HARTLEY VALLEY was first seen by the white man on May 28, 1813, when the explorers, Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, with their four servants, looked down from Mount York and discovered to their great satisfaction that what they had considered sandy and barren land below the mountains was forest land covered with trees and good grass. They went down into the valley and terminated their journey at Mount Blaxland. In November of the same year, George William Evans entered the valley and camped by the River Lett north-westerly from Mount York. He followed the curse of the river and crossed it just above the site of Hartley. Passing the locality of Glenroy at the junction of the River Lett and Cox's River he continued westerly over the Main Divide to the Bathurst Plains. Evans referred to the valley as a fine part of the country, some of it resembling the hills to the eastward of the Cori Linn at Port Dalrymple.

Late in 1814 the first road into the Hartley Valley, at that time unnamed, was built by William Cox. His primitive highway crossed the Blue Mountains and descended Mount York by a steep and rugged pass. Once in the valley the road went northerly for a short distance, then south-westerly, running about midway between the river and the foot of the Blue Mountains. It passed close to the site of Hartley Public School and came in along a ridge to the junction of the two rivers at Glenroy. Beyond the valley Cox took his road to the Bathurst Plains.

In April, 1815, Governor and Mrs. Macquarie and suite set out from Sydney for the newly discovered country to the westward. At Mount York, which Macquarie named, the party stopped to feast their eyes "with the grand and pleasing prospect of the fine low country below . . ." the "beautiful extensive Vale of Five Miles" the Governor called "The Vale of Clwydd", after a vale in Wales. This name has been supplanted by the name Hartley Valley. The first tourists descended by Cox's Pass, so named by Macquarie, who described it as a "frightful tremendous Pass". They continued to the junction of the River Lett and Cox's River, where they en­camped on the evening of April 29. Here the next day they held the first Divine service west of the Blue Mountains.

The valley's first white inhabitants were Government stockmen and those of private individuals. Recognising the value of the good pasture country for stock Macquarie lost little time after his tour in establishing a stock station for herds near Mount York, but W. Hassall, the Superintendent of Government Stock, finding that a great number of the herd had died through the severe cold of the winter, moved the station to Glenroy which was a sunnier situation. The following year, 1816, stockyards and huts were built there. Possibly the usefulness of this good grazing valley for Government stock was instrumental in retarding individual settlement prior to 1821. In that year Pierce Collits of the Nepean had temporary occupation of an area near Mount Blaxland under what was then called a Ticket of Occupation. It was in this year also, the last of his term of office. that Macquarie issued the first Orders for land to individuals in the Vale of Clwydd for perman­ent settlement. These Orders were issued to Edward Field, sen., of Evan, for eighty acres on Butler's Creek, and later passed to William Field, John Grant of Liverpool, fifty acres known as "Moyne Farm", near the foot of Mount Victoria, and William Orrell, of Sydney, two hundred acres near Blaxland's Swamp. The areas were in three totally different parts of the valley, the north­eastern, southern and western locations.


With the advent of Governor Brisbane and altered regulations regarding land grants, settlement in the valley showed some activity. With a view to preserving land for future Government purpose, action was taken about 1823 to reserve a tract of approximately 4,000 acres extending three miles up the River Lett from a little south of Glenroy. It had a width of two miles and covered land on both sides of the river. This reserve was not encroached upon for settlement until after Mitchell's new road down the west­ern side of the Blue Mountains was opened in 1832.

The first of Governor Brisbane's Orders for land in this locality were issued in 1823 to J. Birt and R. Fellows, each receiving one hundred acres at Blaxland's Swamp. It was late in the same year tnat John Wood of Bringelly obtained a Ticket of Occupation for 3,000 acres about the same spot, only a scrubby hill dividing it from Collits on the north. In 1824 promises by Brisbane were honoured by Orders for land to Robert Martin, sen., of Mulgrave Place, Robert Martin, jun., of Richmond, and John Hall of the Nepean. These were at the Mount York end of the valley. It was during this year that penetration of the country down Cox's River from the vicinity of Lowther Creek began and Orders for large areas were given to settlers. These were James, Nathaniel and John Norton, William Redfern and Thomas Wills. The following year Pierce Collits, who had already established his inn at the foot of Mount York, James Porchmouth, and Samuel Morris of "Mount Clarence" farm, were given Orders for land about Mount York and the River Lett. Near Cox's River came Orders for Thomas Wilsford, Rev. S. Marsden, W. H. Hovell and John Wood, of Lowth­er. Orders followed for Simeon Lord in 1828, John Maxwell in 1830 and Michael Flanagan in 1831. The latter's farm was near the foot of Mount Victoria.

In 1831 important changes in the regulations regarding disposal of Crown lands were made. Under these regulations all land applied for was advertised for sale and put up for public auction. This did not affect settlement in the valley until about 1837-1838 when the Town of Hartley was established. The Government Reserve of 4,000 acres was gradually reduced as settlers purchased large areas particularly in the vicinity of the town and down Cox's River between 1837 and 1841. Amongst the new land holders were John T. Hughes, Thomas Breillat, William Lawson, sen., William Lawson, jun., Nelson Lawson, John G. Bowman, Robert Granger, James Blackett, Michael Finn, Michael Scott, Thomas Morris, B. Butta, Isaac Titterton and Jeremiah Grant.

