Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Robert Halliley Milner

Hunter Valley Medical Practitioner

Robert Halliley Milner was born in 1816, son of Richard and Sarah Milner of Wakefield.

He arrived as Surgeon on the Duke of Roxburgh in January 1842. [1]

Pages River

Soon afterwards he was residing in the Page's River district. The surrounding countryside was at this time infested with cattle thieves and a desperate gang of bushrangers led by Long Tom Forrester. Some of these desperadoes were captured in January 1843. Dr. Milner later attended a meeting with other principal settlers of the district to thank magistrate John Robertson and Chief Constable William Shields for their bravery and persistence in apprehending the gang.[2]


Robert Milner married Caroline Harley in Muswellbrook in September 1845 and together they moved to the far reaches of the settled districts.

Their children were
Annie b.1844 d.1866
Caroline b.1849 d.1869
Robert William
Arthur Harley b.1843 d.1931
Alfred b.1850 d.1919 [3]

Turrawan - Broadwater

They settled at Broadwater on the Turrawan run.

The Sydney Herald carried the claims to Lease Crown Lands beyond the settled district in 1848 - Liverpool Plains district - Robert Halliley Milner - Name of Run Turrawan. Estimated area, seventeen thousand three hundred and twenty acres. Estimated grazing capabilities, six hundred cattle or three thousand sheep. Bounded on the north by the river Namoi for seven miles; on the south by Bricklow Scrub; on the east by a line from a marked tree at the Gully Kiery, bearing south four miles, dividing it from the run of Baamba, occupied by Lady Mary Jamison; on the west by a line from a marked tree at a waterhole, Burroo, bearing south four miles, dividing the run from Tibberina, occupied by Mr. W.C. Wentworth.

Private Hospital

In 1850 Dr. Milner established a small private hospital at Narrabri. [4]

In 1850 Henry Hunt was grateful for Dr. Milner's care when the head of a spear which had been lodged in Hunt's shoulder blade for eight years was extracted by the doctor.[5]


The Empire reported the death of Robert Milner in January 1858 - An awfully sudden death occurred at Broadwater on Sunday the 10th instant. Dr. Milner, who had been walking in the garden on returning into the house complained to Mrs. Milner that it was very hot, and laid down on the sofa. Some very short time afterwards she observed him quite dead, with his head reclining on his arm. .

Caroline Milner

Later in 1858 the kitchen at the house was burned to the ground. Had it not been for the prompt assistance rendered by Mr. Glass, Mr. Ledingham and other neighbours, the homestead would have been enveloped in the flames as well.

Their eldest daughter Annie died in 1866 and daughter Caroline drowned in the Namoi River in 1869.[6] Two sons Alfred and Arthur continued to live in the district.

A visitor described the district in 1874 - The distance from Boggabri to Narrabri is 34 miles. Four miles from the former place the traveller reaches a romantic spot called the rock. This is a perpendicular wall, several hundred feet high, on the road side. The aboriginal name of this remarkable place is Cooboobindi. At the foot of the precipice there is a good hotel and store kept by Mr. Richard Everingham. On the opposite side of the road there is a comfortable private house, in which dwells Mr. David Grover, one of the oldest inhabitants of that part of the country. Fifteen miles beyond we arrived at the Turrawan Hotel, the property of Mr. Thomas Eather, where we remained all night. The river Namoi flows past the Turrawan inn. A short distance beyond Turrawan we came to Mrs. Milner's farm of 500 acres; and opposite a good looking house, Mr. Perry's I believe. [7]

Caroline Milner had resided in the district for over forty years and was a respected member of the community when she passed away in 1896 age 71. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that she died of blood poisoning.

Notes and Links

1). List of Gentlemen admitted Members of Royal College of Surgeons London - Medical Times 1840

List of Gentlemen at Guy's Hospital 1838

3). Obituary of Arthur Harley Milner. The North Western Courier (Narrabri, NSW : 1913 - 1955) Mon 4 Jan 1932


[1] The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842) Tue 11 Jan 1842

[2] Australasian Chronicle (Sydney, NSW : 1839 - 1843) Tue 31 Jan 1843

[3] Australian Medical Pioneer Index

[4] The North Western Courier (Narrabri, NSW : 1913 - 1955) Mon 4 Sep 1933.

[5] The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW : 1843 - 1893) Wed 2 Oct 1850

[6] The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) Tue 22 Jun 1869

[7] Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1875) Tue 27 Jan 1874