James Hannell

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James Hannell
Born (1813-12-01)1 December 1813
Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
Died 31 December 1876(1876-12-31) (aged 63)
Maryville, New South Wales, Australia
Cause of death Pneumonia
Residence Maryville
Occupation Police Constable, Newcastle's first auctioneer and later, a Politician
Spouse(s) Mary Anne Sophia Priest (1819-1884)
Children three sons and six daughters (refer to article)
Parent(s) James Walton and Elizabeth Hannell

James Hannell (1 December 1813 – 31 December 1876) was Newcastle's first auctioneer and, later, an Australian politician, elected as a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly.[1] James was also Newcastle's first Mayor and, later, had a dual role, as he was also first Mayor of Wickham. He was also the first President of Newcastle Cricket Club, and a founding principal of the Newcastle Jockey Club, among other contributions.

Early life[edit]

James Hannell, was free-born in Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia, on 1 December 1813. He was the eldest son of two convicts, Elizabeth Hannell, of Middlesex, England (Convict - 7 years) and James Walton, also a convict, of Lancashire, England, a Private of the Coldstream Guards.[1]

James was baptised on 13 May 1814 at St. John's Church, Parramatta. Two more male children were soon added to the 'family': John, b. 27 August 1815, and Jesse, b. 15 November 1817, also baptised at St. John's. (According to the NSW Births, Deaths and Marriages Register, the name of 'Walton' was used...vide: James Walton # V1813882 148/1813), John Walton # V1815991 148/1815, and Jesse Walton # V18181187 148/1818. It is not known, exactly, when the three boys began using their mother's maiden name of Hannell, but it is thought to be early 1830s.

James' mother, Elizabeth, was incarcerated in the Parramatta Female Factory. She became entangled with other convicts (James Garland and James Stubbs), in a scam to obtain money from forged receipts, and was convicted and sentenced in June 1820, to 'Life' in Newcastle. She was transported to Newcastle, on the ship, 'Princess Charlotte', and arrived on 27 July 1820.

One more child, Mary Ann, was to join the 'family', but not until 10 May 1821. Mary Ann's father was another convict, named John White (died Nov.1828). Elizabeth was granted permission to wed the District Constable, and ticket of leave man, John Butler Hewson, on 28 May 1828. Hewson became the foster father of the children. At some stage, Elizabeth Hannell's sons, James, John and Jesse, left Parramatta, to follow their mother to Newcastle. There is no known data supporting this move, or exactly when it occurred, although it could have been around 1830, according to Mrs Carroll[2] On 12 March 1836, James married Mary Ann Sophia, second daughter of Edward Priest, a former convict who arrived in Newcastle in 1817. Mary was born in Sydney in 1819 and, when very young, went to Newcastle and later met James when she was about 17.[1] James and Mary had, in all, eleven children, nine of whom survived James. The surviving children were : Clarence Hewson, Stephena Mary, Emily Frances, Fanny Anne, James Edward, Mary Elizabeth, Florence Jane, Constance Myra, and Arthur Hubert. Two children pre-deceased James. They were (the first) James Edward, d. 1842, and John Henry, d. 1860. This information comes from the Family Tree, as compiled by Mrs Gloria Carroll, in her thesis; 'History of the Hannell and Carroll Families'[3]


James was employed as a Police Constable, in the years 1833-1836, before becoming Newcastle's First licensed Auctioneer, in September 1839. He later applied for, and was awarded, the licence for the 'Ship Inn', a Public House which he purchased. It was located at the corner of Hunter and Bolton street, in Newcastle.[1]

In 1857, James was Gazetted as a Justice of the Peace, and was a regular attendee at the Newcastle Bench.[1] 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. Hannell was active in agitating for the incorporation of Newcastle and became its first mayor in 1859–62, serving again in 1868–69 and 1871. In 1859–64, 1866–71 and 1873–76 he represented city ward in the Newcastle Council. When Wickham was proclaimed a Municipality in the NSW Government Gazette, 27 February 1871. The first election of councillors took place at the school room of Thomas McPhail at Wickham on 8 April 1871. Those elected were: James Hannell, Peter Fleming, Charles Thomas, James Harrison Hubbard, Charles Upfold, William Henry White. At the first meeting of the Council, 12 April 1871, James Hannell was elected as the first Mayor.[4] He was Mayor in 1868 when the Duke of Edinburgh visited on 5 March.