In 1829 Governor Darling had proposed to locate some of the Navy and Military Veterans on good land near the River Lett. The Surveyor-General therefore recommended that a Village Reserve be established between Martin and Porchmouth's farms and the River Lett and that any part of it would be eligible for the Gov­ernor's purpose. It was not, however, used for the Veterans. This area, in the vicinity of Londonderry Bridge, was surveyed in 1855 and later called the Village of Clwydd. A cottage and office on the reserve at this time had some years previously been used as the residence of the Police Magistrate at Hartley.


Of the difficulties presented by the old Bathurst Road the most dreaded was the precipitous descent of Mount York. Attempts to render this section of the road safe for travellers were made, but to such little purpose that by Governor Darling's order a notice in the Sydney Gazette of August 17, 1827, promised a reward for the discovery of a better route to Bathust. Hamilton Hume's proposal to proceed along the Darling Causeway, through Lithgow's Valley, was not adopted.

Early in June, 1830, the possibilities of a descent from the Blue Mountains by the Pass of Victoria were seen by the keen eye of Major Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor-General. Immediately he set Assistant Surveyor Philip Elliot to work. Since it was on this occasion that Mount Victoria received its name, the words of the Surveyor-General are interesting: "The point of hill, by which this descent may be effecting, being parallel to Mounts York and Clarence, I have named, for the sake of distinction Mount Victoria." On June "5" Mitchell proceeded with the marking of his new road through the site of the present town of Hartley to the River Lett, and subsequently continued to Bowenfels, past Gould's Hill, Rydal, Mount Lambie, Honeysuckle Hill, to Bathurst, which was reached on June 20. Mitchell's zest is revealed in his words: "This is entirely my road, too, that, although I marked it plainly on my sketch sub­mitted nearly three years ago and Major Lockyer was ordered to make it, still no one' ever hit upon it; and yet it is the only way by which the numerous steep hills at Mount Blaxland, the Fish River, etc., can be avoided. I certainly felt almost as well pleased with my ten day's exertion and the new line of road as a general could after gaining a victory."


Colonial Secretary M'Leay's reply of July 21, to Mitchell's Report of June 23, 1830, was a strong refusal to permit the construction of the Pass of Victoria, on which Mitchell, without authority, had already set men to work. The Surveyor-General was "much vexed". In an irascible mood he replied on July 27: "  I trust that the work I have begun on no vague report of any illiterate clown, but after a general survey by myself and assistants, may be suffered to proceed . but if, on the contrary, I am required to abandon what I consider to be work of permanent utility and importance ... then I must request that copies of the correspondence with plans and sections of the Roads may be submitted to His Majesty's Government ..."

Governor Darling, opposed the construction of the Pass of Victoria, and Governor Bourke, who opened it on October ,23, 1832.  Mitchell was defiant. He instructed Elliot to labour with vigorous activity on the Pass of Victoria. M'Leay's reply of August 23, 1830, confirmed his refusal to sanction the work in progress, but Mitchell was determined that the work should be done. He made vigorous personal representation to Governor Darling and emerged from the interview with the satisfaction of having pevailed over an antagonistic Governor and an equally obstinate Colonial Secretary.


In November, 1830, Elliot informed the Surveyor-General that 79 men were employed on the Pass in grubbing and rolling off the timber, 39 in quarrying rock, and 6 masons in building the wall. From January, 1831, Elliot was replaced by Assistant­Surveyor John Lambie, who reported that in February, 1832, there were employed 21'6 convicts in irons and 60 out of irons on the Pass, 21 in irons and 39 out of irons on Honeysuckle Range, 43 in irons and 15 out of irons at Stoney Range, while a Bridge Party of 62 in irons and 33 out of irons was stationed at Mount Victoria.

In July, 1832, Surveyor John Nicholson succeeded Lambie. On July 16 he informed Mitchell that "the side cutting to finish the descent and render it practicable for traffic can be finished by three weeks from this with the present force". However it was not until October 23, 1832, that Governor Sir Richard Bourke opened the Pass of Victoria - "the crowning glory of my road," as Mitchell called it. At the present time a monument on Mount Victoria commemorates the opening of this Gateway to the West­a constant reminder of the work of a great nation builder, Major (afterwards Colonel Sir) Thomas Livingstone Mitchell.

 With the object of making the West Road one of his greatest contributions to the advancement of the Colony Mitchell persistently urged Nicholson and his successor in March, 1835, Assistant Surveyor L. V. Dulhunty, to proceed expeditiously with the work. The result of their endeavours was that at the close of 1836 the new road to Bathurst was ready for traffic. Ironed gangs were retained in subsequent years, however, to make necessary alterations and repairs.After the completion of Mitchells road the trek to the West was by the town of Hartley.


Before the establishment of the Court-House and Lock-up at Hartley there was between Penrith and Bathurst no place of security for prisoners excepting two military stockades. At the end of 1834 the Surveyor-General, Mitchell, was requested by Governor Bourke to describe the limits of a Police District which would contain the Court-House to be built by the River Lett. The following year a Committee was formed to enquire into and report upon the Police Force in all its branches. In the course of evidence A. K. McKenzie, J.P., stated that a paid magistrate was much wanted at Cox's River. In accordance with the findings of the Committee it was decided to form an intermediate Police District between Penrith and Bathurst, its limits determined by the description already furnished by Mitchell, viz., "District to extend eastward to the Weatherboard Hut Stream on the Mountain Road; bounded by that stream to the River Cox, and southward to Mounts Colong, Murruin, Werong, and the dividing Range between Werong and the head of the Fish River, to be bounded on the west by the Fish River, Dixons Creek, and the Range which separates the Counties of Roxburgh and Cook; on the north by the Capertee or Colo River to the junction of Bowens Creek, and including the space west of that Creek, Mount Tomah, Mount Hay, and the Weatherboard Hut Inn, as aforesaid." As centre in this District, first called Clwydd, the Court-House near the bridge over the River Lett was built.

