Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

The First Night Watch 1789

Sydney Cove 1789Sydney in 1789 Francis Fowkes - State Library of NSW

The Night Watch was the forerunner of the Police Force in Sydney and was established in 1789. The men of the Night Watch were drawn from the ranks of the best behaved convicts. Their names are recorded in the Historical Records of Australia:

Governors' Despatches to and from England

The Night Watch

The watch of each district to be under the direction of one person, who will be named for that purpose, and all the patrols to be immediately under the inspection of Herbert Keeling.

They are never to receive any fee, gratuity, or reward from any individual to engage their exertions in the execution of the above trust; nor are they to receive any stipulated encouragement for the conviction of any offender; but their diligence and good behaviour will be rewarded by the Governor, and for which purpose their conduct will be strictly attended to by those who are in authority over them.

The night-watch to go out as soon as the tattoo has done beating, to return to their huts when the working drum beats in the morning, and reports to be made at twelve o'clock to the Judge-Advocate of all robberies and misdemeanours, by Herbert Keeling.

Any assistance the patrols may require will be given them on applying to the officer of the nearest guard, and by the civil power if necessary; for which application is to be made to provost-martial. Any negligence on the part of those who may be employed on this duty will be punished with the utmost rigour of the law.

The night-watch to consist of the following persons;

Charles Peat

William Hubbard

John Coen Walsh

John Neal

William Bradbury

Thomas Oldfield.

Stephen Le Grove

John Archer.

Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Volume 1 1788 - 1796., p 139

Notes and Links

1. Colonial Events 1789

2. Law and Order in the Hunter Valley