Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

The Albion Inn

West Maitland

The Albion was the fourth Inn to be built in West Maitland. The first was the Angel Inn, then the Rose Inn and another one built of slabs, logs and bark on the corner of Hunter Street were all established in the late 1820's.

Henry Hewitt

Henry Hewitt who arrived free on the Andromeda in 1823 built the Albion Inn on land granted 8th January 1835, possession having been given from January 1831; the quit rent being fixed at seven pence per acre. The grant was of four acres, one rood 16 poles and had a frontage to High Street. Henry Hewitt also received a grant of a half acre adjoining the Albion Inn property, bounded by High, Church and Moore Streets. [1]

Henry Hewitt's first Inn was the Angel Inn. He moved from the Angel Inn to his newly built Albion Inn in September 1831.He remained publican for three years before announcing his departure.

The Albion Inn was frequently mentioned as 'Hewitt's Inn, near the head of the navigation of the Hunter,' in old colonial publications.[1] Convicts assigned to Henry Hewitt in Maitland at this time included
Mary Darney,
William Mason,
Henry Parker and
Mary Ann Murphy.

In 1924, almost one hundred years later, the Albion Inn was replaced with three new shops and at that time a history from D. J. Ryan, in 'The Voice of the North' was published in the Muswellbrook Chronicle. Some of the information came from an old pioneer Frederick Crewe who arrived in 1831 on the Katherine Stewart Forbes......

There were only 14 houses in the settlement, then known as Wallis Plains, on the west side of the creek from the newly proclaimed town of Maitland, now East Maitland. The Albion Inn, therefore, was the fifteenth house built on the site of the present town of West Maitland. Small steamers plied to and from Newcastle and Sydney, and there were several wharves on the river bank for delivery of goods and shells; the shells being extensively used for the manufacture of lime. Hewitt's grant had a frontage to High Street and in 1924 when the Albion was replaced with the three new shops, there was also a chemist's shop and Weston's store on the site of the grant. The land extended back to Olive Street, at the rear of properties fronting Church and Elgin Streets. (James) Mudie's grant was on the Elgin Street side, and the grants of George Turner and George Yeomans were on the Church Street site. Mary Hunt's (Molly Morgan) grant of 159 acres adjoined Mudie's, and extended from the river bank to Cultivation Road, with Bulwer and Elgin Streets at one side and Hunter Street

The Albion Inn was a well built structure of brick, in the form of a cottage, with a spacious attic, and this attic in the good old days was used for prize fighting, cock fighting, and dog fighting. Prize fights were also fought in the Inn yard, but there were no gloves used in those days

Billiards Room and Out Buildings

In 1924, the billiard room still existed at the rear of Mr. Weston's store and had quite a history of its own.....

The first Wesleyan service was held there, and it also served for some years as a courthouse, and as a place for meetings. The first Maitland Race Club was established at a meeting held in this room in 1845, and many of the old public movements had their origin there.

The stable was a brick building of two storeys, 72 feet long and 32 feet wide, with a dividing wall of brick extending from end to end; The rear half of it served many purposes. At one time it was used by Messrs. Tinson and Berry as a brewery; but in 1840 this firm removed to a brick building in Bulwer Street. The bricks in the building of the Albion Inn were made at a kiln on or near the site of the Club Hotel, in Elgin Street.

Benjamin Cox

Benjamin Cox moved to the Albion after leaving the Rose Inn in January 1834. The Albion, was described at this time as a well built structure of brick with a spacious attic and situated on the main thoroughfare through town (High Street). It was 70' long with extensive sitting rooms, seven bedrooms a bar, tap and cellar. Outside there was a blacksmiths shop, a nine stall stable, coach house and a granary. There was a spring with excellent water and a brewery was also attached

The premises were purchased by John Eales in 1834.

Wickes Norton

Wickes Norton took over the lease and running of the Inn in 1837.

Wickes Norton later entered into an agreement with Mr. Thomas Grove of Newcastle to take over the running of the Commercial Inn in Newcastle .

