200-year-old sabre on display in Speers Point Library

Ann Crump with the Warner sabre

A rare 200-year-old military sabre that once belonged to one of the pioneers of European settlement in Lake Macquarie has gone on public display for the first time.

The Pattern 1796 light cavalry sabre was once owned by Jonathan Warner, after whom Warners Bay is named.

Warner fought the French as a British officer in the Napoleonic Wars – where he likely obtained and used the sabre – before emigrating to Australia in 1826.

He settled several years later in what is now known as Warners Bay, establishing a farm and orange orchard on the hill above the present-day Warners Bay Public School.

Lake Macquarie City Council Community Historian Ann Crump said the Pattern 1796 sabre was one of the most fearsome battlefield weapons of its time.

“It was designed to be a slashing weapon and is recognised as one of the deadliest cutting swords ever manufactured in large quantities,” Ms Crump said.

An epaulette worn by Warner as part of his military uniform

Warner died in 1843 aged 57, but the sabre was passed down to his granddaughter, Rosa Ellen Warner, ending up sitting for decades wrapped in calico on top of a cupboard on a property in Tamworth.

Ms Crump said the relatively dry environment during that period helped preserve the weapon. Its original scabbard is also largely intact.

“Warner is a significant character in the history of European settlement in Lake Macquarie, yet very few artefacts relating to him remain,” Ms Crump said.

“That makes this sabre such an important heritage item.”

Warner descendent Margaret Brown kindly donated the sabre and other family items to Lake Macquarie City Council last year.

The sabre, an epaulette worn by Warner as part of his military uniform, letters he wrote during his time in Lake Macquarie and a historical photo of Warner’s home, known as Biddaba, are on display until March at Speers Point Library.