Union Inn–Royal Exchange Hotel

George Street
Cnr George and Brisbane St
(see bottom)

George St, west side. The Royal  is the big grey building.

1830-38 William Milne, Union, George Street
1839-43 Nicholas Clarke, Union, George & Brisbane Streets
1844-46 James Purselow, Union Inn, Brisbane & George Streets
1847-61 William Spearman, Union Inn, George Street
1862 James Boag, Union Inn, George Street
1863-65 Elijah Hedditch, Union Inn, George Street
1866-68 James Jordan, Union Hotel, George Street
1869-72 Frederick Jones, Union Inn, George Street
1873 James Ray, Union Inn/Royal Exchange, George Street
1874-80 James Ray, Royal Exchange, George Street
1881 Mary Jane Ray, Royal Exchange Hotel, George Street
1883 John McCaveston, Royal Exchange Hotel, George Street
1883 Mary Jane M’Caveston (formerly Ray), Ray’s Royal Exchange Hotel, George Street
1884 Mary Ann M’Caveston, Royal Exchange Hotel, George Street
1885 Thomas Crawford, Ray’s Royal Exchange Hotel, George Street
1886-88 John Edwards, Royal (Exchange) Hotel, George Street
1889-94 John Allan, (Royal) Exchange Hotel, George Street
1895-97 John Polley, (Royal) Exchange Hotel, George Street
1898+ Michael James Corcoran, Exchange Hotel, George Street, also known as the Royal Hotel.



George Street
George Street
1944, during construction of tram tracks

Cornwall Chronicle, 16 November 1839

Cornwall Chronicle, 12 September 1840

“Charles Street” in this advertisement might be a mistake. An advertisement in 1838 refers to the Horse & Groom “lately kept by Mr Philip Davis” on the corner of Brisbane and George Streets.

Launceston Examiner, 28 May 1842

Launceston Advertiser, 3 August 1843

This seems relevant somehow. Under “Licences Refused”:
William Milne, for premises in George-street.
The application had been refused last year, on account of a license having been transferred to Mr. Clark, who, it was now staled, had been at considerable expense in improving his premises ; a further objection was also made, that another house was not necessary. Several of the magistrates present bore testimony to the high character of Mr. Milne, but under the circumstances the application was refused.

Cornwall Chronicle, 2 September 1843

Launceston Examiner, 5 September 1846

Launceston Examiner, 27 March 1847

Cornwall Chronicle, 22 May 1847

Launceston Examiner, 6 October 1855

Cornwall Chronicle, 31 December 1862

Cornwall Chronicle, 5 October 1867

Launceston Examiner, 26 December 1867

Death of Mr. Spearman.— Mr William Spearman, the well-known coach proprietor, for many years landlord of the Union Inn, George-street; the inn at Mowbray; since the Royal Mail Hotel; and recently of the Duke of Wellington Hotel, Wellington-road, died there suddenly on Monday morning. Mr Spearman had been in a weak state of health for months, but managed to go about and take a drive almost daily, up to the day before his death, at the age of 70 years.
Cornwall Chronicle, 16 July 1870

The Union Inn.– The license of the Union Inn, George-street, is about to be transferred from Mr Frederick Jones to Mr James Rae.
Cornwall Chronicle, 4 April 1873


Court Case
Mr Miller said that the declaration in this case set forth in the first count that the defendant broke into and entered the plaintiff’s dwelling-place called the Union Inn, George-street, Launceston, and removed the trade fixtures and goods therein and disposed of them lo his own use and expelled the plaintiff and his family from possession, whereby plaintiff is prevented from carrying on his business and lost a large sum of money paid for the goodwill of the said dwelling place and incurred expenses in procuring another dwelling place. In the second count that defendant seized and took plaintiff’s goods and disposed of them to his own use. In the third count that defendant wrongfully distrained for pretended arrears of rent and wrongfully sold the goods, for at the time of making the distress and of the sale no rent was due. In the fourth count that defendant distrained for certain arrears of rent, goods of much greater value than the amount due with charges of distress and sale, although part of the said goods was of sufficient value to have satisfied the said arrears and charges, and the defendant thereby made an excessive and unreasonable distress. In the fifth count that the defendant distrained the goods and sold them without notice of the distress, and of the cause of taking the same having been given to plaintiff, whereby the plaintiff was prevented from replevying the goods. In the sixth count that defendant sold the goods without causing them to be appraised by two sworn appraisers, whereby the plaintiff was injured in his trade as a publican. In the seventh and last count the plaintiff also sued defendant for money payable by defendant to the plaintiff for money received by defendant for the use of the plaintiff, and the plaintiff claimed £200.
Part I: Launceston Examiner, 5 June 1873
Part II: Cornwall Chronicle, 6 June 1873