Richard Cornelius

Richard Cornelius took out the licence for the Albion in 1840. Richard Cornelius had been manager of the store hulk St. Michael at Green Hills (Morpeth) where supplies for constables, soldiers and others requiring government supplies were held. He appointed a manager to oversee the store ship however this was not a success as in 1841 the Hunter River Gazette recorded that the St. Michael had been allowed by some mismanagement to capsize and would become useless if she could not be righted. Richard Cornelius advertised her for sale late in 1841 while proprietor of the Albion. Richard Cornelius decided to dispose of the licence of the Albion and enter business as an auctioneer in 1842. He leased, with James Wolfe, stockyards previously occupied by the Hunter River Auction Company nearby the Albion. Richard Cornelius died aged 33 in October 1842 and was buried in Glebe cemetery.

Henry Reeves

Portrait of Henry Reeves, 1847] / lithograph by W.W. Thwaites - State Library of NSWPortrait of Henry Reeves - State Library of NSW

The lease of the Albion passed to Henry Reeves in 1842. Henry Reeves arrived on the convict ship Hercules in 1825.

On taking over the Albion in 1842, Henry Reeves advertised a large stock of choice wines, with spirits always on hand. He had commenced a splendid stable to have every convenience; good hay, corn etc. In 1844 he raffled a billiard table at the Albion; cues and all complete, executed by the celebrated Thurston and which originally cost £200 would be raffled at the Albion Inn when the lists were filled up with the names of forty persons at £2 each. The putter-up and the winner were to hand over to 'mine host of the Albion' £2/10/- each to defray the expense of a supper to be given on the occasion.

In 1847 Henry Reeves announced he was selling his horse stud prior to moving from the Albion and by July of that year he advertised his move to the Fitzroy Hotel on the corner of High and Elgin streets.


An amateur theatre was established at the rear of the Albion in the 1840's. In 1848 Mrs. Arabin and the Maitland Amateur Company assisted in giving a performance including the drama of the Rent Day and the farce of the Unfinished Gentlemen.

By 1849 the old Albion Inn had surely seen better days. The premises had not been used as an Inn for quite some time and lodgers had moved in and claimed their right by virtue of prior possession. A case was brought before the Maitland Bench when lodgers Michael Brenan and John James Penny both claimed possession. Penny had been in the house about two months having paid Mr. Jones the tobacconist an amount for the two back rooms, the shop and a tap. However Mrs. Brenan took forcible possession of the tap and kept guard over the door in a threatening manner; she ordered her husband to hand in their furniture and they slept by the tap that night. The Penny family barricaded themselves in the shop. The Maitland Mercury recorded that the formidable Mrs. Brenan broke in upon the Pennys while they were at breakfast the following morning, carrying part of her bedstead which she proposed to set up. Mr. Penny seized hold of the bedstead and Mrs. Brenan immediately struck him on the chin and eye with it. Penny ran for an axe which he brandished, threatening to chop up the bedstead. He was later disarmed by the Constable and when the case came before the Bench it was dismissed and assistance to Penny in maintaining possession was denied.

Fond Memories of the Old Albion Inn

In 1869 a correspondent to the Maitland Mercury visited Maitland from Sydney as he had done thirty years before around the time Henry Reeves was proprietor. The correspondent wrote of his fond memories of the Old Albion Inn.....Yonder is the old Albion Inn. It has retired from public life, and is paled off from the intrusion of its old constituents. A young stranger would scarcely imagine, from its modest look behind that green fig tree, that its rafters have often rung with jollity which was echoed back, on the midnight air, from Campbell's Hill. As I gaze across the road, I can fancy I see the warlike Valentine on his bright bay charger, trotting out at the hall door, after a sporting ride round the snuggery table. And there stands his official superior, the aforesaid *Thomas V........, laughing himself purple and beside him is his booted book-keeper. There stands the **merry miller too, and the dashing young lawyer, and the portly Devonshire yeoman, who was familiarly called Ned S...., and many other choice spirits all roaring with fun. There is the ***Host of the Albion, too, in his green coat with bright buttons; and peeping over the bar door, enjoying the sport, is a ****blooming damsel, with eyes far brighter than her brother's buttons. Many aspiring youths have felt a momentary palpitation of the heart while glancing at that bewitching face. If it were not dead against my reformed principles, I should try to fancy I was sipping over again the glass of sherry negus, which I once received from the fair hands of that young lady. Where are all those merry men now? I cannot tell. Where is that flashing eyed maiden? I do not know. But this I do know, that if she be living she is thirty years older than she was on the day she mixed my negus so nicely. She may be a grandmother, or she may be.....; but I cannot afford to speculate on the subject worthy though it be, for my space is almost done.......( Maitland Mercury 21 December 1869)

