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Edward Powell (1762–1814)

by B. H. Fletcher

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Edward Powell (1762-1814), farmer and innkeeper, came from Lancaster, England, where he had been a farmer and fisherman. He visited New South Wales as a seaman in the Lady Juliana in the Second Fleet, and then returned as one of the colony's first group of free settlers. The party, which included Thomas Rose and was assisted by the British government after it had received urgent requests from Governor Arthur Phillip for free men, skilled labourers and farmers, sailed in the Bellona and reached Port Jackson on 16 January 1793. Eight days later Powell married Elizabeth Fish, a fellow passenger, who later bore him two sons and four daughters.

On 7 February Powell received the title to an 80-acre (32 ha) grant at Liberty Plains. Later, perhaps in the search for better soil, he moved to the Hawkesbury where by 1799 he had been appointed a constable. Hitherto an innocuous figure, in October 1799 he achieved notoriety when he was found guilty of being involved with four others in the murder of two Aboriginals, but the majority of the court thought that the case 'under all its peculiar circumstances' should be remitted to the British government before any sentence was imposed. In January 1802 Lord Hobart recommended that they be given conditional pardons.

Meanwhile, although dismissed from the position of constable, Powell had been advancing his farming interests. By 1806 he owned 140 acres (57 ha) of which 32 (13 ha) were in cultivation, and a small quantity of livestock including two horses and two cows. Shortly before the Rum Rebellion, in which he supported Governor William Bligh, he appears to have returned to the Liberty Plains district, and become an innkeeper as well as a farmer. His Halfway House, on the Parramatta Road between Sydney and Parramatta, was a landmark. In 1811 he was appointed poundkeeper for the area in which he gradually acquired additional property. He died on 19 October 1814, leaving his estate to his wife, who died in August 1836, having married James Moore in June 1829. Control then passed into the hands of his son Edward, who at first let the inn and 500 acres (202 ha), and then sold it to his son-in-law, James Underwood. Another daughter of Edward Powell senior married Richard Siddins.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 1-3
  • J. F. Campbell, ‘Liberty Plains of the First Free Settlers, 1793’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 22, part 5, 1936, pp 317-329
  • newspaper index under Edward Powell (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

B. H. Fletcher, 'Powell, Edward (1762–1814)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Lancaster, Lancashire, England


19 October, 1814 (aged ~ 52)
Auburn, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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