It was part of the duty of the Police Magistrate of each District to "make it his duty to become speedily acquainted with the person", character, and general circumstances of every individual within his District, so that he may possess (and be known to possess) the means of at once correcting any erroneous statement, from his own knowledge, and so be better able to carry into effect the Assignment of Servants, and other important duties ..." Moreover he was to be familiar with every part of his District, and every circumstance of local interest, so that being able at any moment to furnish accurate information upon every point he might thus act as intermediary between the Government and the inhabitants, enforcing the commands of the one and representing all lawful desires of the other.

 The establishment recommended for the Vale of Clwydd was: one Police Magistrate £250, one Clerk 1£00, one Chief Constable £75, five Ordinary Constables £205/6/3, and one Scourger £31/8/9. Accordingly in January, 1836, Edward Denny Day was appointed Police Magistrate for the new District of the Vale of Clwydd, and Henry Dalway, Clerk of the Bench. As Day was receiving full pay as an Army officer (retired), fifty pounds was deducted from his salary as Police Magistrate.

Pending the building of the Court House, Day suggested that one of the cells at the stockade at Hassans Walls be used as a Lock-up House and that a shed for the temporary accommodation of the Bench be built near it. Fearing that the regularity of the ironed gang might be affected by the introduction into the stockade of a new class of criminal, Governor Bourke directed that temporary arrangements be made instead at some old huts at Mount Victoria.


It is interesting to notice in the call for tenders for the building of the Court-House that security was required and monthly advances made to the extent of 75% of the value of the work performed. It was Governor Macquarie's architect, Francis Howard Greenway, who had introduced into the Colony this system of guarantee of good faith. The time of transmitting tenders was postponed from March 1 to March 31, 1836, to enable tenderers to visit the locality. On April 14, the tender of Ross Coulter and Robert Reddie was accepted and they were referred to the Colonial Architect, Mortimer Lewis, to execute a bond for the due observance of their contract and its completion within a limited time. They sent twelve men and four horses to quarry and cart the stone.

Since it was intended immediately to lay out a village at the River Lett, Mitchell gave instructions for a detailed survey of the Village Reserve there, the site for a Court and Watch-House to be fixed first of all. In July, 1836, when Assistant-Surveyor Butler transmitted his "Survey of the proposed Site for a Township at the River Lett," Mitchell was in Western Victoria with his third exploring expedition. His deputy, S. A. Perry, considered the situation chosen by Butler near the River Lett too low and confined for the CourtHouse. He suggested one in the principal street "at a very conspicuous point from the approaches to the Town on both sides." Day, to whom the Governor referred Perry's sug­gestion, found it impracticable owing to the rocky nature of the ground and recommended the adoption of a third site. Meanwhile the contractor who had been quarrying stone since the middle of May, 1836, was impatient to begin the building. It was already September, but within a few days, Governor Bourke approved of the site selected by Day. At the same time ground lying eastward of the site was approved as a pound and a police paddock. Day was notified in mid-September of the decision and was requested to have the site shown to the contractor and authorise him to begin the work without delay.

Day was now appointed from October 1 as Police Magistrate at Maitland, being succeeded at the Vale of Clwydd by John Kinchela, son of Judge Kinchela. When Kinchela was appointed Police Magistrate for the District of Bathurst from March 1, 1837, his successor at the Vale of Clwydd was James Blair. An address expressing regret at losing Kinchela and appreciation of his zeal and efficiency was signed by R. J. McDonnell, J.P., John Maxwell, J.P., Wm. Hall Palmer, J.P., John Wood, Andrew Brown, William Orrell, H. K. Hughes, Peter Workman, Alexander Binning Andrew Gardiner, James Morris, Pierce Collits and E. P. Delany.


Meanwhile the foundations of the Court-House were laid. About April, 1837, a traveller "visited the New Court House, now erecting, which is of a splendid character, and does infinite credit in its architectural beauty and sign, to the builder. It is of fine cut stone, and is proceeding rapidly."

At the beginning of July it was expected that the building would "be completed in about a month." Early in September Blair represented the supposed "insecure state of the Lockup in the new Court House, owing to a recess having been formed in the wall of the Court room, which adjoins it, merely for uniformity's sake . . to correspond with the door of the Magistrate's room on the opposite side .. ." He alleged that the wall had been so weakened that the mere hammering of a carpenter in the adjoining lock-up had thrown down that part of the division. The damage had been repaired but he considered it would be no stronger than the original  wall. As a result of investigation the Colonial Architect received a report from Edward P. Delany, the Clerk of Works, who stated that it was not stone work which had fallen, but plaster, about fourteen inches square, which had broken bond owing to the mason cutting off a header that projected beyond the bond timber in the lockup. Delany also stated in this report, dated September 16, that the building "will be completed this week, as the cedar to fit up Privy and some fastenings have come up from Sydney, which caused the delay of completion."

