Free Settler or Felon?

Hunter Valley Settlers

Vicars Jacob
Knock Finn and Millers Forest
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Newcastle - Ash Island - Hunter River - Iron Bark Creek

Vicars Jacob was a Sydney merchant. In 1822 his business was situated in George Street, Sydney. He had resigned from the army in India in order to begin his business and on arrival was also granted land on the Hunter River. His estates were named Knock Finn and Millers Forest.

In 1823 an article in the Sydney Gazette gives the reason for his decision to settle in Australia:

"Vickers Frederick Jacob, son of Vickers Jacob of George Street died on 9th instant. He was the third child of the Jacobs to die within four years. All had died from fever due to teething. The loss of the two former children was ascribed to the influence of the Indian climate. Mr. Jacob had retired from the service of the East Indian Company and settled in New South Wales under the hope of being here spared a similar trial but this last infliction has shewn the deceitfulness of such hopes and the inefficiency of human precautions."

By 1824 Vicars Jacob was resident in the Hunter Valley area and was involved in a dispute with the military at Newcastle when Magistrate Captain Henry Gillman entered Jacob's property and was sued by Jacob for misuse of a search warrant. (1)  

Jacob also had difficulties with his convict servants. He had twenty prisoners assigned to him in 1824 and complained of their poor attitude in a letter to the Sydney Gazette. His assigned servant Patrick Riley absconded in 1825 after being sentenced to 50 lashes for losing sheep. Riley was soon joined by other convicts from Jacob's Estate as well as two more from the nearby estates of Dr. Moran and John McDonnell. They formed a bushranging gang known as 'Mr. Jacob's Irish Brigade' or 'Jacob's Mob' and terrorised the Hunter Valley for months.

Vicars Jacob died of fever died in Calcutta in 1836 shortly before embarking for Hobart. His wife continued the journey with their four children and died soon after arriving in Hobart.

Convicts assigned to Vicars Jacob included:

Robert Morley Guildford 1824
Patrick Clinch Isabella 1823
Aaron Price Guildford 1824
John O'Brien Earl Grey 1836
William Jones Hive 1834
Timothy Potter Lord Melville 1829
Thomas Thorn Mangles 1833
David Tunmore Lord Melville 1829
John Murphy Countess of Harcourt 1822
Richard Crossley Prince Regent 1824
John Booth Isabella 1832
John Hines 
Thomas Brennan Captain Cook 1832
Samuel Herring Lady Harewood 1832
James White Captain Cook 1832
John Booth Isabella 1832
John Fernhead Henry 1823
John Scott Guildford 1824
Thomas Mitchell Indefatigable 1812
CCatherine Bryan Mary 1822 

Notes and Links:
1). Walter Rotton was found guilty of embezzling goods belonging to Vicars Jacob in 1822 (Sydney Gazette 25 October 1822)

Sydney Gazette 28 October 1824

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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