The site on which Maitland developed has had several names, both official and unofficial.
Aboriginal names for parts of the area included Coquon or Coquun (fresh water, referring to a reach of the Hunter River), Bo-un (for the area of today's CBD), Boomi (for the original confluence with Wallis Creek next to today's Smyth Park) and Coonanbarra (the Morpeth reach of the Hunter).
An exploratory trip up the Hunter by James Grant, William Paterson and Francis Barralier in 1801 saw the name Schanks Forest Plains given to the general area from about Morpeth to the site that later became West Maitland. John Schank was the designer of the Lady Nelson, on which the trip was made. Soon after came the convict timber-cutters. One of the places they stayed at became known as 'The Camp', possibly near today's Raworth.
Soon after European settlement began in 1818, the name 'New Banks' was used by some to distinguish what is now the central Maitland area from 'Old Banks', on the Paterson River and settled a few years earlier. Then came the name 'Wallis Plains', bestowed by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1818 during an inspection with James Wallis, the Commandant of the penal colony at Newcastle.
This trip saw several names appear: the areas to the east and west of the lower Paterson River were labelled the 'Macquarie District' and the 'Wallis District' respectively. Macquarie also named reaches of the Hunter River after himself and his wife Elizabeth, and gave Wallis Creek its name. Wallis apparently suggested that a large lagoon stretching from today's Louth Park to the Farley area be called 'Lake Lachlan' after the Governor's son. Of these, only the creek's name has survived.
The lagoon soon disappeared, drained to create farmland. Lake Paterson, in the Woodville area and named after William Paterson, went the same way. There have been informal names, too. Several were associated with Molly Morgan, one of the first settlers.
Part of Horseshoe Bend, according to Cynthia Hunter's Bound for Wallis Plains, the location of the land grant she took up in 1819, was widely known in the 1820s as 'Molly Morgan's Bend' and 'Molly Morgan's Swamp', and the town that developed at Wallis Plains was called by some 'Molly Morgan's', 'Molly Morgan's Plains' or 'Molly Morgan's Flat'. The track from Maitland to Singleton was known as 'Molly Morgan's Line of Road'.
Such frequent namings after an individual imply peer respect. Molly, the 'Queen of the Hunter' to some in her time, probably had more things named after her in the Hunter than almost any of her contemporaries apart from Macquarie.
Her name persists still in the area: there is a Molly Morgan Ridge near Allandale and a Mount Molly Morgan nearby. The Horseshoe Bend, where Molly Morgan had her first plot of land. Henry Dangar's survey in 1823 allocated her a holding on High St (No 12 on this map) so the government could use her original grant for the Port of Maitland (Cynthia Hunter, Bound for Wallis Plains)