Joseph Pennington’s Unfinished Story

If you know anything about this topic and have something to add, I’d welcome your input. Please correct any errors too.

Joseph Pennington

I’m jotting this down with the thought that I ought to explore this story sometime.

Joseph Pennington owned 1500 acres of land near the site of current-day Raymond Terrace on the Williams River.

Somehow before 1828, he lost the land to Simeon Lord. I’m not sure how. He finished up on the Myall River north of Port Stephens in charge of a team of convicts who were felling timber.

In the process, he befriended and eight year old aboriginal boy called Billy. Billy let on to Pennington that some of the convicts were misbehaving with the aboriginal women. The convicts appear to have got hold of this fact because they took billy up the river “fishing” and he didn’t return.

Pennington later found Billy’s body by the river and buried it.

Pennington was afraid to raise the issue with the convicts, so he said nothing until he was able to contact Robert Dawson, the Chief Officer of the AA Company.

Dawson then investigated and had four convicts charged with murder. They were sent to Sydney where they were tried and found guilty.

The Governor at the time appears to have held Dawson responsible for causing problems because he ordered that the convicts were to be returned to Port Stephens where they were to be hanged.

The impending execution caused much stress at Port Stephens. The convicts were restless and the officers of the company were understandably nervous.

In the event, the execution was called off because some aboriginals on an outlying station injured a convict shepherd and a chase party was organised to hunt for the aboriginals.

The four condemned men were instead sent to Norfolk Island where some of the mutinied, captured a boat and sailed to New Zealand. They were eventually re-captured and executed however.

Finally, Pennington was drowned off Port Stephens whilst trying to rescue people. He was drowned in the company of an aboriginal person.


About aacoroad

This is the blog for The Old AACompany Road from Karuah to Tahlee. It contains information about walks on the road, history and other information.
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7 Responses to Joseph Pennington’s Unfinished Story

  1. vlstokes21 says:

    Joseph Pennington was marrried to my 4X great grandmother before his death in 1827. According to a report in the Australian newspaper, dated 14 September 1827, Joseph drowned whilst on a water excursion with several friends. A squall came up and capsized the boat. As well as Joseph, an Aboriginal woman was drowned along with her infant . Perhaps Joseph was trying to rescue them. Next day the woman with the child still at her breast floated ashore. The infant was found ” close locked in its mother’s embraces.” I doubt if it was foul play. Joseph’s land known as Leigh Farm was sold after his death.

  2. vlstokes21 says:

    Joseph Pennington was the second husband of my 4X great grandmother. A report in the Australian newspaper dated 14 September 1827 states that Joseph drowned whilst on a water excursion with several friends. A squall capsized the boat and Joseph drowned along with an Aboriginal woman and her infant. Perhaps Joseph was trying to rescue them. The woman with the infant at her breast floated ashore the next day. The other two people in the boat survived. I doubt if it was foul play. Joseph’s land called Leigh Farm was sold after his death.

  3. vlstokes21 says:

    I’ve just discovered that my 4x great grandmother, Ann Pennington tells a slightly different version about the drowning of Joseph Pennington. In a letter to the Colonial Secretary dated 10 July 1828 she wrote: ” My husband, after having made every honourable exertion in the farm to obtain an independence for his family . meeting with sessions of misfortune by losses of all kinds was at length obliged to take the situation of superintendent in the Agricultural Company and whilst employed on duty a few months ago was with two others unfortunately drowned by the mismanagement and upsetting of a boat at Port Stephens..”

    According to Cynthia Hunter in her book “Raymond Terrace and District ; History and Heritage”. by early 1825 Joseph Pennington, unable to meet his expenses was forced to mortgage Leigh Farm to Simeon Lord. Shortly after the farm was advertised for sale but a buyer could not be found. Although much of the stock and farm items were sold the Penningtons were able to continue residing there .After Joseph’s death Ann Pennington and her daughter, Julia were obliged to leave the farm which was again up for sale but it had to be leased as a buyer was not forthcoming..

    • aacoroad says:

      I felt sorry for both Anne and Joseph when I was reading through material about the AACo. Joseph was obviously not the person who should have been overseeing these convicts and he must have been desperate to have taken the job. The story is so striking that it would make a really interesting novel.

  4. Rev. Dr. Brian Roach says:

    Pennington had a daughter who married George Augustus Middleton, the first colonial chaplain north of the Hawkesbury River and he was based at Christ Church, Newcastle, now the cathedral church of that diocese. At liverpool Anglican Church he married, in 1824, Sarah Rose but her mother’s surname was Pennington and this caused Middleton no amount of alarm until, as a result of a very heated argument with the mother (and she seems to have beena nasty piece of work) the discrepancy in names reached a resolution. At the time of the marriage she was in her mid-teens and Middleton in his early thirties.

    • aacoroad says:

      Why would the name Pennington have caused Middleton alarm, do you know?

      • It caused alarm because the daughter’s surname was Rose and not Pennington. He didn’t realise tht Sarah’s mother was in her second marrige, the first to a man named Rose who had died. Sarah was his daughter and Pennington’s step-daughter.

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