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Paterson River history

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Watch-house keepers at Paterson

Historical context/background

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
1833: Watch-house keeper, 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]
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].

design for watchhouse 1830s

See also

Police officers, scourgers and Clerks to the Bench 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