Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

John Hooke

Map 3

John Hooke first came to Australia in 1823. He embarked in England with his wife and three children on the brig Ann under Captain George Jackson Frankland and arrived in Hobart on 16th May 1823.

John Hooke was granted land near Oatlands, Hobart where he settled for a while with his wife and young sons, John, Henry, Alfred and Benjamin who had been born on the voyage out. When his wheat crop was destroyed by fire John Hooke was forced to return to England where he remained for one or two years before he decided to once more sail for Australia.

Return to Australia

John Hooke and family arrived in New South Wales on the Courier from London in March 1828.
Ferdinand Anley Matthew Chapman John Hooke John Mann Benjamin Sullivan Alexander McDuff Baxter James Dowling John Lord Alexander Park Charles Boydell Francis Gibbes John McIntyre Joseph Rookin John Verge Crawford Brown Grayson Hartley Duncan Mackay Major Smeathman Charles Windeyer Henry John Lindeman George Townshend Lawrence Myles
Early Hunter Valley Settler Map 3

Land Grant

The Census taken in November 1828 lists John Hooke as age 34, his wife Mary Anne aged 28 and their children John junior aged 9 Henry aged 7, Alfred aged 5, Benjamin aged 3, James aged 3. He was listed as a tenant farmer at Cabramatta. [1]

There is also a separate entry in the Census for John Hooke, farmer residing at Bonago.

His land grant of 2560 acres which he took up near Dungog was a primary grant and quit rent was 21 6s 5d. Other settlers on the William River to have received similar size grants were James Dowling, Benjamin Sullivan and James Black. [2]

Assigned Convict Servants

Convicts assigned to John Hooke at the Williams River included:
John Wood per Prince Regent employed as overseer in 1828
John Cox per Marquis of Huntley assigned in 1828
Benjamin Hatton arrived per Ocean assigned in 1828
Thomas Murray per Mangles assigned servant in 1828
Thomas Day arrived per Mangles assigned servant in 1828
Patrick Doyle arrived per Mangles assigned in 1828
Edward Byrne per Earl St. Vincent employed in 1828
Dougall Campbell employed by John Hooke in 1828
George Berwick per Prince of Orange assigned in 1828
Peter Hoey arrived per Sophia assigned in 1829
John Broadbent per Neptune assigned servant in 1828
David Donnolly arrived per Sophia assigned in 1829
Johanna Newman per Forth assigned servant in 1831
Patrick Doyle per Mangles in died in 1832


In 1845 John Hooke passed away ...... 'Died this day at one clock at his residence, Crook's Park, in this district, John Hooke, sen., Esq., leaving a large family to deplore his loss. Mr. Hooke is much and deservedly regretted by all who knew him. He was a kind father and a generous landlord. He had a long and severe illness. He will be interred on Tuesday next, in his family vault, on the estate of Crook's Park.

Two Accounts of the Hooke Family

1). John Hooke's daughter passed away in 1919. The following account of the Hooke family was published in the Newcastle Sun:

Mrs. J.M. Mackay of Cangon, who died on Anzac Day at the age of 84 was the first white child born in the Dungog district. Her father, the late Mr. John Hooke, one of the pioneer pastoralists, was one of the richest men who settled in Australia in the early days, but, like other men who brought money here in those days, he lost it. Being rather delicate, he was unable to adapt himself to the hard conditions of a pioneer's life. Losses and misfortunes dogged his footsteps from the outset. Before leaving England Mr. Hooke sold four estates, two of which had been owned by the family since 1066, and the two others from 1416. They included Crook's Park, Norton Hall and Croom Park. He first settled in Tasmania but after having the misfortune to be burnt out, losing valuable possessions which could never be replaced, he returned to England.


Later on Mr. Hooke decided to come to New South Wales, He had booked passages for his family, and a large staff of servants, when one of his children died. The Captain of the vessel refused to bring the body out so Mr. Hooke forfeited the whole of the passage money and purchased a vessel for himself, which he came out in. He brought out blood horses and other stock, though many of them died on the voyage out, among them his favorite carriage horses. One of the latter, which was purchased for 800 guineas survived until Sydney harbour was reached, and then died.


