Newman Williatt (1797-1832) & family

A house with a fence around it

Description automatically generated with low confidence
Longford Hotel later known as Jessen Lodge

Amongst Longford’s early residents were Newman Williatt and his wife Eliza and one child, they moved there from Launceston, Tasmania around 1829.

Newman Williatt and Eliza Towers married in Launceston on 29 July 1824. While living in Launceston, the birth of two children have been located, a girl, Janet Elizabeth, born on 1 October 1825 (died 12 March 1826), and a son George, born 1827.

By September 1824, Newman had been appointed Postmaster at Launceston and would remain in that position until resigning in early 1829. He took over the position from the former Postmaster, Charles Abbott.

There are numerous references to Newman in newspapers during his time as Postmaster.  Besides receiving and despatching the mail, other work appeared to be more banking in nature, acting as an agent to receive monies due to creditors, with payments sometimes being made in goods, including grain.

The Hobart Colonial Times on 6 March 1829 reported Newman’s resignation and continued saying, he would in the future “be actively involved in distillation”, i.e. working as a brewer. John Clark took his place as the Launceston Postmaster.

The family’s Launceston home was placed for sale with the following advertisement appearing in the Colonial Times newspaper on 19 July 1830-

For Sale by Private Contract
Those Valuable and Extensive Premises, situated in Brisbane and St. John Streets, Launceston, formerly occupied as, (and attached to) the Post Office, consisting of a commodious Dwelling House of 4 apartments, with a detached kitchen, adjoining is an excellent 12-bushel oven and bakehouse. Also, a large extent of Garden Ground which affords most advantageous scites (sic) for stores and other premises, presenting a front to St. John Street of about 300 feet, and to Brisbane Street, 170 feet. They ar situated in one of the best thoroughfares in the town.
Particulars will be learned by applying to Mr. Collicott, Hobart-town, Mr. Richard White, Launceston Hotel; or to Mr. N. Williatt, Longford, Norfolk Plains.

Newman received two land grants at Longford, one in the now centre of Longford, opposite the Christ Church, Church of England and bounded by Marlborough Street, William Street, and to the rear Pakenham Street. Today its locality is more identified as the site of Jessen Lodge. The area measured 3Acres 2 Roods and 27 Perches.

The second grant of 4A 0R 18P was close by and fronted onto the Lake River and bounded by Archer Street to the north and Latour Street to the west and on the southern boundary, a block held by Isaac Noakes.  

On the Marlborough/William Streets block Newman built a family residence come hotel with a licence granted in September 1830. The Launceston Advertiser on 27 September 1830, under the heading NEW LICENCES, noted the licensee as Newman Williatt at the Longford Hotel, Norfolk Plains.

Soon after on 30 April 1831, the property was advertised for sale as follows.

For Sale by Private Contract

That well known licensed House, the Cornwall Hotel, situated at Norfolk Plains and

now in the occupation of Mr. Newman Williatt. The situation is exceedingly pleasant

and beautiful, and well adapted for business and the premises comprises a good Brick

House, containing four rooms, with detached kitchen, stabling yards, excellent

garden well stocked with choice trees etc. May be viewed on application to

Mr. John Brumby, Norfolk Plains.

April 28, 1831.

When the Hotel Licence was granted in September 1830, the hotel was listed as the Longford Hotel, Norfolk Plains not that of the Cornwall Hotel as described above in 1831.

It would appear the property did not sell as it was advertised for sale again on 3 October 1833 following Newman’s death. The advert is similar to the 1830 description except that the building has seven rooms, with four previously noted.

The sale advertisement reads as follows


That eligible and compact Estate, situated in the beautiful and increasingly populous Township of Longford, Norfolk Plains, late in the occupation of Mr. NEWMAN WILLIATT deceased. There is erected thereon, a large brick message, originally intended as, and peculiary adapted for, a Country Hotel of the first class. 

It contains seven commodious and well-proportioned rooms, with eat-houses and conveniences and has attached thereto an eight-stall stable.  The value of these premises will be immediately acknowledged on inspection. There can scarcely be a doubt that a licence would be granted to any fit applicant. Any person wishing to establish a respectable Hotel, will seldom have such an opportunity offered him.

