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Paterson River history

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Clerk to the Paterson Bench


In 1825 a local magistrate, James Webber, was appointed to Patersons Plains, thereby giving the Paterson district its own court or 'Bench of Magistrates' for the first time. It was supported by a 'Clerk to the Bench' and a scourger (flogger) who were appointed at this time, so convicts could be sentenced and punished locally.

The Clerk to the Bench was one of the highest paid public servants in the district – his annual salary was double that of police constables and a third higher than the Chief Constable's.[1] The Clerk's duties included recording court proceedings in the Bench Book; sending a monthly return of punishments of convicts to Sydney; requisitioning supplies for the Court and the local police such as paper, ink, handcuffs and pistols; and filling out a mountain of other paperwork that included arrest warrants, travel warrants, witness depositions and convict descriptions on Certificates of Freedom.

A summary of the early history of administration of law and order in the Paterson district can be found on the following page.

Clerks to the Bench of Magistrates at Patersons Plains or Paterson 1820s and 1830s

Jones, John Josiah
1825 (to 1827?): holding a Ticket of Leave, appointed Clerk to the Bench from 16 May 1825 [CS 4/424 p400]. He was almost certainly the first to hold the position.
Brown, John
1827 to 1829: appointed 8 May 1827 [CS Annual Returns of the Colony 1827, 1828, 1829]. He resigned in 1829 [SG 20 August 1829 p1]
Allman, John
1829 to 1836: appointed 1 June 1829 . He was replaced for a short time by Edward Hardy in March 1835 but acted in the position from August 1835 until Henry Phillips was appointed in 1836 [CS Annual Returns of the Colony 1829 to 1836]
Hardy, Edward
1835: appointed March 1835 but only held position until August 1835 [CS Annual Returns of the Colony 1835]
Phillips, Henry
1836 to 1838: appointed 1 February 1836 and held the position until February 1838 [CS Annual Returns of the Colony 1836, 1837, 1838]
Small, Francis Walsh
1838 to 1839: appointed 8 February 1838 [CS Annual Returns of the Colony 1838, 1839], resigned in 1839 [GG 1839 p1323]
McDonald, John Cameron
1839 to 1840: appointed August 1839, resigned in June 1840 [CS Annual Returns of the Colony 1839, 1840; GG 1840 p563]
Studdert, Robert
1840: appointed June 1840 [CS Annual Returns of the Colony 1840]


1. CS Annual Returns of the Colony.

See also

Police officers, watch-house keepers and scourgers at Paterson and Patersons Plains.

Further information

The 'Free Settler or Felon?' website oftens provides further information on the individuals listed above. Just put the name of the individual of interest into the site's search box