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Hunter Valley Settlers

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John Wighton - Map 10

 


Joseph Pennington Thomas Gill Jacob Newton Francis Allman William Fisher Hugh Torrence John Wighton Joseph Thew Thomas Bartie


John Wighton arrived on the Stirling Castle  in 1831. He purchased part of his estate at auction from the Church and School Lands Corporation in 1832

Two of the convicts assigned to John Wighton in 1833 at Nelsons Plains were John Walton a cloth dresser and James Williamson a labourer. Both arrived on the Camden in 1833. John Wighton also received a grant of  1000 acres of land at Seaham in 1836

Wighton was Director of Society for the Protection of stock and in 1834 he was offering a reward for the apprehension of the person responsible for killing John Smith's horse.

In July 1835 the Sydney Gazette printed the following article :

'Mr. Wighton, whose name we find appended to the proceeding, is a young gentleman who attempted, as far as we can learn, to trim nicely between the opponent parties of flogging tremendously and flogging moderately notoriety. We happen to know something of him as connected with the party then dominant, at least in noise and nonsense - but much as we should feel disposed to discredit any rumor of his justice ship, upon the model now before us, if that was only hearsay evidence, this extract, apparently from the books of record, is such as must oblige the executive to institute enquiry. If it is a slander on Mr. Wighton, the government must protect him; but in any event, we do not see how His Excellency can safely overlook a case of extraordinary flogging, when so openly brought under his observation.

"To the Editor of the Australian'

Sir,

We see and hear much of the inefficiency of Governor Bourke's Act - but I think the accompanying copy of Warrants of one Magistrate will astonish some folks

A Witness

(Copy)

Brandon July 15th 1835

George Harris, per Albion, assigned to Mr. John Galt Smith, Paterson's River (1st offence) insubordinate conduct 50 lashes; gross insolence to his master, 50 lashes; disobedience of orders 50 lashes; (2nd offence), disobedience of orders 50 lashes. In the presence of the Surgeon at Newcastle

"Thomas Ledan, per ship Asia, assigned to Mr. John Galt Smith, Paterson's Plains, insubordination conduct 50 lashes; disobedience of orders and insolence 50 lashes; disobedience of orders, 25 lashes. In presence of the Surgeon at Newcastle

(signed) John Wighton J.P"

'In our plain way we consider that the three or four punishments are for one offence - that of insolence or disobedience. Had it been for robbery, personal violence o some scandalous crime, such an extreme lashing and lacerating of human flesh would have probably been justified. Let it be imaged that the prisoners after getting fifty , have their backs laid open and red raw. A week brings a scab naturally on the sore- the second fifty cuts this off, sinks deeper and deeper on each punishment, until the man's back bone is actually deprived of flesh. It would be a far more humane plan to employ a butcher to cut of the flesh with a knife at once. than to cut and thump away for three or four times upon a man's back in this way. But we cannot credit the authenticity of this extract. It is not at all probably that you a gentleman, whom we imagine has his feelings keen and correct, would authorize such a punishment for such an offence. We anxiously away his vindication. If it is not speedily afforded we shall again recur to the subject, and assume from silence, the correctness of the present statement.'

John Wighton was in dispute with the Sydney Gazette over articles published in August 1835 accusing him of selling spirits illegally and with other acts 'disgraceful to his character as a magistrate and gentleman'. He was later awarded 500 damages. Read more about the case here

Within twelve months of the above scandal John Wighton had passed away, and in August 1836 the whole of his personal effects were to be auctioned at Brandon. His obituary was printed in the Colonist on 2nd June 1836....

The Late John Wighton Esq., J.P., of Wighton Hall and Brandon, Williams River died at the Royal Hotel, Sydney, on Friday, the 27th May 1836......

Mr. Wighton was the only son of a Scotch West India merchant, who died young, leaving a widow and a large family, besides Mr. W. and two or three daughters by a former marriage. Mr. W. being of a very delicate constitution, was advised by his medical attendant to take up his residence for a time in the West Indies, and he accordingly went out, at a very early age, to the island of Trinidad, where he resided for some time. Returning to Scotland, where he again found the climate uncongenial, and his prospects in any mercantile capacity by no means encouraging, he consulted the Rev. Dr. Lang, who was then in Scotland, as to the propriety of his emigrating as a settler to this colony; which on being assured of the probability of success, he eventually did, per the Stirling Castle, in the year 1831, along with a cousin, Mr. Farquhard Campbell, a young gentleman of great promise and of highly respectable family, from the Island of Islay, in Scotland, who accidentally fell over board off Jervis Bay, and was unfortunately drowned, the day before the vessel reached her destination. Some time after his arrival in the colony, Mr. Wighton purchased an estate of 2000 acres of land, at William's River, formerly the property of Mr. Warren, of the Scotch Australian Company, to which he afterwards added a second purchase from the Church and School Corporation, at the junction of William's River and the Hunter. These estates have increased greatly in value since the period of their purchase; and as Mr. W. uniformly managed his affairs with a degree of economy bordering upon the reprehensible, there will be a considerable reversion for his relatives in Scotland, after satisfying all claims in the colony. Previous to his purchases at William's River, Mr. Wighton had made a will, which was found among his papers, subscribed but not attested, after his death, appointing the Honourable Colonel Snodgrass and the Rev. Dr. Lang as his executors, in the event of his demise; but as Mr. W.'s estate consists chiefly of landed property, over which a document of this kind would give no power, and as neither of these gentlemen is consequently at all likely to act in the matter, letters of administration will in all probability be granted by the Supreme Court to Thomas Walker, Esq., J. P., who has the largest claim on the estate, and in whose hands, we are happy to assure Mr. W.'s relatives at home, for whose information principally we have inserted this notice, their interests will be in perfect safety. As a magistrate, Mr. Wighton deserved and received the thanks of the settlers of William's River, for his active and unremitted exertions in suppressing the crime of cattle-stealing in his vicinity. Indeed it was Mr. W.'s excessive zeal in this matter that subjected us to the unfortunate action for libel in the case of Mr. Cory, of Patterson's River. Mr. W. was also deserving of commendation for his zealous endeavours in promoting the settlement of virtuous and industrious families of the humbler classes of society as agriculturists on his estate; for although this was doubtless done with a view to his own personal advantage, it was a real service to the community. Mr. W. had received a liberal education, and his manners were those of a gentleman; but his love of economy was in excess - his frugality degenerated into parsimoniousness, and the circumstance affected him not a little in the estimation of his friends. He had long been of an asthmatic, consumptive habit, and had frequently been on the sick list. Latterly, however, he had had an attack of dysentery, which ultimately terminated his existence. His death-struggle was sudden, brief, and unexpected; as much so indeed by himself as by his friends, most of whom had never heard of his illness till they were apprised of its fatal termination, Mr. Wighton was not more than twenty six years of age.

Alexander Warren succeeded in producing outstanding wine from his vineyard at Brandon in 1843

Later, the swamps were drained and subdivided into dairy farms.

 

 

 

 

 

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