Newman did not live long at Longford, dying there around 18 January 1832 as a result of injuries from being beaten up. The newspaper reported his death as “the result of injuries sustained about a week ago meted out by two men on the road to Norfolk Plains, who pulled him off his horse, and beat him in a dreadful manner, and it was of the greatest difficulty he contrived to reach home.”

With the family not being able to service debts owing, the creditors took action through the Supreme Court to recoup monies owed. The Hobart Town Courier on the 31 January 1834, advised as follows-

Sheriff's Office, Launceston, Jan. 22, 1834

In the Supreme Court, - Solomon and anr. v. Williatt

On Wednesday the 5th of February 1834, at 1 o'clock, the sheriff will cause to be put up for sale (by postponement), at the Court House Launceston, all the defendant’s right, title, and interest in an allotment of about three acres of land, situate in the township of Longford, being a corner allotment, having a two-story house built hereon.

Also, an allotment of about three acres of land fronting the Lake River, bounded by land in the occupation of Mr. Noakes and crown land, having a cottage containing two rooms, a malt kiln and brewhouse erected thereon, the property of the above-named defendant, unless this execution be previously satisfied.

Eventually, the hotel passed from the family and was variously used for different purposes. In a Claimant hearing by George Williatt (son of Newman Williatt) held under date 22 July 1851 in relation to Claims to Grants of Land, a recital gave details of the owners to around 1850 for the    3A 2R 37P block. It had originally been granted to Newman Williatt but had been sold by the Sheriff of Van Diemen’s Land to Thomas Williams, who sold to Gavin Ralston who conveyed to Thomas Williams and others upon trust to sell. Thomas William’s executors sold to Claimant, George Williatt.

Besides being a hotel, the premises has also been used as a general store, a public library, a penny savings bank, a Temperance Hotel when owned by Mr. H.G. Ball and a rest home when owned by Sister Jessen.

Eliza Williatt continued to live at Longford for the rest of her life, dying there on 24 October 1869 and buried in the Christ Church cemetery. Her grave is unmarked.

Their son George, born 1827, continued to live at Longford for many years and was also involved in the hotel industry, his name appearing as being at the Royal Hotel, Longford in 1863.

George married Margaret Mowbray at Launceston on 4 October 1854. They had five children-

  • Norman Mowbray Williatt   born   28 DEC. 1855
  • John George Williatt   born 26 MAR. 1857
  • William Robert Williatt   born   23 JUN 1858
  • Euphemia Eliza Williatt   born   22 JUN 1860
  • Thomas Andrew Anderson Williatt   born 22 JUN 1860


On 29 September 1825, Newman Williatt, jointly with John James made an application to the Licencing Board for a hotel licence in relation to his dwelling house identified by the sign of The Wheatsheaf in the District or Township of Norfolk Plains.

The application was approved, and relative fee paid – Newman Williatt the sum of Thirty Pounds of Lawful Money of Great Britain and John James also Thirty Pounds. Newman’s address was given as Launceston, with John James living at “The Wheatsheaf” residence.

On the same day, 29 September 1825, another joint licence application was made, Newman Williatt and Robert Towers in relation to the dwelling House of Robert Towers being the sign of The Caledonia Hotel in the District or Township of Launceston.

This application was also approved with Newman Williatt paying Thirty Pounds and Robert Towers Thirty Pounds.


John Williatt (1792 – 1875) & his wife Elizabeth (1805 – 1882)

A Land Grant of 2A 2R 35P at Longford was also approved for a John Williatt, but the family later moved to Morven now known as Evandale. At Evandale, John eventually possessed a considerable amount of property, including his farm at Elkington and home in High Street. He built and, for several years, managed the large hotel at Evandale known as the “Patriot King”.

John’s death notice appeared in the Launceston Examiner on 13 May 1875 where it is noted he was the second son of George Williatt, gentleman of Murely House, Bucks., England. John was aged 84.

His wife Elizabeth also died at Evandale, on 7 September 1882. She was aged 77 years.

The Tasmanian Pioneers Index only records two Williatt families. Were Newman and John brothers?

Written by Ivan Badcock – 14 June 2013

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