Cornwall Chronicle, 21 January 1874

Launceston Examiner, 28 January 1880

Launceston Examiner, 23 February 1880

Launceston Examiner, 2 December 1880

Launceston Examiner, 29 April 1881

Permission to Sell.-Mary Jane Ray was granted permission to sell liquors under the license held by her late husband, James Ray, in respect to the Exchange Hotel, George-street, Launceston, until the next quarterly licensing meeting.
Launceston Examiner, 9 June 1881

Launceston Examiner, 2 December 1882

Launceston Examiner, 6 December 1882

Launceston Examiner, 18 July 1883

RIGHTS OF MARRIED WOMEN. – An application raising a somewhat novel feature, as to the rights of married women, came before the Police Court yesterday. It appears that Mr. and Mrs. M’Aveston, of the Royal Exchange Hotel, George street, have not been living happily of late, and some three weeks ago Mrs. M’Aveston loft her home, it is alleged, through cruelty on the part of her husband.
Launceston Examiner, 26 September 1883

PERMISSION TO SELL.-Thos. Crawford was granted permission to sell liquors under the public house license hold by Mary Jane M’Caviston (deceased), for the house known as the Royal Exchange Hotel, in George-street, until the annual meeting of the Licensing Bench.
Launceston Examiner, 2 November 1885

Launceston Examiner, 8 February 1886

The lease of the Royal Exchange Hotel, George-street, was purchased to-day by Mr. John Edwards, late of the Globe Hotel, for £1575, from the executors of the late Mrs. M’Aveston. The lease has upwards of three ears to run, and the sale includes furniture ad goodwill.
Launceston Examiner, 30 April 1886

John Edwards, licensee of the Royal Exchange Hotel, George-street, was charged with being drunk on his licensed promises on Thursday last. Defendant pleaded guilty. The Superintendent of Police said that he had laid this charge with great reluctance, but lie felt that he was only acting upon necessity. Defendant was lined £5, and costs 7s 6d, for the offence, the bench remarking that it was the duty of a licensed victualler to set an example of sobriety, to see that the law was obeyed, and not to supply drunkards with liquor. If these habits were continued on the part of the defendant he would inevitably lose his license.
Launceston Examiner, 20 April 1887

Launceston Examiner, 4 December 1888

At the City Police Court yesterday morning an application was made by John Allan, licensee of the Royal Exchange Hotel, George-street, for an extension of the period of keeping his house open after the usual closing hour on the date of his (the applicant’s) birthday. The Police Magistrate granted the application, at the same time, however, informing the applicant he did not wish the step taken in the matter to act as a precedent.
Launceston Examiner, 16 July 1890

ANOTHER old colonist was yesterday removed by death in the person of Mrs Mary Ann Spearman, of Landale-street, Invermay. The deceased lady was the widow of the late Mr William Spearman, well-known in Launceston as a coach proprietor and hotelkeeper. Mrs Spearman, who was 77 years of age, arrived in the colony 55 years ago, and after her marriage she assisted her husband with [?] in his various avocation. and shrewdness as a manageress that Mr. Spearman realised a competency. For many years Spearman’s coaches were run regularly between Launceston and Deloraine, and it was not until the Western railway line was opened that they were discontinued. About 16 years ago Mr Spearman conducted the first livery and bait business in this city, the stables being situated on the site of the present Launceston Club, Brisbane-street. Subsequently he was licensee of the Union Hotel, in George street, now known as the Royal Exchange, the Royal Mail Hotel, on the premises now occupied by Mr G. T. Easter as a carriage works, and the Duke of Wellington Inn, Wellington road, where he died in 1870. The late Mrs Spearman in all the foregoing businesses, besides having control of the housekeeping, acted as bookkeeper, which was no slight tax on her energy and time in concerns in which large transactions were daily recorded. After the demise of her husband Mrs Spearman was the landlady of the Racecourse Hotel at Mowbray, from which she retired into private life some time back. The deceased, who was a sister of Mr Wm. Job Harris, of Hampden, leaves a family of six, Mrs J. T. Smith, Mrs Carling, Mrs Clear, and Messrs Wm, Henry, and Walter Spearman, all of whom reside in Launceston. The funeral will take place at 3 30 p.m. tomorrow.
Launceston Examiner, 25 August 1892

Zeehan & Dundas Herald, 24 November 1898

Thursday, December 15.
Before his Honor Chief Justice Dodds.
Claim for Commission.

