Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

Lieutenant John Palmer

Richmond Vale

Richmond Vale was a grant to Lieut. John Palmer of the 2nd Ceylon Regiment.

Lieut. John Palmer was the son of John Palmer (b. 1760), purser of the Sirius one of the vessels of the First Fleet in 1788.

According to Henry Dangar's 1828 Map and Index, Lieut. Palmer was granted 300 acres of land in the Parish of Stockrington on 4th September 1823.
Map showing location of Richmond Vale
An additional six hundred and forty acres of land was reserved at Mulbring under Governor Brisbane's authority on 17 May 1825 - This land was drescribed as commencing at the North West corner of John Sparke's twelve hundred and eighty acre farm [3} This land may have been once known as Ennindale.

John Palmer Senior

John Palmer senior (b. 1760) entered the navy as a captain's servant aged nine. During the American war of independence he was serving in H.M.S. Richmond which was captured off Chesapeake Bay by a French squadron on 11 September 1781. In 1783, after his release as a prisoner of war, he married Susan Stilwell daughter of an American loyalist family.

John Palmer senior came to Australia as purser of the Sirius with the First Fleet in 1788. He remained in Australia until 1796.

In September 1796 John Palmer senior left Australia for England in the Britannia, returning in November 1800 in the Porpoise with his wife and son John junior (b. 1797), two sisters, Sophia (1777) and Sarah (b.1774), and a naval brother, Christopher (1767)[1]. Two more children Edwin Campbell (b. 1802) and Sophia Susannah (b. 1803) were born in New South Wales. In 1806 their eldest son George Thomas Palmer (b. 1784) came to Australia as part of the 62nd Regiment in the ship Albion with his wife Irene Catherine Pemberton, whom he had married in Malta.

Lieutenant John Palmer

Lieutenant John Palmer (b. 1797) joined the 2nd Ceylon Regiment which was disbanded in 1822. He arrived back in the colony on the Heroine in September 1822. Among the many passengers on that voyage were Miss Jane Wylde and Miss Wylde, daughters of Judge Advocate John Wylde.(8)

Land Grant

Lieut. John Palmer was residing at his father's house Waddon Cottage when he applied for a grant of land in December 1822 -

To His Excellency
Sir Thomas Brisbane -
Waddon Cottage

9 December 1822
I do myself the honor to state to Your Excellency that in consequence of the reduction of the Corps I belonged to the 2nd Ceylon Regiment, I was placed on half pay and that His Royal Highness the Commander in Chief was pleased to obtain for me His Majesty's permission to reside in this colony with my friends until my services might again be required. As it is now my wish to devote my time to Agricultural pursuits and having in possession a number of stock as per margin (100 head of cattle; 370 sheep; 3 horses) being the produce of some given me when I was a child, I trust your Excellency will be pleased to further my views by granting me such a portion of land as you may deem proper.
I have the Honor to be Sir
Your Excellency's Most humble servant
John Palmer
2nd Lieutenant, 2 Ceylon Regt., [2]

He was granted 300 acres of land in the Parish of Stockrington on 4th September 1823.

Richmond Vale

In August 1824 two convicts John Roberts and Bryan Jordan were permitted to pass through from Windsor to John Palmer's farm with 300 head of cattle. He was granted victualling from the Stores at Newcastle for himself and his four assigned convicts - John Roberts, Bryan Jordan, George Savage and John Holland.

John Palmer was probably residing at Richmond Vale in August 1827 when he was a jury member of the Newcastle Grand Jury Presentment. Other jury members included E.C. Close, James Phillips, Helenus Scott, Alexander Park, John Laurio Platt, James Mudie, Timothy Nowlan, Alexander Warren, William Innes, John Galt Smith, Standish Lawrence Harris, W. Smith, T.G. Howe, W.B. Wilkinson and W. Scott.


In the 1828 Census taken in November, Lieutenant John Palmer was listed as a farmer and grazier of Richmond Vale, Wallis Plains. Harriett Venner Wylde age 22, daughter of Judge-Advocate John Wylde who first arrived on the Elizabeth in 1816, was still residing with her mother at Cabramatta. John Palmer and Harriet Venner Wylde married on 13 November 1828 at St Luke's Church Liverpool. They resided at Richmond Vale. Their daughter Susan Stilwell Palmer was baptised there by Rev. Frederick Wilkinson on his visit to the estate in 1831[9].