On October 3, 1837, according to Blair's letter of that date, to the Colonial Secretary, the contractor for erecting the new Court-House had that day given him notice that the building was completed. Blair, however declined to receive the key until he had received official instructions. Towards the end of December he was anticipating moving the Police establishment into the new Court-House within a few days. Following the Report of the Board of Survey, the Court-House was officially declared to be satisfactorily completed and payment of Coulter and Reddie's account was sanctioned.

The change of site caused some inconvenience and extra expense to the contractors. In making out their costs before tendering they had calculated the cost of transporting the stone to the site by the River Lett. The final decision regarding the site was not made until September, 1836, and then it was discovered that this entailed carting the stone forty-seven chains beyond the site first intimated. This suggests that the quarry was situated near Bowenfels; the Court-House is sandstone but the local rock is granite.

The quarry from which stone was evidently brought across the River Lett must have been somewhere in the sandstone tableland, and at no great distance, for it was the practice of the Police Magistrate, Day, to ride quietly by it. Had the stone been brought from the direction of Mount York it would neither have been taken across the River Lett nor beyond the, site first proposed. After completing the building the contractors applied for compensation and were allowed £ 50 in addition to the contract price of £ 1,426.


Official records indicate that the name Hartley came from the office of the Colonial Secretary or the Executive Council but they give no reason for the name. According to Loughead's Dictionary of Given Names, it is Teutonic origin and its meaning (dweller by the) lea of the stags.

Hartley owes its establishment to Mitchell's new line of road. About the end of 1830 he had areas at various places along this line reserved for village purposes. One of these, about 640 acres, was provided at the crossing of the River Lett. Pierce Collits was granted three acres here, on which to erect an inn, in part compensation for the altered position of the Bathurst Road which diverted traffic off the road that, led by his inn below Mount York.

Early in 1836 Governor Bourke approved of the laying out of a village at the River Lett Bridge and Assistant-Surveyor Butler was instructed to make a preliminary survey of the ground and at the same time fix upon a site for the intended Court and WatchHouse. He submitted his plan of the survey in July, 1836, from which S. A. Perry designed a village with the principal frontages to the Bathurst Road through his village reserve. Although Perry made provision for sites for various public purposes, in some instances other sites were 'found later in more suitable locations. The village design embraced forty-one sections with sixteen streets. How many know of such streets as Court Hill, Dawson, Walker, Lett, Hartley, Wentworth, Windsor, York, Black, Hurne, Keate, White, Felix, Virginia, Vittoria and Paul? After a century of official recognition these streets remain unformed and locally unknown.

Perry's design for the village was approved by Acting-Governor Snodgrass on December 13, 1837, and gazetted under the name of the Township of Hartley on January 1, 1838. Collit's grant of three acres for an inn was re-surveyed so as to conform more with the layout of the township.


Following an application by F. Bohun early in 1838 to purchase allotments in the township official notice was given on March 27 of the sale of eleven allotments as soon as measurement could be made. The survey of these areas, whose frontage was on the Bathurst Road between the Court-House and the bridge, was made by Assistant-Surveyor Davidson, and owing to considerable delay was not commenced until December, 1839. The first purchases of land in the township were made at their sale by auction on May 14, 1840. The upset price of these allotments of about half an acre each was originally fixed at £2 per acre but prior to the sale was altered by the Governor to £8 per acre. Dougald McPherson bought three lots averaging about £11 each, John Williams two lots averaging a little over £16/10/- and the following buyers one lot each at the price quoted: C. W. Roemer £44, Donald McLennon £13/3/3, Philip Hart £13/16/-, Benjamin and Moses £12/13/-, and Archibald Campbell £14/6/-. The unsold allotment was bought a few months later by M. J. Davies. The highest and lowest prices, £19/13/9 and £10/5/-, were given respectively by John Williams and Dougald McPherson. The sale realised nearly £134 and the average price of about £26 per acre shows the faith Hartley's first land owners had in the township's future.

Buyers at the second auction sale on May 13, 1841, gave an average price of a little less than £8 per lot. They were Archibald Downie, Thomas McVittie, Hugh Gilligan and James Ward. The prices at this sale therefore were considerably lower than those given a year before. Others who bought land at subsequent auctions were James Tindale in 1842, James McCoy in 1844, M. D. Lewis, Sam Taylor, Michael Finn, Evan Morgan, John Phillips and William Dempsey in 1845, William Blackman and Michael Cussen in 1846, Phillip Tighe in 1848, Morris Lynch, James Nairn and John Finn in 1849, John Aldridge, Pat and Mary Finn, Patrick Phillips, George Wood, J. G. Jervis and John Blackford in 1853. Prior to 1849 the police paddock was located opposite the present Church of England a few chains back from the road, and the pound and poundkeeper's paddock between it and the Court-House. Part of this later ground when auctioned in 1849 was purchased by James McCoy. The pound and police paddock were later placed on the west side of the river.

