Robert Keddie arrived in Maitland
before 1838. He purchased town allotments in Maitland in that
He was a builder by trade and in April 1839 he
opened a cedar yard in Maitland for the sale of windows and
doors and other timber goods.
Despite the difficult financial times
Robert Keddie decided to construct a two-story building at
Raymond Terrace intended for a hotel and to be conducted by Mr.
Dee. (1) He was also selling coal from Coal Hill East
Maitland in 1843. (2)
By 1844 he had opened an Inn
in East Maitland in the Building formerly occupied by the Bank
of Australasia which he named the Trades Arms Inn (3).
He attended many public meetings in Maitland and served on
committees. In 1847 he presented an address to Sir Charles
Fitzroy on his visit to Maitland (4).
He was charged on
several occasions for breaches of the Licensing Act. Innkeepers
were often required to evict troublesome characters from their
premises. They were entitled by the law to do so however using
only necessary force in doing so; This law was to Robert
Keddie's advantage in 1847 when he was accused of assaulting
Henry Reuban a Ginger Beer and cordial manufacturer seeking
payment for ginger beer he had supplied. Although Keddie
was convicted of assaulting Henry Reuban he was fined a mere 1/-.
of another troublesome character - Pitnacree punt owner Malcolm Turner
resulted in a charge of manslaughter against Keddie when Turner
was later found dead in a barn at the Inn. There was a lengthy
trial and at the conclusion Robert Keddie addressed the court.
He stated that he was convinced that the jury would see that
there was no foundation whatever for the charge against him, and
their verdict would disabuse the public mind of the false and
injurious reports circulated against him. He had no hand in the
death of the unfortunate man further than filling the glass that
made him drunk although he admitted that Turner had died from an
injury after a fall on the verandah of the Inn. He reiterated
that he was entirely innocent of the charge and criticized the
committing magistrate and coroner. When the jury returned with a
verdict of not guilty after twenty five minutes deliberation,
loud cheering took place outside the Court causing the Judge to
sentence an old servant of Keddie's to 48 hours in the cells for
contempt of court. (5)
In November 1849 Robert Keddie
was advertising to organize voyages to California. He stated
that he would not be able to make Passage money less than
£12/10- because agents and ship owners charged most exorbitantly
for their vessels as the sailors abandoned them to look for gold
on arrival. He vowed to provide a much more liberal allowance of
fresh provisions than any of the ships sailing from Sydney and
would charge £20 for the freight of a horse with owners to
provide their own groom and fodder. Each passenger was allowed
half a ton of luggage free of charge.
In December 1849
the license for the Trades Arms was transferred from
Keddie to James Ferguson(6).
By 1850 Robert Keddie was
in financial distress and the Trades
Arms in East Maitland as well as four stone cottages and
five brick cottages and the Freemasons Arms in Raymond Terrace were to be sold
by the Sheriff.
Robert Keddie died by his own hand in 1851.
(1). Maitland Mercury 18 February
(2). Maitland Mercury 1 April 1843
Maitland Mercury 6 July 1844
(4). Maitland Mercury 6
February1847 (25) MM 2 January 1850
Mercury 22 September 1849 (48)MM 7 November 1849