Convicts assigned to Lieutenant John Palmer who may have worked at Richmond Vale included:

Blackwood, Eliza
Roslin Castle 1830. Age 32. Maid of all work from London. Tried 20 October 1829. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing shoes. Assigned servant in 1832

Caffery, Patrick
Asia (1) 1825. Alias Reilly. Ploughs and shears, native of Dublin. Tried 12 July 1824 and sentenced to transportation for Life. Remarks - Rec'd 18 lashes for quarelling on the voyage out. Assigned to John Palmer on arrival. Assigned to Leslie Duguid in 1825. Assigned to Lieut. Palmer at Richmond Vale in 1828. Granted Ticket of Leave 1833 which was cancelled in May 1836. Granted Ticket of Leave for Maitland in January 1839

Cason, James
Adrian 1830. Hawker age 22 from Bucks. Tried at Aylsbury 27 July 1829. Sentenced to transportation for life for house breaking.Assigned to John Palmer on arrival. Employed as a Shepherd at Sugar Loaf in 1832 when 4 aborigines rushed the sheep

Clark, George
Norfolk 1829. Groom age 20 from Bristol. Tried in London on 4 December 1828 and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing.

Connor, Patrick
Guildford 1829. Absconded from service in August 1832

Dacey, Denis
Mary 1819. Employed as a carpenter at Richmond Vale in 1828

Davis, William
Fame 1817. Ticket of Leave holder employed as a shepherd at Richmond Vale. Died age 71 at Sugar Loaf in September 1832

Gordon, Bryan
John Barry 1821. To be victualled from the Stores at Newcastle for six months in August 1824

Halfpenny, Henry
Cambridge 1827. Sailor aged 18 from Belfast. Tried at Down 2 April 1827. Sentenced to transportation for life for house robbery. Assigned to John Palmer on arrival

Holland, John
Three Bees 1814. To be victualled from the Stores for 6months

Hunter, Thomas
Countess of Harcourt 1827. Age 37. Farmers labourer and shepherd from Antrim. Married with six children. Tried at Antrim 22 March 1826. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for sheep stealing. Assigned to John Palmer on arrival. Granted a Ticket of Leave for Maitland in 1831

Menslow, John
Employed by John Palmer in 1823

Mills, Mary
Hooghley 1831. Age 30. Native place Tipperary. Nurse maid. Tried at Waterford and sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing shawls. Assigned to the factory at parramatta on arrival. Sent to Newcastle gaol in December 1832 under sentence of 14 days solitary confinement and three months in the gaol. Assigned to John Palmer on release from Newcastle gaol. Died 24 March 1879

Morgan, Charles
Royal Admiral 1830. Age 19. Tailor and grocer from Bridgwater. Sentenced at Portsmouth 19 April 1830 to 7 years transportation for stealing plate. Assignd to John Palmer on arrival

Randall, William
John 1832. Labourer assigned to John Palmer in 1832. Ticket of Leave holder employed by George Mosman at Raymond Terrace in 1837

Richman, Samuel
Adrian 1830. Age 20. Native place Norfolk. Tried at Norwich 10 August 1829. Sentenced to transportation for life for house breaking. Assigned to John Palmer jun., at Hunter River on arrival

Roberts, John
Coromandel 1820. Assigned servant. Permitted to pass from Windsor to Richmond Vale in 1824

Robinson, James
Fortune 1813. Assigned servant working at Richmond Vale in July 1832

Rook, William
Recovery 1819. Assigned to John Palmer in 1828

Savage, George
Mangles 1820. Convict servant; to be victualled from the Stores at Newcastle in 1824

Sheenan, Sylvester
Regalia 1826. Age 20. Farm labourer from Louth. Tried at Louth 14 July 1825. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for house robbery. Flogged on the voyage out for threatening the Chief Mate. Assigned to John Palmer junior at Richmond Vale on arrival

Sweetman, Richard
Or Sweetling per Bengal Merchant 1828. Assigned to John Palmer in 1837

Taylor, Charles
Adrian 1830. age 27. Ploughman, reaps, milks. Native place Berkshire. Tried at Reading 26 February 1830. Sentenced to 7 years transportation for stealing meat. Assigned to John Palmer jun., at Hunter River on arrival. Absconded from J. Campbell at Maitland in 1837

