Fleming Brothers Reunion
Peter Fleming was one of Newcastle's success stories
He was born in Paisley, Scotland in 1817. A butcher by trade, he arrived in Australia as a prisoner on convict ship Bengal Merchant in 1836. Having been convicted of stealing money at Glasgow Court of Justiciary on 27 April 1836 he was sentenced to 7 years transportation. His description was included in the convict indents - Age 23. Reads. Black hair, dark hazel eyes, dark freckled and pockpitted complexion. Angular scar top of centre forehead, scar left cheek bone.
He was assigned to George Glew, a butcher in Maitland in 1836, however was sent to Newcastle gaol from Maitland for an unknown crime in December 1837. By 1838 he was assigned to Lieut. Henry Lugard at Newcastle. He was punished severely at least twice in Newcastle for indiscretions in company with others. Unlike many prisoners this did not dictate the remainder of his life. Perhaps it was his marriage to Mary Cameron, daughter of Donald Cameron of Hexham in 1844 that turned his life around. They remained married for over fifty years and together raised a large family.
Peter Fleming and Charles B. Ranclaud established a successful butchering business in the heart of Newcastle. He was also instrumental in establishing the suburb of Wickham having purchased 120 acres in the 1850's. He erected the first house in Wickham, named Linwood and later purchased land at Belmont and premises in Newcastle. He was a city alderman for many years.
Peter Fleming died at his residence Linwood, Newcastle in June 1894 and was interred at Sandgate cemetery.
In 1923 three of his sons, Donald, Alexander and Robert reunited at Newcastle taking the opportunity to reminisce about their boyhood growing up in Newcastle -
OLD NEWCASTLE IDENTITIES.
Three brothers, born and reared in Newcastle, whose combined ages total 222 years, met together in Watt-street yesterday morning. They were Robert, Donald, and Alexander J. Fleming, whose respective ages are 78, 74, and 70 years. Their father was the late Mr. Peter Fleming, and the name of Fleming is indelibly associated with the earliest days of Newcastle.
The reunion of the three brothers was made possible by the return of Mr. Donald Fleming from West Australia, where he has been successfully engaged in pastoral pursuits for over twenty years. He is back in Newcastle upon a holiday visit.
The Fleming brothers have each a wide knowledge of the pastoral Industry, and their experiences in dealings with cattle, sheep, and horses would fill a book if they would recount them. They are, however, men of reticent, retiring disposition, and would say but little. Standing in Watt street in front of a big commercial edifice and facing another pile beginning to assume massive proportions, brought back memories to them of the Newcastle of their boyhood. Reverting to sixty-five years ago, one was told that Watt-street was the only bit of macadamised road in the place. East ward, known as the Sandhills, there was a succession of sand dunes. There were scarcely any buildings in that direction, and the only one defined was the residence of Captain Allen, on the hill which carried his name.
The Waters of the harbour ebbed and flowed where Scott street now stands, and, in fact, made their way to parts of Hunter-street, now occupied by large buildings, In the harbour, between Newcastle and Stockton there was a big sandbank, to which adventurous youths pulled over in rowing boats and played upon it at low tide. On New Year's Days the annual regattas were held in the channel, and some of the names of Australia's noted scullers among them the Hickeys were linked with the strenuously contested events. In those days there were no Carrington and Wickham Basins. A narrow winding channel ran along between Honeysuckle Point and Carrington.
The changes to the eyes of the three Newcastle pioneers were very great. It is only such men who can appraise the real progress of Newcastle and its port and district. Mr. Donald Fleming was in his early manhood, in partnership with his brother Robert in the butchery business upon the site where the Husters building now stands in Hunter-street. Later Mr Donald Fleming joined in partnership with Mr. Edward Chippindall, under the style of Chippendall and Fleming. Mr. Sidney Hewson entered their service as a boy and stayed with them until manhood, when the partnership was dissolved, and he entered into the butchery business on his own behalf. It was a pleasing coincidence that Mr. Hewson was one of the little coterie of which the three brothers were the central figures yesterday.
Mr. Donald Fleming took a trip to West Australia in 1898 and returned to Newcastle later after getting into his mind certain business possibilities. He went back to West Australia in 1900 and engaged in pastoral pursuits. About thirteen years ago he opened cattle trading with Singapore, with which he is still concerned and his average shipments of sheep, there are about 3000 head a month. He has also traded largely in live-stock with South Africa, and has personally taken over to that dominion a couple of the largest shipments despatched from Australia. One shipment consisted of 2000 heifers and another one of 10,000 sheep and 14 trotting horses. Those shipments were made shortly after the Boar War, and the stock were intended for the re stocking of the farms. Mr. Donald Fleming is staying with his brother Robert at Islington, and is also spending portion of his time with Mr. S. Hewson.
Mr. Robert Fleming is well known in the turf history of Newcastle. He was secretary to the Newcastle Jockey Club for many years, and was succeeded in 1900 by Mr, J. Grisdale, the present occupant of the position. He has also been engaged in the metropolitan area as owner and trainer of valuable and successful racehorses, and as starter and measurer of proprietary racing clubs.
Mr. Alexander Fleming has had extensive dealings in cattle, sheep, and horses, and has known all the vicissitudes of pastoral life. His Journeyings have taken him into the great pastoral areas of New South Wales and Queensland. He has known what It is to suffer from the severest droughts and to have to make a. re start in life, but overcame the difficulties by persistent and dogged endeavours. He is now taking life comfortably, and in a well-known and popular figure on the Newcastle City bowling green. - Newcastle Morning Herald 3 January 1923