The building of the Pass of Victoria and the improvement of the Bathurst Road encouraged traffic, while the increase of travel­lers resulted in the erection of comfortable inns along the highway. In 1830 the journey west was laborious and almost impracticable either for a single horse or for a team. By 1837 a coach and four was a matter of ordinary occurrence. Yet, provisions were extremely difficult to obtain in the Hartley district. There was no regular store and the charge for carriage from Sydney was the same, with few exceptions, as 'to Bathust, fifty miles further. The following list shows the average prices for the six months ending June 30, 1837:

                                                                    £    s d
Flour   per100 lbs 1 16 0
Beef and mutton                                  lb.     5
Potatoes   cwt.   12 0
Butter (fresh)      lb   2 0
Oaten hay   cwt.   15 0
Maize       bushel   10 0
Bran                    bushel   3 6
Brandy and gin                      quart   10 0
Rum                                      quart   8 0
Beer (colonial)                      quart   1 0
Bottled porter                  bottle   2 6
Draught porter                     quart   2 6
Draught wine               quart   6 0
Sugar .                             lb     8 1/2
Tea (Hyson skin)            lb   4 0
Tobacco (Negrohead)            lb   8 0



Henry Dalway, the first Clerk of the Bench at Hartley, was succeeded at the end of November, 1837, by William Bohun whose career there was short but eventful. He arrived before the Police Magistrate was aware of his appointment and Blair refused to admit him on the establishment before receipt of official notice. Bohun and his family with two assigned convict women occupied the Court-House excepting the constables' room. Before the Court could sit the Court-Room would have to be cleared of the assigned servants, ironing boards, etc. Blair naturally remonstrated. He objected also to the proximity of the assigned women and the constables. Bohun declined permission to reside in the old court­house near Mount Victoria on the ground that to reside at such a  distance, "about four miles", would interfere with his duties as postmaster. As a result of friction between him and the Chief Constable he was reported by Blair for impropriety. Finally he removed his household to a residence near the River Lett Bridge. Here in order to augment his salary he opened what was probably Hartley's first store, and "erected a sign board near the road, facing it, with the words `Provisions, Groceries, Clothing, Iron­mongery, Liquors, etc.' painted in capital letters." Bohun was informed that this enterprise was incompatible with his position as Clerk of the Bench. Consequently in July, 1838, he tendered his resignation. In September, during his absence in Sydney, a conviction was found against him for selling liquor without a licence. His stock of liquors worth E80 was confiscated, his assigned servants withdrawn, his property assigned to his creditors, and he himself languished in Bathurst Gaol while his family was left destitute.

Bohun's successor as Clerk of the Bench was James G. Stuart who resigned at the end of March, 18.39. John Arkins, recommended by Sir Maurice O'Connell, was appointed in May. He applied to be made coroner but no appointment was made at the time and the duty was later undertaken by the Police Magistrate.


Sir John Jamison had stated in 1835 that great difficulty was experienced in securing suitable men to act as constables. The early Police Magistrates at Hartley had full proof of this. Many a constable was no sooner engaged than he had to be dismissed for drunkenness, abusive language, or connivance with prisoners. Because of the official hold on them, ticket-of-leave holders were more satisfactory constables than free men. The biography of such men would yield rich reading. For instance one ticket-of­leave man, aged 43, active, intelligent, able to read and write, who was recommended for the position of constable, had been an overseer at Norfolk Island, then constable at Liverpool, after which he was employed driving a horse team between Bathurst and Sydney.

The course of events in 1839 gives some idea of the conditions at the CourtHouse in its early days. In January the Police Magistrate complained of the insufficient number of constables, there being only two. Although the sheep shearing was over it was impossible to induce anyone to enter the service, since work in private service was much less and the pay much higher. The district of Hartley had little to recommend it to a constable for the necessaries of life were at least fifty per cent, dearer than in Sydney and not readily procured. Moreover, although the district duty was weighty, the escort duty was most severe, the police at this station undertaking nearly all the escort duty between Bathurst and Penrith. Arriving at Bathurst with prisoners the constable from Hartley would be given any prisoners for delivery at Penrith under warrant for Sydney or Penrith. The two constables then on the establishment were constantly on the road, one of them having marched seven hundred miles within two months. Such duty incurred great fatigue and more expense than the pay of 2/3 a day would admit. Only the desire to obtain a conditional pardon prevented this ticket-of-leave man from resigning. The Police Magistrate drew attention to the inadequate pay and the  inadequacy of the staff. The staff in May, 1839, consisted of a chief constable in receipt of £ 75 per annum, one ordinary constable receiving 2/9 per day, two ordinary constables receiving 2/3 per day, a watchhouse keeper who received 3/- per day and a scourger 2/6 a day.


About this time an ingenious escape was made from the Lock-up A dangerous prisoner was kept on a chain by the Police Magistrate's orders, and his irons were examined at a late hour by the Lock-up keeper. However he freed himself by using a piece of hardwood as a hand-cuff key. He then removed the window and by soaping his body succeeded in forcing it out between the iron bars. The keeper heard the chain rattling, got up, and went to the door to listen, but the prisoners heard him and raised a shout to warn the man who was out and who, in spite of an immediate search for him, managed to escape owing to the dark­ness of the night. On examining the window Blair found that some of the woodwork had been loosened before, "having been very badly put together." He ordered strong hardwood lining and iron crossbars for the windows.

Blair applied unsuccessfully for a convict to be assigned as wardsman to the Lock-up. The Lock-up was cleaned and the prisoners served with rations by the keeper. Twice at least the prisoners had planned to rush him as he entered and so escape, but had been detected before being able to carry out the plan. When there was a full complement of constables one was always stationed in the passage to the Lock-up, but such precaution was impossible when there were so few that they were constantly absent on duty.

In July the Police Magistrate reported that although the Mudgee Road for about ten miles beyond the boundary of his District was infested with robbers, the district about Hartley continued to be very quiet. The Court-House and Lock-up were in excellent repair.

