Sergeant John Lee of the Royal Veterans Corps arrived in the colony in 1823. He received a grant of land of 100 acres in that same year. He was a member of the Mounted Police and was present at the events at Waterloo Creek in January 1838 and was active but ineffectual in the pursuit of the Jewboy bushrangers in 1840. He was granted a license for the Blue Bell Inn from January 1845. In January 1847 he was fined £5 for permitting gambling in his licensed house following an incident on New Years Eve. John Lee's application for Publican's license for the Blue Bell Inn was refused by the Bench the following April. The Blue Bell was advertised for lease in June 1847. The occupant was reported to be doing a good trade but the lease had expired.
Accommodation for Immigrants
In March 1848 the premises of the former Blue Bell Inn were briefly used to accommodate newly arrived immigrants from the ship Hyderabad - They were to be lodged and rationed at the public's expense until they received offers of employment at reasonable wages. Approximately 16 families were to be sent from Sydney by steamer, arrangements having been made for their accommodation in the house formerly occupied by Mr. Lee, as the Blue Bell Inn and the adjoining house, at East Maitland. In April another 57 immigrants from the Subraon reached Maitland by steamer and were lodged in the house formerly occupied by Mr. Rae, next door to the Blue Bell Inn.