The case in which Emanuel Hopkins sued Michael Corcoran for £42 10s, work done and commission, was resumed. Mr. Hobkirk (Martin and Hobkirk) appeared for plaintiff, and Mr. M. J. Clarke (Clarke and Croft) for defendant. Jury-W. H. Valentine (foreman), W. B. Tregurtha, and F. R. Unsworth.

The case for plaintiff was that defendant in October instructed Hopkins, a land and house agent in Launceston, to sell the lease, goodwill, and license of the Royal Hotel for £850. Plaintiff found a purchaser in the person of Patrick Gannon, whereupon defendant repudiated the whole transaction and refused to carry out the bargain.

Peter Gannon gave evidence to the effect that plaintiff offered him the lease and goodwill of the Royal Hotel for £850. He accepted the offer, but the transaction was not completed. In cross-examination witness explained that previous to that day defendant had suggested that he should buy the Royal Hotel for £1000, but witness replied that he would not give more than £850. The business was introduced to him in the first place by Corcoran.
Launceston Examiner, 16 December 1898

Location notes

The location of this one is a bit confusing. It became the Royal Exchange Hotel and then the Royal, which is on the west side, between Paterson and Brisbane Sts (see photo below). According to the city council’s assessment rolls,  between 1854 and 1874 the property which was licensed at the Union was owned by John Fawns and was in George Street, near Brisbane Street. Possibly this is the same location as the present building . (The early assessment rolls don’t have street numbers just street names, so it can be difficult to tell if a particular property is on a corner or the next propery down. Coming from Brisbane St, the property nearest George St was a stone yard, also owned by John Fawns. This might have been on the corner with George St and the public house was the next building down in George, about where it is now.)

However, I am not sure that could be described as George & Brisbane Streets as it in the licensing lists. George Fuller puts the Union Hotel on the  NE corner. Until 1838, the NE corner was occupied by the Rose & Thistle, Horse & Groom/Verandah Wine Vaults, so the Union can’t have been there then. must have been elsewhere along George Street at this time. In 1829 there was a Union Public House on the corner of Paterson and George Streets. This might not have anything to do with this Union. Also, the hotel on the corner of George and York Street was known as the the Union Club Hotel but that might just be confusing the issue.

2 thoughts on “Union Inn–Royal Exchange Hotel”

  1. Hi, I had a relative (Frederick Jones) who was granted the licence for the Victoria Hotel (May 1862). I understand this pub was also called the Union Inn. They both appear to have had thew same address early on. Below story appears in the ther Cornwall Chronicle, 14 May 1862;

    From an article in the The Cornwall Chronicle, dated 14 May 1862, they state that ‘The Victoria Hotel’, was located at the corner of Brisbane & George Sts Launceston. I believe other articles Ive read Have the Union Club etc also at Brisbane & George Sts. Could it have moved sometime after the 1860s?

    Corner of Brisbane and George-streets,
    F JONES takes this opportunity of
    returning his sincere thanks for
    past favors, and to inform his friends and
    the public, that he has taken the above
    house, and trusts by keeping a first class
    article, to metit tbat patronage which he
    has enjoyed for the past ten years at the
    Ferry House. Parties from the Country
    will find good aocommodations with liberal
    charges to meet the times.
    N.B. Good stabling, and a steady groom;
    May 1

    • I deleted my previous reply because I’ve been the library and looked through the assessment rolls and got a better idea of what is going on.
      Short version, Frederick Jones occupied a public house on the southern side of Brisbane St (the South East corner where the Flight Centre is now). It was later the Volunteer Hotel and was demolished in the 1960s. There are photos of it. The QV museum has some. (I have a draft post for this hotel but it’s a mess of notes and unlinked links.)

      The Union was on the other side of the Brisbane St, where I am not quite sure but I don’t think it was ever on the southern side. There were at least two different public houses on this intersection in the earlier centuries and not very good records, so it gets a bit confusing. Frederick Jones was the licensee of the Union in 1872. I don’t know if it’s same Frederick. At this point, the Union was on or near the NW corner of Brisbane & George St. Two different properties.

      The Union Club was used for a hotel the next block up. There is a plaque on the shop on the NW corner saying it used to be the Union Club hotel but I haven’t come across it actually being usd for any of the houses in the Brisbane/George Street area, except in compilation of hotel names. I think it’s just a mixup.


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