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William Wilton

Newcastle and Raymond Terrace 1840's; Maitland 1845

William Wilton arrived in Australia with his wife on the Hope in October 1838. In the 1840's he resided in Newcomen Street next to the Market Square in Newcastle and was also listed as a Qualified Medical practitioner for the district of Raymond Terrace.

One of the important phases of friendly society work is the provision made for medical attention. Through his lodge, the member may become a subscriber to any doctor he so chooses. Every branch of any society has a long doctors' list, and agreements with the medical profession ensure complete cooperation between all parties. In the early days of Newcastle the friendly societies experienced much difficulty in engaging the services of doctors for their members. Repeated mention of this problem is made in the 95-year-old minute-book of the Union Lodge of the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows. (1) Dr. Wilton was approached by the Union Lodge of the Manchester Unity Order of Oddfellows to act as their Medical Officer but declined the appointment and Dr. Bowker accepted the position in 1842.

William Wilton was one of the townspeople of Newcastle in 1843 campaigning to make Newcastle a free warehousing port and chaired a meeting at the Union Hotel in Newcastle on 20th January 1843 on behalf of Alexander Walker Scott who was campaigning for the Legislative Council. William Wilton announced he was moving to East Maitland. He set up his medical practice in the cottage adjoining the former residence of Dr. Francis Campbell.

In Maitland he performed post mortems, attended new arrivals in the Immigrants Barracks as well as other duties.

In January 1849 he was appointed surgeon for the Maitland Gaol a position he still held in the 1860's. In 1849 one of his duties as surgeon to the gaol was to accompany condemned man George Waters Ward to the gallows. William Wilton was on the committee for the Newcastle Church Society and on the board of the Church of England School in Maitland

William Wilton died aged 80 in August 1880. The Maitland Mercury reported his death: - A very old resident of East Maitland died some days ago at his house in Williams Street. Dr. William Wilton had lived 34 years in East Maitland, and had been in the colony 43 years. Previous to leaving England he had practised his profession as surgeon at Gloucester for some years. From the opening of Maitland gaol till about two years back he was medical officer of the establishment; and at last retired from infirmity. Dr. Wilton was scarcely a public man in any sense. He did indeed occupy the position of magistrate, which he accepted with reluctance. He was a fine specimen of the old English gentleman, and his friends were always able to recognise the scrupulous and keen sense of honor which he shared with his class. For some months back Dr. Wilton has been ailing. We have no particulars of his age; he must have been full of years at his death, however.

William Wilton was buried in the Glebe burial grounds, East Maitland.

Notes and Links:

For more information see Australian Pioneer Medical Index

Allotments at Newcastle (n.d.) University of Newcastle Photographs on Flickr showing William Wilton's allotment (Click to enlarge)  
Map of Newcastle, NSW, [n.d.].

(1) Newcastle Morning Herald 12 June 1937


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