Early Hunter Valley Settlers
George Augustus Middleton
The land centre left on the map above was 2000 acres granted to Rev. Middleton in 1828 and called Glenrose.
When he first arrived in the colony Rev. Middleton worked at Parramatta, however in March 1821 he was appointed Assistant Chaplain at Newcastle. Newcastle was then a penal settlement used to punish the most desperate convicts in the colony and presided over by Commandant Major James Thomas Morisset
Rev. Middleton had requested and been granted cattle from the government herds in 1820 and these he brought overland to Newcastle accompanied by John de Marquet Blaxland. The trail John Blaxland marked was afterwards used by absconding convicts making their way south, to the great vexation of Major Morisset.....
Commandant's Office, Newcastle December 18 1821
Frederick, Goulburn Esq., Colonial Secretary,
Sir, I am sorry to have to send again a long list of runaways, twelve of them went off in a body for the Parson's Road, as it is now called which is the road the Rev. G.A. Middleton came to this settlement accompanied by 173 head of cattle and Mr. John Blaxland who I am informed marked the trees. Of course the prisoners who now leave this place have no difficulty in finding their way to Sydney and as they have an idea that, the present Governor His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane will not send them back, many are induced to leave this place that otherwise would remain quiet and contented, and as the Guard I have here is not equal to the duty I much fear that the desertion will become very quiet if some are not sent back, that have been apprehended and severely punished. One that ran last evening has been taken but they attempted to murder a soldier who was of the party that apprehended them and had he not had timely assistance from some Black Natives would doubtless have succeeded. One of the parties I sent down the Parson's Road consisting of two soldiers and a bush constable have been detained by the Magistrates of Windsor. I hope you will prevent this happening in future as it is only by keeping parties passage backwards and forwards on the road on which they desert that I can expect to deter them from or take them when they try to run. J.T. Morisset.(2)
Rev. Middleton resided at the parsonage at Newcastle. He considered the residence to be incomplete and in December 1821 requested to make various alterations. Major Morisset thought the parsonage was more than adequate. In correspondence regarding Rev. Middleton's request he described the parsonage as it was at that time.......
The house has been completed long ago. It consists of a handsome entrance hall, dining, drawing and bed rooms, with a study and store room extremely neatly finished under the same roof. A detached kitchen and two servants rooms with a covered passage leading from the dwelling to the out offices, a yard enclosed by large open sheds a small enclosure at the back of and adjoining the Offices with two necessaries and a garden at the side (1). John Bingle in Past and Present Record of Newcastle states that the parsonage was built in 1820. The location of the Parsonage can be found on John Armstrong's 1830 map of Newcastle at Coal River Working Party site. (The Parsonage was repaired and new offices built in 1831 when Rev. Wilton was chaplain.)
John Bingle first arrived in Newcastle in December 1821. Never having been in a penal settlement before he was taken aback at the severity of convict life and unimpressed with Major Morisset's autocratic control of the settlement, however he and Rev. Middleton became firm friends and together they embarked on a trip to Lake Macquarie.
John Bingle described that first visit.... Our parson, the Rev. G.A. Middleton, (who was an especial favourite with the blacks) started with myself with the whole tribe of upwards of one hundred on a walking trip to Lake Macquarie; our necessary supplies, blankets etc they carried on their heads. On arrival I was enchanted with its beautiful scenery, and can never forget it. The whole surrounding country and lake were serene and still, solitude reigned, no tree disturbed, and no trace of the white man's civilization, but all in ti natural wild state. We enjoyed all the wild sports of Australian bush life in it s primitive state as the Aborigines of that day (before they were contaminated with our vices) were accustomed to enjoy them. Shooting, fishing, kangarooing and hunting - our game was ample for us all. They supplied us also by diving, with the finest mud oysters for which the waters of the lake are noted, these we scalloped on our bush fires, and we spent five or six days of as much enjoyment as I ever had in any part of the world.... Past and Present Records of Newcastle by John Bingle
In 1877 a correspondent published a series of letters in the Maitland Mercury. In the articles he reminisces about growing up in the Paterson and Maitland districts and mentions Rev. Middleton.......
No person was allowed to visit the Coal River as the Hunter was first called, while Newcastle was a penal settlement, without a 'pass' signed by the Governor. I never saw but one, which gave the necessary authority to the Rev. G. A. Middleton at one time incumbent of Christ Church, Newcastle. To this gentleman in conjunction with Mr. Blaxland belongs the credit of being the first who ever brought cattle overland by the Bulga from Sydney to the Hunter. - and the stockman assisting is still alive in Morpeth of great age and very decrepit; his name is Pike*, and I hope the record of the fact of the part he had on the occasion may prove a gratification to him, if only a momentary one. Mr. Middleton among several incidents in connection with his incumbency, told me that on one occasion during Divine service, the prisoners being in attendance in chains, the guards in charge seeing or fancying they saw a concerted movement among them, 'presented arms' What a scene under such circumstances? Mr. Middleton had to officiate at a place called the Lime burners, a number of prisoners being stationed there under strong guard for the purpose of procuring and burning shells. Some of the miserable creatures on the occasion of one of his visits had no other clothing than a sugee bag tied round the waist. Maitland Mercury 23 March 1850
Select HERE to find out some of the convicts who were assigned to Rev. Middleton at Newcastle (parsonage), the Glebe farm and at Glenrose.
Newcastle in 1822
- A list of
buildings in Newcastle in 1822 Notes & Links: "George
Augustus Middleton - A Prodigal Priest?" - Brian Roach - Nova,
University of Newcastle Research Online.
Australian Cemeteries Index References: 1. 2.
Newcastle in 1822 - A list of buildings in Newcastle in 1822
Notes & Links:
"George Augustus Middleton - A Prodigal Priest?" - Brian Roach - Nova, University of Newcastle Research Online.
Australian Cemeteries Index
1.Charges and counter charges between Morisset and Revd Middleton. New South Wales Government. Main series of letters received, 1788-1825. Series 897, Reels 6041-6064, 6071-6072. State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia
2.Runaways using the Parson's road. Colonial Secretary's Correspondence. Main series of letters received, 1788-1825. Series 897, Reels 6041-6064, 6071-6072. State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.