Free Settler or Felon?

Home Index


Hunter Valley


Medical Practitioner

John Inches
Port Stephens

John Inches R.N., married Mabella Ann Ovey, youngest daughter of Mr. S. P. Pritchard, commander of H. M. store ship Dromedary at Chalton Church in 1812.

He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on four Convict Ships to New South Wales in the 1830's. His first voyage was on the Lady Harewood in 1832. The next was the Lloyds in 1833, the Mary  in 1835 and the Norfolk in 1837. He was a brother of Charles Inches who was also a Surgeon Superintendent employed on convict ships.

The Sydney Gazette recorded the trial of a seaman of the Lady Harewood who was charged by Captain Stonehouse with assaulting convict Evitas Hall on the voyage to New South Wales. The prisoner had given him no provocation. Hall, the prisoner deposed that he had occasion to go to the ship's head, when the defendant without any provocation, struck him with a rope's end. He was tarring the rope and on defendant's passing struck him with all his might.

John Inches Esq., R.N. Surgeon of the Lady Harewood, stated that the man Hall came to him on the quarter-deck, and complained of having been struck by the defendant; in consequence of which he went forward and told Pitman that such conduct was improper; if any prisoner misconducted himself it was his duty to complain to him; but no seaman was allowed to take the law in his own hands by striking a prisoner. The sailor at first denied having struck him at all, and then acknowledged to having done so lightly. He therefore ordered the man down into the sick bay, where, on his being stripped, a deep weal appeared on the small of his back. The defendant stated in his defence that the rope had a round turn round the fore topmast yard, and in handing it down it struck the man accidentally. Captain Stonehouse gave the defendant a good character for general conduct; and the Bench ordered him to enter into his own recognizances to keep the peace for twelve months. Pitman said he was unable to pay the bail bond and other expenses, and the Captain being appealed to by the Bench refused to assist him, alleging that, as he had broken his contract by striking a prisoner, he did not consider him entitled to any remuneration for his labours in working the vessel to the port. (1)

John Inches was employed as surgeon with the Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens when his eldest daughter Mabella married Robert Pringle of Carrington Park in August 1837.

In April 1840 he announced that he had moved to East Maitland where he intended practising as a Surgeon and Accoucheur.

He is listed in the Sydney Herald in November 1840 as a Retired Officer making a land purchase of 1280 acres, the deed being dated May 1840. After his death, the land was offered for sale in two portions and described as: adjoining the village of Kempsey near Commandant's Hill, Macleay River, being the land John Inches retired Royal Navy surgeon was permitted to purchase without competition in consideration of his services

According to the notice placed in the Sydney Herald, John Inches died on Thursday, 2nd December 1841 aged 55, much and deeply lamented by a numerous circle of friends and relatives. He was buried at St. Peter's Cemetery, East Maitland.

His wife Mabella was residing with her daughter and son in law Mabella and Robert Pringle in 1847 when William Lithall was sentenced to 7 years transportation for killing a horse belonging to her .

Mabella Inches died in October 1857 at Balmain  - the Funeral to move from Mrs. Dalyell's Darling Street residence.  John and Mabella Inches' daughter Mabella Pringle died in Sydney in September 1860.


(1) Sydney Gazette 23 August 1832




web counter