Hunter Valley Inns & Hotels

The Forbes



In reminiscences printed in the Singleton Argus in 1906 the writer recalled that the old original Forbes Hotel on the site of the old Argus Office in John Street (demolished c. 1906) was a weather board building erected by Benjamin Singleton who also had a mill working in the same street, built of wood. (Singleton Argus 1 May 1906)


Thomas Balden Cox held the license for the Forbes Inn in 1843 -

' T.B. Cox in returning thanks for the liberal support he has received since his entering into business, begs to inform families and the inhabitants of the Hunter river district that he has completed his new Inn, which will enable him to provided visitors with private sitting rooms and airy bed rooms; and which, for comfort and accommodation, will vie with any other in the colony. He has also laid in a new and extensive stock of wines and spirits and trusts, by a constable attention to the comfort of those who may favour him with their support, to receive a considerable share of public patronage. Superior stabling for forty horses and loose boxes for racers. Book office for the Singleton and Maitland Mail. (9)

In October 1843 the Forbes was the venue for an amateur theatrical performance in aid of the Singleton Benevolent Society. The first performance was the Operatic drama entitled 'The Padlock' after which a variety of songs and the evening was to conclude with the laughable farce of 'The Happy Man'. Tickets were 2/6- and 1/- for children. (10)

Thomas Balden Cox was granted a publican's license for the Queen Victoria Inn in Day Street East Maitland in 1847. (11)  He moved to the Bush Inn at Black Creek in 1848. (12)

Walter Rotton had been in the Colony over twenty years when he took over the Inn in the 1840's. He had arrived free on the Mariner in 1821 and soon found employment in the business house of merchant Vicars Jacob. Walter was convicted of embezzlement soon after as the following article relates: -

'Criminal Court - On Thursday last Mr. Walter Rotton was placed at the bar, and indicted for embezzling the goods of his employer. From the outline of the evidence it was apparent that the prisoner had arrived very lately in this Colony in respectable and flattering circumstances, and that he became introduced to the responsible situation of confidential clerk in the employ of Vicars Jacobs Esq. a Merchant recently from India. Of a particularly valuable property this young man, the prisoner, had the most absolute control, with the exception of duly accounting to his master in the ordinary course of business. Losing sight of the high confidence reposed, the prisoner had unfortunately suffered himself to become entrapped in the horrible vortex of crime; he had embezzled the property entrusted to him, and sold the same on his own account; and also received sundry sums of money, in the name of Mr. Jacobs, which had never been accounted for. There could not be a case develop itself more unhappily for the prisoner than this. He was in the receipt of a salary of 100 pounds per annum; and within three months his kind master had obliged him with the emergent loan of 30 pounds, and also allowed him to take 50 pounds worth of goods to venture in speculation; and yet, lamentable to say, the prisoners a young man respected by all that were acquainted with him, and possessing so many enviable advantages, inconsiderately plunged into the commission of that worst species of offence - a breach of trust. Upon the clearest testimony the prisoner was unhappily too satisfactorily proved, and adjudged to by guilty, and was, in consequence of that verdict, consigned to 7 years transportation.'

Walter Rotton was transported to Port Macquarie and by 1823 was petitioning to be assigned to his brother John Rotton who had arrived on the Lusitania in 1821 and had obtained land in Patrick Plains. A Ticket of Leave was issued to Walter in 1828 and he began re-building his life.

In 1832 he took out the license for the Freemasons' Arms in West Maitland

In 1847 Walter Rotton held the license for the Forbes Hotel in Singleton and despite the bad weather and muddy street, on 26th January 1847 he put on a 'splendid dinner' to celebrate the anniversary of the colony. No expense was spared in serving up a first-rate dinner. Mr. J.J. Harpur was in the chair and David Stolworthy officiated as vice president (13)

In 1849, Walter Rotton was refused a license for the Forbes Hotel and he decided to try his luck on the Californian gold fields. A dinner was held in his honour at the Rose Inn and over fifty people attended to farewell him. Dr. Stolworthy made a speech to Mr. Rotton whom he had known for 8 years:

'Mr. Rotton had invariably stood up to defend political rights which he advocated openly and fearlessly. He had been a most useful man in local affairs and had been mainly instrumental in the formation of all their local institutions such as the Benevolent Society. Patients had been given kind and benevolent assistance for wine and comforts which they would have been unable to procure otherwise. He was a benevolent and generous man in his private life as well and many persons had for weeks or months found a refuge in his house when disabled by sickness or accident.'

Dr. Stolworthy regretted much that such a man should be obliged to leave them to seek fortune in a foreign clime, and still more that that necessity had arisen from an uncalled for and unjust refusal by the bench to renew his license. He trusted that Mr. Rotton would receive amends for this injustice in the country to which he was shortly going and that before any great time elapsed they should welcome him back a fortunate and successful man. Mr. Rotton responded in tears assuring the guests that it was at once the most painful, yet happiest and proud day of his life. He assured those who may have suffered in a pecuniary way that should he succeed in what he had undertaken he would one day redeem his obligations. (41)

In August 1849 Frederick William Thrum obtained a license for the Forbes Hotel 44. He stated in October that he had outlayed a great deal to put the Hotel in good repair. The premises had also been thoroughly cleaned. The hotel offered stables that could accommodate forty horses and were the most spacious in the district. He and his wife intended to give every attention to patrons and hoped that the Forbes would be restored to the glory of former days.

In 1852 the Singleton Steam Mill owned by Mr. Kingston and situated next door to the Forbes Inn burned down.



(9) Maitland Mercury  11 February 1843

(10) Maitland Mercury 14 October 1843

(11) Maitland Mercury 24 April 1847

(12) Maitland Mercury 19 April 1848

(13) Maitland Mercury 6 February 1847.

(41)  Maitland Mercury 7 July 1849

(44)  Maitland Mercury 8 August 1849





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