Free Settler or Felon?

Hunter Valley Settlers
Alexander Brodie Sparke
Map 4

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Hunter River, Glendon, Darlington, Singleton, Patrick Plains

Alexander Brodie Spark was born on 9th August 1792 in Elgin, Scotland.

He arrived in Sydney on the Princess Charlotte in April 1823. He brought with him letters of recommendation and was granted 2000 acres of land. Six convicts were assigned to him as well as an allotment of land in Newcastle.  His 2000 acre grant can be seen on the map above across the river from Shaw Stewart and next to a government reserve.

On 23rd November he was granted permission to be supplied from the stores at Newcastle together with six convict servants:

James Cotton per Mangles
Joseph Farmer per Minerva 1824
David Ronaldson per Minerva
Thomas Moss per Minerva
Edward Pain per Minerva
Edward McCaffer per Minerva

Later he was to increase his holdings in the Hunter region to over 6,000 acres. He also owned a farm at Cooks River. A store in George Street, Sydney was taken over by Spark and by 1825 he was chartering ships for the coastal trade. He was also an agent for country settlers and later became the Managing Director of the Bank of Australia.

Spark's favourite residence was his farm at Cooks River however in 1829 he was at the Hunter Valley property when it was robbed by bushrangers Richard Brown, Patrick Corcoran, Richard Turnstyle and Andrew Cullen. In an attempt to keep the bushrangers at bay, he fired through the door at them. (1)

Spark was a Magistrate and became friends with James Mudie..  Some of the convicts assigned to A.B. Spark at the Hunter River were re-assigned or at least worked on James Mudie's Castle Forbes estate. James Mudie was known to visit A.B. Spark on his farm at Cooks river. Later, possibly after James Mudie's returned to England, Spark became a private distributor of Mudie's slanderous The Felonry of New South Wales.

In 1834 he commissioned John Verge to design 'Tempe House.

In April 1840, he married Frances Maria (nee Biddulph), the widow of Henry Wyatt Radford of Ravensfield Station a 2000 estate at the Hunter River.  Until 1847 Ravensfield was occupied by William Geddes however Spark advertised it for lease in May of that year. On the property were a cottage and houses, a malt kiln and 'every convenience for a dairy farm' all surrounded by strong fences.

In the 1840's depression Alexander Brodie Sparke came into financial difficulties and was declared insolvent in 1844.

He died at Tempe on 21 October 1856.

Notes & Links:

((1) Tempe House - NSW Heritage

(2) Australian Dictionary of Biography

(3) Member of the Presbyterian Church. On list of settlers petitioning Government to support Minister of the Scot's Church at Sydney (HRA)


1).   Sydney Gazette 2 May 1829

2).  Colonial Secretary's Correspondence Reel 6014; 4/3513 p.39



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