Free Settler or Felon?

Hunter Valley Settlers

Jonathan Warner

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Newcastle - Ash Island - Hunter River - Iron Bark Creek

Jonathan Warner was born in Lymington, Hampshire. He arrived in Australia on 12 September 1826 on the ship Orpheus with other members of the Royal New South Wales Veterans including Lieut-Colonel Henry Dumaresq and Captain Robinson.

After retiring from military service, he worked as an assistant surveyor of roads and bridges. In 1828 he examined a line of road recommended by Percy Simpson, causing him to travel through the Lake Macquarie area. It was here in July 1829, that he selected 1280 acres at the northern end of the lake.  Warner had settled on the land by 1831 and  established a farm with an orchard and a house overlooking the bay. From his farm a track led over the hills to Newcastle. His estate 'Biddaba', adjoined that of William Brooks and George Weller. Jonathan Warner was appointed Magistrate for Brisbane Waters in 1833 and he travelled to Brisbane Water from the lake each fortnight by horse.

In 1835 he completed a temporary cottage for the reception of his family at Brisbane Waters and advised Headquarters that he was anxious to move his family from Lake Macquarie to the cottage without delay in February 1835. Henry Donnison was to perform his duties as Magistrate in the few days he would be absent from Lake Macquarie (1)

In 1840 a portion of land possibly from Warner's estate was laid out for a township in 1/4 acres lots and advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald. It was called 'Lymington'  and was described as being on the north eastern side of Lake Macquarie with a gradual ascent from the lake and an abundance of grape vines. There were no sales made and the lots were re advertised once again in 1855 however again failed to sell.

In 1870 a traveller to the Lake described the estate:

My first sight of the lake was by moonlight, and at a point the view from which Dr. Lang has recently characterised tin the columns of this journal as one of the finest even he, with all his varied experience, ever saw. Nor can I accuse the venerable doctor of exaggeration, for, without doubt, the view obtained on a fine sunshiny morning, or a clear moonlight night, from some of the slopes running down to Warner's Bay or Cockle Bay as it is marked upon the maps, magnificent and lovely beyond description. At the time of my visit the moon was nearly at the full, and, having only recently risen, threw its long fiery gleam of red light across the waters as far as the eye could reach. The lake itself calm and dark, stretched away league after league in front of us to the far horizon, and save the occasional ding dong of a bullock bell the screeching of some night bird, or the distant and solemn roar of the eaves of the great Pacific, as they broke at intervals on the rock bound coast at the Heads not a sound rose on the evening air to break the impressive silence which prevailed. Looking back in the direction of the creek we had just emerged from a low silvery fog had risen over it, and as I stood up in the boat, I could see it stretching its huge snake like length into the solitude of the surrounding bush, winding with the stream and gradually diminishing in the distance. On either side of us lay the thickly wooded shores of the lake and the margin of which in many placed is fringed with thick dark looking groves of acacia and fig tree but more commonly with stunted oaks and gums.

Proceeding up the lake in a westerly direction about five miles from the mouth of Cockle Creek, the visitor has his attention drawn to the residence of Mrs. Warner, the family to whom Dr. Lang paid a flying visit on his recent trip to Wallsend. The principal attraction here is an extensive orchard, the produce of which I have frequently hear spoken of in highly flattering terms. This is about the nearest point on the lake to Newcastle, and if the scale on the authorised map is to be depended upon, it is not much over eight miles distant there from in a direct line; by the ordinary route taken by Newcastle tourists, I daresay the distance is fully twelve or fourteen miles. Not having gone ashore at this spot, I cannot speak in such confident terms of the prospect obtained from Mrs. Warner's house as did Dr. Lang, in his sketch above referred to; but, from its eligible situation and its proximity to the water's edge, I can readily believe the view to be all that the doctor claims for it....Maitland Mercury 16 June 1870


Notes & Links:

1). Jonathan Warner - Warner's Bay History

2). Great North Road




(1). Gosford (Brisbane Water) Court of Petty Sessions, Letter Books 1826 - 1874, 12 February 1835, Letter No. 35/6 (Ancestry)


Ash Island - Alexander Walker Scott John Laurio Platt Australian Agricultural Company Joseph Weller George Weller William Brooks Jonathon Warner George Brooks Richard Windeyer & Adam Beveridge William Peppercorn Richard Siddons John Maclean G.T. Graham William Sparke Henry Rae Vicars Jacob Francis Shortt Francis Moran John Eales William Bradridge Nobbys Island c. 1910 Black Swan from the Skottowe Collecion. Artist R. Browne Iron Bark Creek 1907 Escape of Convicts - Bushrangers



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