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March 02, 2008

HANNELL, James (Walton)

James (Walton) HANNELL

James Hannell, the writer's great, great, great Grand Uncle, was 'free-born' in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia, on the 1st December, 1813. He was the first child of Elizabeth Hannell, of Berkshire, Middlesex, England, (Convict - 7 years), and James Walton, of Bolton, Lancashire, England, a private of the Coldstream Guards, (Convict - Life).






James was baptised on the 13th May, 1814, at St. John's Anglican Church, Parramatta, which was the only Church in the colony, until 1809. The name of Walton was used, according to records available. Two more male children were soon added to the 'family'. John, b. 27th August, 1815, and Jesse, b. 15th November, 1817. Both were also baptised at St. John's.

James' mother, Elizabeth, was incarcerated in the 'Parramatta Female Factory'. She became entangled with other convicts, in a scam to obtain money from forged receipts, and was convicted and sentenced to transportation for 'Life', to Newcastle. She was transported on the ship, 'Princess Charlotte', and arrived on the 27th July, 1820.
One more child, Mary Ann, was to join the 'family', but not until the 10th May, 1821. Her father was another convict, named John White.

Elizabeth was granted permission for a marriage (only) to District Constable, and 'Ticket of Leave' man, John Butler Hewson, on 28th May, 1828. Hewson became the foster father of the children.

I have found no supporting information as to exactly when the boys, James, John and Jesse, left Parramatta, to follow their mother to Newcastle, but suspect it was around 1830. It was also about this time when the name Walton disappeared, to be replaced with 'Hannell'.

James Hannell was about to become one of the most prominent men in the history of Newcastle, as were his brothers.


James was employed as a Police Constable in the years 1833-1836, before becoming Newcastle's First licenced Auctioneer, in September, 1839. He also applied for and was awarded the Licence for the 'Ship Inn', a Public House, situated at the corner of Hunter and Bolton Sts, in Newcastle. This was to become the most popular 'pub' of its time.


James married Mary Ann Sophia Priest, on 12th March, 1836. She was the 2nd daughter of Edward Priest, the Lighthouse Keeper at Port Stephens. Her sister, Emmeline, married Jesse Hannell.
In 1857, James was Gazetted as a Justice of the Peace, and was a regular attendee at the Bench.

James was instrumental in his efforts to support the Newcastle area in any way he could. He is credited with many achievements in the social and sporting arenas. He was a prominent member of the Church, culminating in a Wardenship, and the position of Trustee of Christ Church Cathedral.

Never far from the political scene, James was foremost in his advocacy for Newcastle's incorporation as a City, and, when it came about in 1859, he was also elected unopposed as the City's First Mayor. This role was assumed each year until 1862. Then again in 1868, '69 and '71. He was Mayor in 1868 when the Duke of Edinburgh visited on March, 5th.




Through tireless efforts, James also became one of Newcastle's earliest Members of the Legislative Assembly, a role he cherished. He represented the City Ward in 1860, was re-elected in 1864, retaining this seat until 1869. He contested and won the Northumberland vote and was returned to Parliament, this time would be his last.
The Newcastle Hospital became a consuming passion of James, and his son Clarence. Through their efforts, the new Hospital 'Wing' was completed and named, the 'Hannell Wing', in respect of their work. Until recent demolition, there was a plaque in the 'York' wing, denoting the efforts of these men. I hope the plaque was saved.

He is also credited for establishing and being the inaugural President of the Newcastle Jockey Club, The Newcastle Regatta Club, and the Newcastle Cricket Club, among others.
James and Mary had eleven children, Clarence Hewson, Stephena Mary, James Edward*, Emily Frances, Fanny Anne, James Edward, Mary Elizabeth, Florence Jane, Constance Myra, John Henry* and Arthur Hubert.
* denotes early-childhood death.

The area known as 'Smedmore', where the Hannell home was situated, became known as 'Maryville', in honour of James' wife, Mary. The municipality of Wickham, just near Maryville, became James' second Mayoral role. He was elected unopposed , as Wickham's First Mayor, in 1871, and handled a 'dual role' with the aplomb and confidence borne of a significant contribution.



James died from pneumonia, on 31st December, 1876, and was interred at the burial ground of Christ Church Cathedral. His tombstone is still in the grounds, just outside the Warriors' Chapel. Perhaps, a fitting place for one of Newcastle's most prominent citizens and the head of one of, if not the, 'First Family' of Newcastle.

James was survived by Mary, and nine of their eleven children.

see also:

HANNELL, James (Walton) - Addendum 1
HANNELL, James (Walton) - Addendum 2
HANNELL, James (Walton) - Addendum 3

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