At the end of October three mounted bushrangers attacked the dwelling of a resident of the district named Brown. A native called Jack Eccleston from Mt. Irving's farm near Bathurst not only tracked the bushrangers but pursued one of the most daring, a powerful man who fired at the police and who from his swiftness would have escaped had not Eccleston struck him down with the butt of a gun and kept him at bay until the police came up and secured him. Blair gave him and another black-tracker a blanket each, but considered that something more should be given for such courage and determination in apprehending the bushranger - a circumstance of which he had never before known an instance. Accordingly Governor Gipps ordered a reward not exceeding £ 3 in value to be given at the discretion of the Police Magistrate at Hartley or Bathurst.

It was the custom in some districts at harvest time to lend convicts from the road gangs to the settlers. In November, 1839, Blair applied to the Governor on behalf of W. H. Palmer, Esq., for a like indulgence. He stated that there was a good deal of land in cultivation in the district and an unusual scarcity of labour. The matter was referred to Major Barney in Sydney who instructed Lieutenant Russele at Hassan's Walls to place all disposable men under the orders of the Police Magistrate at Hartley.

In November, 1839, the fire-place in the Lock-up keeper's room was reported so unsatisfactory that when a fire was lighted the wooden lining of the Lock-up became in places too hot to touch. On November 24 a fire in the Post Office burned completely through into the Magistrate's room, destroyed part of the wall and cedar skirting, and nearly burned through one side of the ammunition chest which contained in addition to the police ammunition a quantity of powder recently taken from bushrangers.

The Colonial Architect gave instructions for the necssary repairs to be made and pointed out that large wood fires for three Winters without using dogs had probably nearly burnt through the backs of the  fire-places which, if such were the case, would need renewing. He also suggested that a safer place for storing ammunition would be in the Court Room near the entrance.

The equipment of the constabulary at Hartley at the end of December 1839, was ten cut-down muskets - five being unserviceable, ten bayonets, nine bayonet scabbards, seven pouches, seven belts, 120 musket cartridges and 137 flints. The number of ordinary constables had diminished from five in September to one.


Tenders for the erection of cells at Hartley were called in 1839. Contrary to popular tradition the cells there were not reserved for prisoners who had received the death sentence at Hartley. Those accused of major offences were merely detained at Hartley Court-House until transferred, according to warrant, for trial at a higher court. It is recorded that during the year ending September 30, 1841, £322/5/- was spent on building six cells, and the Mounted Police Barracks were commenced.

A correspondent in the Sydney Herald of June 19, 1840, stated that there was sufficient wheat and hay for two years in the district even if no more were grown for that period. The price of wheat was 16/- per bushel and hay £ 12 per ton. The district was too cold for maize. The farmers were all beginning ploughing and extending the cultivation of their farms. The quietness of the district was attributed to the very active Police Magistrate (Blair). The Mounted Police stationed there were a very useful body. The Mounted Police, unlike the constables, were not under the control of the Police Magistrate, but formed a branch of the military, all matters regarding those stationed in this district being referred to the local military officer.

In August, 1840, Blair was informed of his appointment to the Police Magistracy of Portland Bay (Victoria). In September he was succeeded at Hartley by Heyward Atkins.

Early in October Atkins wrote to Lieutenant Russele: "Prisoners are in the habit of taking off their irons and committing robberies on the highway at night. I deem it my duty to bring the matter under your notice in order that you make such measures as you may deem expedient. I have every reason to believe my informant, but as he is afraid of becoming a `marked man' if his name was brought into question, I do not think it prudent that he should be brought forward against those parties."

There were many cases of stealing between the years 1839­1841, and in almost every instance the accused was a convict. The early bushrangers and petty thieves in the Hartley district were convicts, many of whom had spent long years under a system of harsh brutalisation. The rigours of the climate and the gnawing pains of hunger were incentives that drove them to depredatory acts.

In November, 1840, Atkins applied, as Blair had done without success, for an assigned convict to assist the overtasked Lock-up keeper. There were "frequently 35 persons confined in the Lock-up, some of whom (were) Bushrangers of the most desperate character . . ." Atkins was threatened with the loss by resignation of a most efficient keeper, whom it would have been difficult to replace. In addition to being active and intelligent and able to read and write in order to make written returns to the Bench, and to keep accounts of the rations supplied by the contractors, the Lock-up keeper had to be a man of integrity. Cattle stealers of considerable property were often confined at Hartley in transit to Sydney for trial before the Supreme Court and would no doubt be willing to give a high price for their liberty..

In December, 1840, at trifling remuneration, Thomas Finn, the Chief Constable, was appointed inspector of slaughter houses for the district. The appointment was made at the instance of the Police Magistrate, not to assure a wholesome meat supply, but in order to check the slaughter of stolen cattle !

At the beginning of 1842 Atkins made a tour of the southern portion of his District, the rich country watered by the Abercrombie River and its tributaries. Here he expected to find runaways employed by the straggling settlers. Although he met with none he found a great many persons in the illegal occupation of Government land some of whom had large herds of cattle and horses. As this wild unfrequented tract was seldom visited by the police there were grounds for suspicion that some of these people were cattle stealers.


