Lake Macquarie History

Letters of Richard Fennell

Richard Fennell was born on 16th October, 1812 in London. He emigrated to Australia on board the ship Ann in 1833. It seems that he worked for a few years in Sydney - as a publican at the Freemason's Arms Hotel which was on the corner of King and George Streets, and possibly as a journalist for the Sydney Gazette.

Richard moved to Gundaroo in the southern tablelands in the 1840's. Here he married Louisa Matilda Hayward. Louisa had come out to Australia aboard the Ann Lockerby on 23 December 1836, in the company of her mother Ann Holt (formerly Hayward) and her uncle Joseph Brooke and his family.

photo: flyer for the ship ann, 1833

The family lived at Gundaroo for a time, with Richard listed as the publican of the John Barley Corn Inn in 1847. Being an innkeeper was not an occupation Richard enjoyed, and in a letter to William in June 1850 he describes his experience:

" ... did not give me much uneasiness, for when business was doing it was of so disgusting a nature that I really preferred the calm of doing nothing. I could not dispose of the business so was forced to see out the 9 months till the license expired, the most miserable period of my whole existence."

Richard and his family moved from Gundaroo to the Newcastle area in 1848/1849, on the promise of a position as farm manager on a property recently purchased by his brother Tom. It was an arduous journey for the family, - "Louisa you may believe had a dreadful time of it she had no milk for poor little Billy and it was only at times along the road we would get any milk for him ..." - as Richard had had to sell much of his stock to finance the journey

When they finally arrived at Tom's property 'Maryland', Richard was bitterly disappointed to find that Tom had been "most shamefully taken in", as the property was in a bad state of repair, was devoid of the stock he had expected and would cost too much to bring up to scratch. This convinced Richard to leave, and he soon after agreed to rent a property a short distance away on Lake Macquarie named 'Trialba', which he found to be " in most excellent repair, of equal quantity of land, and rent only £30 a year."

photo: richard fennell's birth registration

When the lease on 'Trialba' expired, Richard and the family moved to a property at Broughton Point (now Bolton Point), and by 1857 the family were listed as residing at 'Ebebeezer' (also known as Mount Mulberry), the site of Lancelot Threlkeld's former mission. The family eventually settled on land they had purchased for grazing around the present Fennell Bay. The Fennell homestead "Belle Vue" was erected on the waterfront land, but was later demolished for the building of the first Fennell Bay bridge.

Richard died 4th July 1885, aged 72, and is said to have been buried on the Fennell property, Belle Vue at Fennell Bay.

Sources and further information

Murray, Peter In these desert wilds, 2010

Hartley, Dulcie Richard Fennel - unpublished research papers

Fennell family archives