Hunter Valley Colonial Medical Practitioners


Adoniah Vallack


Adoniah Vallack had three brothers, William, Henry Adoniah and Charles Salmon, and three sisters, Judith, Albertine and Emily.(1) He studied at the Aldergate School of Medicine and was listed in the London Standard as one of the Gentlemen to whom the Court of Examiners of the Apothecaries Hall had granted Certificates of Qualification in 1836. (5)

He arrived in Sydney on the Eweretta in November 1837.  - From London having sailed the 1st July, the ship Eweretta, Captain Gilmore, with merchandise. Passengers, Captain Booth R.N. and lady; Captain Bacchus, Mr. Henry Bacchus, and Miss Bacchus; Alfred Clarke, Barrister; Mr. J. Draper, merchant; Mrs. Cutchley, Miss Civelly, A. Vallack, Esq., Surgeon, Messrs John Jones and Alexander Salmon and Miss Harriet Devigley (7)

He rented a house in Prince Street, Sydney soon after arrival and commenced a practice (8). While at Prince Street, he was assigned a convict in door servant and a groom. He attended an inquest at Surry Hills in July 1838

Adoniah Vallack's complaint of partiality in the article to the right was a valid one. It was not a solitary incident and similar complaints had been made against the Coroner in calling medical witnesses. (9)

 Perhaps it was this incident that determined him to leave Sydney for the Hunter Valley. He briefly moved his practice to one in Castlereagh Street in December in 1838 however three months later he set up practice in Singleton....Mr. A. Vallack, Member of the Royal college of Surgeons in London and Licentiate of the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries, having removed from Sydney to Patrick Plains where he intends to continue practising his profession. For the convenience of settlers, Mr. V. will in the course of a fortnight open a chemist's and druggist's shop in the new house immediately opposite Mr. Cullen's Inn. (10)

Sydney Herald 3 December 1838

Adoniah Vallack was well respected in the Singleton district. He lived in the town and entered town life, helping to establish an Agricultural Society, attending public dinners, raising funds for worthy causes, giving lectures at the Mechanics Institute and offering himself as candidate in elections. And he had attended the sick and injured in the town for all of that time.

The respect he held in the town is evident in the following account of a case that was heard by the Magistrates in Singleton in 1846. The case was one of assault and battery - Bailey v. Vallack - and caused a great stir in the town; the court house was crowded and much amusement was afforded . Dr. Vallack 'did not deny the assault, but admitted that the had given the plaintiff a sound thrashing, in consequence of being provoked to adopt such an alternative by the acrimonious and insulting manner of the plaintiff. The defendant was of necessity cast, as the law was imperative. A sixpenny subscription was immediately started in town, to indemnify the defendant in the fine and costs, and in the course of an hour one hundred sixpences were raised and duly presented. "Out of evil often cometh good," saith the proverb, and this sum, we have heard, will be handed over to the treasurer of the Singleton Benevolent Society  ' 

He had been a medical practitioner in Singleton for nine years when he was appointed Surgeon to Edmund Kennedy's surveying expedition rescue in 1848.

After his appointment, he placed an advertisement calling for debts to be settled. All his belongings were auctioned at his Hunter Street residence by Mr. Crofton soon after. The furniture comprised 'excellent dining, Pembroke, dressing and other tables; chests of drawers, book case, sofas, chairs, two large chiffoniers, wash stands, looking glasses, bed stands, beds, blankets, bed and table linen superior violin, writing desk, medicine chest, brass and other fenders, glass and earthenware, a quantity of valuable books, chest carpenters tools and culinary utensils'

A splendid white Arab mare broken in to saddle and harness, Eight brood mares and foals, a superior gig with single and tandem harness complete, were also go under the hammer as well as two saddles and bridles, nearly new, four tons of Lucerne hay and a small herd of cattle.

His substantial brick built cottage with its large garden in Hunter Street was also to be sold. The house contained two sitting rooms, 15 feet square, two bed rooms with verandah in front, and a detached kitchen. There were two stables, one with four and other three stalls and gig house; and a well with never failing water. The garden was said to be tastefully laid out and well stocked with choice fruit trees and vines and substantially fenced all round

Adoniah Vallack's friends were to organise a public dinner in his honour before he left the district.

Dr. Vallack's statement of account of the expedition........


In March 1849 Dr. Vallack was thanked by the Government for his part in the rescue party.

Sir - With reference to the extract from your journal, which was received on the 7th instant, I have the honour to state for your information, that the perusal thereof has satisfied the government that every thing was done which was possible, under the circumstances, for the relief of the unfortunate individuals belonging to the late Mr. Kennedy's expedition whom he found it necessary, from their exhausted condition, to leave at Shelbourne and Weymouth Bays; and especially that your exertions, under circumstances of great peril, surrounded by a numerous and hostile tribe of natives, in rescuing the survivors at the latter place, are deserving the thanks of the government. I have the honour to add, that your zeal and efficient performance of the important duties entrusted to you abundantly show that you possess in a high degree the qualifications requisite for the enterprise in which you so readily undertook to render your services available to the local government. E. Deas Thompson

In 1849 Adoniah Vallack left Australia for the California gold fields. A letter home printed in the Maitland Mercury on 6th March 1850 revealed he was working at his profession at Monterey. He sent home from Monterey specimens of minerals and shells. He returned to New South Wales on the schooner Edward in August 1852 (11)

Adoniah Vallack died on 5th June 1872. His effects were valued at less than 100 at the time of his death in contrast with the wealth of his brother Henry a solicitor who died on 27 December 1877 with a personal estate of 20,000........The Will of Adoniah Vallack formerly of Kingsand in the county of Devon but late of Wringford in the Parish or Rame in the county of Cornwall, Surgeon who died 5th June 1872 at Wringford was proved by Charles Salmon Vallack of 5 St. Michael's terrace Stoke Devonport, the brother of the deceased. (4)

His obituary was printed in the British Medical Journal 13th July 1872 {extract}....... After leaving New South Wales he travelled much in California, Canada etc and wrote a description of the former country soon after the first gold discoveries, which was partly published in the Sydney newspapers. After an absence of between twenty and thirty years in the colonies, he retired from the active exercise of his profession and spent his latter days in rural occupations on a small family estate in his native county. (6)

(Note -  the Medical Directory of 1873 states that he died at Collingwood, Canada on 5 June 1872, aged 59 (p.1135)



(1)  Rame Family Tree Project

(2) The statement of Dr. Vallack and Captain Dobson, who rescued the survivors of the expedition; Title: Narrative of an expedition, undertaken under the direction of the late Mr. Assistant Surveyor E. B. Kennedy, for the exploration of the country lying between Rockingham Bay and Cape York. by Wm. Carron, one of the survivors of the expedition. To which are added, 1. The statement of the aboriginal native, Jackey Jackey, who accompanied Mr. Kennedy. /

(3) The statement of Captain Simpson of the "Freak," who proceeded in search of Mr. Kennedy's papers, &c. [incl. three additional statements by Matthew Clarke, John Davis, & Mr. MacNate].

(4) England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966 [database on-line]. Original data: Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England. London, England

(5) APOTHECARIES' HALL . The Standard (London, England), Friday, October 14, 1836; Issue 2943. 19th Century British Library Newspapers: Part II.

(6) Obituary printed in the British Medical Journal 13th July 1872 at PubMedCentral, Canada

(7) Sydney Gazette 2 November 1837

(8) Sydney Herald 11 December 1837

(9) Sydney Gazette 4 December 1838

(10) Sydney Gazette 28 March 1839

(11) Sydney Gazette 5 August 1852








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