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Newcastle Pilots and Harbour Masters

Alexander Livingstone

Alexander Livingstone arrived on the Jessie in 1821 and travelled to Newcastle as early as 1822. He maintained ties with the city for the rest of his life and owned allotments 200 and 202 in Newcastle as well as land in other locations.


He was part owner with Rapsey and Mitchell in the famous little cutter Lord Liverpool and had very many adventures and nearly perished on more than one occasion while doing duty as Captain on that vessel.

The Australian reported in October 1827 - 'Whilst the cutter, Lord Liverpool, was beating out of the harbour of Newcastle last week, with a smart breeze, on her passage to Sydney, she was unluckily suffered to drive upon a sand bank, and it required the most active and skilful exertions of her commander and others concerned, to preserve her from imminent destruction. At the time of her taking the ground a pilot was on board, and his boat which was a whaleboat lay towing a stern. Into this jumped the master of the Lord Liverpool, and with several hands was actively engaged in endeavouring to help off the fine little craft from her perilous situation, when a surge took the boat, swamped and swallowed her. One of the pilot's crew unhappily sunk to a briny grave. Mr. Livingstone, the master, got under the boat for some moments and was nearly suffocated before he could again float to the surface. By dint of hard swimming and considerable exertions, however, Mr. L. and his companions managed to escape from the devouring element. And after grinding on the bank for some minutes, the little vessel was again floated off into deep water, her bottom being somewhat damaged, and her rudder sprung, two of the pintles being gone.'[1]


In February 1830 he was congratulated for piloting the Cumberland into Newcastle harbour, it being the largest vessel to have ever entered the harbour to that date.


He married Miss Mary Dillon in 1826 [3] and retired for a time to his farm near Hinton in 1830.
He was also granted land near Kingdon Ponds in 1830.


He was well regarded and a dinner was given in his honor in 1830. The newspapers recorded the following article: 'At Cummings Hotel (Sydney) - On Friday last, the 12th instant, a select party of those friends of Captain Livingstone, residing in Sydney, entertained that gentleman at dinner at Cummings' Hotel, on the occasion of his retiring from the command of the Lord Liverpool Packet, to settle on his estate at Hunter's river. The dinner was got up in Cummings's best style. After the usual patriotic toasts to the King, Army, Navy, and His Excellency General Darling the Chairman, Mr. Maziere rose and addressing Captain Livingstone said,


We cannot witness your resigning the command of the Lord Liverpool packet without expressing our regret at losing so indefatigable and able a commander. That regret, however, is obliterated when we learn that your labours have been crowned with the success you so justly merit, and that a happy retirement invites you to your farm. During a period of seven years, we have observed with much satisfaction, the upright and faithful discharge of all those duties which are combined in your abilities as a commander, your conduct as a gentleman, and your zeal and attention as a friend to the comforts of all those who have had the pleasure of sailing as passengers with you. To convince you of our sincerity and friendship we beg your acceptance of a piece of plate (presenting him with it), whereon are inscribed our feelings towards you. We cannot conclude without wishing you a long continuance of health and happiness and that your future exertions may be attended with the same success, in ploughing the land, as they were in that of the ocean. With every assurance of regard, we are your sincere and attached friends.

Captain Livingstone appeared greatly affected, and with much emotion replied -

"The very handsome compliment you have just paid me affords the most heartfelt satisfaction; yet I am induced to think you have greatly over rated any merit that attaches to me: for, if in conducting the Lord Liverpool for the few past years, my exertions to contribute to the comfort of you, gentlemen, and others who were passengers, have met approbation, I consider that I was merely fulfilling my duty, whilst at the same time, I had the pleasure of your agreeable society. Your expressions of esteem are therefore the more gratifying and will render my retirement more happy, from the consideration of possessing the regard of so respectable a number of individuals. The piece of plate by which you further mark your kindness, I gratefully accept and can only say I shall ever prize so flattering a testimonial. Allow me, in concluding to return you individually and collectively my best wishes for your health and prosperity.

Captain Livingstone sat down amidst repeated cheers which having subsided, the chairman proposed his health which was drank with the greatest enthusiasm. The pleasure of the table were continued until a late hour, when the party closed, after passing a very pleasant and cheerful evening. Palmam qui meruit ferat. N.B. (Let him bear the palm who has deserved it.


Alexander Livingstone returned to Newcastle after a few years and was appointed harbour master, a position he held until 1858 when he retired from his position.

Select here to read about the removal of the Signal Staff at Newcastle in 1858.


[1]. The Australian 10 October 1827

[2]. The Australian 19 February 1830

[3]. Sydney Gazette 19 July 1826