According to Blair the aborigines of the district had always been remarkably quiet. After the invasion of their territory by white settlers and the depletion of their natural food supply the tribe died out rapidly. The young men worked on the farms and so managed to subsist, but as they received only food and clothes for their services they were unable to assist the old people who were in a pitiable state from lack of food in the severe winters. In May, 1841, the fifty blankets forwarded by the Government for distribution were insufficient and in order to prevent dissatisfaction Atkins was obliged to issue some that were supplied for the use of the Lock-up. He therefore requested that eighty blankets be supplied for the next year's distribution. He suggested that tomahawks also be furnished as the men not only set a very high value on them but they were the most useful article that could be given to them. However, Governor Gipps disapproved of the practice of giving a blanket to every aborigine. He directed that they should be given only in return far service and that the number could gradually be decreased until the practice of giving presents should be entirely abolished. It happened that the Goverment was not put to the trouble of dispensing with the practice in the Hartley district, for the tribe diminished with startling rapidity. Atkin had anticipated that eighty blankets would be required for 1842. By the middle of 1846 the whole tribe did not number above twenty and the number of blankets supplied was twelve.


There was another aspect of life in the valley. Religion played as important a part in the lives of the pioneers as trade and official business. Before churches were - built in Hartley religious services were held in the Court-House. The first to preach in it was the Rev. Colin Stewart, the Presbyterian minister, who did so in February, 1839, having received permission to preach there until a suitable building should be erected in the district. The Rev. Thomas Hassall of the Church of England preached there on March 24, 1839. As Blair had not had time to send for official sanction for Hassall's sermon in the Court-House he began to wonder what course to pursue if the visiting Roman Catholic or any other clergyman should also wish to use the Court-House as a place of worship. Accordingly he asked for instructions and was informed that Governor Gipps desired that it should be so used, irrespective of sect, prior claim being given to the largest congregation.

Roman Catholics formed a very large proportion of the local community and soon set about building up a fund for the erection of a church. The Rev. Michael Cavanagh was the priest at the time. By October, 1841, private contributions for this purpose amounted to £ 300. In February, 1842, the Government approved of an allowance of aid equal to the amount of private contributions not exceeding one thousand pounds. The site for the Roman Catholic Church opposite the Court-House was surveyed in 1842. In 1845 one acre was granted for a Roman Catholic burial ground. A granite tor is conspicuous east across the gully from the church. According to Surveyor Liddell (1877) its name is Kew-y-ahn.

Governor and Lady Mary FitzRoy visited the country districts in order to acquire a personal knowledge of the wants and capabilities of the part of the country visited. On November 12, 1846, they paused with their suite at Hartley on their way to Bathurst. Lieutenant-Colonel Mundy, a member of the party, describing the landscape from the Pass of Victoria wrote: "The valley on the left looked dark, desolate, and wholly uninhabited; on the right lay the smiling Vale of Clwydd and the little township of Hartley, upon which the road drops as gently as could possibly be contrived by human art.

"Ere we reached this highland hamlet we came upon a considerable body of horsemen, who, saluting, his Excellency with loud and hearty cheers, so astonished our horses, if not ourselves, as nearly to drive the whole cavalcade over the precipice. In a cloud of dust, and with wild huzzas, they closed around us, and bore us away to the Court-House, where the usual duel of address and reply was instantly and warmly engaged in by the authorities of the place and the Governor. As we drove down the hill, with our loyal and uproarious escort galloping alongside, an individual spurring at my elbow suddenly disappeared, horse and man, over the edge of a rude bridge into a watercourse below. Not one of his townsmen pulled up - no one even looked behind; my servant however dropped from the carriage and ran to his assistance. The indifference of his companions was at once explained. He was only a negro !

"The Court-House and Catholic chapel of Hartley are prettily situated. My sketch was taken from a spot just beyond these objects."

According to the census taken in March, 1846, the number of inhabitants in the Police District of Hartley was 1365, of which 883 were males. In the township itself there were 62 residents, 31 being males. Of the inhabitants of the District, 209 males over 21 years and 159 under 21 years could not read; 71 males over 21 years and 36 under 21 years could read but not write, while of those females under 21 years, 169 could not read and 39 could read but not write. Most of the inhabitants were engaged in agricultural and pastoral occupations. There were two doctors in the district and only one inhabitant under the heading: "Alms-people, Pensioners, Paupers, etc." The Police District contained 187 houses, twelve of which were in the township of Hartley. On January 1, 1849, Frederick Robert D'Arcy was appointed Clerk of Petty Sessions at Hartley.

Near the beginning of 1851, just prior to the discovery of gold in the west, Heyward Atkins was appointed Provincial Inspector of Police for the District of Moreton Bay. The people of Hartley District, among whom he had now been living for over ten years, sincerely regretted his departure. The Court-House was crowded on January 16, 1851, when a testimonial was presented to the "universally beloved and respected Mr. Atkins." About two weeks later he was presented with a gold watch and appendages, a double-barrelled rifle and a brace of pistols, for the purchase of which

£50 had been collected.


Although numerically strong the members of the Church of England were behind other religious denominations in the district, who had neat churches and their own clergymen. On July 7, 1850, the Rev. Thomas Sharpe, of Bathurst, visited Hartley and was obliged to conduct Divine service in the Court-House. In the Sydney Morning Herald of August 5, 1852, was published a long list showing the amounts both of paid and unpaid subscriptions to a church building fund. One acre for a church was surveyed on June 13. 1856. At last on April 21, 1858, the corner stone of the Church of St. John the Evangelist was laid by the Bishop of the Diocese. A collection was made and amounted to £110. The Anglican minister in the district was the Rev. William Lisle. In the Bathurst Free Press William Rose', of Hartley Church advertised for teams to draw forty or fifty tons of stone for a distance of three miles. The first service in the church was held on February 27, 1859, by the Rev. John Troughton. The service of consecration was performed on September 15, 1864, the service being read by the Rev. William Lisle. On that occasion Bishop Barker administered the rite of confirmation to twenty-one young people. After the service a tea-meeting held in the Court-House was provided by the ladies of Hartley to aid the Church fund.

