John Reynolds & Martha Mitchell
John Reynolds was an early settler at Patersons Plains. In 1802 at the age of 15 he was sentenced to death in London for breaking, entering and stealing in a dwelling house with several others (see trial proceedings). His sentence was commuted to transportation for life and he arrived in New South Wales on the Coromandel in 1804.
He was one of 20 English prisoners sent to Newcastle immediately on arrival, to dilute the effects of the Irish convicts there. In 1808 he ran from Newcastle with three others, was captured in Sydney, sentenced to 100 lashes and returned to Newcastle.
In 1812 he joined a team of timber cutters sent to procure a special order of Hunter Valley cedar logs. As reward for a job well done, Governor Macquarie permitted five of these men to establish small farms in the lower Hunter Valley. They were Benjamin Davis (convict), John Reynolds (convict), John Swan (convict), John Tucker jnr (free), and George Pell (convict). John Tucker jnr initially settled on land allowed to his father.
Above: Reynolds' land on the Paterson River. See full map.
John Reynolds received a conditional pardon in November 1821 and in 1822 he married Martha Mitchell. Martha had arrived in NSW on the Minstrel in 1812 as a convict with a life sentence and was sent to the penal settlement at Newcastle in 1814, with a one year sentence for an unspecified colonial offence.
By 1822 Reynolds had cleared 23 acres, planted 15 acres of wheat and was running 4 cattle and 17 pigs. Dangar's survey in 1823 indicated Reynold's farm consisted of 33 acres of which 24 acres had been cleared and on which stood a wattle and plaster cottage, a log and thatched barn, a stable, men's huts and a pig yard, with a total value of £20.
The 1828 census indicates John and Martha were living on their Paterson farm which now comprised 73 acres of which 30 acres had been cleared and 25 acres were under cultivation. Their ages in 1828 were recorded as 39 and 40 respectively.
Like several other early settlers at Patersons Plains who occupied their land at the governor's pleasure, Reynolds became ensnared in the re-allocation of his land to the Church and School Corporation. Initially Reynolds, Binder and Whitmore accepted the offer to move to equivalent blocks on the Williams River but when the government failed to keep its promise to clear the blocks as compensation for their cleared blocks at Patersons Plains, they reclaimed the leases on their land at Paterson. About 1834 it appears Reynolds sold his Paterson River farm to Benjamin Lee.
Notes and references
1. The Proceedings of the Old Bailey 1674 to 1913 (on-line).
3. Walsh, Brian. European Settlement at Paterson River 1812 to 1822. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 2012.
An overview of settlement at Patersons Plains up to the end of 1821.