Hunter Valley Inns & Hotels

Queen Victoria Inn

Jerry's Plains

 


   
Richard Alcorn had previously been the proprietor of the Greyhound Inn at Falbrook.

In 1838 he built the sandstone Queen Victoria Inn at Jerry's Plains.

Edward Alcorn, brother of Richard took over the license in June 1840.

The settlers had long complained about the state of the roads in the district and in 1842 a communication was forwarded to the Governor setting out an idea for a better road. However it seems that Richard Alcorn was not prepared to wait for government funds. By May 1842 the Hunter River Gazette recorded that the Messrs. Alcorn had not only marked but cleared a road between Jerry's Plains and Patrick's Plains avoiding the high stony ridges and valleys the previous track had passed through. There was said to be always a plentiful supply of grass and water by this line. The new road would save five miles between Jerry's plains and Patrick's Plains and fifteen to Maitland.

In 1842 James Ham was issued the publican's license for the Queen Victoria, however by 1844 Richard was once again proprietor of the Queen Victoria(1)

Sir Charles Fitzroy passed through Jerry's Plains in 1847 and Richard Alcorn was expecting to entertain the Governor before he moved on to Merton. However Sir Charles made only a very short stay of about ten minutes at Alcorn's Inn, the horses of the party being held at the door. He then proceeded to the Police Barracks where he dined with Lieutenant Gall. Richard Alcorn had made expensive preparations for his Excellency's reception and was disappointed at missing the honor of entertaining him (2)

In 1848 Richard Alcorn suffered a loss of part of his flock of sheep in a remarkable storm that hit Jerry's Plains leaving huge hailstones that remained unthawed for several days despite the heat. Thirty of Alcorn's sheep were killed when when lighting struck them during the storm. They were found laying altogether in the space of a few yards, their 'bodies much discoloured'. (3)

Richard Alcorn remained licensee of the Inn until the early 1850's.

Edward Alcorn took out a license for the Caledonian Hotel in Singleton in April 1853.

Richard Alcorn died in 1879. His obituary was printed in the Maitland Mercury........

The bereavement for the late Mr. Richard Hobden had scarcely passed away before I am called upon to notice the death of a much older colonist, in the loss the district has sustained in the death of Mr. Richard Alcorn, who died at his residence, Oakleigh, on the morning of the 3rd January, instant, aged 78 years. With your kind permission I must beg a small space in your valuable paper for the following facts in relation to the deceased's long life in this colony, of over seventy-four years.

In 1826 Richard Alcorn was married by Rev. Mr. Marsden (the father of the present Bishop of Bathurst), to Miss Gulledge, in the old church. The cattle belonging to the family increased so rapidly that it was thought to be time to push out for "pastures new," and a severe drought was raging also. So Mr. Alcorn, Mr. Loder (the father of Mr. Loder of Abbey Green, Singleton), Mr. Singleton (whom Singleton is named after), and others - all young men of a daring and enterprising spirit - pushed on in a northerly direction, and crossed the Bulga Range in 1826.

No pen can describe the toil and hardship this little band of pioneers had to undergo, in working their way through the impassable scrub, over rivers, up mountains, and in en- counters with the blacks but they were equal to the task, and succeeded. They were delighted to see, from off a spur of the Bulga, the splendid plains in the valley of the Hunter. Simple circumstances gave names to the various discovered places-Patrick's Plains being discovered on Patrick's Day ; Jerry's Plains, from the circumstance of one of their faithful servants Jeremiah losing his thumb through the bursting of a pistol loaded to obtain fire. And mortification setting in, he died, and was buried in the paddock opposite the post office here.

Each one of these pioneers received a grant of land from Governor Darling, at places chosen by themselves. Mr. Alcorn taking his up on Glennie's Creek. Little do those who have arrived in this colony since the "gold fever" of 1851, think of the hardships these early pioneers had to suffer in subduing this magnificent country for them; as the following narrative will show. In the year 1827, as Mr. Alcorn, his wife, and her young babe (Mrs. Browne, the wife of John Browne, Esq., of Ellerslie) were sitting outside of their little dwelling, enjoying the pleasant sight of their cattle quietly grazing, their little field of wheat and maize waving to the gentle breeze, and thinking of their future happy prospects when the air was rent by the sound of the death-whoop of the blacks - too well-known to Mr. Alcorn. The place was immediately surrounded.

Mrs. and Mr. Alcorn retreated inside at once ; and a volley of spears following, Mr. Alcorn was at once wounded as he covered his wife's retreat, and fought with his man servant at his side, with such desperation that he did not notice having received seven spear wounds, before he had made several blacks lick the dust - Mrs. Alcorn at the time breaking off the spears as they were shoved through the openings in the slabs, until their faithful servant cried out, " I'm speared through the heart," and immediately fell against Mrs. Alcorn, carrying her to the ground, and falling on her dead. The little band of heroes becoming less, and weakened by wounds, the blacks having used all their spears, they forced the door, and threw a stone at Mr. Alcorn, striking him on the head, and felling him to the ground stunned and bleeding, and leaving him for dead. Mrs. Alcorn, with her babe, secreted herself under the bed, and eluded the searching eyes of the blacks.

They took everything eatable, and some clothing, and started to the mountains. Under the soothing care of his loving partner, Mr. Alcorn recovered from his wounds, excepting the one on his head, which he believed he suffered from till the day of his death.

Mr. Alcorn often graphically described his overland trip, to Sydney in the years '26 and '27, taking in his cattle for sale, and to bring out necessary supplies. On one occasion Mr. John Browne, of Macquarie Place, Singleton, (father of our worthy member), and himself, were as usual coming out, driving their old faithful pack-bullock before them, they on foot, when they overtook on the Bulga Mr. John Duff, struggling up the mountain, carrying a half chest of tea on his back, with other things, and his servant struggling under a load of sugar and other necessaries. Those who were not fortunate to have a pack bullock had then to carry their household necessaries out in this manner. Horses were but few, and too valuable to ride. All cattle were herded, and drove to Sydney, on foot, in those days. In fact a man on horseback, they said, would frighten them away.

Mr. Alcorn was the last of those early pioneers, all the others having gone to "blessed eternity" many years past. In 1837, the country becoming more populated, Mr. Alcorn sold his estate at Glennie's Creek, and bought one at Jerry's Plains, and built a large stone house, which has been used as an hotel ever since. He was ever a good consistent member of the Anglican Church, helping other denominations at the same time, and was a churchwarden of St. James' Church here for over thirty years. He always gave freely of his cash, time, or labour for the good of his Church. He was never known to miss divine service in his Church for thirty years, considering it his first duty to be there to thank God for the great kindness vouchsafed to him through his many dangers. A pattern to the rising generation. Thus died this good old man, full of years, full in his faith, full of honors won in subduing the wild land in his adopted country- and a sheaf fully ripe for his Master's farm. The whole of his family, three sons and four daughters (some of these grandmothers), were present at his last earthly rites. It is the wish of your correspondent that his posterity may always consider their noble sire's example, and "go thou and do like- wise." Jerry's Plains, January 7, 1879
. (4)


References:

(1). Maitland Mercury 15 April 1843

(2). Maitland Mercury 10 February 1847

(3). Maitland Mercury 18 October1848

(4) Maitland Mercury 11 January 1879

 

 

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