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Obituary of Mrs. Thomas Haydon - 1889    Murrurundi Reminiscences - 1889


In March 1832 Australian Agricultural Company Commissioner Sir Edward Parry, together with his party consisting of Henry Dangar, Charles Hall, William Telfer, six assigned servants and two natives passed through the Murrurundi district on their way to inspect land on the Liverpool Plains. After leaving Captain Dumaresq's St. Heliers station, they arrived at Page's River  where they halted on the banks of ' a pretty brook', (Pages River) opposite William Henry Warland's farm. The following day they crossed the Page and proceeded along 'a good flat road with generally good country being a valley between high hills closing in gradually '. There was a high perpendicular mass of 'Pudding stone' and after passing this they gradually descended for about a mile and a half through inferior country to the foot of the pass. They had been obliged to unload their dray entirely.(2)  On the plains side the descent was easier and they then camped near a brook where some natives joined them. The natives inhabiting the region were from the Wanaruah and Kamilaroi tribes. Sir Edward thought it noteworthy that  as the Wanaruah or Kamilaroi tribesmen could not communicate with the natives from Port Stephens, the two tribes resorted to conversing fluently in 'English gibberish'.

This was Henry Dangar's second trip to the area and a few scattered settlers were already in the district having followed in his previous path. As well as William Warland,  Thomas Haydon resided in the area, and small settlers and ex convicts such as Benjamin Hall  ( 'Midas in 1827) also moved to the district and began to eke out a living from their land. The area was distant from law and order and in time came to be frequented by disreputable men with questionable means of support.  Many were transient, stopping merely to patronize one of the two hotels or stock up on supplies at Rundle's Store before proceeding over the ranges.

In November 1840 the correspondent for the Australian reported that: 'A watch-house is much wanted at Murrurundi, but no contractors will undertake it, as Government requires good seasoned timber which cannot be procured in the bush, besides, they have not allowed enough for building it. Our Police Magistrate (John Anderson Robertson) cannot hold a court there for want of a temporary lock-up, which is much to be regretted; a Court could be held in the Inn, which has been offered, but our Police magistrate thinks otherwise, which some suppose is a good excuse for not visiting the Page. My humble opinion is, that holding Courts at the Page would be much more service to the public, than sallying out after bushrangers, and losing himself in the bush'.(6)

In December 1840 the infamous Jewboy Gang  arrived in the village.  After the gang had been hunted from their haunts in the lower valley they headed north where they robbed a store at Muswellbrook. Then with loaded packhorses they proceeded to Scone where they bailed up townsfolk at the St. Aubins Inn. After 23 year old storekeeper John Graham was shot and killed, the gang headed for the Liverpool Ranges. They arrived in Murrurundi, where they bailed up 30 people. Perhaps among their captives were postmaster John Button and pound keeper Anthony Charles Barlas. When they headed for the Liverpool Ranges they were unaware that Edward Denny Day and his pursuit party including Dr. John Gill were just a few hours behind them. The bushrangers were captured after a dramatic shoot out and later executed.

By 1843 four constables and a chief constable were allowed at Murrurundi.


 Murrurundi was said to be infested with a band of rogues and vagabonds committing all sorts of crime and drunkenness. The chief constable had the job of dispersing these 'idlers' and restoring order. An Association was formed to try to deal with the cattle duffers and horse thieves operating in the district.  Rewards were offered for the capture of offenders and the Government was persuaded to offer immediate Ticket of Leave passes or Conditional Pardons. In August 1845 the following notice was posted in the Government Gazette:

'Whereas, it has been represented to the government that Benjamin Hall of Murrurundi, and Alexander Paterson, lately in charge of Mr. John Chilcott 's station; at Doughboy Hollow, against both of whom warrants have been issued for their apprehension on charges of horse stealing, have effected their escape; his Excellency the Governor directs it to be notified that, in addition to the pecuniary rewards offered for the apprehension of these persons by the Association recently formed in the upper Hunter District for the suppression of horses and cattle stealing, a ticket of leave will be granted to any prisoner of the crown who shall apprehend and lodge in gaol either of the above named parties, and if the person apprehending either of the above named already a ticket of leave holder, application will be made to her Majesty for the allowance to him a a conditional pardon' (3)

 It seems that townsfolk were reluctant to betray one another despite the inducement of rewards. James Gowan was lock up keeper in Murrurundi at this time. He was dismissed from his position after being accused of giving or permitting an intimation to Benjamin Hall to keep 'out of the way'. By March 1846 Gowan was the local school master. His school was eighty yards from the lockup and was said to be patronized by 'the most respectable people in Murrurundi.' One of his students was nine year old Mary Hall.