The old Inn was finally demolished in November 1915....The demolition of the old brick building in High Street, West Maitland, recently occupied by Dr. A.A. King as a surgery and prior to that by Dr. W.J. Russell and the late Dr. R.J. Pierce, removes one of the oldest landmarks of the Maitland district. The building was originally the Albion Inn, built by Henry Hewitt, and used as an inn from 1831 - 1847, when the licence was transferred to a new house erected at the corner of High and Elgin streets by the late Mr. Isaac Gorrick and called the Fitzroy Hotel but now occupied as a store by Messrs Wolfe and Co.[2]

Billiard Hall

In 1930 an article in the Newcastle Morning Herald reporting on the demolition of the Billiard Hall that had been attached to the Albion Inn revealed a little of Maitland's history -

One of the oldest buildings in West Maitland will be demolished during the week by Mr. George Pilgrim, who is carrying out improvements to business premises owned by Mr. P. G. Weston in High street, opposite Mr. George Galton's business premises. The old building occupies a position at the rear of Mr. Weston's building at the end of a lane leading from Church Street. It is of brick, 36 ft long, 18ft wide and 12ft high. Originally its floor was a few feet above the ground level, with which it is now flush. It is in a state of decay, much of the brick work having crumbled away, while some of the stone window sills are in the same state.

It was erected by Henry Hewitt in 1831 as a billiard room for the old Albion Inn, which occupied a site fronting High street, where there are, now four shops, erected some years ago by Dr. W. J. Russell. The building in course of demolition was used as a billiard room for a few years, then for a short time served as a temporary police court, and was again in service as a billiard room to the Albion Inn.

In 1837 it came the cradle of Methodism in Maitland district. In November of that year there arrived in Maitland an Irish Wesleyan from Fermoy Ireland, Mr. Jeremiah Ledsam, who came with the intention of starting business as a coach builder and auctioneer. He became one of the pioneer auctioneers of Maitland and remained in business for many years. On the first Sunday after his arrival, several members of his own faith and held a service in his cottage home, at the corner of Elgin and High Streets, on the site of Wolfe and coy's store, and among those associated with him were Vincent George Williams, George Denshire, and James Bucknell. During the following week he secured a lease of the old billiard room and on November 26, held the first service there. The temporary chapel was in use until early in 1840 for services and Sunday school purposes, Mr. Ledsam being the first Sunday School Superintendent.

Late in 1839 a church was erected on or about the site of the present Methodist Church in High street, and early in 1840 the Rev. Jonathan Innes, the first minister, took charge of the services. He conducted services for a few weeks in the temporary chapel.

For a few years following the transfer of the church services to the new church building the old place was used again as a billiard room and later served many purposes. In the 60s it was used as an auction room by William Gibbs, an auctioneer of the period, and later for residential purposes by Hugh Monaghan, who conducted a butchering business in premises in High street on which Mis Edwards refreshment rooms stand (in 1930). In more recent years it has been used as a store room for Mr. Weston's business house

Notes and Links

*possibly Thomas Vawser

** possibly John Portus

***probably Henry Reeves

**** probably Emily Reeves the sister of Henry Reeves (Emily Reeves died in 1852 and was buried in the Campbell Hill burial ground alongside her brother Henry)


[1] The Muswellbrook Chronicle 19 August 1924

[2] Newcastle Morning Herald 20 November 1915

[3] Newcastle Morning Herald 3 June 1930