Lake Macquarie History

James Thomas Morisset

James Thomas Morisset was a captain in the 48th Regiment when he arrived in Sydney in 1817. He was appointed to the role of Commandant of Newcastle in December 1818, relieving Captain James Wallis. He was also appointed as magistrate and soon after in 1819, was promoted to major. At that time, Newcastle was a penal settlement with over 1,000 convicts. Morisset served as the Commandant of Newcastle until November 1823, when he was appointed to the role of Commandant of Bathurst.

photo: portrait of james thomas morisset

During his time as Commandant of Newcastle he was well regarded for improving the breakwater, building roads and barracks. He was responsible for the construction of the Commandant's Baths, since expanded and more commonly known as the Bogey Hole.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie named Morisset's Lagoon in 1821 in recognition of his service. He was praised by Commissioner John Thomas Bigge for his work with convicts, adapting punishment to the individuals and for his administration of the public works.

Morisset made the first overland trip from Newcastle to Sydney in 1823, camping under a tree on the western side of Lake Macquarie, near the current Morisset railway station. That tree is marked as a historic site and it is believed this led to the naming of the town of Morisset. The overland trip to Sydney took several days and was at times strenuous, but paved the way for the construction of the inland route between Newcastle and Sydney.

Morisset was later to serve as the Norfolk Island Commandant and eventually returned to Bathurst as police magistrate and in 1841 as commissioner of the Court of Requests. At the conclusion of his military career he had attained the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

Morisset married Emily Vaux on the Isle of Wight in 1826. They had 5 sons and 6 daughters. He died on 17th August, 1852 and is buried in the old Kelso churchyard.


Thompson, Ron & Thompson, Margaret 2007, James Thomas Morisset, R & M Thompson, Albany Creek, QLD

Hunter Living Histories. (2019). James Thomas Morisset – A Family Story. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Jan. 2019].