Watch-house keepers at Paterson
A watch-house was built at Old Banks, Patersons Plains, in the 1820s as part of maintaining law and order in the district. A watch-house, sometimes called a 'lock-up'. was a small, local prison, often made of wooden slabs. It usually included a room as living quarters for the Constable/watch-house keeper stationed there.
Watch-houses were controlled by a local magistrate while the much larger prisons were known as gaols and controlled by the NSW Sheriff. In the 1820s and 1830s the closest goal to Paterson was at Newcastle.
A summary of the early history of administration of law and order in the Paterson district can be found on the following page.
Watch-house keepers at Patersons Plains or Paterson 1820s and 1830s
- McLoughlin, Bernard
- 1827 to 1828: per ship Isabella, Constable and 'Lock-up-house Keeper', holding a Ticket of Leave [SG 13 June 1827 p1]. He was dismissed for negelct of duty in 1828 [SG 20 February 1828 p1]
- Maxwell, John
- 1828: per ship Ann, 'Keeper of the Lock-up House' in place of Bernard McLaughlin who was dismissed for neglect of duty [SG 20 February 1828 p1]
- Lawson, Thomas
- 1830: Constable and Lock-up house keeper, dismissed for repeated drunkenness [SG 13 February 1830 p1]
- Nixon, Nathaniel
- 1830, 1835, 1836 to 1838: free, Constable and Lock-up-house Keeper in place of Thomas Lawson who was dismissed [SG 13 February 1830 p1]. Nixon was reappointed as 'lock-up keeper' (but not as a constable) in 1835 [GG 1833 p108]. Evidently he resigned or was dismissed after that, as he was reappointed as Watch-house Keeper in 1836 [GG 1836 p387]. He was dismissed again in 1838 [GG 1838 p414]
- Browne, James
- 1832-1833: Watch-house keeper, appointed 14 March 1832 [NSW Col Sec correspondence]. Dismissed for neglect of duty and drunkenness [GG 1833 p177]
- Hancock, Thomas
- 1833: Watch-house keeper in place of James Browne who was dismissed for neglect of duty and drunkenness [GG 1833 p177]
- Nixon, Nathaniel
- 1836 to 1838: Watch-house keeper from 1 February 1836 [GG 1836 p387]. Dismissed 1838 [GG 1838 p414]
- Scammell, William
- 1838 to 1839: Watch-house keeper in place of Nixon who was dismissed [GG 1838 p574]. Scammell was dismissed the following year [GG 1839 p131]
- Wool, James
- 1839: Watch-house keeper in place of Scammell who was dismissed [GG 1839 p131]
Below: the standard design for country watch-houses in NSW from 1835. The 'new' watch-house at Paterson was built in 1835 so its design is possibly similar to these [source: JS Kerr, Design for Convicts, 1984, p83].
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