Henry Baylis was appointed Clerk of Petty Sessions at Hartley in August, 1852, a position he retained until his transfer to Wagga Wagga on January 1, 1858. Since the departure of Atkins the office of Police Magistrate had not been filled. Transportation to New South Wales had ceased in 1840, and the official files of the 'fifties are relieved of the many references to the punishment of convicts. However, the Magistrates of the Bench were in constant attendance at the Court-House, for the altered aspect of the town consequent upon the rush to the Western goldfields opened up new avenues of judicial administration. On August 16, 1852, the Magistrates, James Walker, Andrew Brown, Thomas Brown and John Oxley Norton, made an earnest request to the Governor for the appointment of a Police Magistrate: "We have the honour to submit to your consideration that since the discovery of gold, the necessity for the attendance of the Magistrates at the Court-House has greatly increased, and their residences being all at a consid­erable distance from it, we beg very respectfully to solicit that a Police Magistrate be again appointed to this district." The position was not filled, however, until Thomas Brown was appointed Police Magistrate on July 20, 1855. Magistrates of the Bench who assisted Brown during his Police Magistracy were Andrew Brown, James Walker, John Oxley Norton, Jeremiah Grant, Thomas Cadell, jun., Robert Barrington Dawson, John Delaney and Dr. Robert Rygate. The last named was the medical practitioner of Hartley and visited Lithgow by way of Doctor's Gap which was named after him.


The discovery of gold in the middle west much increased the value of town properly in Hartley. The heavier traffic past this posting stage created a demand for labour of every kind, and there was constant work for shoemakers, carpenters, wheelwrights, masons, shepherds and farm labourers. The inns flourished. The town in 1853 appeared "romantic, clean, English-like." An inn by the river had a "romantic view from it of the river leaping over rocks, with a pretty stone bridge over it. English comforts, wax candles, clean linen, good feeding and an attentive ostler." The traveller's expenses at this inn were ostler 1/-, supper 2/-, break­fast 2/-, bed 2/-, spirits 6d., horse 8/-. The roads at this time had been cut to pieces by heavy drays and herds of beasts. They were "most dreadful roads. Teams stuck in the mud, broken carts, dead horses and bullocks . the mail travelling is awfully un­pleasant. Country very like Syria, and trees like olive-trees."

The Bathurst Royal Mail in 1856 used to leave Market Street, Sydney, just before five in the afternoon. Passengers and luggage proceeded by bus and train to Parramatta where a small open coach, the "Mountain Plumb", received them. Hartley was reached on the evening of the second day's travel. At Little Hartley, near the foot of Mount Victoria, were two or three public houses and smithies, and six or seven substantial dwellings.

Besides catering for travellers the inns were centres for meetings, concerning elections, Hartley's annual races and such topics of local interest. At the beginning of the 'sixties the inns were booking offices for Elliott & Woods' Royal Express Line of American Covered Coaches, and Royal Mail Coaches. In 1862 the population of the town of Hartley was 118. In the 'sixties the activity of the valley was increased by mining for kerosene shale. Only a little over a mile from the scene of this industry the western railway then under construction was to cross the Darling Causeway, and have a vital effect on Hartley's development. In May, 1868, the Great Western Railway to Mount Victoria was declared open, and a platform was opened at Lithgow in 1877.


The years after the gold discoveries and preceding the building of the railway were Hartley's hey-dadys.  The inns were full and the inn-yards blocked, the farms and homesteads were neat, the roads were pleasant. When the flow of traffic was drained away from the picturesque town there was an immediate effect at the Court-House. Here, the nerve centre of the district, all the main business had been conducted for forty years. The building that had witnessed land sales, the compiling of quarterly returns of farms, live stock and agriculture, recommendations for licences, that had housed bushrangers and cattle-stealers, and that had represented the link between officialdom and the settler, between authority and the individuals to be reprimanded or rewarded, this building found itself part of the rim instead of the hub of things.

On the retirement of Thomas Brown, George Henry Rowley had been appointed in July, 1871, Police Magistrate, Clerk of Petty Sessions and Registrar of the District Court at Hartley. Rowley's stay at Hartley was brief. In August, 1873, he was succeeded by Thomas Henry Neale. The importance of Hartley was waning fast. In 1876 a movement to transfer the police establishment to Lithgow though unsuccessful was significant. In 1877 Neale visited Wallerawang and Lithgow every alternate week and the following year the police centre was transferred to Lithgow. Concerning Hartley the Department of the Attorney-General records that "the Court of Petty Sessions at that place was abolished. in the year 1887." The Court-House was later held by individuals under permissive occupancy; in May, 1914, the site was reserved for public recreation under the control of Trustees. In December, 1926, the care, control and management of the present Reserve devolved on the Blaxland Shire Council.

The traffic to Jenolan Caves sustained for Hartley a flicker of importance. Now the horse-drawn coaches and primitive cars have been succeeded by fast, modern transport; but the rapid vehicles that have revitalised the highway have signed with finality the doom of Hartley as a traffic centre. Nevertheless the town is not passed unnoticed. The traveller pauses there awhile and in imagination sees a strange procession in the historic atmosphere of the old Court-House at Hartley.