Hunter Valley Colonial Medical Practitioners


John Gill

Bickham, Murrurundi

John Mander Gill may have been the son of John Mander Gill of the 46th regiment who was in Sydney prior to 1817 and died in 1823.

Dr. John Mander Gill's estate near Murrurundi was known as Bickham and had previously been a grant to John Johnson Cory who died in 1839.

In December 1841, John Gill accompanied Magistrate Edward Denny Day when he led a determined pursuit party to track down a desperate band of bushrangers known as the 'Jewboy gang' who had terrorized Brisbane Water and Hunter Valley districts for months.

John Gill joined the pursuit party when they passed through Murrurundi. Others who joined the party were Edward White, Richard Dangar, Mr. Warren, William Shinkwin and several ticket of leave men - Walker, Evans, Peter Dawe and John Doran. They surprised the bushrangers at Doughboy Hollow near Murrurundi where they found them casting musket balls, and after a brief battle the notorious gang were captured. This did not however, put an end the lawlessness of the district which was notorious for cattle duffers and thieves.

In 1843 the district had only one Magistrate - As licensing day is fast approaching, and we have only one unpaid magistrate at Murrurundi his Excellency the governor would confer an obligation on the inhabitants or this district, by appointing another, as three magistrates are required. We know of no gentleman residing in our district better calculated for the office than Dr. Gill of Bickham, a gentleman of independent principles and strict integrity. We should be glad to see him administering justice on our bench. (1)

As well as his pastoral pursuits at Bickham, John Gill attended to medical duties and in 1841 he testified at the inquest of George Clerk. He played an active role at the race meetings in the district and was steward at the Page's River Races in the 1840's. According to an article in the Maitland Mercury he also kept hunting dogs and joined others in the area in hunting down 'native dogs' (dingoes).

John Maunder Gill died on 5th February 1858 at Moonbi near Tamworth. His widow Elizabeth Mary Gill gave birth to a daughter on the 17th September 1858. Their eldest daughter Sarah Mary died age 19 in 1875. Elizabeth Mary Gill died in England in November 1884.

Many years after his death John Gill was still remembered throughout the district. A correspondent to the Maitland Mercury wrote of him:

The Haydons and Brodies were the great landed proprietors of Murrurundi in those days, and Mr. Warland owned the Harben Vale estate. Mr. Cory's Bickham estate was let to Dr. Gill and Mr. Edward White - who was a brother of Mr. (James)White of Edinglassie. The partners were extremely popular in the district. Dr. Gill was a personal friend of my own; he married Miss Webb, a famous beauty, related to the Littles of Cressfield. He bought the Moonbi Station and died there. He has lain in Tamworth churchyard for many a long year, yet I can still recall at will the soldierly, stately figure, the dark curling hair, and flashing hazel eyes of John Maunder Gill.


Notes & Links:

(1)Maitland Mercury 18 March 1843

Marriage of John Gill of Moonby near Tamworth to Elizabeth Mary, eldest daughter of the late John Webb of Sydney on 14th June. Minister Rev. Edward Williams - Maitland Mercury 24 June 1854.

John Mander Gill (senior) of the 46th......

Sheffield silver salver inscribed on underside "To Capt. Gill By his Friend Capt. J. Wallis 46th Regt", 1817 - The maker's mark is that of James Ellis & Co., whose mark was first registered in 1793. The inscription is a dedication from Captain James Wallis, Commandant of the Newcastle penal settlement to his friend and fellow officer, Captain John Maunder Gill. Both were officers in the 46th Regiment and had joined the regiment as young men in the early 1800s. Both had served as ensigns in the West Indies against Napoleon's forces and both took part in the famous battle of Dominica in 1805. By 1813 when their regiment sailed for New South Wales, Wallis and Gill had risen through the ranks to become captains. Gill became Acting Engineer for the colony soon after arriving in Sydney up to his departure in December 1817......State Library of New South Wales

List of Officers of the 46th regiment

Will of John Maunder Gill, Captn 46th Regiment of Foot of Cardiff , Glamorgan - National Archives

Biraban was born about 1800 at Bahtahbah (now Belmont) into the Hunter River–Lake Macquarie language group. He acquired his English name from ‘Captain M’Gill’ (John Mander Gill), who brought him up at the Military Barracks in Sydney, and took his totem name Biriban (Eaglehawk) at his initiation in 1826. Biriban is best known as the language informant of the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld, a Congregational minister, who in 1824 established a mission for the Aboriginal people at ‘Ebenezer’ (Toronto) on Lake Macquarie. Threlkeld described Biriban as ‘a noble specimen of his race, my companion and teacher in the language for many years’. (2)

 C918-0125 "Biraban" (John McGill), Portrait, 1839..Biraban portrait (John McGill) University of Newcastle Cultural Collections (Click to englarge)







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