Free Settler or Felon

James Bowman R.N.

Convict Ship Surgeon and Settler

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James Bowman entered the Royal Navy as an assistant surgeon in 1806. He was promoted to surgeon in 1807. He was employed as Surgeon Superintendent on the convict ships Mary Anne in 1816 and Lord Eldon in 1817.

Principal Surgeon

He arrived in Australia on the John Barry in 1819 having been appointed Principal Surgeon for the colony of New South Wales.

Australian Agricultural Company

James Bowman was on the local committee of the Australian Agricultural Company from 1824 until 1829. Other members of the committee were James Macarthur, Hannibal Macarthur, and Captain King.

He married Mary Isabella Macarthur, the second daughter of John Macarthur in 1823.

James Bowman John Gaggin George Bowman James Glennie David Brown alt=James Mein Dight Family Robert Hoddle George Galway Mills Thomas Parmeter James Hale Richard Hill George Bowman William Sims Bell Robert Adamson Rodd John Howe John Martin Davis Richard Hobden Robert Pringle Sampson Marshall Robert Dawson Archibald Mosman
Early Settler Map 5


By 1832 he had established a sheep run on more than 11,000 acres at his Hunter Valley estate Ravensworth. He continued to work at the General Hospital in Sydney and did not reside at Ravensworth which was worked by overseers and assigned convicts.

Visitors to Ravensworth

In March 1832 Ravensworth was visited by Australian Agricultural company Commissioner Sir William Edward Parry and party on their journey to the Liverpool Plains.

The party consisting of Henry Dangar, Charles Hall, seven white men and 2 natives (one a former acquaintance of Henry Dangar called Paddy) left Maitland at 9 am and reached Glendon, the estate of Helenus and Robert Scott by 4pm. The following day they left Glendon at 10am and proceeded across Black Creek. After this the road passed James Mudie's Castle Forbes through Henry Dangar's Neotsfield to the Hunter River crossing near Singleton's Plough Inn. After crossing the river the first property was James Glennie's Dulwich and the road then went via Ravensworth where they arrived at at 3 o'clock.

They were kindly received at Ravensworth by managers Mr.and Mrs. James White who were formerly in the service of the Australian Agricultural Company. Here Parry was comfortably lodged, although he did not think highly of the Estate. He thought a great deal of money must have been spent to clear and stump large home paddocks. The flat land near the Foy Brook, Mr. White did not consider good and the higher land was too thickly timbered with ironbark to be of any good or even middling quality. Dr. Bowman was building a substantial stone cottage for the use of Mr. White. Their garden consisted of 8 acres fenced with a paling fence and a little stream running through it. It was partly laid out in a tasteful and ornamental manner. Parry thought that if 5 or 6 men could always be employed it could soon be a very handsome garden however he thought it (the garden) too large for a private estate like Ravensworth. [1]

On leaving Ravensworth, Parry's party would have continued on the road which passed over Saltwater Creek and over the ridges. Once in the valley the road divided with one branch proceeding to Muswellbrook and the other towards Edinglassie and Merton.

The Ravensworth estate was visited By Lieutenant George Pulteney Malcolm in October/ November 1835.....

Lieutenant Malcolm had arrived on the Henry Porcher in 1835 and spent over a year in New South Wales travelling extensively. He kept a journal throughout the voyage and afterwards on his travels in Australia. A copy of the journal is held by the State Library of New South Wales.

Lieutenant Malcolm spent six weeks in the Hunter region where he also visited Robert and Helenus Scott at Glendon and brothers Henry Dumaresq and William Dumaresq.

Ravensworth was also visited by missionaries Backhouse and Walker in June 1836.


During these years James Bowman engaged architect John Verge to design and build a mansion on 36 acres at Glebe in Sydney called Lyndhurst. He may not have resided here very long as he had retired to Ravensworth by 1840 when James White departed.


At Singleton he became involved in community affairs in the district and held the position of President of the Singleton Benevolent Society and donated land for a church near Camberwell.

