The Mercury

Thursday 1 July 2004


Big wedding turn-out


July 1, 1804

The Reverend Robert Knopwood's first duty of the day is the marriage of overseer John Ingle to Miss Rebecca Hobbs.
Soon after their departure from England, Rebecca Hobbs had become pregnant and her child with John Ingle was born in Port Phillip while waiting for their turn for passage to the Derwent. They did not arrive at Hobart Town until last Monday.
Rebecca's (American) mother, the widow of a naval lieutenant and the mother-in-law of Dr Hopley, one of the settlement's medical officers, would have insisted on the proper formalities to legalise this new situation, and so a wedding was hurriedly arranged for the very first opportunity which offered itself. The witnesses were Dr Hopley and magistrate G.P. Harris, the latter soon to fall in love himself with the youngest daughter of Mrs. Hobbs, Anne Jane (they married some time later).
It is interesting to speculate on the bridal party of that day, and the wide range of connections all these people would bring together in that one group.
The mother of the bride, American-born Jane Hobbs, was the recent widow of Senior Lieutenant William Hobbs, and would therefore still have enjoyed the social standing that came with the rank of her late husband. On the strength of this, Senior Lieutenant Sladden and his wife would have attended, while Dr Hopley, one of the medical officers of the settlement, also was present because of his marriage to Judith, a sister of the bride.
His rank in turn would have made it possible for the senior medical officer of the colony, William I'Anson and his wife to attend. Magistrate G. P. Harris was present not only as a witness, but also because of his friendship with Mrs. Hobbs' youngest daughter Ann Jane.
We also know that the fourth daughter, Charity, would a few years later marry the harbour master-turned-whaler William Collins, who may have been present as well. Finally there was the youngest member of the Hobbs family, James Hobbs, who later would follow his father's example with an illustrious career in the navy.
Virtually nothing is known of Ingle's earlier social contacts, but we may assume that a fair few of his daily friends (at that time he was in charge of prisoners) such as Richard Clarke and others, would also have attended. Ingle would soon become a major player on the commercial scene of Hobart Town, and only 10 years later was able to erect his Ingle Hall, a large brick house on the corner of Macquarie and Argyle Streets, still in existence today opposite the Town Hall. And thus the first foundations were laid for the development of a Hobart society.

(JOHN INGLE 1781?-1872 sailed with Governor Collins in 1803, and a short time after the arrival of the expedition at Hobart Town he became a settler and trader. In 1818 he returned to England with the reputation of being a rich but vulgar man, which did not stop him from marrying again and having many more children. Still wealthy, he died in 1872. In Hobart he is mainly remembered in the form of Ingle Hall, a fine early colonial residence which he erected in 1814 on the corner of Macquarie and Argyle streets.)
And with that ceremony out of the way, Knopwood then acted on the instructions he received from Collins by hurrying to Risdon Cove to perform Divine Service there, with Lieutenant Johnson joining him to ensure that all, including the military, attend.
Lieutenant Moore indeed gets the message, and made sure that he and his handful of soldiers were present at the service.
However, just to ensure that the correct form of relationship between Lieutenant Bowen and Moore continued to be maintained, Knopwood and Johnson then dined with Bowen, joined later in the evening by Sladden. When later that evening Knopwood left Bowen's hut to go home again, the chaplain sprained his ankle badly; he was unable to return to Hobart Town and consequently was obliged to stay the night at Moore's nearby hut.
(According to the social mores of the day, the presence of Martha Hayes would of course have prevented Knopwood from staying in Bowen's hut anyway, but apart from the fact that the hut of Moore was almost next door, his overnight's stay in this hut balanced nicely the earlier time spent in Bowen's hut in company that had not included Moore.)
Knopwood later noted in his diary that while on their way to Risdon we passed so many whales that it was dangerous for the boat to go up the river unless you kept very close near the shore. (Soon, whaling activities in the Derwent and in southern Tasmania in general made sure that such a danger to shipping would be rapidly eliminated!)
In the morning, Collins was told of the theft of the ewe lamb the night before last. In view of the precarious position of the present and future food supply of the settlement this is a serious matter and, much annoyed, he promptly offered a reward of conditional emancipation (i.e. virtual freedom) to any convict who comes up with any information resulting in the conviction of the miscreant(s).



The Mercury

Friday 2 July 2004, page 15


July 2, 1804

The winter rain continued while the Ocean unloaded its cargo.
At Risdon Cove, the Rev Robert Knopwood seems to have recovered from his mishap yesterday, and so he and Wilson return to Hobart Town.



Sunday Tasmanian

Sunday 4 July 2004, page 18


Knopwood in a hurry


July 4, 1804

With his job of the transfer of the Government Stores now finished, Wilson returned after a breakfast to Risdon Cove, while Knopwood and Mr. Harris then sat down to hear a charge against prisoner Robert Stewart, who once again had got himself into trouble.
With his usual discretion about court matters, Knopwood doesn't mention with what but the hearing seems to last longer than what he had expected, and so he adjourned the case until tomorrow.
The probable reason for this adjournment soon becomes clear, as Knopwood then hurried to go on board the Ocean for a dinner with his friend Captain Mertho, returning late that evening much the worse for wear!



