Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

The Spread Eagle Inn


The Spread Eagle Inn was situated opposite the Rutherford Racecourse.

Edmund Wright

Edmund Wright held the licence for the Spread Eagle Inn at Rutherford in 1844, 1845, and 1846.

He could provide 1000 acres of fenced accommodation paddock opposite his residence for horses and colts.

In July 1848 he moved to George Poulton's House at West Maitland known as the Cross Keys Inn [1]

Jacob Gorrick

Jacob Gorrick took up the licence for the Spread Eagle Inn in April 1848 [2]

J. Gorrick begs respectfully to acquaint his friends and the public that he has opened the Spread Eagle Inn (late Wrights) with a choice selection of wines spirits cordials etc and in soliciting their patronage assures them that no pains will be spared to render them comfortable should they favour him with a call. The accommodation paddocks are large secure and well watered and every information will be afforded parties having fat cattle or sheep for sale as to the state of the market and best buyers. A careful steady stockman has been engaged to assist in drafting cattle and to fetch up the working bullocks every morning. Every attention will be paid to stock but JG will not be responsible for loss or accidents.[3]

One year later Mr. Gorrick was advertising 'Attractive Sport' to be held at the Inn on Easter Monday. A first rate hog-skin saddle was the prize for the first race to be held on the day and a new hat for climbing a greasy pole. The concluding sport would be a race for a pig with his tail greased.

Spencer Butler

Spencer Butler was granted a publican's licence for the Spread Eagle Inn in 1852.

Joshua John Rose

In April 1854 Joshua John Rose was granted the licence.

Thomas Knight Osborne

Thomas Knight Osborne held the licence in August 1859


In 1863 bushranger Thunderbolt was confronted at the Spread Eagle Inn by Mr. Delaney after carrying out a robbery at the nearby toll gate -

About a quarter to five o'clock yesterday morning a man about five feet nine inches high, of light but strong build, dark complexion, slight beard and whiskers, presented himself at the doorway of the toll-keeper's house, alongside the toll-bar between Maitland and Rutherford. The door had been opened a few minutes before, and William Delaney, who, with the lessee, Michael O'Brien, resides in the toll house, entered the room from the back. He saw the highwayman with a revolver in his hand pointed at him. Delaney was commanded to get into a corner near the dresser, and he obeyed.

The highwayman then said 'give me your money,' to which Delany answered that he had none. 'Give me your money or I'll blow your brains out.' Again the answer 'I have none' was made. The robber, who all this time was standing near the doorway, advanced a few steps, and with one hand opened cupboard that was near the door, whilst with the other he kept Delaney covered with the revolver. From the cupboard he took the cash box which, however, only contained about 4s. in copper. Without opening it he said good morning and crossed the road.

Inside the fence he had a horse tied up to a tree; he loosed the bridle, mounted, and rode on along the road in the direction of Anambah, giving the toll-keeper the pleasing information that he was Captain Thunderbolt. Shortly after, a man named Moore was passing along the road, and he was told of the robbery, and desired to inform the police of the matter.

Delany then went to the Spread Eagle Inn, opposite the Rutherford race-course, expecting to meet the robber, which he was fortunate enough to do. As they approached the house, the robber said 'Well, you are the chap I stuck-up this morning at the toll-bar. I suppose you have come after me?' Delaney said he had not - that he was going to the public house. He then said, 'I suppose your mate has gone for the crushers.' Delaney said, 'No, there's no one to mind the toll-bar.' The bushranger then put his hand in his pocket and gave back to Delaney the coppers he had taken from the box, remarking, 'I am a bushranger, and you might meet a worse one than me; I was put on a lay to stick up your place; I was told there were 200 sovereigns there. I thought it was Young, the flash fighting man, who kept the place; if I met him, I'd take it out of him.' Delany then asked where was the box, and was told he would find it on the old road in (through) the bush. Delany says he then wished him 'good bye.'

The cash-box was searched for, and found where 'Thunderbolt' said it would be. It would appear that immediately after robbing the toll-bar the robber proceeded to the Spread Eagle Inn, as Mrs. Byrne found him at the door when she first opened it. He was, as she alleges, armed with a belt of revolvers, and had others in his pockets. He asked for something to eat, and bread and meat were given to him; having eaten them he asked what he had to pay, and being told that there was no charge for a thing like that, said, 'I came to rob you, but as you are so hospitable I won't do so.' He then purchased a bottle of rum, drunk part of it, and fastened the rest, with some bread and cheese, to his saddle; he remained nearly two hours at this place, and was going away when Delaney came up and met him.

From further enquiries it appears that after parting with the toll-bar-keeper the bushranger met a man named Godfrey Parsons about half a mile beyond the Spread Eagle Inn. Parsons was bringing his wife in a spring cart from Anvil Creek, where he resides, to Maitland for medical attendance, when the robber came riding across the green from the road which there leads off to Anambah. He pulled up when he came to the cart, bidding Parsons stop and give up his money, at the same time presenting his revolver to enforce the demand. Parsons (who had about £30 in his possession) answered that he had only two pounds, and was coming into Maitland for a doctor's advice for his wife. Mrs. Parsons was much terrified, and began to cry. The robber then said, as the money was wanted for the doctor he wouldn't take it; he was an outlaw, and knew he would get fifteen years if he was caught. He then rode off along the road until he came to where some teamsters were camping; he entered into conversation with them, but did nothing more.

He subsequently met Mrs. Friend, Mrs. Clarke, her two daughters, and a man named James Kavanagh, - the last named four together. He stopped them, but we have not heard whether he robbed them of anything. He then met a constable, who was on foot, and asked the constable if it was not he whom he was looking after, and challenged him to fight him. He then rode back to the Spread Eagle Inn, and again entered into conversation, patronised the publican, and talked con- temptuously of constables; stating that they chased him near Armidale, and when they got to the Black Rock they got afraid and went back, saying their horses got bogged in the Green Swamp. He further said they took a saddle and bridle from him at Black Rock. When he the second time called at the Spread Eagle he did not dismount; he drank some tea and ate some bread and meat which were supplied to him. He soon afterwards rode away, and four mounted policemen went out in pursuit.

When the police enquired at the Spread Eagle Inn for the robber, they learnt that he had taken the road leading through Anambah; one of them (mounted) overtook him speaking to a tenant of Mr. G. J. Cobb's ; he rode up and asked if they had seen any bullocks about, to which the robber answered ' No.' The constable (who was in disguise) then drew out his revolver, pointed it at him, and said, 'You are my prisoner.' The fellow coolly turned round, looked at the constable, put spurs to his horse, and galloped away, the constable in pursuit. Several shots are alleged to have been fired by the trooper when within a few yards of his man, but without effect. Through Anambah the bushranger rode at the topmost speed of his horse. Near Mr. Cobb's place the trooper was within fifty yards of him, but his horse was blown. He dismounted and took a horse belonging to Mr. Walter Sparkes which was saddled and bridled near a blacksmith's forge. The bushranger in the mean time, had improved the distance between himself and his pursuer, the trooper kept him in view until the river was reached; but crossing it he lost sight of him. Other troopers have been been despatched in search of the marauder and last evening were in pursuit. At eight o'clock last evening the four troopers had returned, without the slightest success. - Maitland Mercury

John Byrne

John Byrne held the licence in May 1866


[1] Maitland Mercury 5 July 1848

[2] Maitland Mercury 19 April 1848

[3] Maitland Mercury 22 July 1848