses and cattle, in particular stock that had been driven from the neighbourhood of Wallarobba. Two men, Thomas Jocelyn and Thomas Black had previously been accused of stealing horses from The Grange, however after a lengthy trial were found not guilty.

Assigned Convict Servants

John Clanvane arrived per Larkins 1829
James Minham per Phoenix 1828
Patrick Phelan per Captain Cook 1832
Robert Chitty per Sophia 1829
John Shirley per Surry 1834
James Wells per Hercules 1832
James Hughes per Clyde 1838
James Seddon per Camden 1831
Charles Barlow per Royal Admiral 1830
Martin Mercer per Marquis of Huntley 1828
Thomas Potter per Susan 1836
Martin Shannon per Hercules 1830
George Hudson per Royal Admiral 1830
John Woolmore per Henry Porcher 1835
James Cunnane per Portland 1833
Philip Corbett per Portland 1833


In January 1843 The Grange was robbed by three armed men with blackened faces who stole a fowling piece and clothes belonging to Mrs. Chapman's wardrobe. They told the Chapman family they had escaped from Nobby's Island, although this was not believed and it was generally considered that they were settler's men together with a convict from a Newcastle iron gang. [2]

The Grange had been robbed before. In August 1839 four armed men - William Atkinson and Iram Holmes and Thomas Farrow and William Rowley attacked the estate stealing valuable items; and on 30th November 1840 a gang known as the Jewboy gang consisting of John Marshall, Edward Davis and John Shea bailed up Mr. Chapman and his men in the back yard, and searched the house. They took nothing of consequence save two saddles, saddle-bags, bridles, brandy, tea, sugar, buckshot, etc., they then caught two mares of Mr. Chapman's. When they rode out from the property, Chapman's assigned servant Robert Chitty rode with them.


In 1844 Matthew Chapman was killed at 'an awkward creek, cradled with solid rocks, slanting and edged like a mass of flag stones blown up by gunpowder'. He had been on the way home from a stock sale in Dungog. The following account of his death appeared in the Maitland Mercury in August 1844:

'A most melancholy accident took place at Dungog on Saturday evening last, at the close of our half yearly sale. Matthew Chapman, Esq of the Grange, well known in this part for his hospitality, was on his way home from the sale accompanied by Mr. Wilkinson. They had only proceeded about two miles, when, on coming to Stoney Creek, which is one entire flag or rock, Mr. Chapman's horse cantered down, and on reaching the bottom the girth broke, and Mr. Chapman fell off on the left side, head foremost. Mr. W. endeavoured to raise him up, but could not, and he then returned to the township for medical aid. Dr. McKinlay hastened to the spot but on his arrival found that Mr. Chapman was insensible; he had him removed back to the Dungog Inn, where every attention was paid him but it was of no avail; at half past seven the next morning he expired.

On Monday there was an inquest held on the body before John Skottowe Parker, Esq coroner. It appeared that Mr. Chapman had left home with two girths, but that during the day some bad person had taken one off the horse, to which may in a great measure be attributed his lamented death. On Tuesday his body was carried to The Grange by a large party of the respectable inhabitants of the district. His death is universally regretted; Mr. C was in the habit of keeping open house for all travellers. It is feared the shock will be almost fatal to Mrs. Chapman.'

Ann Chapman

Despite the death of her husband and difficult financial conditions of the times, his wife Ann Charlotte Chapman managed to carry on at The Grange. Nine months after her husband's death in April 1845 she entered some of her stock in the Hunter River Agricultural Society show. In 1847 the following advertisement appeared in the Mercury:

Important and Extensive Sale by Auction at The Grange On Tuesday the 17th day of August 1847 at 11 o'clock Of first rate High bred mares and fillies all in foal to the celebrated horse 'Cleveland'; superior saddle horses, 4 and 5 off, well broken; a lot of splendid colts, 3 and 4 off; a herd of well bred horned cattle, comprising bullocks for slaughter, or the yoke, cows and heifers near calving Mr. Jeremiah Ledsam has been honoured with instructions from Mrs. A.C. Chapman to sell by public auction, at her Residence, The Grange Midway between the Paterson Township and Dungog - A splendid lot of superior horse stock being a selection from the proprietors, magnificent stud. Mr. Ledsam respectfully invites the special attention of gentlemen resident in the rich and fertile districts of the upper and lower Paterson, the City of Sydney, Maitland the Hunter River districts and the public generally to this splendid important and extensive sale of superior and well bred mares, fillies horses and colts to be held at The Grange the residence of the proprietor. The stock to be submitted is a choice selection from Mrs. A.C. Chapman's splendid and important stud which for years past has been so justly celebrated for perfect symmetry, blood, bone, sinew and strength. The progeny of the noble horse Cleveland has been pronounces by competent judges to be quite superior and admirably adapted to the wants of the India market. The magnitude of the sale induced Mr. L to anticipate a numerous assemblage of intending purchasers who are likely to acquire on this occasion superior stock on safe and highly advantageous terms.

At the time of his death, Matthew Chapman was said to be the largest proprietor of horse stock in the area and the best judge as well.

Ann Charlotte Chapman died at The Grange aged 79 years in April 1867 [3]

The Estate was offered for sale soon afterwards - Important sale of Valuable Freehold Pastoral Properties - 3300 acres of agricultural and grazing land permanently watered, adjoining a large extent of unoccupied Crown Lands....The Grange - the residence of the late Matthew Chapman comprising 1280 acres of agricultural and grazing land a considerable portion of which had been cleared fenced and cultivated with a pleasantly situated dwelling house, orchards etc., Also Wallaringa, originally the residence of the late H.I. Pilcher, Esq., adjoining the above comprising 1920 acres of excellent land, suitable for cultivation and grazing purposes, with abundance of water in all seasons. Also - A block of 100 acres of land on Wallarobba Creek adjoining The Grange.


[1] Backhouse, James, Extracts from the letters of James Backhouse: whilst engaged in a Religious Visit to Van Diemen's Land, New South Wales and South Africa accompanied by George Washington Walker, London 1842, Volume 1, p.78

[2] Maitland Mercury 28 January 1843

[3] Maitland Mercury 23 April 1867

[4] Dungog Chronicle 13 May 1919

[5] Maitland Mercury 8 October 1887 from Tegg's Pocket Almanac 1842