Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

William Peagum Coleman

Hunter Valley Medical Practitioner

December 1831 - 'William Peagum Coleman, Surgeon and Apothecary begs leave to inform inhabitants of Maitland and vicinity that he intends practicing the different branches of his profession at Maitland (adjoining Wakefield Simpson) and to add that he has laid in a general assortment of drugs and necessaries for formation of a retail establishment on moderate terms.'[1]

June 1832 - Peter Crawley per Asia assigned to William Coleman at Maitland

Establishing a Private Hospital at Maitland

August 1832 - The Sydney Monitor reported on a hospital at Maitland being established by Dr. Coleman at Maitland.......

'In the course of the last twenty years, some scores of clever young men, humorously called convict surgeons i.e. superintendents of convict transports would have jumped at £100 a year and a bit of land in our remoter districts; and in lieu of going to India, or returning to England, would have gone to those districts built a log hut hospital, warm and dry by means of a few convicts, and depended on their salary on the private practice of the neighbourhood and on their cow, pig, and garden, for a livelihood.

We understand that one of these, Mr. Colman a surgeon, (formerly of the navy) and known when abroad to some of the first men in this colony, has settled at Maitland on this plan, without government aid. Without receiving a salary of £100 a year he has built or procured to be built an adequate Hospital at Maitland and will receive into it the assigned servants of all the settlers in the neighbourhood and of those up the Hunter as far as Liverpool Plains at the same rate of charge as the inspector of the Hospital at Newcastle now charges by authority of Government. In this case we perceive that the nature of the Colony and the force of circumstances have created the first of that race of resident surgeons who, like resident parsons or resident lawyers are necessary in every country......We cannot help giving our humble testimony to the public spirit and liberality of the principle on which Dr. Coleman of Maitland has commenced his novel establishment there. We think it entitled the applause not only of the Colonists but also of the government and we trust he will receive every patronage and assistance which can be rendered him by both in bringing his plan to fruition. The Doctor proposes not only to take in servants free or bond at a shilling a day but also to compound with the graziers and settlers to visit their men in their own huts at ten shillings per man per anum, at all hours when his services may be specially required. And where the graziers establishment may exceed 1 dozen or twenty men to charge considerably less than even 10s per man. Dr. Coleman proposes to receive into his establishment only such servants of the Settlers as are so ill as to require to be kept on particular diet, and to be under his special superintendence; charging the assignee nothing extra during their residence with him.

Now we would recommend the Doctor to charge something if ever so moderate while servants reside in his establishment. In fact we would recommend him to charge a shilling a day while they remain there, deducting the amounts which such residencies may come to at the end of the year, from the sum due to him, according to the stipulation agreed on, namely the above mentioned annual fee of 10s a head, or less, for every servant on the contractor's or compounder's farm' [4]


October 1832 - At Paterson Dr. Coleman treated Edward G. Cory who had been attacked with a spade by one of his assigned servants Joseph Colman. Dr. Coleman later testified in court that Colman had confessed regret for the crime. [2]

12 August 1835 Wednesday, August 11 - 'Before Mr Justice Burton and a Military Jury. William Bewley, alias Long, alias Prendergast, stood indicted for stealing, on the 10th July last, a grey mare, value £20, the property of Mr William Eagan Coleman, of Paterson's Plains .......

On the evening prior to the date of the information, it appeared, that the prosecutor, Dr Coleman, was returning home from the Maitland races; when near Lang's punt, his horse shied at two burning trees and threw him; he endeavoured for a time to retake the horse, but night coming on, he deemed it most prudent to relinquish the attempt, and make the best of his way home; on coming to Lang's, he found the prisoner there, whom Lang represented as a free man, that he knew well; prosecutor then offered prisoner five shillings if he would go and recover the horse, and he (prosecutor) would send two of his assigned servants to assist him; this being agreed to, Dr Coleman went home, and sent the two servants to the prisoner; the three men then set out together, and near the spot where the prosecutor was thrown, they recovered the horse; after which, at the invitation of the prisoner, they adjourned to a public house, and had something to drink; while there, prisoner wrote a pass for the two assigned servants, and told them to proceed to Lang's on their way home, where, as he would ride the horse, he could get some breakfast for them by the time they arrived. When they got to Lang's prisoner was not there, nor did they see him or the horse until brought to Mr Coleman's a few days afterwards by Mr Coleman's son and two other servants, who it appeared had gone out in search of the prisoner; they had traced him to within fourteen or fifteen miles of the Manning River, when he came up to them with the horse; prisoner said he was glad to fall in with them, as he had lost his way for three days; and must soon have been under the necessity of killing the horse for food. They took him into custody, and proceeded towards home, from which they were then upwards of 100 miles. The prisoner had four or five days before called at a station belonging to the Australian Agricultural Company, where he had obtained food for himself and horse; he told them he was a policeman in disguise, and was going in search of Paddy, the Russian, a black man for whose apprehension there was a reward. The Jury after a short consultation, returned a verdict of guilty - transportation for life to a penal settlement. The prisoner it was proved had arrived in the Colony as a 'Special' only about six months ago, and was sent from the hulk to Port Macquarie, whence he had absconded.[3]

Claim for Land at Butterwick

July 1841 Court of Claims - Sydney Gazette. Case No. 1009. Dr. Coleman -

Twenty-five acres, county of Durham parish of Butterwick; commencing at the western extreme of the south boundary line of Anthony Dwyer's 60 acres occupancy, and bounded on the north by 13 chains and 25 links of that boundary line, bearing east; on the east by a line dividing it from Morgan's 24 acres bearing south 20 chains and 60 links; on the south by a west line of 11 chains and 75 links to Paterson's River; and on the west by Paterson's River upwards, to the western extreme of the south boundary line of Anthony Dwyer's occupancy aforesaid.........

Thomas Addison now deceased, one of the original settlers at Patterson's Plains, preferred retaining his land on lease for 7 years from the 1st July 1824 to the receipt of 190 acres elsewhere, and compensation for improvements. Fifty acres were accordingly marked out for him and described so as to include his improvements. In 1829 the whole of Patterson's Plains 2810 acres, were granted to the Corporation, but has since reverted to the Crown under the Act of council 5th William IV., No. 11, and the preparation of deeds of grant of this and other lands have been sanctioned by Sir George Gipps on 3rd July 1839. Addison, it is alleged, divided this portion of his land to one Robert Whitmore, who sold to claimant. The other half formed the subject of the Case No. 438. [5]

1837 - Stephen McCarthy who arrived on the Earl Grey in 1836 assigned to Dr. Coleman at Paterson

July 1845 - Tenders were called for construction of a brick cottage to be completed on Dr. Coleman's farm at the Paterson River in 1845. [6]

Notes and Links

1). Correspondence in the Sydney Monitor regarding a hospital established by Dr. Coleman at Maitland and stating that a hospital was already in place at Segenhoe. - Sydney Monitor 3 October 1832

2). On the 9th October 1857, at his residence, Eastbrook House, Teignmouth, near Exeter Devon, aged 39 years, William Maitland Peagum Coleman, accidentally thrown from his dog cart, only son of the late Dr. William Peagum Coleman, late of Vale Cottage, Newtown. Sydney Morning Herald 20 January 1858

3) William Peagum Coleman died at Newtown in 1852 age 60 - Sydney Morning Herald 18 November 1852


[1] Sydney Gazette 22 December 1831

[2] Sydney Gazette 9 February 1833

[3] Sydney Monitor 12 August 1835

[4] Sydney Monitor 11 August 1832

[5] Sydney Gazette 13 July 1841

[6] Maitland Mercury 4th July 1845