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Newcastle History Links

Rambles in NSW 1828



PRE 1800

Henry William Hemsworth Huntington's History of Newcastle - Henry William Hemsworth Huntington was a noted authority of colonial history. He compiled a history of Newcastle and the Hunter District, N.S.W., which was published in a series of 101 columns twice weekly in the Newcastle Morning Herald. The series begins in 1770 when Captain Cook noted Nobbys in his journal and continues through to the 1840s.

Indigenous Notes and Links - Links to pages mentioning indigenous tribes of the Hunter River.

Discovery of Coal by escaping convicts in 1791 - various accounts of the famous escape of William & Mary Bryant and their companions from the colony of New South Wales in 1791.  Their escape from the colony is significant for Newcastle as they are believed to be the first Europeans to discover coal in the colony.

The Francis was Launched in Sydney in September 1793. The Francis made many voyages to Newcastle including the Expedition to the Coal River in 1801. She returned to Sydney with a cargo of coal which was exchanged for nails and iron and shipped out on the Earl Cornwallis. This is believed to be the first shipment of coal exported from Newcastle.

Hunter River Discovered 1797



1800 - 1806

Discovery of Lake Macquarie in 1800

Pirates Seize the Norfolk in November 1800. The Norfolk was wrecked at a point afterwards called Pirates' Point, and now known as Stockton.

Expedition to the Hunter River in 1801 - Members of the expedition included Lieutenant James Grant, Lieut-Colonel Paterson,  Dr. Harris, Surgeon of the New South Wales Corps; Ensign Barreillier, Surveyor; John William Lewin, artist. There were also a number of workmen and labourers, for the purpose of cutting and sawing timber, digging and loading coals etc; and also one of the natives  named Bungaree.

Lieutenant James Grant - Returned to England via the Cape on the Anna Josepha in 1802. The Aberdeen Journal later published Lieut. Grant's account of the young colony and of the expedition to the Hunter River in 1801.

Colliers Point and the First Settlement at Newcastle 1801 - 1802. Lieut-Colonel Paterson's description of Collier's Point

Castle Hill Rebellion - March 1804 - The Castle Hill Rebellion was Australia’s first uprising. It was an attempt by a  Irish convicts to overthrow British rule in New South Wales and return to Ireland where they could continue to fight for an Irish republic. Sometimes referred to as Australia's Battle of Vinegar Hill, the uprising was quelled by soldiers of the NSW Corps and resulted in executions and severe corporal punishment to those involved. Many of those involved were sent to the Coal River to toil in the coal mines.

Convicts from the Castle Hill Rebellion - Having been abandoned by Government towards the end of 1802, the possibility of establishing valuable commercial enterprise coupled with a desire to remove the worst of the Irish insurgents from Sydney district in the aftermath of the rebellion at Castle Hill, encouraged Governor King to re-settle Coal River.

Second Settlement at Newcastle- In the aftermath of the rebellion the Coal River Settlement was re-established under the command of twenty-one year old Royal Marine Lieut. Charles Menzies in 1804.

Cedar Getters - Correspondence from Lieut. Menzies re the difficulties of procuring cedar

Convict Pirates at Newcastle 1804 - a description of the fate of convicts pirates at the hand of natives near Newcastle in 1804

Thomas Brady - Irish Rebel. Sent to Coal River penal settlement in the aftermath of the Battle of Castle Hill 1804

Early Convict Coal Miners - Governor King established a settlement at 'Coal River' with the intention of mining coal to contribute to financing the colony  and to separate worrying Irish political leaders from the main colony.

Charles Throsby  came to the settlement on the Francis in 1805. He was later appointed commandant

Pirates at Newcastle in 1806 - An account of the fate of convict escapees at Newcastle

Commandants at Newcastle 1804 - 1821 and approximate age when they took up duties :

March 1804 - February 1805 - Lieutenant Charles Menzies Age 21
March 1805 - 20th March 1805 -  Ensign Cadwallader Draffen Age 23
20th March 1805 - December 1805 - Charles Throsby Age 28
December 1805 (Temporary) - Lieutenant William Lawson Age 31
December 1805 - September 1808 - Charles Throsby Age 29
September 1808 - December 1808 - Ensign Villiers
December 1808 - February 1810 - Lieutenant William Lawson Age 34 February 1810 - December 1811 - Lieutenant John Purcell Age 37 December 1811 - February 1814 - Lieutenant Skottowe
February 1814 - June 1816 - Lieutenant Thomas Thompson
June 1816 - December 1818 - Captain James Wallis (46th regiment) Age 31
December 1818 - 1823 - Major James Thomas Morisset Age 38



1807 - 1810

Government Rules at Newcastle 1807 - It was thought necessary to prevent the prisoners at the settlement having any contact with the outside world and to that end Crews of Vessels at Newcastle were forbidden to Trade Stores. New orders were issued to that effect.

Lime Burners Gang at Newcastle

George Crossley arrived on the Hillsborough in 1799. In the aftermath of the Bligh affair, he was sent to the penal settlement at Newcastle.

