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Hunter Valley Settlers

James Bowman - Map 5

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James Bowman entered the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon in 1806. He was promoted to surgeon in 1807.

He was appointed Principal Surgeon for the colony of New South Wales and arrived on the John Barry in 1819. He had previously been employed as surgeon superintendent on the convict ships Mary Anne in 1816 and Lord Eldon in 1817.

James Bowman was on the local committee of the Australian Agricultural Company from 1824 until 1829. Other members of the committee were James Macarthur, Hannibal Macarthur, and Captain King.

He married Mary Isabella Macarthur, the second daughter of John Macarthur in 1823.

By 1832 he had established a sheep run on more than 11,000 acres at his Hunter Valley estate Ravensworth.  He continued to work at the General Hospital in Sydney and did not reside at Ravensworth which was worked by overseers and assigned convicts.

In March 1832 Ravensworth was visited by Australian Agricultural company Commissioner Sir Edward Parry on his journey to the Liverpool Plains.

Sir Edward Parry
and his party had left Maitland at 9 am and reached Glendon, the estate of Helenus and Robert Scott by 4pm. The following day they left Glendon at 10am and proceeded across Black Creek. After this the road passed James Mudie's Castle Forbes through Henry Dangar's Neotsfield to the Hunter River crossing near Singleton's Plough Inn. After crossing the river the first property was James Glennie's Dulwich and the road then went via Ravensworth where they arrived at at 3 o'clock.

They were kindly received at Ravensworth by managers Mr. & Mrs. James White who were formerly in the service of the Australian Agricultural Company. Here Sir Edward was comfortably lodged, although he did not think highly of the Estate. He thought a great deal of money must have been spent to clear and stump large home paddocks. The flat land near the Foy Brook, Mr. White did not consider good and the higher land was too thickly timbered with ironbark to be of any good or even middling quality. Dr. Bowman was building a substantial stone cottage for the use of Mr. White. Their garden consisted of 8 acres fenced with a paling fence and a little stream running through it. It was partly laid out in a tasteful and ornamental manner. Sir Edward thought that if 5 or 6 men could always be employed it could soon be a very handsome garden however he thought it too large for a private estate like Ravensworth.

On leaving Ravensworth, Parry's party would have continued on the road which passed over Saltwater Creek and over the ridges. Once in the valley the road divided with one branch proceeding to Muswellbrook and the other towards Edinglassie and Merton.

The Ravensworth estate was visited By Lieutenant George Pulteney Malcolm in October/ November 1835.....

Lieutenant Malcolm had arrived on the Henry Porcher in 1835 and spent over a year in New South Wales travelling extensively. He kept a journal throughout the voyage and afterwards on his travels in Australia.  A copy of the journal is held by the State Library of New South Wales.

Lieutenant Malcolm spent six weeks in the Hunter region where he also visited Robert and Helenus Scott at Glendon and brothers Henry Dumaresq and William Dumaresq.

Ravensworth was also visited by missionaries Backhouse and Walker in June 1836........

During these years James Bowman engaged architect John Verge to design and build a mansion on 36 acres at Glebe in Sydney called Lyndhurst. He may not have resided here very long as he had retired to Ravensworth by 1840 when James White departed.

At Singleton he became involved in community affairs in the district and held the position of President of the Singleton Benevolent Society and donated land for a church near Camberwell. The infamous bushrangers the Jewboy Gang robbed nine drays near his estate around this time.

James Bowman died in August 1846 at Ravensworth. After his death Ravensworth was purchased by Captain William Russell. Captain Russell arrived in the colony in 1837 and became a pastoralist and agriculturalist. He later acquired other properties as well including Glenridding near Singleton, Waverley and Cheshunt Park.

William Russell died in England in 1866. Ravensworth was subdivided in 1882 and part of the estate was eventually purchased by Duncan Forbes Mackay.  

Notes & Links:

1). Parliamentary Papers - Correspondence relative to Crown Lands....


2). Among the Pastoralists - Maitland Weekly Mercury 7 September 1895