Free Settler or Felon?

James Bowman R.N.


First Name

Surname / Subject


James Bowman R.N.

Convict Ship Surgeon-Superintendent and Settler

Ravensworth - Map 5

James Bowman entered the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon in 1806. He was promoted to surgeon in 1807.  He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Mary Anne in 1816 and Lord Eldon in 1817.

Principal Surgeon

He arrived in Australia on the John Barry in 1819 having been appointed Principal Surgeon for the colony of New South Wales.

Australian Agricultural Company

James Bowman was on the local committee of the Australian Agricultural Company from 1824 until 1829. Other members of the committee were James Macarthur, Hannibal Macarthur, and Captain King.

He married Mary Isabella Macarthur, the second daughter of John Macarthur in 1823.


By 1832 he had established a sheep run on more than 11,000 acres at his Hunter Valley estate Ravensworth. He continued to work at the General Hospital in Sydney and did not reside at Ravensworth which was worked by overseers and assigned convicts.

Visitors to Ravensworth

In March 1832 Ravensworth was visited by Australian Agricultural company Commissioner Sir William Edward Parry and party on their journey to the Liverpool Plains.

The party consisting of Henry Dangar, Charles Hall, seven white men and 2 natives (one a former acquaintance of Henry Dangar called Paddy) left Maitland at 9 am and reached Glendon, the estate of Helenus and Robert Scott by 4pm. The following day they left Glendon at 10am and proceeded across Black Creek. After this the road passed James Mudie's Castle Forbes through Henry Dangar's Neotsfield to the Hunter River crossing near Singleton's Plough Inn. After crossing the river the first property was James Glennie's Dulwich and the road then went via Ravensworth where they arrived at at 3 o'clock.

They were kindly received at Ravensworth by managers Mr.and Mrs. James White who were formerly in the service of the Australian Agricultural Company. Here Parry was comfortably lodged, although he did not think highly of the Estate. He thought a great deal of money must have been spent to clear and stump large home paddocks. The flat land near the Foy Brook, Mr. White did not consider good and the higher land was too thickly timbered with ironbark to be of any good or even middling quality. Dr. Bowman was building a substantial stone cottage for the use of Mr. White. Their garden consisted of 8 acres fenced with a paling fence and a little stream running through it. It was partly laid out in a tasteful and ornamental manner. Parry thought that if 5 or 6 men could always be employed it could soon be a very handsome garden however he thought it (the garden) too large for a private estate like Ravensworth. [1]

On leaving Ravensworth, Parry's party would have continued on the road which passed over Saltwater Creek and over the ridges. Once in the valley the road divided with one branch proceeding to Muswellbrook and the other towards Edinglassie and Merton.

The Ravensworth estate was visited By Lieutenant George Pulteney Malcolm in October/ November 1835.....

Lieutenant Malcolm had arrived on the Henry Porcher in 1835 and spent over a year in New South Wales travelling extensively. He kept a journal throughout the voyage and afterwards on his travels in Australia. A copy of the journal is held by the State Library of New South Wales.

Lieutenant Malcolm spent six weeks in the Hunter region where he also visited Robert and Helenus Scott at Glendon and brothers Henry Dumaresq and William Dumaresq.

Ravensworth was also visited by missionaries Backhouse and Walker in June 1836.


During these years James Bowman engaged architect John Verge to design and build a mansion on 36 acres at Glebe in Sydney called Lyndhurst. He may not have resided here very long as he had retired to Ravensworth by 1840 when James White departed.


At Singleton he became involved in community affairs in the district and held the position of President of the Singleton Benevolent Society and donated land for a church near Camberwell.

Convicts Assigned to Ravensworth Estate

Thomas Ainsworth per Camden 1833
Charles Andrews per Georgiana 1831

William Banks - per John 1827
John Baker per Countess of Harcourt 1822
William Barker per Camden 1831
William Baxter per Surry 1834
George Brassingham per Tottenham 1818
John Buckley per Hive 1835
Richard Burnett per Marquis of Huntley 1826 - Occupation Stonemason

John Campbell per Portland 1832
Thomas Cavender - Exmouth 1831 - Occupation Waterman
Thomas Coyle per Sir Godfrey Webster 1826 - Occupation Shepherd
Alexander Cummings per Hive 1834

Robert Dakin per Guildford 1827. Occupation Shepherd
Robert Darcy per Cambridge 1827. Occupation labourer
Richard Davis per Waterloo 1836. Occupation Pavoir's boy
Sophia Davis per Midas 1825. Occupation Housemaid.
George Delbridge per Lord Sidmouth 1819. Occupation - Organ builder
James Devlin per Morley 1828
John Dolly per General Hewitt 1814
John Doyle per Calcutta 1837
Charles Duckett per Lady Feversham 1830. Occupation Basket weaver

Martin Fallon per Eliza 1827 - Occupation Shepherd
William Fitzgerald per Bengal Merchant 1838. Occupation Labourer
Charles Fletcher per Bussorah Merchant 1828. Occupation Labourer
James Fordham per Ocean 1823. Occupation Shepherd
Michael Fox per Eliza 1827. Occupation Labourer
James Francis per Isabella 1818. Occupation Labourer
George Freeman per Lloyds 1833. Occupation Wheelwright

John George per Recovery 1819. Occupation Gardener.
Patrick Garrett per Jane 1831. Occupation Carter
Peter Geraghty per Roslin Castle 1833. Occupation Inddor servant, footman and valet
George Gordon per Hive 1834. Occupation Servant boy.
John Gower per Layton 1829. Occupation ploughman and butcher.