William Gore - Provost-Marshall - In 1808 in the aftermath of the Bligh affair, William Gore was charged with perjury by a rebel court. He was sentenced to transportation and sent to work at the penal settlement at Newcastle

Sir Henry Browne Hayes was sent to Newcastle penal settlement in 1808. He acquired a cottage while there which was later converted to a hospital. This was probably the first hospital in Newcastle and may have been the only one until about 1817.

Lieutenant William Lawson was appointed Commandant at the penal settlement at Newcastle in December 1808 to replace Ensign Villiers who returned to Headquarters in Sydney

Thomas Crump arrived on the Surprize in 1794. He was employed as a boat builder at Newcastle c. 1804 - 1810

William Lawson's Correspondence to Governor Macquarie regarding the state of the settlement at Newcastle in 1810

Roger Farrell's Correspondence  - Roger Farrell was sent to Newcastle penal settlement in 1808 having been a supporter of Governor Bligh. He later wrote to Governor Bligh telling of the injustices he had suffered since.

Newcastle Penal Settlement in 1810 under command of Lieutenant John Purcell of 73rd Regiment who arrived per Anne in February 1810 and was appointed Commandant at Newcastle soon afterwards. A month by month account of the difficulties he faced in providing lime, coal and timber desperately needed in Sydney.

Murder at Newcastle - 1808




1811 - 1816

James Hardy Vaux was one of Australia's most famous convicts. He was transported three times over a period of thirty years. First on the Minorca in 1801, then on the Indian in 1810, and in 1831 the Waterloo. While serving at Newcastle penal settlement in 1811 he wrote his Memoirs including the Vocabulary of the Flash Language, Australia's first dictionary - More about James Hardy Vaux

Governor Macquarie's Tour of Inspection at Newcastle Settlement.  In 1811 Governor Macquarie embarked on a voyage to inspect distant settlements. He first sailed to Hobart on the Lady Nelson, then an overland journey to Port Dalrymple; a voyage to Port Stephens followed and then to Newcastle where they arrived on 3rd January 1812.

William Harrison Craig, convict artist, arrived on the Guildford in 1812.  In August 1812 he was convicted of forgery and sentenced to 50 lashes in the public market place (Sydney) and then to be sent to Newcastle for seven years hard labour.

Convict Assignment and Punishment - Government Orders to prevent absconding from the settlement in 1813

Pirates Seize the Speedwell in 1814  Edward Scarr, Joseph Burridge, Herbert Styles and John Pierce made their escape from the Newcastle settlement on the night of the 7th April at about 11 o'clock in the sloop Speedwell.

Walter Preston - Convict Engraver arrived on the Guildford in 1812. He was sent to Newcastle for a colonial crime in 1814

Newcastle Port Regulations in 1815 - Permission was required to enter and leave the port of Newcastle in 1815

Drowned in the Hunter River 1815


Lieutenant Thomas Thompson - Commandant at Newcastle February 1814 - June 1816

A Coal Fired Navigation Beacon was established on Beacon Hill at Newcastle in the early days of settlement as a warning and guide to mariners.


1816 - 1820

Joseph Lycett - It is over two hundred years since convict Joseph Lycett embarked on the General Hewitt to begin his years in exile. He remained in Australia only seven years and by the time he died in England in 1828 he was a convicted criminal several times over.

William Eckford - Early Harbour Pilot

Governor Macquarie's Visit to Newcastle in 1818

Newcastle Gaol - Newcastle gaol was constructed in 1816 - 1818 on a site overlooking the ocean above Newcastle beach during Commandant James Wallis' tenure at Newcastle.

Captain James Wallis of the 46th regiment arrived on the General Hewitt in 1814. He was Commandant at Newcastle penal settlement from June 1816 to December 1818

Boatbuilders - Fortisco de Santo arrived on the Guildford in 1812. He was mployed as a boat builder c. 1820
William Smith arrived on the Larkins in 1817. He was Overseer of boat builders. 1821 - 1824

Shipwrecks at Newcastle 1816

A Description of Newcastle Aboriginal people by traveller W.B. Cramp written in 1818



1820 - 1825

Newcastle in 1820 - Newspaper Extracts

Coal Fire Beacon at Newcastle - A new Beacon was built in 1820's when E.C. Close was employed as Engineer at Newcastle.

Botany Bay Hero - Michael Keane arrived on the Seaflower in 1820 and spent two years in Newcastle working in the Gaol and Limeburner's gang in the years 1820 - 1822.

John Bingle - arrived as second officer on the convict ship Minerva on 16th December 1821. He became partners with Robert Coram Dillon and together they established a Commercial business at No.2 Watt Street, Newcastle.

Bells - Bells played an important part in the lives of our ancestors

Convicts at Newcastle in 1822 - Newspaper Extracts

A List of Buildings at Newcastle in 1822

Cottage Creek

Newcastle in 1824 - Newspaper Extracts

Lieutenant Thomas Owen - arrived as part of the Guard on the convict ship Henry in 1823. He was Engineer of Public Works and Naval Officer at Newcastle in 1824

Newcastle in 1825 - Newspaper Extracts

Rev. Lancelot Threlkeld made two voyages from Sydney to Newcastle in 1825, the first in January and the second in March, prior to moving with his family in May. He made the voyages on the cutter Lord Liverpool, the only vessel regularly visiting the settlement at that time. He was permitted to reside at the government cottage at Newcastle and remained there with his family until December 1825 before they moved to the Mission at Reid's Mistake.

