Free Settler or Felon?

Hunter Valley Settler

Richard Hobden - Great Lodge- Map 5
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Richard Hobden senior arrived free on the Earl Spencer in 1813.

He married Albenia Walker in Sydney in 1816 and was residing in Sydney when a grant of 500 acres was authorised by Sir Thomas Brisbane on 7 July 1824 (2)

He probably did not take up the grant immediately as he held the license for the Talbot Inn in Sydney when his wife Albenia died in November 1829. The inquest into her death found she died of natural causes and Richard was left to bring up their six young children on his own.

The children of Richard and Albenia (nee Walker) were

Richard James who born in 1818;

Elizabeth b. 1819;

Sarah b. 1822 ;

Robert b. 1824;

William b. 1826; and

Henry b. 1829.

Richard Hobden married for the second time in 1838 to Elizabeth Southard.

In 1838 Richard James Hobden (junior) married Jane Ellis in the Presbyterian Church at Whittingham. Jane was the daughter of Thomas Ellis a respected employee of George Bowman of Arrowfield.

Richard and Jane continued to live at Great Lodge, the family estate near Jerry's Plains.

In 1846 Thomas Ellis was employed as a superintendent by George Bowman and John Waters was employed by Thomas Ellis and living with the family on their property. Waters had apparently made certain advances to a daughter of Thomas Ellis at which time his employment was terminated. John Waters then made two complaints to George Blaxland Esq, Magistrate of the district of being robbed of his money and a portion of his ear cut off by three men who had done so with the purpose of making him put out his tongue with the intent of cutting it off.

The next day a warrant was issued for the apprehension of Thomas Ellis and William Ellis, Richard James Hobden and Patrick Fox.

Chief Constable Everness of Merton placed them in handcuffs in the lockup at Merton before accompanying them to Maitland and then to Newcastle. In 1846 Richard James Hobden, described as of respectable parentage and considerable property - sober, industrious, honorable, intelligent and amiable, respected and beloved from his infancy by all who knew him - was committed for trial, placed upon the chain and forwarded down the country to be tried before a jury. He was accompanied on this humiliating journey by his father-in-law Thomas Ellis, brother-in-law William Ellis and Patrick Fox. William Ellis, Richard James Hobden and Patrick Fox were indicted for cutting and maiming one John Waters and Thomas Ellis for stealing money from Waters. Richard James Hobden and Thomas Ellis were admitted to Newcastle gaol on 4th June 1846 and admitted to bail on the 17th June by the orders of Justice Therry. (1)

The gaol description of Richard James Hobden gives his height as 5ft 8in. He was of stout build with brown hair and brown eyes. When their case was finally heard John Waters was absent and could not be found. The Solicitor General thought there was reason to believe that the charges he had preferred were not honest and he had no desire that the prisoners would remain in custody for a indefinite period. The prisoners' solicitor Mr. Windeyer applied for a discharge on their own recognizance to appear and answer the charges preferred against them should they be so required to be do by the Attorney General.

Richard James Hobden and Jane Ellis raised a large family - Richard Ellis b. 1840, Thomas Ellis b. 1842, Albenia Ellis b. 1844, Jane Ellis b. 1847, John Ellis b. 1849, William Ellis b. 1851, Hunter Ellis b. 1853, Robert Henry Ellis b. 1855, Sarah Ellis b. 1857, Leamington Ellis b. 1858, James Ellis b. 1860, Albert Ellis n. 1863, Alice Kate Ellis b. 1865, Elizabeth Mary Ellis b. 1871.

Richard Hobden senior died on 20 July 1851 at Great Lodge aged 63. His wife Elizabeth nee Southard married Richard Alcorn in 1852  


(1) State Archives NSW; Kingswood, New South Wales; Gaol Description and Entrance Books, 1818-1930; Item: 2/2009; Roll: 757. (Ancestry)

(2) Index to map of the country bordering upon the River Hunter... by Henry Dangar (London : Joseph Cross, 1828). p9




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