Free Settler or Felon?

Hunter Valley Settlers

William Sparke

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Newcastle - Ash Island - Hunter River - Iron Bark Creek

William Sparke (b. 1804) was the son of Edward Sparke and Mary (nee Hosking). He arrived in Australia with his family on the 'Aguilar' in 1824. 

The 1828 Census has the following entries:

Name Ship of arrival Occupation/address
Andrew Sparke, 26 Belinda 1824 Grazier, Newcastle
Edward Sparke, 60 Aguila 1824 Kings Street Sydney
Mary Sparke, 57 Aguila 1824 King Street, Sydney
John Sparke, 29 Aguila 1824 King Street, Sydney
William, 25 Aguila 1824 King Street, Sydney
Mary Ann Sparke, 19 Born in the colony King Street, Sydney
William Sparke, 32 Belinda 1824 Landowner, Woodlands 200 acres; 10 cleared
Mary age 31 Belinda 1824 Woodlands
William 2, Born in the colony Woodlands
Andrew Sparke, 1 month Born in the colony Woodlands
George Sparke, 22 Belinda 1824 Landowner, Woodlands, 430 acres; 280 acres cleared

William Sparke aged 32 who arrived on the Belinda was the nephew of Edward Sparke senior. He originally established an Inn on this land however died in 1832. His widow Mary ran the Inn for about two years and eventually it was taken over by William Sparke, son of Edward Sparke senior.

William Sparke, son of Edward Sparke senior, married Mary Ann Holt, daughter of Joshua and Eliza Holt (and grand daughter of General Joseph Holt) at St. James Church Sydney in 1828.  Mary Ann Sparke died aged 43 in 1853 at Newcastle (1).

William Sparke's estate  - Webland Park was named for the Sparke family's former estate in Devon. Later, in Newcastle William's son William Andrew Sparke named his two story house in Blane Street (Hunter Street), Webland.

In  the 1832 Directory, Barrahinebin (swamp land) was part of William Sparke's estate.

In 1840 William Sparke auctioned of 150 building allotments in the township of Hexham described as follows: situated on the high road from Newcastle to Maitland, about seven miles from the latter, and fourteen from the former place. Every one who has visited Hunter's River must be struck with the splendid scenery which bursts upon their view on rounding the point of the River opposite "Sparke's Inn." The Township is laid out within two hundred yards of that Inn, each allotment commands a view of the river, is abundantly supplied with water, and was never known to be flooded There is also sufficient stone and brick clay for every building purposes. It is well known to every one who visits the Hunter that the mail bags to and from Maitland, and all the surrounding districts, are landed from and received on board the Steamers at this place, and many prefer landing here to enjoy the delightful ride to East or West Maitland, in preference to following the tortuous course of the river in the Steam-boat. Should the intended Railroad from Newcastle to Maitland be carried into effect, it must pass through this property. The spirited proprietor of this Estate, unlike the generality of those who have been lately laying out a portion of their property as a Township, instead of giving only allotments for a church, parsonage, Court House, Lock-up, &c., has already at his own expense erected all the buildings with the exception of the Church, for which a large plot of land is reserved.  (The Colonist 24 November 1840).

Select here to find out more about the Sparke family and the 'Wheatsheaf Arms'
at Hexham

Notes & Links:

The Powerhouse Museum site has the following information about the Sparke family.....Oil painting, 'Portrait of a Colonial Woman', Mrs Mary Anne Sparke, wife of a Hunter River settler, painted by Marshal Claxton, used by Sparke family, Sydney, Australia, 1853........ Their first cousin was John Hosking, the first mayor of Sydney, also from Brent in South Devon. The family's story is detailed in a book titled 'Men of Their Time: Pioneers of the Hunter River' by Dulcie Hartley, 1996. William and Mary Anne remained on the land as Hunter River settlers. William's brother John became a hotelier, and had the Royal Hotel in George St (in the block now occupied by Dymock's). John's son William Edward Sparke was a wine and spirit merchant and a wealthy bachelor who died at his home in Elizabeth Bay. He is not to be confused with his uncle William Sparke, Mary Anne's husband.

From the University of Newcastle Rare Books and Collections - The Sparke Collection - Edward (1831-1902) was the grandchild of Edward Sparke Snr (1769-1844) and Mary, who with their five sons and nephew arrived free in the Colony, February 1824 and settled in the lower Hunter Valley (Dulcie Hartley (1995) Men of their time - pioneers of the Hunter River). Edward Snr, a devoted supporter of his Church, in 1841 conveyed six acres of his "Woodlands", Upper Hexham, to the Church of England for a church, and one acre for a burial ground., and in 1842 four acres with house (for Parsonage) to Bishop Boughton. The Bible in the Collection  is believed to be that of Edward Sparke Snr, which in due course passed to Edward (1831-1902) his grandson. Edward (1831-1902), born nearby at "Webland Park", Hexham, married Amelia Caroline Mackay (1840-1888) of "Melbee", Dungog, in 1863. In 1869 the family relocated to Melbourne Street, East Maitland. Edward was associated in business with James Price, James N Brunker, and Joseph Clift. In 1867 he established the livestock firm Brunker & Sparke, and in 1877 Sparke & Clift, which evolved to E.W. Sparke Limited operated by his son Edward William Sparke, whose family in due course sold the business in 1949

Rev. Mahoney 's application for an allotment for a Catholic church at Hexham



(1) The 1788 - 1820 Pioneer Association.

(2) Fannin/Galbraith Family Tree by Lyn G. Fannin

(3) State Archives NSW; Series: 14401; Item: [4/61-62]; Reel: 5049 Description License Year : 1830 Source Information New South Wales, Australia, Certificates for Publicans' Licences, 1830-1849



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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