Free Settler or Felon

Convict and Colonial History

Lieutenant Thomas Henry Owen

Newcastle 1824

Lieut. Thomas Henry Owen was appointed to the 3rd regiment on 21 August 1817. He arrived as part of the Guard on the convict ship Henry in 1823. He was Engineer of Public Works and Naval Officer at Newcastle in 1824 when Governor Brisbane paid an impromptu visit to the township......

'Lieutenant-Colonel Thornton, C. B. has taken the Command in Chief as locum tenens of His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, K.C.B. during his excursion to Moreton Bay in His Majesty's brig Amity, which, through contrary winds, put into Newcastle on the 12th ult. where His Excellency was pleased to express his gratification at viewing the improvements of that rising Dependency, from which he did not take his departure until the 15th, as more particularly mentioned in the following extract of a letter, dated Newcastle, 21st November 1824.

'On Thursday morning, the 11th instant, the brig Amity, in company with the cutter Mars, hove in sight in the East quarter ; the wind at E. N. E. which, in the course of the day, shifted to N.E. and prevented the brig, which was to leeward, from weathering Port Stephens, and she was necessitated to tack, and stand to sea.

On Friday morning, about 1O A. M. both vessels again made their appearance, the wind still at N.E and the Amity was observed standing in for the harbour, with a signal flying, to denote that an officer of rank was on board. About 2 p.m., both vessels came to anchor off this town and shortly after His Excellency the Governor, accompanied by Mr. Oxley (Surveyor-General), landed on the North, shore of the harbour, where the Governor remained about an hour.

His Excellency then returned to the brig Amity, and accompanied by the Honourable the
Chief Justice Forbes , Messrs. Oxley, McArthur, and Stephen, proceeded to our Government-house to pay a visit to Mrs. Gillman (the Commandant being at that time absent) and then returned to the vessel. On the Governor's leaving, a salute of 17 guns was discharged from the battery and the light company of the Buffs, on duty at this station, were under arms to receive His Excellency, under the orders of Lieutenant Owen.

Immediately on the arrival of the Amity, an express was dispatched to acquaint
Captain Henry Gillman , who was at Wallis Plains, a distance of 25 miles from Newcastle, of the circumstance, and Captain Gillman returned to this Settlement in four hours and a half from the time the express started, and immediately proceeded on board the Amity to pay his respects to the Governor.

The following morning, Saturday, His Excellency, accompanied by the Chief Justice and the Gentlemen, came on shore and walked to the light and signal stations, from whence they proceeded to inspect the public buildings; and after having taken refreshments at the Commandant' s, returned on board the Amity, with the exception of the Chief Justice who was so much indisposed as to make it advisable for him to remain on shore at Captain Gillman's.

The same evening His Excellency honored Captain Gillman with his company, and his Suite, at dinner. At night there was a festival of black natives, which the Governor condescended to be present at, and ordered to be furnished with a plentiful supply of victuals and drink. His Excellency was on board his vessel, about ten at night; the Chief Justice remaining on shore at Captain Gillman's. The next morning, Sunday, the Governor, with his Party, attended Divine Service at the Church and having taken apartments at the Commandant's, and afterwards dined with him and Mrs. Gillman, they returned on board the Amity.

The next morning the wind proving favourable, the Amity got under weigh about 8 o'clock, and proceeded to
Moreton Bay , in company with the Mars.

Whilst we are happy to say that His Excellency appeared to be in excellent health and spirits, we are glad we have it in our power to add, that the Chief Justice was quite restored to health, when he took his departure from this Settlement
.' [1]

Port Macquarie

Lieut. Owen was appointed Commandant to Port Macquarie penal settlement in 1827, succeeding Major A. C. Innes in that role. He may have departed the colony on the Prince Regent in December 1827 with the headquarters and detachments of the Buffs, bound for Bombay

Notes and Links

* Two natives from the Hunter River tribe accompanied this expedition to Moreton Bay.


[1] Hobart Town Gazette 24 December 1824

[2] The Gleaner 26 April 1827