Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

John Martin Davis - Settler

Map 5

Irish free settler John Martin Davis received a grant of twelve hundred and eighty acres in the parish of Ravensworth in 1828. The grant was authorised by Sir Ralph Darling on 31st March 1828 as a primary grant and possession given on the 13th August 1828. The location can be seen centre on the map below next to the estate of J. Pringle.

He named the estate Maryville.

James Bowman John Gaggin George Bowman James Glennie David Brown alt=James Mein Dight Family Robert Hoddle George Galway Mills Thomas Parmeter James Hale Richard Hill George Bowman William Sims Bell Robert Adamson Rodd John Howe John Martin Davis Richard Hobden Robert Pringle Sampson Marshall Robert Dawson Archibald Mosman Early Settler Map 5John Martin Davis married Sarah Wiseman, daughter of Solomon Wiseman in 1834 and together they raised a large family. Like so many others John Martin Davis was a victim of the 1840's depression. He became insolvent in 1845 and this land passed out of his hands.

Liverpool Plains

By 1847 Sarah and John Martin Davis had moved to Currabubla on the Liverpool Plains where he opened an Inn - later known as the Freemason's Arms or Traveller's Rest Inn. The Inn was robbed in 1850:

James Turner was indicted for unlawfully breaking into and entering the dwelling-house of John Martin Davies, at Currububla, on the 23rd January, 1850, with intent to steal the money, goods, and chattels therein.

It appeared from the evidence of John Martin Davies, Richard Cross, and Joseph Smith, that prisoner came with another man to Mr. Davis's public house one evening in January, they being in charge of a team; they had some drink there, and prisoner ordered supper, and sat down in the kitchen; at this time Mr. Davis had closed and secured the public house part of the house, so that it could not be entered from the out- side, and had told Cross, who was in his service, to keep an eye on prisoner; Cross suddenly missed prisoner from the kitchen, and going to the bar door he heard a noise inside on his shaking the door, but could get no answer to his inquiry of who was there; Cross then ran round the house, and saw prisoner come out of the chimney of the public house, jump down, and runaway; Cross ran after him and caught him, and Mr. Davies, who came out on hearing Cross's call, kept him in charge, with the help of Smith, while Cross went to Tamworth and returned with the police.

During this Interval Mr. Davis told prisoner that if he had robbed him of the clothes which were in that room he'd have ruined him; prisoner replied that it was not his clothes he wanted, but his blunt. Mr. Davis was positive that when he locked up the public house the cocks in the bar were all right, but on his opening it after securing prisoner he found one running, and he also noticed a footprint in the fire-place. The prisoner denied that he was ever in or near the chimney, but said he was knocked down by Cross out- side the house for nothing. The jury returned a verdict of guilty. The prisoner was remanded for sentence
. [1]

Davis may have been well placed to profit from passing trade when gold was discovered at Hanging Rock. There were two or three overland routes that gold diggers could take, one being via Currabubla.........

A description, written by a gentleman well acquainted with the Hanging Rock country, says

' It is watered to superfluity.' ' Drays have gone over the whole road frequently, but the Craney and the Hanging Rock are fearful hills for loaded drays to pass over.' We may here mention that we have failed in ascertaining positively the nearest dray road from Maitland to the Hanging Rock. All agree that drays must follow up the Great Northern road to
Murrurundi, and thence over the Liverpool Range to at least as far as Mr. Loder's station. Some say that from thence drays can turn off, keeping near the Range till they reach the Company's stations, Five Mile station and another on the upper Peel waters, and so by a few miles farther to the Hanging Rock. Others say the Great Northern road must be kept a few miles further, till Currabubula is reached, from whence a level country can be easily crossed to the Hanging Rock. The exact either route we cannot say, but it is probably not far from 150 to 170 miles. Strangers to the road would probably do well to go as far as Currabubula, before turning off[4].

When he became ill in 1863 John Martin Davis consulted doctors in Tamworth. His daughter was seriously injured while attending him in Tamworth........

We regret to have to announce a very serious accident, which nearly terminated fatally, to Miss Davis, the eldest daughter of Mr John Martin Davis, at Currabubula, near Tamworth. It seems that Mr. Davis had been under the care of Dr. Scott, at Tamworth, for a fortnight previous to the time the accident we have now to report occurred, and that his daughter had been attending him during that time He had subsequently recovered on yesterday week to be able to return home, and accordingly ordered his own and his daughter's horse to be brought to the front of Mr Settatree's Inn, where they had been staying Miss Davis proceeded to mount the horse, which, by the way, she had frequently rode, and was very quiet, but before she was fairly seated in the saddle the animal reared and suddenly fell on one side, Miss Davis being under. Assistance was at once rendered, and the unfortunate young lady extricated from her perilous position, when it was discovered she was quite unconscious, and had apparently sustained severe internal injuries in the back.
Dr. Dowe and Dr. Scott were soon in attendance, and did all they possibly could for the sufferer, but for several days until Thursday her recovery was looked upon as extremely doubtful. We learn, however, that on that day Miss Davis rallied considerably, and may now be considered out of danger
. [2]


The Inn was robbed by bushrangers supposed to have been led by the notorious Captain Thunderbolt in December 1865 -

On Saturday, December 9th, three armed and mounted bushrangers each leading a pack horse stuck up Mr J. M Davis's inn, Currabubula, about twenty miles from Tamworth. They took £18 in notes and cheques from a box belonging to Mr Davis's son, and a new saddle. They called for bottled porter, which they paid for, and then left. They were all well mounted; one of them was riding the race horse Eucalyptus. They also stuck up Mr. Cook's inn (Quirindi) Mr Ferrier's of Breeza, and Mr Single's of Werris Creek . [3]


John Martin Davis died in 1865 and his wife Sarah continued running the Inn until at least 1867. Later the Inn became known as the Locomotive Inn. [5]

Notes and Links

1). The holder of the present license of the old Locomotive Hotel at Currabubula, is Mr. Bob Davis. He has been there with an absolutely clean records for 44 years. His father was Mr. John Martin Davis, who married Miss Wiseman daughter of the founder of Wiseman's Ferry. The old man was killed by a fall from his horse on Piallaway station, which property he then owned. When his father held the license of the hotel many years ago, Thunderbolt and other bushrangers were very busy in the district, and the old building had a number of portholes in the walls. This was pulled down about 12 years ago. Another remarkable thing at that time was the large number of Chinamen that were continually passing on their way to the various mines further out. (Country Life Stock and Station Journal 12 September 1924)

2). One Life: My Mother's Story - Kate Grenville


[1] Maitland Mercury 6 March 1850

[2] Maitland Mercury 5 March 1863

[3] Maitland Mercury 16 December 1865

[4] Maitland Mercury 18 February 1852

[5] The Scone Advocate 16 September 1924