On arriving in Sydney Mr. Hooke settled at Liverpool, where he left the management of his estate to a manager in whom he had such unbounded confidence that he signed all documents he was asked to without reading it. Finally this man brought forth a document for signature in the presence of a lawyer, and two other witnesses transferring the estate and all possessions thereon, to him (the manager) by deed of gift. A law suit ensued but the case, which was tried before the late Sir James Dowling was won by the manager.


After losing this property Mr. Hooke settled in Dungog where his wife quickly adapted herself to the conditions of her new life and not only managed her family of nine children, and her servants but extended her activities to the tenants and surrounding settlers. When neither doctor, chemist nor nurse was available she did all she could to alleviate suffering. She could set a limb, dress a wound and assist the arrival of the 'Best colonists'. To render that assistance she was known often on dark, stormy nights to walk through scrubby country, crossing the William River on a slippery log. In many cases she supplemented her assistance with delicacies, and clothing instructed the mother in the management of children, how to cook and to make the home more comfortable. The settlers in those days needed help and encouragement for they fought against terrible hardships. - Newcastle Sun 1 May 1919.

2). Another account of the Hooke family published in the Dungog Chronicle on 1 June 1945 -

The Hookes came from landed gentry of England and were said to be direct descendants of a knight who came over to England from Normandy with William the Conqueror nearly nine hundred years ago. John Hooke came to Tasmania in his own ship with his liveried servants He had everything destroyed by fire and went back with his wife and family to get another supply. On his second trip out which took about nine months his third son Benjamin was born in the vessel at Table Bay, South Africa.


He then came to the Dungog district and resided at what was then known as Wirey Gully, a grant of 2000 acres. He brought horses and sheep from England with him and always claimed to have brought the first sheep and the prettiest woman to this district. His daughter Emily afterwards Mrs. J.K. Mackay was said to be the first white child born in the district.
The family were
John (Dingadee),
Henry (Rocky Hill),
Benjamin (Wirragulla),
James (Crook's Park),
Alfred (Morpeth),
Augustus (Walcha),
Mrs. Hill (Bungay, Wingham),
Mrs. J.K. Mackay (Cangon), and
Mrs. D.F. Mackay (Minimbah)
A son Charles Albert died in Sydney and was buried where the Sydney Town Hall later stood.

Boiling Down Facility

Things were very bad in the grazing business between 1840 and 1850 and cattle and sheep were worth practically nothing. The Hookes started a boiling down works at Wirey Gully which made a fat bullock worth one pound five shillings for hide and tallow and a sheep eighteen pence. They bought 300 store bullocks from Matthew Chapman of the Grange, Wallarobba for twelve shillings and sixpence a head and took them up to the Pignumbarney Station at the Manning to fatten. Of course there were no fences and these cattle left and tried to get home and got as fare as Pine Brush, Brookfield where the river being in flood stopped them. They took them back and before they were fat gold was discovered and the rush of people to Australia sent the price of cattle up and they were sold at 6 per head. My father told me that the night news came through that gold had been discovered Mr. James White was staying at the Station and he was very put out, as he said we would be all ruined as all paid men would leave; but instead of being ruined, White made his fortune out of the better prices

Notes and Links

1). Select here to read an interesting account of the Hooke family in England and Australia from a document entitled, Records of the Hooke Family, Dungog, NSW, Miss Ruby Mary Doyle, of Dungog, N.S.W, and great granddaughter of Mr. John Hooke, of Norton Hall, Worcester, England

2). Crookes Park - In 1839 one thousand acres were advertised for lease for a term of ten years at Crookes Park. They were to be let in small farms from ten to one hundred acres each. The land was described as being on the banks of the Upper Williams River with rich alluvial soil that produced wheat and tobacco even in drought. The conditions of the lease were that the first five years would be rent free to compensate for bringing the land into cultivation and the remaining five years to be at a rent of one pound per acre per annum.   A Flour Mill was erected on the property.


[1] 1828 New South Wales, Australia Census (The National Archives Microfilm Publication HO10, Pieces 21-28); The National Archives of the UK (TNA), Kew, Surrey, England.

[2] State Records Authority of New South Wales; Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia; Returns of the Colony ('BlueBooks'), 1822-1857; Collection Number: Series 1286; Publication Year: 1828.