Accidental Australian was given his pub as a wedding present

Bath Arms
Bath Arms, Parramatta Road, Burwood. Note the sign. Picture: Supplied

ITALIAN immigrant Emanuel Neich was given a wedding gift that many Australian blokes would envy – a pub!

The accidental Australian arrived in Sydney in 1826 after taking passage to ‘New Holland’, believing he was on his way to the Netherlands. However the geographically challenged Neich had confused his Hollands and landed in Sydney. Instead he made the best of his mistake and later took the license of one of Sydney’s most notorious bloodhouses, The Black Dog.

In 1834 Neich married a local girl, Mary Comer, daughter of publican, James Comer. And for a wedding present, James gave them his hotel, ‘The Bath Arms’ on the Parramatta Road at Burwood. The pub continues to trade in an updated building to this day.

The following account of Neich’s life was published on January 19, 1921 in the Cumberland Argus :

In One Hotel for 68 Years

The Neich Family’s Record

Emanuel Neich. Picture: Supplied

Mr Burwood Neich, late of the Bath Arms Hotel, Burwood, has taken over the Clubhouse Hotel at Wellington, and this fact brings to mind one of the most unique records put up by any licensed victualler in Australia.

The license of the Bath Arms Hotel was held by the Neich family for 68 years, and Mr Burwood Neich’s application for his Wellington license makes the 90th application for a renewal made by this family. His father, Mr Emanuel Neich was a licensee for 63 years, and during the whole of that time there was not one mark or charge brought against him by the licensing inspector or the police – a record that would be hard to beat by any other publican in the colony.

During the visit of the Duke of Connaught to Australia the elephant which was presented to him at Colombo was kept at the Bath Arms Hotel, and created no little attention at that time. Since 1830.

Mr Emanual Neich’s first license was for a hotel known as “The Black Dog on the Rocks,” Sydney, in the year 1830, two of the then presiding magistrates being Messrs Rossi and Windeyer.

In 1834 he removed to Burwood, and took over the Bath Arms Hotel, in which place he presided until his death.

On Mr Neich’s application for his 60th renewal the licensing inspector for the metropolitan district (Mr. W. S. Lenthall) kindly asked Mr Neich to be present, and afterwards presented him with a copy of his report, stating that when another 60 years had passed his great-grand-children might prize the document.

An Old Report

The inspector’s report which is still in the son’s possession, was as follows:-“With reference to the attached application, I beg to call attention of the Licensing Bench to the fact that this is the 60th annual renewal of a publican’s li-cense which has been granted to Mr Neich. I am informed that he first held a publican’s license in Sydney in 1830. He now keeps a house, which is his own property, in a most respectable manner, and has, I believe, never been summoned for any breach of the Licensing Acts. In fact, he is a credit and example to the trade he belongs to, and certainly is the oldest publican in New South Wales, if not in the world. I feel sure that the Licensing Bench will feel pleased to know of the above facts.”

The Son Follows

On the granting of his 57th renewal, Mr Neich entertained a number of his friends at the City Catering Rooms, among the guests being Mr. (now Sir) J. H. Carruthers, who was then Minister for Public Instruction, and other well-known public, men. Mr Carruthers, in the course of his speech, stated that, if all public houses were conducted on the same lines as their guest’s, there would he no need for prohibition.

Mr Neich died on October 14, 1893, at the age of 87 years. The license then passed over to his wife, and she held it up till the time of her death, which took place in June, 1909. The son, Mr Burwood Neich, then took up the license, which he held until October 21, 1919, when a long and worthy family record came to an end.

Mr B. Neich still has in his possession the old brass plate of the “Black Dog on the Rocks,” which his father used for the printing of his labels. Two sons are now hotelkeepers in Wellington, viz., Mr Burwood Neich, of the Clubhouse Hotel, and Mr Ossie Neich, of the Royal Hotel, the latter being the well-known trainer of trotting horses.

Mr Neich and his family were well known in Parramatta, where the late Mr William Neich kept the Rose and Crown Hotel, where he also had an unblemished record as a licensee. Mrs R. Hack was the daughter-in-law of Mr. Emanuel Neich, and she managed the Old White Horse Hotel, Parramatta, where she had equal distinction with the late father and brothers.

– Cumberland Argus 19 January 1921.

The Bath Arms, Parramatta Road, Burwood. Picture: Supplied

A COMPLIMENTARY report by Inspector Lenthall, metropolitan district inspector under the Licensing Act, was read by the magistrates presiding over the annual sitting of the licensing court at the central police court, Sydney, on Tuesday. The report had reference to the application of Emanuel Neich, licensee of the Bath Arms Hotel, Burwood, for a renewal of his license, which was granted. Attention of the bench was called to the fact that this was the sixtieth annual renewal of a publican’s license granted to Mr. Neich, who first held a license in Sydney as far back as 1830. His house – his own property – was kept in a most reputable manner and he had never been summoned for any breach of the Licensing Act. He was a credit to the trade and was the oldest publican in New South Wales, if not the world. Mr Neich entertained a number of his friends the same day at the City Catering Rooms. Mr Curruthers (minister for public instructions) presided, and a number of other well-known gentlemen were present. It was mentioned that Mr. Neich is the father of twenty-seven children, of who nineteen are living.

