Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

David Sloane

Hunter Valley Medical Practitioner

David Sloane received his Diploma in Anatomy, Surgery and Pharmacy from the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh in 1828. [1]

Arrival in Australia

He arrived in Hobart and Sydney from the Cape of Good Hope as Surgeon on the William Young in 1829. Two of the passengers on the Young William were Rev. J. Adair and Miss Adair who later resided in the Paterson district.[2]


David Sloane was resident in Maitland by at least August 1831.....

A settler at Hunter's River, commonly known by the name of Scotch Davy, who resided at Nelson's Plains, having been much annoyed by a boar that was in the habit of crossing the river from Mr. Earle's farm, and destroying his corn, laid in wait for the animal armed with an axe ; the boar crossed as usual, and Davy attacked it, but instead of killing it, it fastened itself upon his knee, which it crushed, and tore away the calf of one of his legs, and then made off ; prompt assistance was rendered by Drs. Sloane and Scott, and amputation was resorted to as the only means of preserving his life, but the unfortunate man breathed his last shortly afterwards. An inquest was held on the body, and a verdict of accidental death was recorded. [3]

One of the duties of doctors in the early days was to certify as to the ability of convicts to work. David Sloane is mentioned in regards to convict James Brown on the estate of James Mudie in the History of the Colonies c. 1833.....Evidence of James Brown 'I was brought up two years ago by Mr. Mudie to court for feigning I was sick; a Dr. Sloane, I believe, certified that I was able to work and I was flogged ; I got fifty lashes, and I was able to go to work on the following day - I was obliged to go'.


David Sloane entered into community life in Maitland and as well as his medical duties attended meetings and social events and worked with other leaders to improve the township. In 1832 he signed a public letter thanking Captain Philip Anley for his services as Magistrate in Maitland and in November 1836 he attended a meeting to thank Pieter Laurenz Campbell for his duties as Police Magistrate. In the mid 1840s he was instrumental in establishing a new Hospital in Maitland and in 1847 he assisted in preparations for the visit of Governor Sir Charles Fitzroy. He was later introduced to the Governor at Maitland.


In 1840 David Sloane married Isabella Lydia Phillips at her father's residence at Bona Vista Paterson. Isabella's younger sister Lydia married another Hunter Valley medical practitioner Richard Ryther Steer Bowker in 1858.

A daughter, Lydia was born to David and Isabella Sloane in October 1841; son John Flockhart was born in July 1845 and daughter Louisa Jane in April 1847. Isabella Sloane died in 1848.

Medical and Surgical Cases

Some of the many medical and surgical cases Dr. Sloane attended in the Maitland district can be found here. Below are a few examples.....

In 1843 a post mortem was performed by Dr. Sloane on the bodies of two aboriginal men who had been killed in a battle near the old 'Black Swan' at Campbell's Hill. One, from the Port Stephens tribe was shot in the nose and the other from the Wollombi tribe was knocked down with a waddie, speared through the thigh and knee and then his head beaten with waddies by three or four others. The Port Stephens man was removed from his shallow grave where he had been wrapped in his blanket with a sheet of bark laid under him with his broken waddie by his side, so that a post mortem could be performed. Dr. Sloane later testified at the inquest held at the Northumberland Hotel.

By January 1844 David Sloane had fallen victim to the financial depression. Following insolvency proceedings, he was allowed to retain his furniture and wearing apparel although there was no mention of his surgical instruments. He may have been allowed to retain them as in May 1845 he performed a Lithotomy on a patient. The following account was given in the Maitland Mercury:

Dr. Sloane has performed this very delicate operation on a ticket of leave holder, named Brennan, who is now recovering rapidly under skilful treatment he is receiving We believe this is the first time that the operation of cutting for the stone (The removal of kidney or bladder stones by surgery) has been performed in the district'

In June 1845 he attended Henry Incledon Pilcher with Dr. Beardmore after Pilcher suffered a stroke. The two doctors consulted however were unable to save Pilcher. In August he worked to save the life of John Bowman a child who had been severely burned after his night dress caught fire. Dr. Sloane had rushed to the house and applied the 'proper remedies' without delay however the little boy died 18 hours later.

In 1848 Dr. Sloane with the assistance of Doctors Michael McCartney and Andrew Liddell performed an operation on Mr. Ryan a bullock driver in the employ of Mr. Pringle. Ryan had met with an accident several months previously and his thigh had been broken and unsuccessfully set by a resident Doctor. He was sent to Maitland Hospital in May 1848 where several attempts were made by the medical officers to set the leg without avail and it was decided that to amputate the leg was the only option. As the operation would have to be performed high up on the thigh it was considered desirable to do so with the aid of chloroform and a small quantity was obtained from Sydney. On the morning of the operation, Ryan was given the chloroform however its effect was to 'make him excited and nervous as if under the influence of strong drink and he remained acutely sensible to the prick of a pin and the operation was postponed. A few days later however it was decided to proceed with the operation without the aid of chloroform. The operation was performed rapidly and skilfully however Ryan was weakened after his long illness and the shock proved too great for him. He never recovered from the state of exhaustion produced by the operation and died a few days later. The Chloroform left over after the operation on Ryan was used when Dr. Sloane and Dr. McCartney removed a tumour from the face of a four year old boy who had arrived at Maitland Hospital from Merriwa.


David Sloane was fined for attempting to Duel with Maitland solicitor John Turner in 1852. He was found guilty of assault against Henry Nicholls in Maitland in February 1855 [2] . This article gives Dr. Sloane's version of events. A case of perjury against David Sloane was later dismissed from court.


David Sloane sold his premises in 1856 together with his furniture and surgical instruments and visited Melbourne. When he returned he lived at Paterson for a while however in 1857 returned to Maitland and set up practice in Devonshire Street, West Maitland.

His date and place of death have not yet been traced, however when his daughter Lydia Amelia Sloan married Henry Wyatt Radford, second son of Dr. Henry William Radford of 62nd regiment on 27th October 1864 at Christchurch, Newcastle, David Sloane had already passed away.[4]

Notes and Links

1). Marriage - On the 13th December 1869, at St. John's Church, Brisbane, Queensland by the Rev. T .Jones, Joseph Black, eldest son of the late Joseph Dickson, Esq., of Hobart, Tasmania to Louisa Jane second daughter of the late David Sloan Esq., M.D. of Maitland [5]

2). Signed Summary Punishment Bill Petition from Hunter River [6]


[1] The Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal:

[2] Sydney Gazette 11 April 1829

[3] Sydney Herald 22 August 1831

[4] Sydney Morning Herald 2 November 1864

[5] Sydney Morning Herald 10 January 1870

[6] Sydney Herald 26 August 1833