Local Government began in Muswellbrook in 1870. The following articles appeared in the Maitland Mercury Newspaper, and describe how the first election was undertaken. Articles were transcribed from microfilm copies of the paper with the kind assistance of Mr. John McDonald and the Muswellbrook Historical Society.
The Maitland Mercury, Saturday June 18, 1870 District News (from our correspondents)
Municipal - As this is about the only subject that at present occupies attention here, I may be excused for mentioning the state of affairs in regard of our future Council.
There are I am given to understand some 26 nominations for the aldermatic seats.
The time of their acception expired yesterday at noon . Out of the number mentioned, about seventeen only are likely to stand for the Borough, for already some few are disqualified through some informality in the nomination papers. The nomination day occurs on the 22nd inst. Wednesday next when some of our aspiring townsmen will have an opportunity for the display of their orital powers in public
The Maitland Mercury, Saturday June 25, 1870
District News (from our various correspondents)
Nomination of alderman for the Municipal Borough of Musclebrook. The first nomination connected with our recently proclaimed municipality took place this day at noon in the Court House. The returning officer, Charles Johnstone Cullen Esq. initiated proceedings by reading the proclamation contained in the Government Gazette, declaring the constitution of the Borough and his own appointment as returning officer of the same. After this he proceeded in due order to read the different nominations which he had received for the offices of aldermen and auditors.
The number of such amounting in all to some 31 but out of this number only eleven had decided on accepting office as alderman if elected and three others as auditors.
As by the constitution of the Borough, only six alderman are required out of the eleven nominated, it is therefore necessary that a poll should be taken and which the returning officer notified would take place on Monday 27 instant and the official declaration of the result on the following day at 3 o'clock p.m. The gentlemen who had been nominated were then invited to address the electors, which invitation was only taken advantage of by the following, namely Messrs. Bowman, Campbell , Clendinning, J Rowland, Eaton, J Brown, Fagan and Flower.
Appended is a list of the names of those contending for alderman. Messrs. Bowman, Campbell, J Rowland, Luscombe, J H Brown, T Fagan, T S Selfe, W Clendinning, P Ryan, W Eaton and R Rowland. Auditors Messrs. G Flower, J Johnstone and R D G Fitzgerald.
The proceedings terminated at 1.30pm so it may be imagined that the speeches were all delivered in a condensed form each speaker apparently vieing with the other in a desire to be brief bearing in mind that the addage " the least said is soon amended"
The meeting was a markedly orderly one, not the slightest interruption occurred.
Muscle Brook Wednesday evening
The Maitland Mercury, Saturday July 2, 1870 District News
(from our correspondents)
Municipal - The polling for the borough took place on Monday and the declaration was made yesterday by the returning officer, C J Cullen Esq.
The votes were pretty evenly divided. The majority being for the following gentlemen, namely Messrs. Campbell, Bowman, Luscombe, Selfe, Clendinning, Fagan and J Rowland.
But the votes for the two latter being equal, the returning officer gave his casting vote in Mr. Fagan's favour, so that with the exception of the last, the foregoing names are those for the first aldermen for the Municipal Borough of Muswellbrook.
After the declaration of the poll, each of the successful candidates addressed the electors. A cordial vote of thanks was conveyed to the returning officer. On the motion of Mr. Campbell seconded by Mr. Bowman, each of whom complimented Mr. Cullen on his exact and praiseworthy discharge of his onerous duties he was called upon to perform
Great excitement was manifest during Monday last but good order prevailed notwithstanding the newly elected aldermen are now to hold their first meeting tomorrow (Thursday) for the purpose of electing their Mayor.
It is understood that Mr. Bowman will be elected to that important position.
The Maitland Mercury, Saturday July 9, 1870 District News
(from our correspondents)
Musclebrook Borough Council.
The Council met for the first time on Thursday afternoon last. Present Alderman Campbell, Bowman, Luscombe, Clendinning, Selfe and Fagan.
The only business for which the meeting of the Council had been convened was then proceeded with, namely the election of Mayor.
Mr. Bowman was nominated by Alderman Campbell and seconded by Alderman Luscombe as Mayor for the Municipal Borough of Muswellbrook. As there were no other nominations, the returning officer (C J Cullen Esq.) thereupon declared Mr. Bowman duly elected.
Several notices of motion were then handed in for consideration at the next Council meeting, which it had previously decided to convene for Wednesday evening July 6th.