Barrow, William Warre


Police Magistrate, Wellington Valley (April 1839 - August 1841)

Career Highlights

William Warre Barrow, formerly the Colonial Storekeeper, suceeded Henry Fysche Gisborne as Wellington Police Magistrate in April 1839. Barrow offered less complicity and satisfaction than his predecessor to the demands of local settlers. In 1840, on evidence presented by Reverend Watson, Barrow took on the eminent Bathurst settler, Robert Bonner, moving to have Bonner's assigned servants withdrawn from Boree station on the grounds that they were perpetually drunk and allowed to keep Aboriginal women. Governor Gipps sanctioned the removal of Bonner's servants and ordered he be deprived of his squatting licence, though the orders were rescinded several months later. Barrow was later described by Reverend Gunther as "Mr. Watson’s great defender" after constables were employed to assist Watson in retrieving Aborigines who had left his care and taken sanctuary at the official mission. This caused some difference of opinion among the Magistrates, at least one of them regarding Barrow’s actions as "unlawful interference".
Barrow also came in for criticism in 1841 over a disagreement with Commissioner Allman concerning the case against a local hutkeeper, Carroll, who was arrested by Allman's Border Police for illegally supplying liquor. The case against Carroll was almost derailed in court when the Wellington Police demanded to be recognised as the informers in order to collect the reward. Later that year, a convict, William Sparrow, whose outrages included the theft of the commissioner's pistols, was captured by the Border Police and sentenced by the Wellington Bench to an iron gang, only to escape the custody of the Wellington Police en route to Bathurst. Such incidents raised serious questions about the commitment of the Wellington Police and the competency of the Police Magistrate.
Barrow's mismanagement of the Wellington Police establishment became more apparent during 1841. He was purportedly a drunkard, a swindler and an unskilled administrator who was ruled by a fearsome and overbearing wife. Under his incompetent and "despotic management", the police establishment was wracked by internal conflict and allegations of corruption. Chief Constable William Shields, dismissed after a long-running quarrel with Barrow, responded with accusations that crown prisoners sentenced by the Bench were being retained for the Police Magistrate's own private benefit. Shields' successor only lasted eight months before resigning. Barrow left the establishment without notice in July 1841, leading the local magistrates to suspect that he had fled. Shortly after, it was revealed that the establishment's coffers had been misappropriated, so that the Chief Constable and Police Clerk, who were owed upwards of seventy-five pounds in wages, could not be paid. Government subsequently published a notice that Barrow was dismissed, and at the same time cancelled the position of Police Magistrate at Wellington