Early Hunter Valley Settlers
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William Brooks arrived in the colony with his wife Eliza Janet on the Hugh Crawford in November 1826. They had been married on 8th June 1826 at St. Pancras, London shortly before sailing.
The Hugh Crawford departed London with the following passengers: Mr and Mrs. James Wilson, Miss Dalziel, Mr. E.C. Richards, Mr. J.P. Webber, Mr. G. McDonald, Mr. Blackwell, Mr. Hudson, Messrs William Stallard, John Bridle, E. Cox, Thomas Pidcock, George Risdon Howe; Robert, William John, Walter, and Mrs. Webber; Miss Webber, Messrs R.E. John and William Elliott; Mr and Mrs. C. Gatehouse; Misses Diana, Mary, Izit, Sarah, Grace, Eliza and Masters John and Charles Gatehouse; Mr. William and Miss Hannah Gatehouse; Mr. William Lyons, Mrs. Lyons; William, John and Henry Lyons.
William Brooks was granted 1280 acres which he selected in December 1828. His estate which was situated on the eastern bank of Cockle Creek was known as Lochend. The area was also known as Milloba and Biddabee and encompassed the present day towns of Boolaroo and Speers Point.
A daughter Euphemia Janet was born to William and Eliza Janet in May 1827. Eliza Janet died in 1829. In 1838 Euphemia and her aunt Mary Dalziel were residing with Rev. Threlkeld at Lake Macquarie when Euphemia passed away from the effects of influenza aged 11. She was buried in her mother's grave at Christchurch, Newcastle.
William Brooks discovered a seam of coal on Lochend and after the monopoly held by the Australian Agricultural Company was challenged by Rev. Lancelot Threlkeld, William Brooks also appealed to open a mine.
In 1843 in the Maitland Mercury, Brooks advertised that excellent coal had been satisfactorily experimented on at Newcastle and the Stockton Tweed Factory, and that a Cargo had left his wharf for Sydney where it could be viewed at Crofts Wharf in Sussex Street. The coal was extracted from the foothills of the Boolaroo area and transported by trolley down to a jetty at Speers Point. Brooks stated that he could provide a regular supply at the Pit or inside the heads of Lake Macquarie. He charged 7/6- per ton at the pit and 9/- at the heads. Vessels drawing 3' 6" when laden could take their cargo at the wharf beside the pit. Vessels drawing 4’6” could receive their cargo inside the heads from barges.
Unfortunately for William Brooks, the difficulties of transporting his coal to Newcastle together with the cost involved proved unprofitable and the mine was closed.
Convicts assigned to William Brooks at Lochend included:
John Davis - arrived on the Asia in 1822
Thomas Logan - arrived on the Friendship in 1800
By 1848 William Brooks had left Lake Macquarie. He ran a business from the Commercial Wharf in Sydney as a Commission Agent. He advertised convenient and ample offices and Stores and offered to dispose of produce and purchase supplies for Settlers on the Hunter and Paterson Rivers.
The following petition to Parliament indicates that William Brooks was still endeavouring to receive land he believed he was entitled to twenty seven years later:
To the Honorable the Legislative Council of New South Wales.
The petition of William Brooks, of Loch end, in the county of Northumberland, now residing in Sydney, HUMBLY SHEWETH That being desirous to emigrate to this colony as a free settler in the year 1826, your petitioner, then resident in London, applied to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to ascertain what encouragement was held out by Government to settlers on their arrival in the colony, and enclosed an attested statement of the amount of capital your petitioner possessed, and intended to devote to the improvement of a grant of land.
In reply to this communication, your petitioner, on the 12th May, 1826, received a letter from the Colonial Office, transmitting him a copy of the Land Regulations of 1824. Your petitioner having, from his earliest years, the most implicit confidence in the good faith of the Government of his native land, left London on the 8th June following with his family, just twenty-seven days after he received the letter before mentioned, to join his ship at Gravesend, and incurred an expenditure for their passage amounting to about £300. That your petitioner, immediately on his arrival in Sydney, waited on the Governor, General Darling, with the Secretary of State's letter, and the Land Regulations enclosed, when his Excellency informed your petitioner that he " had brought an obsolete paper," that a new set of Land Regulations were in force, and that your petitioner must take his grant under them.
Your petitioner therefore received a primary grant of 1920 acres, under the Land Regulations of 1826. These Land Regulations, under which General Darling thus placed your petitioner, possessed one advantage over those of 1824 to emigrants who, like your petitioner, actually owned capital, as they contained a specific promise that after expending five times the estimated value of his primary grant in improving it, the grantee should become entitled to a secondary or additional grant, to be awarded in the same manner as the primary grant; that is to say, 640 acres for each £500 worth of property possessed by the claimant at the time of his application, to the extent of a maximum grant of 2560 acres.
With the determined purpose of securing this promised advantage, your petitioner expended far more than the required amount, and then applied for his additional grant, but, strange to say, Sir George Gipps, who was Governor at the time your petitioner made his application, re-jected it, on the ground that your petitioner had emigrated on the faith of the 1824 Regulations, and therefore had no claim under those of 1826. On your petitioner remonstrating, Sir George Gipps seemed to give up that objection ; but he maintained that as regulations respecting the granting of land had been published in the colony in 1826 (addressed, of course, to residents in the colony), when your petitioner was at sea, on his voyage to the colony, that your petitioner actually got his primary grant under them, and Sir George Gipps persisted in this, though the Governor who gave the grant referred to the 1826 regulations published in London.
Your petitioner humbly submits that he bas been unjustly deprived of his rights as a British subject, having emigrated to the colony on the faith of Land Regulations published in London, previous, to his departure -that he has been, by an improper exercise of arbitrary power, placed under Colonial Land Regulations, of the existence of which he must necessarily have been wholly ignorant until he landed in the colony. That his claim for a secondary grant has been unjustly refused, after he had complied with the conditions; which fact had been certified to the Governor General by the Surveyor General of the colony ; and that the injustice he has so long suffered under is the more galling, because all his fellow emigrants of like time, including his fellow passenger, Mr. J. P. Webber, obtained their additional grants with great facility.
Your petitioner, according to his statement of property at the time of his application, was entitled to a secondary or additional grant of 2560 acres, and that fifteen years ago. Your petitioner, therefore, humbly entreats your honorable house to take his case into your careful consideration, that he may obtain through your constitutional interference that justice which has been so long denied to him. (Maitland Mercury 16 July 1853)
William Brooks died in Sydney in September 1858
William Speer purchased the 1280 acres in 1870.
Notes & Links:
William Brooks resided at Dalziel in the Hunter Valley in 1830's