The Mercury

Tuesday 6 July 2004, page 10


Night watch to stop theft


July 6, 1804

With all the hospitality he had enjoyed lately aboard the Ocean, Rev. Robert Knopwood felt it was time to reciprocate and organised a dinner for Captain Mertho with Lieutenant Bowen, Lieutenant Johnson and Mountgarret also joining the table.
There would have been much to talk and gossip about, but no doubt the coming return of the Ocean to Sydney would have been a major subject of discussion.
The recent theft from behind the hospital of a ewe lamb was apparently not an isolated case.
Lieutenant-Governor Collins angrily remarked that these thefts could not have been perpetrated if the guards had been more vigilant, and decided to take action.
As all the personnel of the original night-watch at Phillip Bay are now present again, there would from now onward be two watches on duty under the command of William Stocker (at that time officially still a prisoner), who was to report to a magistrate on any irregularities that occurred during the night, the Lt-Governor to be informed at the next morning parade.

NOTE: The idea of a having a night-watch guarding the settlement during the hours of darkness originated in Sydney in 1789, when a Jewish convict by the name of Harris suggested to Collins the formation of a night-watch for the preservation of public and private property.
Its members were to be chosen from trustworthy convicts, whose task it was to arrest all suspicious people wandering about at improper hours. After some consideration the Governor accepted the plan and Harris soon after became the colony's first policeman and the leader of his chosen band of men.
As a badge of office each was given a wooden baton, and they were to report every morning to Collins in person.
Personally, Collins would have liked to have seen these policemen chosen from free people but, as he wistfully noted at that time, there was not any choice.
When a decade later the need for the nighttime guarding of his own settlement came up again Collins drew on his earlier experiences in Sydney, but this time managed to get a full complement chosen from free men.



The Mercury

Wednesday 7 July 2004, page 28


House with a colourful history


July 7, 1804

The bow sprit bith for the Ocean having been replaced, the ships carpenter is now attending to the ship's rudder. Some of the iron fittings had been sprung under the load imposed on them by the atrocious weather conditions of the past few weeks and therefore had to be unshipped.
This would have been a major job for the crew, especially as there were no cranes or any other lifting devices on the shore.
Meanwhile, Knopwood kept busy in his tent all day, but in the evening relaxed in the company of Lieutenant Moore from Risdon Cove, while outside the westerlies continued to bring rain.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: In The Mercury history series on Monday reference was made to John Ingle living in Ingle Hall. John Ingle himself never lived in this fine example of early colonial architecture -- the name of this house notwithstanding.
Ingle (1781?-1872) had sailed with Collins in 1803, and a short time after the arrival of the expedition at Hobart Town he became a settler and trader, and in general would soon become a major player on the commercial scene of Hobart Town.
Ingle married in 1804, and in 1811 he and his young wife were noted by Surveyor Meehan to live in a small hut or cottage in what would later be the garden of Ingle Hall, a location now covered by the presses of The Mercury in Argyle Street.
This land had been granted to him shortly before, but for reasons unknown was soon after transferred by Ingle to Edward Lord.
The date was unclear (in 1813 Meehan still referred again to Ingle's land).
Now being the owner of the site, Lord, erected (in 1813-1814) a fine brick house on the street corner facing Macquarie St, then THE address for gentlemen to live. It was finished some time in 1814, an event celebrated apparently by Lord and his (Tasmanian) wife with a house-warming party described by Knopwood in his Diary for October 11 as A great ball and supper was given by Mr. and Mrs. Lord to all the ladies and gents in the Colony, the greatest dinner (ever) given in the colony.
Whether an earlier dinner given by Lord to the Governor, Knopwood and others (Knopwood) in January 1814 also took place in that house remains one of these niggling uncertainties.
Lord only lived in this house until 1819, when he returned to England and his English wife, meanwhile renting his house out to several of his business mates. Lord did return several times to Tasmania, but he never again lived in the house, preferring to consider London as his main place of residence.
Lord's Tasmanian wife, meanwhile, had stayed behind, running a shop and store on The Mercury side of Ingle Hall wile living in a house behind it, an area now covered by the rear of The Mercury offices, but she later moved her shop to a better business location in Elizabeth Street. A year before Lord's departure to England, Ingle also had returned home and from then onward seems to have lived in Stonehouse, near Bristol.
But he continued to have financial dealings with Lord, such as when in October 1831 he became owner of Lord's house in Macquarie Street for pound stg. 4000 as part of a debt owed to him by Lord, and the later association of Ingle's name with these premises may have dated from then.
From all this it will be noted that Ingle never actually lived in the house, his domicile by then being in the village of Stonehouse near Bristol, England.
Meanwhile, the house continued to be used for commercial purposes until 1846, when it became the first premises of the later Hutchins School. In 1864 John Ingle transferred the title of the house to his son, after which Ingle Snr died in England on June 1, 1872.
It could be added here that Ingle's original grant covered all the land from the present GPO/The Mercury lane to the corner of Macquarie and Argyle streets, and from there onward to the corner of Argyle and Collins streets. This made him the backdoor neighbour of Andrew Whitehead and his wife Martha Hayes, who ran the Derwent Hotel near the end of the present Lord's Lane alongside the GPO, while near the GPO corner he was the neighbour of James Lord, all of them interesting figures in early Hobartian history.
I thank Mr. Richard Lord for drawing my attention to certain details of this story which I had missed in my version of early Ingle Hall on July 1.



