Paterson from 1822: large-scale land grants
The penal settlement at Newcastle restricted the use of the Paterson area by Europeans. From 1804 convicts could be sent to Newcastle if they re-offended in the Colony, and until 1822 Newcastle was a closed port. Ships required permission to enter the harbour and widespread settlement was banned to deprive convicts of food, shelter and support in the countryside if they ran away.
It was difficult for convicts to escape from Newcastle because there was no known overland route back to Sydney. That changed in 1819 when John Howe discovered an overland route from Windsor to the present-day site of Singleton. The next year he made the trip again and followed the Hunter River to Wallis Plains (Maitland). In 1821 John Blaxland found another overland route from Sydney to Newcastle via Wollombi. Blaxland marked the track well and many convicts escaped along it. Newcastle was no longer secure, so the penal settlement was moved to Port Macquarie and the lower Hunter Valley opened for wide-scale settlement.
One convict for every 100 acres granted
When the Hunter Valley was opened for settlement the majority of convicts were to be allocated to settlers. This followed a recent Commission of Inquiry which found that most convicts in New South Wales were working for the government at a substantial cost to the public purse. When Governor Brisbane took office at the end of 1821 he required settlers to support one convict off the government stores for every 100 acres of land granted.
Brisbane also allowed settlers to purchase livestock from the government herds at a nominal price, and so these regulations were described by some as "one cow for every 100 acres and one convict for every cow". Due to Brisbane's policy, the Hunter Valley was opened up and worked with labour supplied almost entirely by convicts in the 1820s and 1830s.
In early 1822 the first large-scale grants to settlers in the Paterson area were made to William Dun and James Webber. They had to advise Governor Brisbane how many convicts they would support before he would grant them land.
Dun and Webber were the first of a wave of immigrant settlers attracted to the fertile alluvial soils and prime river frontages of the Paterson area, with easy access to colonial markets via the nearby deep-water port of Morpeth from which vessels regularly voyaged to Sydney.
The trickle of settlers to the Paterson area in 1822 soon became a flood and within a few years most of the prime river frontages had been granted. Details of land grants to 1831 are shown in the table below.
With the influx of people to the district, the need for a township and public wharf became obvious. In 1833 the plan for the township of Paterson was approved and blocks of land put up for sale.
Land grants to 1831
* indicates a tenant at will courtesy of Governor Macquarie.
|Year||Name of grant||Grantee||Acres||Notes|
|1812*||Albion Farm||John Tucker snr & jnr||30 ea||increased by grant in 1825 to 630 acres|
|1812*||Lemon Grove||John Swan||100|
|1813*||Bellevue||Dr William Evans||100||increased by grant in 1825 to 1,070 acres|
|1818||Orange Grove||John Powell||60||later increased to 100 acres|
|1822||Duninald||William Dun||1,200||later increased to 2,000 acres|
|1822||Tocal||James Phillips Webber||2,000||later increased to 4,300 acres by purchase|
|1822||Bona Vista||James Phillips||2,000||a portion became part of Paterson village|
|1822||Dunmore||George Lang||1,000||granted 400 1821, changed to 1,000 1822|
|1822||Woodville||John Galt Smith||1,000|
|1822||Tillimby||John Herring Boughton||2,000||later increased by purchase to 7,172 acres|
|1823||Wallalong||Walter Scott||600||also granted Eskdale on the Williams River|
|1823||Phoenix Park||SL Harris||2,000|
|1823||The Vineyard||GJ Frankland||2,080|
|1823||Gostwyck||Edward Gostwyck Cory||2,030||had a 2nd Gostwyck on the New England|
|1823||Cintra||Susannah Matilda Ward||640||part became Paterson village and wharf|
|1824||Brisbane Grove||George Williams||500|
|1824||Cory Vale||John Cory||800||later purchased Vacy, Poltimore & Sillick|
|1826||Trevallyn||George Townshend||2,560||bought more on Paterson & Allyn Rivers|
|1826||Camyr Allyn||Charles Boydell||640||also bought land that became Caergwrle|
|1826||Penshurst||John Phillips Webber||2,560||also bought Guygallon (10,270 acres)|
|1827||Torryburn||John McIntyre||2,000||later increased by purchase to 4,000 ac|
|1828||Clarendon||Susannah Matilda Ward||500|
|1830||Summer Hill||Edward Kealy||200||later owned 1,200 acres across the river|
|1830||Emral||James Phillips Webber||2,560||sold to George Townshend in 1835|
|1830||Campsie||Mary Tarpy||1,280||sold to JT Hughes before title issued|
|1831||Bird Hill||Richard Clarke||120||purchased more land locally|
The land grant table was adapted from a table prepared by Dr Cameron Archer AM for his forthcoming book "The Magic Valley: The Paterson Valley – then and now", in press, ACABooks Lorn, 2019.
2. Primary sources regarding the Commission of Inquiry and change of convict assignment policy are cited on pages 70-74 of: Walsh, Brian. "Heartbreak and Hope, Deference and Defiance on the Yimmang: Tocal's Convicts 1822-1840". PhD thesis, University of Newcastle, 2007 (on-line).
Archer, Cameron. The Settlement of the Paterson District. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 1986.
Perry, TM. Australia's First Frontier: The Spread of Settlement in New South Wales 1788-1829. Kingsgrove, Melbourne University Press, 1963.
Walsh, Brian. Voices from Tocal: Convict Life on a Rural Estate. Paterson, CB Alexander Foundation, 2008.
Wood, WA. Dawn in the Valley: The Story of Settlement in the Hunter River Valley to 1833. Sydney, Wentworth Books, 1972.