Times Past with QT history columnist Beryl Johnston
Times Past with QT history columnist Beryl Johnston Claudia Baxter

Great explorer camped in town prior to journey over range

THE first Police Magistrate (as they were called in those early days) in Ipswich was Mr Hannibal Hawkins Macarthur who was gazetted from January 1, 1852.

Hannibal was the oldest son of Mr James Macarthur of Devon, England, and had come out to Australia to join his uncle Captain John Macarthur of Camden Park, New South Wales.

Mr HH Macarthur returned to England a few years later and married Miss Anna Maria, eldest daughter of Captain Philip Gidley King RN the 5th Governor of New South Wales from 1800 to 1806.

Returning to Australia Hannibal became Police Magistrate of Parramatta and later at Ipswich. During his time spent in Ipswich he lived at Woodend in the property later known as Macalisters.

It was at this property that Macarthurs wife died on September 1, 1852 and was buried in the Ipswich cemetery.

Macarthur felt the loss of his wife so much that he retired from his position here and returned to Sydney.



Records regarding marriages in the very early history of Ipswich were not recorded officially so it wasn't until the 1850s that the first recorded marriage was known.

The first recorded marriage in the Ipswich district was celebrated at "Dunlop Plains" Presbyterian Church in the colony of New South Wales on March 4, 1856. The bride was Janet Livingstone Scott spinster and the groom John William Brighton. Overseer Rev William Lambie was the officiating minister and the witnesses were William and Robert Scott.

The first baptism took place in Ipswich on June 24, 1841 when the Rev John Gregor MA of the Anglican churches of Moreton Bay christened Catherine Patrick - the first white child born at Mt Brisbane.

The first officially recorded birth was on October 1855, the child being Alice Maria Sells, the 6th child of John Sells, 46, Cooper and Maria Thoroughgood 40, both of whom had been born in England.


A long wooden building erected by Mr Martin Byrne at the cnr of Wharf and Bremer Streets in the 1850's served as the first theatre established in Ipswich.

Entrance to the theatre was from Wharf St and the building was illuminated by large tallow slush lights, inside lighting was by the use of tallow and sperm candles.

One of the actor-managers of those days was Mr WB Ford whose company travelled from Brisbane by steamer and stayed for several nights at local hotels, The Steam Packet, Cottage of Content and Caledonian.

Mr Ford stated "We find that theatre-goers of Ipswich prefer comedy and vaudeville pleased them most. A serious play or song would drive them out of the theatre to the public-houses".


DROPPING IN: Ludwig Leichhardt visited Ipswich back in 1844.
DROPPING IN: Ludwig Leichhardt visited Ipswich back in 1844. Contributed


This article was taken from an early write up printed in the Queensland Times.

It is 1844, Mr Donald Campbell, of Ipswich, stands outside his smithy and surveys his handiwork with justifiable pride; "They should get you over the range all right now Doctor," he said.

"It certainly was worth camping here for Mr Campbell," replied Dr Ludwig Leichhardt, "my sincerest thanks to you, sir."

It is easy to imagine that conversation having taken place just prior to the departure of the well-known explorer and members of his first expedition. Leichhardt had camped here prior to undertaking the journey over the range.

Mr Campbell had worked hard and long to get Leichhardt's pack horses and spring cart in shipshape order for the trip.


Between 1866 and 1858 a newspaper, the "Ipswich Mercury" published by Mr JR Sothern and others was edited by Mr Charles F Chubb.

The paper however could not be maintained so all the machinery was sold to the proprietors of the Queensland Times who transferred it to Gympie where gold had been discovered.

Two QT members Messrs Parkinson and Kidner along with Messrs J Chapple, C Galloway, J Feeney, S Irvan and H Rodgers took the machinery to Gympie and assisted in the publishing of the "Nashville Times" which later became the "Gympie Times".


In asking for the establishment of classes for the improvement of the status of hairdressers, Mr FJ O'Reilly secretary of the Hairdressers and Wigmakers Union in 1925 said the "Bob" and "Shingle" had come to stay.

Women enjoyed the new style of hair cutting and Mr O'Reilly did not think there was the slightest possibility of them going back to the more burdensome and unhealthy style of long hair.

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