Pirates Seize the cutter Eclipse at Newcastle in 1825



1826 - 1830

Explosion at Newcastle 1826

Newcastle and Maitland in 1826 - In 1826 a correspondent to the Monitor who possessed land in the vicinity of Wallis Plains, made a voyage from Sydney to Newcastle. In a series of letters to the Monitor in June 1826 he described the trip to Newcastle where he observed the  salt works and Macquarie pier.

Attempt to Seize the Gurnett at Newcastle in 1826


Signal Flags at Newcastle 1827 - No longer a penal settlement, the township was lacking in government funding.

The Bank of Newcastle - first Provincial Bank established in the Colony - 1828

Newcastle Publicans - 1828

Newcastle in 1828 - There were less than fifty houses in Newcastle in 1828, mostly cottages and houses built by convicts and trades people. Other buildings included government buildings such as the Commissariat, gaol and hospital.

Newcastle in 1829 - In correspondence to the Sydney Gazette a visitor describes the township as it was in 1829



1830 - 1840

Female Factory at Newcastle - Lists of female convicts sent to the factory

Early Pilots and Harbour Mastsers - Arnold Fisk Alexander Livingstone    William Cromarty    George Jackson    Charles Hughes

Australian Agricultural Company - In 1830 the government handed over its Newcastle coal mines to the Australian Agricultural Company and coal mining became the most profitable arm of the company for the rest of the century

Australian Agricultural Company's first mine at Newcastle 1831

Australian Agricultural Company miners

Sophie Jane Steamer - A Voyage to Newcastle on the Sophie Jane in 1831 and list of residents in the town

Frank the Poet - Australia's well known convict poet Francis McNamara 'Frank The Poet' arrived on the Eliza convict ship in 1832

Sea Grave Yard - In the early days before the coming of steam boats, the picturesque coastline up from Sydney and welcome sight of Nobbys on a clear day were an event to be looked forward to by the crew of the little 'sixty milers'. However if the weather turned foul and a south easterly gale whipped up mountainous waves, it was a different story and the narrow passage became a nightmare

Governor Burke to Newcastle in 1833

Governor Burke to Newcastle in 1836

Military Barracks at Newcastle - Excerpts from newspaper articles detailing the building and use of the Military Barracks at Newcastle 1836 - 1872

Executions at Newcastle, Maitland and the Hunter Valley 1830s - 1840s

James Henry Crummer  - Magistrate at Newcastle 1837 - 1849

Rev. Charles Pleydell Neale Wilton - Timeline & Notes

Australian Agricultural Company miner at Newcastle refusal to work  - 1838

Law & Order - The Police Force in Newcastle and Hunter Valley prior to 1862

Newcastle Inns :
Ship Inn
Commercial Inn
Miners Arms Inn
Rouses Hotel
The Newcastle Inn
Victoria Inn
Crooked Billett
The Australian Inn
Woolpack Inn
Union Inn



1841 - 1850

Residents at Newcastle in 1841

Bushrangers near Newcastle in 1842

Coal miners at Newcastle - Australian Agricultural Company Coal Miners 1800 - 1840s

Governor Gipps' Visit to Newcastle in 1844

Journal of a Voyage from Sydney to Newcastle and Maitland - Excerpt from a Journal written by David Burn dated 1 Aug. 1844-19 Feb. 1845 in which he describes his trip to Newcastle and the Hunter River by Steamer in October 1844

Reminiscences of George Priest describing Newcastle in 1840s and 1850s

Reminiscences of Colin Christie describing Newcastle in 1850s

Reminiscences of Albert Hudson and Robert Fleming of Newcastle in 1850s

Reminiscences Hugh Gilmour of Newcastle - 1850s



1850 - 1900

Sandhills - By 1852 the East end of Newcastle and the harbour were filling with sand. Read about the proposed (environmentally friendly) solution to this problem in the Report on the Sandhills at Newcastle 1852

County Electors in Newcastle in 1855

Signal Staff at Newcastle 1858

Harbour Lights - A brief account of the leading lights built at Newcastle in 1865


Coal Mines at Newcastle 1858 Transactions of the North of England Institute of Mining Engineers Vol VI, 1858 ,'On the Coalfield of New South Wales' by Henry T. Plews

Reminiscences of Benjamin Joseph Oliver - Newcastle in 1870s and 1880s

City Baths at Newcastle

Reminiscences of Watt Street, Newcastle

Adamstown - A brief history - School principals 1877 - 1974 - Methodist Primitive church - Ellis Cup winners - Rosebuds

Australia's Strongest Sports Centre - Newcastle 1947

Stockton History & Links


Islands in the lower Hunter River:
Moscheto Island
Dempsey Island
Spit Island
Spectacle Island
Bullock Island
Ash Island