Through tireless efforts, James also became Newcastle's Member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, a role he cherished. He represented the City Ward in 1860,[5] was re-elected in 1864. 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 both James (he organized concerts in which he took part as a comic singer[1]) and his son Clarence. Through their efforts, the new Hospital 'Wing' was completed; it was named the 'Hannell Wing', in respect of their work.

He is also credited for establishing the Newcastle Jockey Club, The Newcastle Regatta Club, and the Newcastle Cricket Club, among others.

The area known as Smedmore,[6] where the Hannell home was situated, became known as Maryville, in honour of James' wife, Mary.[7] 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 31 December 1876, and was interred at the burial ground of Christ Church Cathedral.[1] His tombstone is still in the grounds, just outside the Warriors' Chapel.

James was survived by Mary, and nine[1] of their eleven children ... namely,
1) Clarence Hewson, b. 15 Oct. 1836 (BDM V18361179 20/1836) - d. 3 Apr. 1909 (BDM 2528/1909) - m. Maria Phoebe TIGHE,
2) Stephena Mary, b. 2 Jun. 1838 (BDM V18381282 22/1838) - d. Sep. 1927 (BDM 12068/1927) - m. Henry ROUSE,
3) James Edward*, b. 30 Jun. 1840 (BDM V18401483 24A/1840) - d. 3 Dec. 1842 (BDM V18421155 26B/1842),
4) Emily Frances, b. 25 Dec. 1841 (BDM V18411572 26A/1841) - d. 7 May 1906 (BDM 9634/1906) - m. Thomas Albert CLACK,
5) Fanny Anne, b. 27 Jan. 1844 - d. 29 Oct. 1910 (BDM 14480/1910) - m. Joseph WOOD,
6) James Edward, b. 15 Nov. 1847 (BDM V18472158 32A/1847) - d. 2 Mar. 1903 (BDM 2481/1903) - m. Jane Danson RUSH,
7) Mary Elizabeth, b. 6 Oct. 1850 (BDM V18502927 35/1850) - d. 30 Apr. 1884 (Unsure) - m. Edwin Alfred MITCHELL,
8) Florence Jane, b. 9 Dec. 1853 (BDM V18551671 42A/1855) - d. 16 Jun. 1931 (BDM 8321/1931) - m. John Aloysius CRAVEN,
9) Constance Myra, b. 11 Oct. 1857 (BDM 9291/1857) - d. 8 Nov. 1928 (BDM 17776/1928) - m. Rev. William Jenton JAMES,
10) John Henry*, b. 28 Aug. 1858 (BDM 10433/1859) - d. 19 Apr. 1860 (BDM 4955/1860),
11) Arthur Hubert, b. 13 Jan. 1862 (BDM 10868/1862) - d. 30 Dec. 1938 (BDM 23685/1938) - m. Sarah Jane BRIGGS,

James Hannell's estate was valued at under £1000.[1]

  • Denotes infant death.

Statistics from the NSW Birth Deaths and Marriages.[8]


The main street of Wickham, Hannell St, runs from Wickham Station, to approximately, Elizabeth St, Tighe's Hill.

John Hannell, became the licensee of the Wheat Sheaf Inn at Hexham, near Newcastle. He was also a sportsman[9] of note, and pilot of ships on the Hunter River. When the punt service was opened, around 1862, John was appointed to run it. His burial vault is still in existence on the River bank, just north of the Hexham bridge. This structure is classified by the National Trust and is included in the Trust's Register - see copies of letters here.

Jesse Hannell became Signal Master, as well as the first lighthouse keeper at [Nobby's][10] Lighthouse.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Australian Dictionary of Biography (Online Edition)
  2. ^ See p.6 of ref. cited
  3. ^ Thesis for the Society of Australian Genealogists. May 1989
  4. ^ Council history
  5. ^ see 'Australian Dictionary of Biography' Online Edition
  6. ^ Area between Wickham and Maryville north of Downie Street. Now part of Maryville. Hunter Valley Place Names and their Meanings
  7. ^ Hunter Valley Place Names and their Meanings
  8. ^ [ [Roberto's Blogs - Family][1] ) ]
  9. ^ see p.31 'The Growth of Newcastle, by Wilfred James Goold...Newcastle and Hunter District Memorial Society - Publication No. 5
  10. ^ [Nobby's Head Light]http://www.lighthousedepot.com/lite_explorer.asp?action=display_details&LighthouseID=405&bhcd2=1263081164

External links[edit]

Parliament of New South Wales
Preceded by
Arthur Hodgson
Member for Newcastle
1860 – 1869
Succeeded by
George Lloyd
Preceded by
William Brookes
Member for Northumberland
1872 – 1874
Succeeded by
Charles Stevens