Henry Dangar was responsible for imposing some discipline on the land situation in the early Maitland.
The original allotments, given in 1818 to the first settlers, were without stable tenure and were highly "informal", even irregular in their establishment: they were all about 30 acres (12 hectares) in size but none had clearly or formally defined boundaries.
It was Dangar, five years after the settlers had taken up their blocks, who surveyed their holdings, created their boundaries and conducted an inventory of what the settlers had created.
The need for the survey grew from the demands imposed by people who were looking for work in Wallis Plains or travelling to the upper Hunter and beyond to establish their own holdings.
From 1821 the through traffic grew rapidly, and road allotments had to be provided, land management realities recognised (leased land was being bought and sold without clear title) and government purposes to be accommodated.
"Adjustments" to the existing holdings were required, with compensation (in the form of additional land) provided to those whose lands and livelihoods were affected.
Dangar's survey was carried out in 1823 and was accompanied by the compilation of an important inventory of the improvements that had been made by the settlers.
Dangar assessed these improvements (habitations, barns, fences, crops and livestock) as amounting to £664/10s on a total land area of 817 acres already more than double the total area of the initial grants.
Clearly, the settlers had been able to take advantage of the lax conditions of their occupation of Wallis Creek. John Eckford's original 30 acres, for example, had become 40.
Dangar recognised the increases and allowed more: Patrick Maloney's farm of 26 acres became 53.5 while William Jones' holding was increased to 100 acres from 36.
Dangar had arrived in New South Wales in 1821 and quickly obtained employment as a government surveyor.
He laid out the road network of Newcastle, marked the overland route to Wallis Plains and beyond and set aside land for churches and reserves.
He then explored the upper Hunter and areas west of the Great Divide.
Most importantly, he laid the survey foundation for the granting of large estates throughout the Hunter Valley: these were to open up the rich land around Maitland and elsewhere to agriculture.
His inventory of Wallis Plains, the survey record of the holdings there and the maps he drew of the Hunter became important historical documents.
In 1825 Governor Brisbane granted Dangar 300 acres at Whittingham (near Singleton), Dangar purchasing on the same day an adjacent 700 acres making his estate 1,000 acres of the finest alluvial land in the colony.
Eventually Dangar fell foul of the law when he allocated himself land that an enquiry found to have involved a misuse of his powers.
Dismissed, he returned to England but came back to work as a surveyor for the Australian Agricultural Company in the Port Stephens area.
Over time he obtained several large holdings west of the Great Dividing Range, totalling 300,000 acres.
On one of these stations, near Inverell, the Myall Creek massacre occurred in 1838: Dangar tried unsuccessfully to sway the trial in favour of those responsible.
He later became a magistrate and a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council.