Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

John Laurio Platt - Settler

Iron Bark Hill - Map 1

John Laurio Platt was born in 1782 in Basford, Nottingham, England in 1784, the son of a Church of England clergyman. He joined the Navy when he was nineteen and served under Sir Alexander Cochrane and Lord Cochrane, Sir James Yeo during the Anglo-American War of 1812, and Captains Beaver and Parker on the Gold Coast of Africa. He was wounded only once during his fourteen year service. He retired from the Navy in 1814 and was appointed Harbormaster at Heliogoland, where a British garrison was quartered under the command of the Hon. Colonel King. Here he married Miss Rose Ann Dutton, daughter of the British Consul at Cuxhaven. [1]

Arrival in the Colony

When peace was declared with France the garrison was withdrawn from Heliogoland and the Platt family decided to try their fortunes in the colonies. John and Rosanne Platt with their children Frederick William age 11, Robert age 9 and Jane 71/2 arrived on the Providence in 1822. He brought with him an introductory letter from Under-Secretary Goulburn to Gov. Brisbane dated 25 May 1821:
This letter will be delivered to you by Mr. John Platt, who proceeds, with his family, to settle in New South Wales, and proposes to erect sawmills and other machinery in the colony.
As Mr. Platt has been, for some years past, employed under this Department, both on the lakes in Canada and as Harbour Master in Heligoland, and as he has served, not only with credit to himslf, but with advantage to the public service, I have been directed by Lord Bathurst to introduce him more particularly to your notice and protection as having claims beyond those of an ordinary settler

Land Grant

He received permission to travel to Newcastle on the Elizabeth Henrietta in February 1822 and took with him a letter to Colonial Morisset at the settlement confirming permission to land and select land. William Dun who selected land at Paterson also made to voyage to Newcastle at this time.

Having brought with him from England the letter of introduction, John L. Platt was officially granted 2000 acres in the County of Northumberland on 21 August 1822 (Iron Bark Hill). The land he selected was virgin bush and scrub land and abounded with game of every description. The flats were the haunt of the wild duck and the adjacent bush contained kangaroos, wallabys and bandicoot. [1] The grant extended from 'The Folly'(Mayfield) to Ironbark Creek [2] On this land opposite Ash Island, with the use of convict labour, John Platt built a homestead, windmill and farm on a rise east of Iron Bark Creek.
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

Settler Life

In 1824 fire destroyed Platt's crop and he had difficulties with his workers as well as with the mill he had built. He attempted to mine coal from his land, taking the coal to the harbour in a barge. By 1826 circumstances may have improved for him as his land was sown with wheat down to the river and he had been issued with twenty cows from the Government Store in 1825. He was also in possession of a town allotment in Newcastle. Overseer at Iron Bark Creek in the 1830's was William Wooger Vitnell.

Assigned Convict Servants

Some of the convicts assigned to John Platt at Iron Bark Hill included -

John Attwell per Neptune

Edward Bedford, soldier of the 48th regt.,

James Bennett per York

John Benson per Recovery;

James Browne per Prince Regent;

Thomas Butler per Neptune;

Edward Chapman per Morley;

Samuel Chapman per Neptune;

Thomas Collins per Almorah;

James Curtis per Prince of Orange;

Joseph Garrett per Guildford;

James Gilroy per Mangles;

Thomas Glenny per Brampton;

Thomas Harriott (Herod) per Minerva;

Mary Hart per Woodman;

John Kelly per Morley;

John Lewis per Marquis of Hastings;

James Limeburner per Sesostris;

George Mackin per Almorah

Anthony Murphy per Agamemnon

John Paine per Royal Admiral

James Rawlins per Coromandel

John Savage per England;

John Shutt per Earl St. Vincent

Lydea Smith per Louisa;

James Smith per Earl St. Vincent

Thomas Strattles per Little Mary

Richard Twycross per Marquis of Wellington

William Vallance per Adamant 1821

James Whittle per Nithsdale;

James Whitney per Hercules;

John Wilson per Elizabeth

Eli Wooton per Greyhound


A daughter Mary was born to John and Rosanne in 1823 and Louisa (known as Sally) followed in 1825. Son John Laurio was born c. 1827 and another son William Thompson Platt was born in 1831.


In 1831 misfortune struck the family when two of their sons Robert aged 13 and and John Laurio aged 4 were killed in a fire. Their bodies were buried in the Christ Church burial ground, the Church of which could perhaps be seen in the distance from Platt's farm. By this calamity the family was thrown into a debilitating depression from which it never recovered despite a daughter Roseanne being born the following year. Select here to read correspondence written by John Platt in January 1835 outlining his misfortunes....Transcribed by Gionni Di Gravio 27th June 2006 Cultural Collections (Archives), Auchmuty Library University of Newcastle.

Iron Bark Hill


John Laurio Platt died on 17th May 1836 aged 54. Mr. Platt was one of the first emigrant settlers on Hunter's River and was followed to his grave by all the Military, Civil Officers, and gentlemen of the town. (SG)

Rosanne died in October 1836 leaving the remaining children orphaned.

John L. Platt's Children

The children were adopted by Edward C. Close of Morpeth. In 1838 daughter Roseanne Platt died age 5 years of age. She was buried in the Glebe Burial Ground at Maitland.

In 1847 Louisa Platt aged 22 married Edward Close junior in Morpeth and there were great festivities on the occasion with firing of guns and ringing of bells. That evening a huge bonfire was set alight and a procession with tar barrels made round the town.

Another daughter Jane married Rinaldo Schebberas in 1842 and Ann Lydia married John Norton Oxley son of explorer John Oxley. William Platt married Mary Eliza Brooks a daughter of surgeon George Brooks in 1860. Eldest son Frederick William Platt remained in Newcastle. In 1837 he was employed by James Reid at his Stores and an overseer, Mr. Godfrey was employed at the family property.

Australian Agricultural Company

The land that had been granted to John Laurio Platt was sold to the Australian Agricultural Company in 1839 for £6000, however Frederick Platt remained in the district. His house, nine miles from Raymond Terrace, was robbed by four bushrangers who escaped from Newcastle in 1842. Select here to find out more about these bushrangers. By 1843 Frederick was residing in Morpeth.

Gravestone of Frederick Platt - Geni


[1]. The Newcastle Sun 3 August 1936

[2]. Dungog Chronicle 2 June 1931

[3] Campbell JF (1926). The Genesis of Rural Settlement on the Hunter. Royal Australian Historical Society, Journal and Proceedings Vol XII part II 1926.