Convicts Assigned to Ravensworth Estate

Thomas Ainsworth Camden 1833
Charles Andrews Georgiana 1831
William Banks John 1827
John Baker Countess of Harcourt 1822
William Barker Camden 1831
William Baxter Surry 1834
George Brassingham Tottenham 1818
John Buckley Hive 1835
Richard Burnett Marquis of Huntley 1826 - Occupation Stonemason
John Campbell Portland 1832
Thomas Cavender Exmouth 1831 - Occupation Waterman
Thomas Coyle Sir Godfrey Webster 1826 - Occupation Shepherd
Alexander Cummings Hive 1834
Robert Dakin Guildford 1827. Occupation Shepherd
Robert Darcy Cambridge 1827. Occupation labourer
Richard Davis Waterloo 1836. Occupation Pavoir's boy
Sophia Davis Midas 1825. Occupation Housemaid.
George Delbridge Lord Sidmouth 1819. Occupation - Organ builder
James Devlin Morley 1828
John Dolly General Hewitt 1814
John Doyle Calcutta 1837
Charles Duckett Lady Feversham 1830. Occupation Basket weaver
Martin Fallon Eliza 1827 - Occupation Shepherd
William Fitzgerald Bengal Merchant 1838. Occupation Labourer
Charles Fletcher Bussorah Merchant 1828. Occupation Labourer
James Fordham Ocean 1823. Occupation Shepherd
Michael Fox Eliza 1827. Occupation Labourer
James Francis Isabella 1818. Occupation Labourer
George Freeman Lloyds 1833. Occupation Wheelwright
John George Recovery 1819. Occupation Gardener
Patrick Garrett Jane 1831. Occupation Carter
Peter Geraghty Roslin Castle 1833. Occupation Indoor servant, footman and valet
George Gordon Hive 1834. Occupation Servant boy.
John Gower Layton 1829. Occupation ploughman and butcher
Hannah Haigh Buffalo 1833
John Haigh Morley 1829
George Harrison Roslin Castle 1834. Occupation labourer
Thomas Hassall Exmouth 1831. Occupation Ploughs, milks, reaps.
Stephen Hedges Marquis of Hastings 1828. Occupation Labourer
John Hewitson Countess of Harcourt 1824. Occupation Labourer
Sarah Hitchman Grenada 1825
Charles Hodgets Prince Regent 1827. Occupation Labourer
Thomas Howard Age 11. Apprentice
John Jackson Exmouth 1831. Occupation Jeweller
Robert Jackson Speke 1826. Occupation Stonemason
Thomas James Agamemnon 1820. Occupation Shoemaker
Thomas Jenkins Marquis of Huntley 1835. Occupation Cabinet maker's boy
Richard Jones Hooghley 1834
Anthony Joseph Lady Nugent 1835
James Lamb Asia 1825 (III)
Robert Lawton Layton 1829. Occupation cotton spinner
James Lewis Bengal Merchant 1835. Occupation groom
Thomas Light Midas 1827. Occupation Shepherd
John May Elizabeth 1820. Occupation Shepherd
Bernard McClusky Royal Sovereign 1834
William McGeary Heroine 1833
John McLachlan Morley 1817. Occupation labourer
Samuel Millard Parmelia 1832
William Morgan Heroine 1833. Occupation labourer
Michael Mulcahy Marquis of Huntley 1828. Farm servant
Brian Mullaney Portland 1833. Occupation labourer
Michael Murphy Bussorah Merchant 1831
Matthew Noble Sophia 1829
Stephen Orwood Tottenham 1818. Occupation labourer
Samuel Owens Mary 1822
Abraham Oxley Fairlie 1834
William Peach Lady Harewood 1832. Occupation ploughman
Thomas Porter Bussorah Merchant 1828
Patrick Relish Sophia 1829. Occupation Shepherd
John Reiley Jane 1831
Henry Renshaw Aurora 1833
Peter Reynolds Royal Sovereign 1834. Occupation Groom and Dragoon
Edward Roberts John 1832. Occupation Steam loom weaver
Richard Ryan Eliza 1827. Occupation shoemaker
Robert (Edward) Scott Sophia 1829
William Short Sophia 1829. Horse dealer and farrier
James Smith Henry Porcher 1825
John Smith Manlius 1827
Antonio Spebzino Lady Feversham 1830. Occupation Tailor
Richard Stark Royal Charlotte 1825
Daniel Sweeney  Daphne 1819
James Thomas Agamemnon 1820
William Thomas Bussorah Merchant 1828. Occupation Labourer
Patrick Thompson Bussorah Merchant 1831
William Thorn Sarah 1829. Occupation top sawyer
Joseph Tow Burrell 1830. Occupation groom
William Vizard Vittoria. Occupation Labourer
Elizabeth Wadley Grenada 1827. Occupation house servant
William Wadsworth Guildford 1822. Occupation Blacksmith
William Walker Mermaid 1830. Occupation Ploughman
George Watkins Mellish 1829
James Watson Eliza 1820. Occupation Stockman
John Webb America 1829
William Wharton Marquis of Huntley 1835
John Wilday Albion 1827. Occupation carpenter
Henry Williams Mermaid 1830. Occupation errand boy
George Williamson Strathfieldsaye 1836
Samuel Wilson  Ocean 1823. Occupation Shepherd
John Wood  Lloyds 1833
George Yarwood Manlius 1827. Occupation Shepherd

Free Emigrant Workers at Ravensworth

John Alexander - Occupation Mariner. Came free. Employed as superintendent by James Bowman in 1828
George Unicombe per Lady Nugent
William and Susan Aubry per James Pattison 1840
James McLaren per Brilliant
John and Eliza Edmonds per James Pattison

Death of James Bowman

James Bowman died in August 1846 at Ravensworth. After his death Ravensworth was purchased by Captain William Russell.

Captain William Russell

Captain Russell arrived in the colony in 1837. He later other properties as well including Glenridding near Singleton, Waverley and Cheshunt Park.

William Russell died in England in 1866. Ravensworth was subdivided in 1882 and part of the estate was eventually purchased by Duncan Forbes Mackay.

Notes and Links

1). Parliamentary Papers - Correspondence relative to Crown Lands.

2). Among the Pastoralists - Maitland Weekly Mercury 7 September 1895

3). Ravensworth Homestead Restorations

4). Nichols, Louise., Should a state significant heritage site be relocated to make way for a coal mine expansion? - Singleton Argus, 21 January 2020


[1]. Dungog Chronicle : Durham and Gloucester Advertiser (NSW : 1894 - 1954) Fri 18 Feb 1927, Page 4, Early Days Of Port Stephens

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Willetts, J (n.d.) "James Bowman, Surgeon". Free Settler or Felon
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James Bowman R. N.,
Birth Cumberland 1784
Arrival Mary Anne in 1816
Occupation Surgeon-Superintendent
Marriage Mary Macarthur 1823
Death 23 August 1846

Mounted Police in the Hunter Valley