Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

The Australian Inn

West Maitland

James Brackenreg was born at Parramatta in 1797, the son of James Brackenreg who arrived as a member of the Guard on the convict ship Neptune in 1790. [1]

He married Mary Stubbs, daughter of Thomas Stubbs at Sydney in 1819.

James Brackenreg (b.1797) was employed as a carpenter in Philip Street Sydney in 1828. Residing with him were his wife Mary and children James junior age 3, Jane age 7, Elizabeth 5, and another aged 11 months and also his father James aged 70, shoemaker. [1]

James Brackenreg held the publican's licence for the Currency Lad in Philip Street Sydney in 1832.

He was granted a publican's licence for the Australian Inn in High Street, West Maitland from June 1840. He remained there for many years. [2]

Maitland in 1840's

The Australian Inn was one of three Hotels in Maitland that placed a flag in their window to celebrate the anniversary of the Colony in January 1844, however perhaps due to the financial situation in the colony, little other celebration was made in the town that year. Henry Early was the only one to illuminate his house in the evening to mark the occasion.

No doubt the Brackenregs were as inconvenienced as other High Street businesses when the street turned to dust in 1847....... From 8am until sundown, there was dust flying about from the continual wagons, drays, carts, horses and cattle passing by. The dust lay from an inch to an inch and a half deep, deepening in the 'drifts' to two or three inches and covered goods, furniture and cottages with coats of dust whenever vehicles or stock passed by.


The Australian Inn came close to being destroyed when a disastrous fire burned the Queen's Theatre to the ground in 1856. The Australian Inn was next door to the theatre and James Brackenreg was awakened from his bedroom at the back of the Inn by the flare of the light from the flames. An outhouse of the Inn was lost but the Inn was saved by the efforts of towns folk. [3]

James Brackenreg was granted a licence for the Australian Arms Inn in April 1859. This was situated near the corner of High and Devonshire Streets Maitland and opposite Allotment No. 4.


James Brackenreg died in 1878 - An old and highly respected resident of West Maitland passed away on Tuesday last, in the person of Mr. James Brackenreg. The deceased gentleman had reached the ripe age of 81 years, having been born at Parramatta in 1797. For over forty years he was a resident of Maitland, where he has left a large number of friends to mourn his loss. He was the first civilian who was made a mason in the colonies, some 57 years having elapsed since he joined that ancient craft. [4]


[1] 1828 Census

[2] Certificates for publicans' licences, 1853-1861. NRS 14403, reels 5063-5066, 1236-1242. State Records Authority of New South Wales, Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia.

[3] Maitland Mercury 12 June 1856

[4] Newcastle Morning Herald 29 June 1878.