Six months after the above notice was posted, a Court case was heard at Maitland Quarter Sessions. William Hall the 13 year old son of missing Benjamin Hall was cross examined in Court as was his nine year old sister Mary. Mary stated that her brother William had been told by a fellow prisoner that if he did not do as he was told he would be sent away in a ship and drowned or be put in Newcastle gaol and hung. William was in fact put in a dark room near the Murrurundi lockup, the windows of which had been boarded up. It was said he cried very much through fear; he was kept there some days and then put in with another prisoner who told him' Beware of men in wigs, only give them such answers as suits'. The cries of the boy, terrified in the darkened room, were said to be such that they had brought tears to the eyes of the lockup keeper's wife.

Although the prosecutor thought that William Hall, albeit young in years, was 'evidently old in crime and well versed in dissimulation', William must have impressed some in the Court that day as it was stated to the court that a gentleman was willing to take him as an apprentice, being strongly impressed with the belief that his obvious intelligence and energy of character could be turned to good account.

The Attorney General was of opinion that in the absence of the father who had absconded the court had authority to bind the boy. His mother  Eliza (Somers) Hall, was in Court and consented to the arrangement. (4). (William's father Benjamin Hall was captured at Mr. Hamilton's station on the Lachlan (near Bathurst) two years later by Trooper Hoy of the Mounted Police.)

Perhaps William was more fortunate than his younger brother Ben who was destined for an early grave after becoming one of Australia's best known Bushrangers........................................


In the late 1840's a visitor passing through Murrurundi described the area:

'Murrurundi affords a fair specimen of an inland town. We were greeted with the sight of something green; for the rain, probably attracted by the hills, often drives through the deep valleys as through so many open tunnels.

We have two inns both well built; and one is kept by a widow of real, homely, English aspect, and as kind and attentive as neat and respectable. Her nicely plaited widow's cap and her fine countenance tell a long and touching tale. There is a slab built Roman Catholic chapel, with broken windows and otherwise much out of repair; and, behind it, is an open graveyard, with some neat monuments and head stones. There are two or three brick cottages, and a tolerable sprinkling of bark huts; and, at a little distance in the bush, is the court house. Here divine service is performed once a month by a clergy man of the Church of England who travels twenty five miles for the purpose; and the magistrate's clerk gives the responses. A Roman Catholic priest comes from Maitland four times a year to shrive his flock at the slab built chapel. He also catches every stray drunkard, of whatever denomination, on whom he can lay his hands, and insists on his becoming a tee totaller. There is a large store, where every thing that can possibly be required in the bush is to be bought.

In one of the bark huts you would find a good natured, intelligent, and comfortable looking medical man, who came out in charge of emigrants, and has not exactly made up his mind when he shall return, but will probably think about it some day or other. In the meantime, he turns his skill to account, and is gradually accumulating cattle and horses; and, for the love he bears them, may perhaps become a fixture. He reads 'Blackwood,' and is fond of talking of 'that fine old fellow, Christopher North,' whom he follows through all his fishing excursions. In the climate of NSW a bark hut is as substantial a dwelling as a man needs;  such abodes are often very comfortable; but they do not, unless double roofed, afford sufficient protection from the sun. The river Page runs, or rather lingers, in the rear of the town. The people seem happy and contented; and as all of them have cattle running on the waste land, they are at no loss either for meat, or a matter of constant interest.' (1)

Although this gives a peaceful almost idyllic picture, the district still had a reputation for lawlessness. In April of 1848  four men were tried in Maitland for the assault of a Constable at Murrurundi in the previous February. A violent encounter occurred when a half drunken William Wilsdon 'grossly abused' Magistrate William Henry Warland as he rode through the town.  Magistrate Warland instructed Constables McDonald and Doyle to arrest Wilsdon and the gathering crowd responded by obstructing the constables in their task. Constable Berkely  and Mounted Policeman Trooper Barnam were called to assist and they  were jostled and kicked particularly Berkeley who was said to have been terribly bruised and hurt. Despite this the men accused were found not guilty as Constable Berkely, remaining loyal to the townsfolk and reluctant to betray them, had stated that the only blows received were from a man named Wood, (not one of the defendants). One of the magistrates hearing this case was Edward Denny Day. He could be forgiven for thinking that the rough little town had improved little since the days of the bushranging Jew Boy Gang.


