The Northumberland Hotel was built by Hamilton C. Semphill in the 1840s. The Australian described the Hotel in March 1843...This splendid establishment upon which the proprietor, Mr. Sempill, has expended an immense sum of money, has opened under the management of Mr. Yeomans. The design of the hotel is in accordance with the arrangements of the first houses in London and comprises the most complete suite of rooms and offices that has yet been introduced in any similar establishment in the colony.
George Yeomans was one of several sons of John Yeomans who arrived on the Britannia in 1791. John Yeomans resided in Wilberforce and in 1818 - 1819 held a spirit licence there.
George became a settler at Patrick's Plains and received a town allotment in Newcastle. In 1826 he leased the Angel Inn from Molly Morgan at Wallis Plains and in 1827 married fifteen year old Elizabeth Singleton, daughter of Benjamin Singleton. In 1832 he owned a station Yarramanbah on the Liverpool Plains in partnership with Otto Baldwin, William Osborn, John Upton and his brother Richard Yeomans.
The Woolpack Inn was opened by George Yeomans in 1828 and the licence transferred to Richard Yeomans in 1831. Richard died in 1833 and was buried in the Glebe Cemetery.
George Yeomans held the licence for the Sportsmans' Arms in West Maitland in 1834, 1835 and 1836.
In 1840 George became a Provisional Director of the Maitland Steam Navigation Co and in 1843 was granted a publican's licence for the Northumberland Hotel
Despite financial difficulties in the 1840's, the Northumberland was often the scene of Balls, suppers, dinners and meetings. In October of 1843 George Yeomans hosted a Bachelors' Ball at the Northumberland Hotel. A number of bachelors of Maitland had invited their friends to the occasion. There were about 100 people present for the select ball and supper and dancing continued until six o'clock on Friday morning. The rooms had been elegantly arranged with evergreens and flowers and a sumptuous supper was laid out by Mr. Cohen of the Rose Inn.
In 1847 the Governor Sir Charles Fitzroy on his visit to the Hunter stayed at the Northumberland Hotel on arrival in Maitland. His planned journey to Paterson was cancelled due to the flooded river so luncheon was provided for him at the Northumberland the following day also.
At dawn the steamer is abreast of Newcastle, a free port, and the head quarters of the coal district. Having landed passengers there, we enter the river Hunter; and, passing many pretty farms on its banks, land at Morpeth at seven in the morning. On the banks of this river and of its tributaries are many thriving settlers, who send their produce to Sydney by the steamers, and these vessels also take down the wool and tallow of the "Liverpool Plains" and" New England" squatting districts. Disembarking at Morpeth, the traveller rides on to "Yeoman's Inn," West Maitland. East and West Maitland form a long straggling town, containing about four thousand inhabitants, which owes its prosperity chiefly to the traffic carried on through it between the squatting districts and Sydney. "Mine inn" is a large and substantial brick-built house, and boasts a lofty coffee-room, a dignified waiter, and a blooming barmaid, with long corkscrew ringlets, and instinct with a lively sense of being dangerously charming. Here, eggs, fried ham, and every thing that is savoury and delicious, are paraded on the breakfasttable in an almost wasteful extravagance, which speaks the cheapness and plenty of the good things of this life. Having strengthened and refreshed ourself and our horse, we wend on our way, premising that those who delight in beer may put the coping-stone on their felicity by indulging in a refreshing draught of Maitland ale. The road along which we travel is supposed to be traversed, in the course of the year, by 28,000 passengers.
When the Northumberland was renovated in 1892, an account of the premises as it was in the 1850s was published....During the latter portion of the fifties it was under the management of that old identity the late Mr. Henry Hewitt, alias "the beautiful boy." Old Harry prided himself at having been the first publican in the Hunter River valley, and that he had built and occupied more hotels than any other man in this part of the colony. His last venture in that line was the Royal Hotel at Singleton, which he took possession of in 1859. But like many others, his speculations in brick and mortar left him a poor man. During the fifties the Northumberland Hotel went under the sign of the old Rose Inn, but subsequently the former sign was adopted.
Notes and Links
1). In 1844 /1845 William Broad was employed as a waiter, William Wroth as a servant and Henry Chivers as tap keeper. Henry Blanchard, Richard Meikle and William Paget were also employed at the Northumberland Hotel
2). An article published in the Maitland Mercury in 1889 indicates that the premises of the Northumberland Hotel were used as a Police Barracks at that time. - Maitland Mercury 28 September 1889