Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

John Boucher West

Hunter Valley Medical Practitioner

John Boucher West was born in Somerset, England on 18th October 1806. He was Muswellbrook's first resident doctor.

He arrived in Australia as surgeon superintendent on the immigrant ship James Pattison on 11 December 1838 -

Yesterday the ship James Pattison, 573 tons, Captain Cromarty, with Emigrants, having left Plymouth 28th August. - Cabin Passengers, the Rev. E. Turner and lady, the Rev. James Edmonston, Messrs. C. R. Haly, W. O. G. Haly, J. B. West, (Surgeon Superintendent.) W. D. West, J. West, Miss West, Haslin, Leeds, Windeyer and 8 children, (brother of Mr. Windeyer of Sydney,) Orton, G. Thornhill, and Miss Vinning. Intermediate passengers, Messsrs. Keys, Capper, Grenfell; Fitzharding, wife and two children, Glasson, wife and two children, and Bryden. [1]


Although he resided in Muswellbrook in 1843, he was also called to cases further away - In November 1843 he was absent from Muswellbrook for several days. He had gone to the Peel River (about 140 km distance) to attend a soldier who had received a severe wound on the leg while arresting an escaping bushranger. In a desperate escape bid, the bushranger had seized a sword and in the hand to hand conflict that followed, the soldier was seriously wounded.

Sporting Interests

John West still found time to pursue sporting interests. He kept a racing stable and a pack of hounds. In August 1844 he was expected in Jerry's Plains for a foxhunt which was to take place and he was to bring his hounds for the purpose. The run was to commence on Robert Pringle's estate 'Carrington' .

In 1845 he attended the Muswellbrook Races when his horse 'Cecil' raced. However he did not have a successful outcome on this occasion. On the first day, 'Cecil' lost to J. Bettington's 'Harkaway' who was thought to have no equal in the colony and on the second day when his horse 'Betsy' won, an appeal was lodged as she was of an incorrect height

Coroner for Muswellbrook

In 1848 he was employed as Coroner in Muswellbrook and in July he held an inquest into the death of Ann Homewood who had died from serious burns. In August 1849 he held an inquest into the death of settler George Blaxland of Wollun Hills. Select here to find some of the other case he attended.


Later he moved to Armidale where he remained for the rest of his life. He died in Armidale on 1st January 1869 aged 62 after a long illness. The cause of death being dropsy combined with disease of the heart [2].

Notes and Links

1). Billion Graves site


[1] The Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser (NSW : 1838 - 1841) Wed 12 Dec 1838

[2] Clarence and Richmond Examiner and New England Advertiser (Grafton, NSW : 1859 - 1889) Tue 5 Jan 1869