A Visit to Murrurundi 1840s


Murrurundi district 1840's

ALLAGAN - Archibald Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

BARLAS, A.C,  - Pound keeper, 1840

BARNES - Thomas per 'Maitland' Obtained Ticket of leave 1846

BARNETT -  George and Jonathon, Found not guilty of sheep stealing 1845

BARNUM - William.  Trooper mounted police

BARTON - George 1847

BATTY - Robert Johnson 'Eden' Obtained Ticket of leave 1847

BELL - Patrick 1847

BICKHAM-    Estate at Page's River 6 miles from Murrurundi 1846

BIRKLEY - Thomas  Appointed chief constable at Scone and Murrurundi 1847

BLAIR  - Thomas James. Offering reward for lost mare 1844. Clerk of Petty Sessions 1846

BLOOMFIELD - Alexander  Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

BOOTE - James . 1847  Store keeper

BRADLEY - James and Mary 1847

BRITTON - William  Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

BRODIE - Alexander Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

BROWN - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

BROWN - Robert Indicted for stealing 12/- from J. Bradley in Alexander Wightman's Hotel Sentenced to 15 yrs transportation

BURNS - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

BURTON - Thomas,  per 'Eden' Obtained ticket of leave 1846

BUTLER - Celia Wife of Henry

BUTLER - Henry Bishop,  1847  Publican

BUTLER - William per 'Surry'  Ticket of Leave  cancelled 1845

BUTTON -  John, Postmaster 1839

CAREY - Thomas. Indicted for obtaining a saddle from Thomas Dun by false pretences. acquitted 1846

CAUGHLAN - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

CAVENAGH - Mary, 1841

CAVENAGH - Michael 1841

CHILCOTT, John. Died 21 6 45 after accidentally shooting himself

CHINNERY - William 1847

CLARKE - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

COHEN - Lewis . Woolpack Inn at Murrurundi 1848

COLE - William  1848

CRAWLEY - William Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

COGHLAN - John per 'Forth'  Obtained ticket of leave 1847

DANGAR - Thomas, Won tender for mail between Scone and Murrurundi 1845

DANGAR - William Appointed councillor for district

DAVIS - Hart, 15,000 acres

DODD- John  Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

DONOHOE - William Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

DOWLING - William 1847  constable

DOWNEY - Thomas  per 'St. Vincent' Obtained ticket of leave 1847

DUFFY- Michael, per 'Caroline'. Absconded from service of Hart Davis 1832

DUGGAN - William  1848  Sentenced to 3yrs on roads for attempting to defraud Lewis Cohen

DUNN - Thomas, Replaced as lockup keeper in 1835

DUNN - Thomas , constable 1846

EDWARDS Sergeant Thomas  Mounted police 1847

ELLIS - James  per 'Lord Lyndoch' . Obtained ticket of leave 1847

ELLIS -Samuel,  1846

FAIRBAIRN - Mrs. 1847

FALLON - Patrick  Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

FALLON - Patrick - Indicted for stealing 12/- from J. Bradley in Alexander Wightman's Hotel Sentenced to 15 yrs transportation 1847

FARRELLY - Michael per 'Heber'  Ticket of leave obtained 1845

CADNESS - George per 'Maitland'. Obtained Ticket of Leave 1845

GALLAGHER - Mrs. Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

GILL, Dr. John, Accompanied E.D. Day when he captured the Jew Boy Gang 1841

GOWAN, James  Lock up keeper dismissed 1846

GOWER- Richard  Constable1847

GRADY - James Mailman between Murrurundi and Tamworth. 1847

GWYNN - David  1847

HALL - Ben 1845 16 August. Warrant issued for apprehension

HALL - Thomas 1846

HALL - Mary 1846

HALL - Eliza 1846

HARVEY - James, Sawyer in 1841

HARVEY - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

HAYDON - Thomas, Adjoining property to Dangar's Inn. Steward at Pages River Races 1842