Tripp, James
Isabella 1832. age 22. Groom from Somerset. Tried at Taunton 29 March 1831. Sentenced to transportation for life for picking pockets. Assignd to William Ogilvie at Merton in 1837. Granted Ticket of Leave for Merton in 1842

Walker, Ann
Morley 1820. Servant age 29, free by servitude; employed by John Palmer at Richmond Vale in 1828

Walker, James
Morley 1818. Ticket of Leave holder employed as Superintendent at Richmond Vale in 1828

Return to England

John Palmer senior died in Parramatta on 27 September 1833 at the age of 73.[10]

Five years later in 1838 John Palmer and George T. Palmer and their families returned to England. Family estates - Hambledon, Pemberton Grange, Waddon Cottage and Richmond Vale were leased out or sold[4].

George T. Palmer and wife, Miss Palmer and the Masters Palmer, Miss Lewis, governess and a servant departed on the Eweretta for London [5]

Lieutenant John Palmer, his wife and children - Harriet b. 1829, Susan Stilwell b. 1830, John Edward b. 1832, George Thomas b. 1834, Emily Ann b. 1835 together with their servant departed for London on the Brilliant in April 1838[6].


Lieutenant John Palmer died at Westbourne Sussex on 3rd November 1839 aged 42 years. [7]

Notes and Links

(1) See Map of the Hunter River - J. Cross for location of Stockrington parish. Index to the Map - University of Newcastle Flickr

(2) In the court case R. V. Boatman and Billy Bulleye - Decisions of the Superior Court of New South Wales the estate owned by John Palmer was Ennindale at Sugarloaf.

(3). {Extract} Memorandum - The half pay of the under mentioned Officers has been cancelled from 27th instant, inclusive, upon their receiving a commutation allowance for their commissions: Second Lieutenant John Palmer, half pay 2d Ceylon Regiment - London Gazette 1830.

(4). Marriage on 15 September at Montrose, of Rev. George T. Palmer, B.A. of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, second son of the late John Palmer, Lieut. Ceylon rifles, to Ann Frances, third daughter of Brigadier James Blair, H.E.I.C.S., - The Indian News and Chronicle of Eastern Affaires: 1857

(5). October 22 1861, At St. John's Calcutta, Arthur John Whalley, esq., civil engineer, son of the Rev. A. Whalley of Bath, Somerset, to Emily third daughter of the late John Palmer, esq., Lieut. Ceylon Rifles. - Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle, Volume 71

6). Sophia Susannah Palmer sister of Lieutenant John Palmer later married Edward Close of Morpeth.

7) Judge Advocate John Wylde departed on the Mangles in 1825

8). Richmond Vale was offered for sale in 1847 - 680 acres ten miles from Maitland upon which are erected a very compact cottage, barn, stockyard, nearly all fenced in. - Sydney Herald 8 May 1847. In 1851 Frederick Nainby advertised for sale...that beautiful homestead and dairy farm known as Richmond Vale situated about 8 miles from Maitland upon which was a neat and commodious cottage, men's huts, stockyards, out buildings, cultivation paddocks etc., Described as the best watered farm within 100 miles of Maitland having an extensive Lagoon, besides nearly a mile of Wallis Creek running through it.


[1] Margaret Steven, 'Palmer, John (1760 - 1833)', Australian Dictionary of Biography>, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University

[2] Colonial Secretary's Papers New South Wales Government. Memorials to the Governor, 1810-25. Series 899, Fiche 3001-3162. State Records Authority of New South Wales. Kingswood, New South Wales, Australia. (Ancestry)

[3] State Records Authority of New South Wales; Registers of Land Grants and Leases; Series: NRS 13836; Item: 7/460; Reel: 2549

[4] Sydney Herald 25 January 1838

[5] Sydney Gazette 18 January 1838

[6] Sydney Monitor 2 May 1838

[7] Sydney Herald 24 April 1840

[8] Hobart Town Gazette 14 September 1822

[9] Wood, W. Allan, Dawn in the Valley, p. 196

[10] Ben Vine, 'John Palmer: The Purser, The POW,' St. John's Cemetery Project, (2016)