The Achievements of Captain Wallis Commandant 1818

Extract from the Sidney (sic) Gazette 26 December 1818

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser
Saturday 26 December 1818 Page 1 of 4

Government House, Parramatta, Thursday, 24th December, 1818


HIS EXCELLENCY the GOVERNOR, in relieving Captain JAMES WALLIS, of the 46th Regiment, from the Command of the Settlement at Newcastle, by the Appointment of Captain JAMES MORISSETT, of the 48th Regiment, to that Station, avails himself of the Opportunity afforded by the Relief proceeding to Newcastle, to express publicly his high Sense and unqualified Approbation and Acknowledgment of the various important Services rendered to the Settlement of Newcastle by Captain Wallis during the Period of his Command, which commenced in the Month of June,1816.

The Zeal, Ability, and Judgment manifested by Captain Wallis, as Commandant of the Settlement on Hunter’s River, where the relative Duties were at once so peculiarly arduous, and invariably demanded the most vigilant and prompt Attention ; whilst they merit the highest Commendation for their public beneficial Effects, reflect the greatest Credit upon Captain Wallis as an Officer and a Gentleman.

The humane and judicious System adopted by this Officer towards the large Population of Convicts at Newcastle (now amounting to nearly seven hundred persons), entitles him to His EXCELLENCY’S warmest Commendation, considering in what Degree the Condition of those unfortunate Persons has been ameliorated and improved since he took the Command of the Settlement.

Yielding to that charitable Consideration towards a Description of our Fellow Creatures, however debased in moral Principle and Conduct, and justly appreci- ating that humane benignant Line of Conduct pursued by Captain Wallis during his Command, which was at least calculated to lead to Improvement and Reforma- tion ; His EXCELLENCY feels it equally a Tribute due to that Officer’s Merits, to notice with suitable Commen dation the grand scale of Improvements by which he has advanced the Settlement at Newcastle, from the Appearance of an humble Hamlet to the Rank and Capabilities of a well laid out, regular, and clean Town ; in effecting which Captain Wallis must have had to encounter various Difficulties, which could only have been surmounted by the Exercise of superior Judgment, Perseverance, and Ability.

It would far exceed the Limits of a Government and General Order to enumerate in detail all the Improve merits and Advantages which the Settlement of New castle has undergone by Captain Wallis within the short Space of two Years and an Half: But it would neot be doing him that Justice which his Claim to pub- lic Commendation entities him to, were not some Specification brought to View of the important Buildings constructed and compleated under his Direction, at once interesting, and ornamental to the Settlement, and promising a permanent Footing and Security to Religious and Civil Establishments.

FIRST, A very handsome Church, capable of containing upwards of 500 Persons, with an elegant Spire.

2. An excellent Hospital, well aired and well situated, constructed with Stone with a Viranda round it, and inclosed with a suitable Paling.

3. A large commodious Gaol, well aired and well situated, and strongly built of stone.

4. A commodious Barrack built of Brick, for two Subalterns.

5. A good Brick Barrack for the Assistant Surgeon.

6. A large comfortable Barrack for the Convicts.

7. A Guard-House.

8. A Watch-House.

9. A Boat-House.

10. A Lime-House.

11 A new Lumber-Yard, with the necessary Work Shops for Mechanics and Artificers

13. The old Wharf considerably enlarged and improved.

In Addition to the foregoing useful and permanent Buildings, Captain Wallis has commenced and made great Progress in another most important Undertaking, namely, constructing a strong massy Stone Pier across the Channel dividing the main Land (on which the Town is situated) on the South Side of the Harbour from Coal Island (or Nobby), for the Purpose of confining the Whole of the Water of Hunter’s River to the principal Channel by which Vessels enter the Har- bour of Newcastle, and preventing that Channel from being blocked up, and consequently rendered dangerous, if not impracticable for Navigation. – This useful Work was commenced on early in August last, at the Time His EXCELLENCY was on his Visit of Inspection to Newcastle, and had himself an Opportunity of personally laying the Foundation-stone of the Pier.

Considering the great Skill and Attention necessary, to bestow on Works of such Magnitude and Utility, Captain Wallis’s intelligent and comprehensive Mind; was not only equal to the Undertaking, but led him, highly to his Honor, to devise the best means of effecting the Reformation and Comfort of the Convicts under his Charge, as well as to the instruction and Improvement of their Children. – With this laudable View he established an excellent School, where the rising Generation are taught and brought up in the pure Principles of the Christian Religion ; nor was that Officer less attentive to the moral and religious Duties of his Troops, to whom, as well as to the Convicts, he personally read Divine Service every Sunday at the new Church.

From the Opportunity the GOVERNOR had of witnessing the various Improvements at Newcastle on his late Tour of Inspection to that Settlement His EXCEL LENCY is led duly to appreciate their Importance, and to render this public Suffrage to Captain Wallis’s Arrangements, as well as in respect to the Convicts under his Direction, whose ameliorated Condition was every Day more manifest, and gave every reasonable Hope of eventually producing the wished-for Reformation. These, His EXCELLENCY is persuaded, will long remain honourable Testimonies of Captain Wallis’s Merits,when the Voice of Commendation shall have passed into Oblivion.

The GOVERNOR will consider it his Duty, as it will be his highest Pleasure, to make the most early and favourable Report to His MAJESTY’S PRINCIPAL SECRETARY OF STATE, of the meritorious Conduct and Services of Capt. WALLIS.

By His Excellency the Governor’s Command,

J. T. CAMPBELL, Secretary.

Transcribed and Corrected by Mr Russell Rigby
27 July 2010

2 thoughts on “The Achievements of Captain Wallis Commandant 1818

  1. newcastle has always seemed neglected historically as far as aything about its origin and the men who laid its foundations as a gateway to the Hunter region and places beyond.

  2. On the other side of the coin, the historic shipping quotas of timber leaving the port, suggest the period of James Wallis & James Morriset was a time of massive deforestation on a scale never witnessed in the colony. A combination of this & Governor Brisbane’s land grants at Maitland sounded a dramatic decline of the local Aboriginal population.

Leave a Reply