– Goulburn Herald (NSW), Friday 12 June 1891.

The Last Renewal

The patriarch of Sydney publicans, Emanuel Neich, a native of Genoa (Italy), has died at his residence, Bath Arms, Parramatta Road, Burwood, aged 86 years. He held the licence of the house for 62 years, and boasted that he had never been prosecuted for any breach of the law.

National Advocate (Bathurst, NSW) Saturday 21 October 1893.

Emanuel Neich

First nameEmanuel
Last nameNeich
Country of OriginItaly
Date of Birth20.1.1807
Year of Arrival in Australia1826
Submitted byDorothy De George (nee Neich)

Emanuel joined the Italian Merchant Marine at 14 and mistakenly found himself coming out to New Holland (Australia, not Holland) and decided to stay. He was born Emmanuel Danero in Genoa. The Captain on board the ‘Lord Rodney’ called him Neich, he assumed that name when he arrived. He owned The Black Dog Hotel in the Rocks but was conned out of his money by the manager he installed whilst he continued his merchant career sailing around the Pacific.

He married a local girl, Mary Comer, daughter of a convict, James Comer, in St Phillips Church, Sydney 20.1.1834. James gave them his hotel, The Bath Arms, Burwood NSW as a wedding present. They raised 14 children before Mary died at 44. Emanuel married again (Maryann Parkinson) and produced another 10 children. During his first marriage Emanuel also produced another child with Mary Cupitt on 10.2.1846 and they called her Sophia Neich. Sophia married William Whatman and their 6th child, Emily, married George Bradman – the parents of Sir Donald Bradman.

Emanuel held an unblemished liquor licence from 1830 – 1893, and became a leading citizen of Burwood. He, James and family were instrumental in opening a road between the Bath Arms on Parramatta Road to Liverpool Road known as Neich’s Lane (now Burwood Rd) and from Parramatta Rd to Hen & Chicken Bay on the Parramatta River.

Emanuel Neich, Seafarer, Trader, Innkeeper, Landowner and Free Settler died in Burwood 14.10.1893 (86 years). His cortage extended from the Bath Arms to St John’s Church in Alt Street, Ashfield where he is buried with his first wife Mary (27.12.1819 – 26.11.1863) and four of their children in a magnificent standstone carved vault in the church grounds.

Bath Arms Hotel Burwood NSW TG
The Bath Arms Hotel continues to trade today at the corner of Burwood Road and Parramatta Road, Burwood on the same site in an updated building. Picture: Mick Roberts Collection

The Bath Arms was remodelled in the mid 1920s,

with a new brick facade added to the front. 

Bath Arms Hotel Burwood 1930 anu
The remodelled Bath Arms in August 1930. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives. Australian National University


The Bath Arms, Parramatta-road, Burwood (Sydney), one of the oldest hotels in Australia, is in the hands of the demolishers. The hotel was established more than 110 years ago, and was once visited by the Donoghue gang of bushrangers after the murder of a Waddell. The hotel stables, which were reputed once to have housed Carbine, will not be pulled down.

– Daily Advertiser (Wagga Wagga) Saturday 30 January 1937.

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Categories: NSW hotels, Publicans, Sydney hotels

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7 replies

  1. maybe the oldest female licencee-publican,was Jose waterstreet-pasterol Hotel -Albury-b 1900 lic to 1983 are there older?

  2. And likely a descendant of Charles Ring who discovered gold in NZ in the Coromandel region in 1852.He too was a colourful character.

  3. Emanuel Neich is my GGGrandfather. I was well versed in the family legend of this resourceful and prolific publican. It’s never been established how he raised the funds to buy The Black Dog at The Rocks. He got lucky with my GGGmother, Mary Comer, no doubt about it. Her father was the family convict, emancipated and subsequently made good choices thereafter. Visited their graves at Ashfield, what I would give to chat.

  4. For what it is worth ,Emmanuel and Mary Cupitt’s daughter was indeed Don Bradman’s Grandmother. Mary Cupitt went on to have many more children . She finally produced three more children with William Andrews Snr. out of wedlock after her marriage to Emmett . William Andrews jnr. Married Eliza Bradman and ,Richard Andrews married Sarah Bradman ,Both Sir Donald’s Aunties.and Thomas Andrews (my Grandfather) married Adelaide Cosgrove , Sir Peter Cosgrove’s Cousin. Mary Cupitt died withing days of my Grandfather George’s birth .

  5. Never visited the Bath Arms, but a mate always said (in the mid 1980’s) whenever a prisoner escaped from jail the police would check there first !!!

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