HOCK - James Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

HUMPHRIES -  Charles Henry   1847

JOHNSON - James , Chief constable 1846 / 1847

JOHNSON - John  per 'Heber' Ticket of Leave  cancelled 1847

JONES - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

JONES - Thomas  per 'Lord Lyndoch' Obtained ticket of leave 1846

KEALTY - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

KINGSTON - W.  Opened stores at Murrurundi  1847

LENNARD - James  1846 Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

LEVY. A . 1845  Warrah

LEYTON - Thomas 1848  To revise electoral lists

LODER - Andrew Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

LONG - Thomas per 'Guildford' 1845  Ticket of leave

LOXTON - Thomas. Business of J.B. Rundle to be carried on by Thomas Loxton 1847

LUKE -  Joseph  per 'Mangles' Obtained  ticket of leave 1846

MAHER - Thomas per 'Middlesex' Obtained ticket of leave 1846

MACKIN - William Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

MACKINTOSH - A .  Pound keeper 1846

MARSHALL - William Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

MARTYN - William Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

MCCONOCHIE - James 1846  Constable

MACDONALD - George. 1847  Waiter at Butler's hotel

MCDONALD Mathew McDonald  Constable 1847

MCDONOUGH - James Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

MCKENZIE - John . Witness in trial of Barnett 1846

MCMILLAN - James, Ticket of leave cancelled for being absent from district 1842

MELVILLE, - George Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

MITCHELL - John H. Auctioneer and Commission Agent 1845

MITCHELL - Mr. & Mrs. Opened school and receiving boarders 1845

MOORE - James Scott 1848  auctioneer

MORRIS - Charles 1847

MURPHY - James per 'Elphinstone' Obtained ticket of leave 1846

MURPHY - Martin 1846

MURRELLS - David, Ticket of leave

NEWMAN - Robert  per 'Bengall Merchant' Obtained ticket of leave 1846

O'ROURKE - Michael  per 'Forth' 1848 Obtained Ticket of Leave

PATERSON - Alexander. Warrant issued for arrest 1845

PEDLOW John In service to Ruth Phelps 1846

PERKINS - Michael . Sentenced 2yrs in irons 1846

PERRY - Thomas, per 'Hadlow'. Assigned servant of Hart Davis 1832

PHELPS - Ruth.   1846

PRATT - Thomas  per 'Henry Porcher'  Ticket of leave cancelled  cancelled 1846

QUINLEY - Phillip Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

REARDON - Dennis. Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

RICHARDSON - William per 'Lady Nugent' 1847 Obtained ticket of leave

ROBERTS - John, per 'Eden' Received ticket of leave 1844

ROBERTSON - Donald Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

RODWELL - Edward, per 'Waterloo. Obtained Ticket of leave 1845

ROLPH - Robert  per 'Woodbridge' Obtained Ticket of leave 1846

ROSS - Alexander 1848 Found not guilty of assaulting Constable Berkeley

ROSS - John 1846

ROURKE - Richard  1847  Employed as a shepherd by Dr.Gill

RUNDLE - J.B., Treasurer Pages River Races. Storekeeper

RUSHTON - Thomas 1846

SADLEIR - Anthony appointed chief constable 1848

SAUNDERS - George. Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

SEATON - Edward Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

SEXTON - Thomas  Apprehended 1847

SHEARMAN - William, Found not guilty of murder of George Clerk 1841

SIMMONDS - Henry 1846

SIMMONDS - Thomas Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

SINGLE - F, Cresswell Park. 1842.

SOUTH - Richard, Publican at Atkinson's Inn. 1841

STEEL, John Mytton,  Newspaper correspondent known as John Tobias. died 1846

STRINGER - John, per 'Barossa' 1845

STUDDY - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

SULLIVAN - John, per 'St. Vincent' 1845

SWAINE - William per 'Planter'. Ticket of leave 1845

TAUSLEY - James per 'Barossa', 1845

TAYS - David Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

TELFORD - William Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

THOMSON - David Esq.  Appointed Magistrate. Pentland,1847

TURNER - Charles per 'John' Obtained ticket of leave 1845

TURNER - Ninan, per 'Clyde', Obtained Ticket of leave 1845

WARLAND - William Henry . Magistrate

WATT - Mrs Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

WEBBECK, - William 1847

WELSH - John 1847

WHALLEY ?(Whelan) - Charles per 'Marquis of Huntley'. Ticket of leave cancelled 1845

WHITE - Robert 1846

WILKIE - John 1847

WILLEY - George  per 'America' Obtained  ticket of leave 1846

WIGHTMAN - Adam Stuart, Died of apoplexy aged 45, 1845

WIGHTMAN- Alexander. White Hart Inn

WIGHTMAN - John Gave subscription for Irish Relief Fund 1846

WIGHTMAN - Mrs. Caroline. Lived at the White Hart Inn with her son Alexander 1847

WILCOX - John  Ostler at Mr. Wightmans Inn 4yr old son died when his clothes caught fire 1847

WILLIAMS - John Indicted for stealing 12/- from J. Bradley in Alexander Wightman's Hotel Sentenced to 15 yrs transportation

WILSDEN, William  1848

Clerical Life in the Diocese of Newcastle in 1854 - Scone district



Australian Almanac 1867




(1) Crowley, Frank., A Documentary History of Australia, 1841 - 1874

(2) Dungog Chronicle, Early Days of Port Stephens, Extracts from Sir Edward Parry's Diary

(3) Government Gazette

(4) Maitland Mercury

(5)The Australian 26 November 1840

(6)Herald Supplement 5 May 2004