Hannah Haigh per Buffalo 1833
John Haigh per Morley 1829
George Harrison per Roslin Castle 1834. Occupation labourer
Thomas Hassall per Exmouth. Occupation Ploughs, milks, reaps.
Stephen Hedges per Marquis of Hastings 1828. Occupation Labourer
John Hewitson per Countess of Harcourt 1824. Occupation Labourer.
Sarah Hitchman per Grenada 1825
Charles Hodgets per Prince Regent `827. Occupation Labourer
Thomas Howard. Age 11. Apprentice

John Jackson per Exmouth 1831. Occupation Jeweller
Robert Jackson per Speke 1826. Occupation Stonemason
Thomas James per Agamemnon 1820. Occupation Shoemaker.
Thomas Jenkins per Marquis of Huntley 1835. Occupation Cabinet maker's boy.
Richard Jones per Hooghley 1834
Anthony Joseph per Lady Nugent 1835

James Lamb per Asia 1825 (III)
Robert Lawton per Layton 1829. Occupation cotton spinner.
James Lewis per Bengal Merchant 1835. Occupation groom.
Thomas Light per Midas 1827. Occupation Shepherd.

John May per Elizabeth 1820. Occupation Shepherd.
Bernard McClusky per Royal Sovereign 1834
William McGeary per Heroine 1833
John McLachlan per Morley 1817. Occupation labourer.
Samuel Millard per Parmelia 1832
William Morgan per Heroine 1833. Occupation labourer.
Brian Mullaney per Portland 1833. Occupation labourer.
Michael Murphy per Bussorah Merchant 1831

Matthew Noble per Sophia 1829

Stephen Orwood per Tottenham 1818. Occupation labourer.
Samuel Owens per Mary 1822
Abraham Oxley per Fairlie 1834

William Peach per Lady Harewood 1832. Occupation ploughman
Thomas Porter per Bussorah Merchant 1828

Patrick Relish per Sophia 1829. Occupation Shepherd.
John Reiley per Jane 1831
Henry Renshaw per Aurora 1833
Peter Reynolds per Royal Sovereign 1834. Occupation Groom and Dragoon.
Edward Roberts per John 1832. Occupation Steam loom weaver
Richard Ryan per Eliza 1827. Occupation shoemaker

Robert (Edward) Scott per Sophia 1829
William Short per Sophia 1829. Horse dealer and farrier.
James Smith per Henry Porcher 1825
John Smith per Manlius 1827
Antonio Spebzino per Lady Feversham 1830. Occupation Tailor.
Richard Stark per Royal Charlotte 1825
Daniel Sweeney per Daphne 1819

James Thomas per Agamemnon 1820
William Thomas per Bussorah Merchant 1828. Occupation Labourer.
Patrick Thompson per Bussorah Merchant 1831.
William Thorn per Sarah 1829. Occupation top sawyer.
Joseph Tow per Burrell 1830. Occupation groom.

William Vizard per Vittoria. Occupation Labourer.

Elizabeth Wadley per Grenada 1827. Occupation house servant.
William Wadsworth per Guildford 1822. Occupation Blacksmith.
William Walker per Mermaid 1830. Occupation Ploughman
George Watkins per Mellish 1829.
James Watson per Eliza 1820. Occupation Stockman
John Webb per America 1829
William Wharton per Marquis of Huntley 1835
John Wilday per Albion 1827. Occupation carpenter.
Henry Williams per Mermaid 1830. Occupation errand boy.
George Williamson per Strathfieldsaye 1836.
Samuel Wilson per Ocean 1823. Occupation Shepherd.
John Wood per Lloyds 1833

George Yarwood per Manlius 1827. Occupation Shepher.

Free Emigrant Workers at Ravensworth

John Alexander - Occupation Mariner. Came free. Employed as superintendent by James Bowman in 1828
George Unicombe per Lady Nugent
William and Susan Aubry per James Pattison 1840
James McLaren per Brilliant
John and Eliza Edmonds per James Pattison

Death of James Bowman

James Bowman died in August 1846 at Ravensworth. After his death Ravensworth was purchased by Captain William Russell.

Captain William Russell

Captain Russell arrived in the colony in 1837 and became a pastoralist and agriculturalist. He later acquired other properties as well including Glenridding near Singleton, Waverley and Cheshunt Park.

William Russell died in England in 1866. Ravensworth was subdivided in 1882 and part of the estate was eventually purchased by Duncan Forbes Mackay.

Notes and Links

1). Parliamentary Papers - Correspondence relative to Crown Lands.

2). Among the Pastoralists - Maitland Weekly Mercury 7 September 1895

3). Ravensworth Homestead Restorations


[1].Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954) Fri 18 Feb 1927,  Page 4,  Early Days Of Port Stephens


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