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Pubs and Publicans (2) The Plough to the Cricketers Arms

The Plough Inn of 1826-9 and the Plough and Horses of 1829-30 were the sign names which followed on from Benjamin Singleton’s 1825 Barley Mow Inn, but are not the subject of this article.

James NEAL, born at Richmond on 23rd October 1810 was the son on JAMES KNELL and LUCY LANE, was half-brother to Mary Lane Sherland, wife of Benjamin Singleton and brother of Agnes Neal, wife of Joseph Singleton. He married Sarah Jones, born at Patrick’s Plains on 18th February 1828, at Singleton on 27th March 1843.
After leaving his acre land grant “Burwood” on Wollombi Brook, also known as Cockfighter Creek in the parish of Warkworth, he first held the licence of his sister’s Cross Keys Inn at the corner of John and Elizabeth Streets, Singleton, from 18th December 1849 to 19th April 1850.
He was licensed to run his own Inn, The Plough and Horses from 19th April 1851. At that time it was said to be in a building opposite Macquarie Street and built earlier for James Kingsbury. This building was demolished following the 1955 flood and was next door to my John Street home.
From 22nd April 1854 his licence carried the sign of The Plough and is most likely when he built his own premises further up the street. James Ware became licencee on 15th April 1856, with renewal in 1857. James Neal regained the licence on 20th april 1858 and relinquished it for a short period in 1862 to John Matthews, who was soon after declared bankrupt.
On 27th September 1866 James Neal changed the name again to the Plough and Horses. His story now becomes a little confusing. The Inn Licence records show him as licensee of the Bridge Hotel from 1865-8 and the Council Rate Books show him as Owner/Occupier of his Inn from 1866-71. The Rate Book shows William Vernon as Occupier in 1872 and T A Filmer in 1873.
Descendant Dick Smith, is of the opinion that he may have moved temporarily to Piedmont Station, near Cobbadah in 1858 and after leaving the Bridge Hotel commenced goldmining at Tea Tree Creek on the Crow Mountain goldfield, south east of Barraba.
James and Sarah Neal had 4 sons and 8 daughters, one son and two daughters dying in infancy. Their daughter Lucy Jane married John Hill at Singleton in 1870, so she probably did not leave with her parents and family.
The Inn was licensed to James Henry Sheehan in 1874 under the sign of the Cricketers Arms and he leased it until purchasing the premises in 1877.
James Neal had settled at upper Bingara by 1874 and he put the Inn up for sale on Friday, 22nd June 1877 advertsied as “That old fashioned Hotel, the “Cricketers’ Arms” at present occupied by Mr James Sheehan, having a frontage of 66 feet to John Street with a depth of 165 feet more or less, together with all improvements theron, consisting of a large and substantially built brick house, containing 8 rooms, together with kitchens and servants roons, a large 4 stall stable and outhouses. Present rental 20 shillings per week”.
The 1868 Collectors’ Book had stated the building was brick, with shingled roof, one storey, 7 rooms and valued at 65 pounds. The 1877 valuation was 40 pounds.
James Sheehan now owner and licensee of the Cricketers Arms, purchased adjoining land and in 1881 removed to his newly built premises, renewing his licence as the Club House Hotel. A keen cricketer and popular member of the Singleton Cricket Club, hence the naming of his licensed premises. Details of James Sheehand his new hotel will be the subject of Pubs and Publicans (3).

James Neal died at Upper Bingara on 16th December 1885.

Dorothy Clayworth.