The Mercury

Thursday 8 July 2004, page 10


July 8, 1804

The weather is still so cold and inclement that the regular Sunday divine service is cancelled once more.  Knopwood stays in his tent entertaining Lieutenant Bowen and Mr. Wilson (both of whom apparently had come over from Risdon Cove especially for the service), and later he dines with Lieutenant Johnson. While no remarks are being made about the subjects being discussed, it is fair to suspect that the approaching closure of the Risdon Cove settlement will again have been fairly prominent.
In the cove the crew of the Ocean gives the whole ship a good clean up. The ship's carpenter is still very busy repairing the damage to the masts and rigging the ship suffered during the terrible journey from Port Phillip to the Derwent.



The Mercury

Friday 9 July 2004, page 9


Unloading of Ocean cargo


July 9, 1804

Some of the last items of cargo are being unloaded from the Ocean while Captain Mertho and Mountgarret call in at Knopwood's tent for a chat.
But Knopwood sends them on their way again with the excuse that, unfortunately, he doesn't have time to see anyone as he is too busy in court dealing with a misdeed of one of Mr. Harris's servants.
Meanwhile, the crew on board the Ocean give the rigging a good check-up, while there are also many sails to be repaired.



The Mercury

Saturday 10 July 2004, page 21


Convicts make their mark


July 10, 1804

Early in the morning, Knopwood and Governor Collins, as magistrates. attend the flogging of two prisoners, John Rogers and Thomas Green, both receiving 100 lashes. With that job out of the way, Knopwood joins the Governor for a hearty breakfast.
JOHN ROGERS, a 20-year-old convict from Sussex, at first led a difficult life but then settled down as a farmer in the Clarence Plains area where he kept sheep and cattle.
THOMAS GREEN, a young man from Warwickshire, made his escape early in 1805 on the ship Myrtle but never got beyond Sydney. Governor King promptly sent him back to Hobart Town.
He then calmed down, became one of Collins' gamekeepers (his task was to provide kangaroo meat for the table of the Governor and his establishment) and married a sister of John P. Fawkner. After Green's death in 1812 his widow, Elizabeth, married Richard Lucas, the son of a private in the First Fleet, thus starting what would eventually become a well-known family in the Browns River area south of Hobart.)
And with the court case out of the way, Knopwood once again makes a walk later that day with John Grove, an engraver by trade and officially a prisoner transported for life, but because of his intellectual abilities and general personal qualities he was soon given freedom of movement and duties by Collins.
Grove soon became friendly with several senior officers in the settlement and was a personal friend of Collins, who in private seems to have frequently called on Grove for his views or suggestions on certain matters. He also was an innovative person, who already in the Port Phillip settlement had shown that it was possible to produce alkali (a basic ingredient of soap) by burning kelp found on the beach.
A few years later he designed a new Government House for Collins and when Collins died in 1810 a grief-stricken Grove produced the Huon pine coffin for the Governor.
The matter of the security of the Government Stores, much of which is still either stored in tents or out in the open on Hunter Island, continues to cause concern and it is therefore no wonder that a decision is made to replace these tents with a proper store house.
Little is known about the details of this wooden structure with a thatched roof, but from later in the year onward it begins to appear on the various sketches of the waterfront. But it is a temporary affair only, intended to be replaced with a stone store as soon as Richard Clarke, at present still occupied with building the stone powder magazine, is ready to do the job.
(This proposed stone store took literally many years to get off the ground, but still exists today in the form of offices used by the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Macquarie St, opposite the Hope and Anchor Hotel.)
The fixing of the storm damage done to the Ocean is still continuing. More sails are being repaired while the damaged rudder has come back from the workshop and is being fitted again to the stern of the ship. While that is going on others are engaged with filling up the many water casks again with fresh drinking water.



The Mercury

Monday 12 July 2004, page 10


A stormy night at Risdon Cove


July 12, 1804

After breakfast, Knopwood accompanied his friend Wilson back to the shore opposite Risdon Cove, where they are in luck. They happen to see Lieutenant Moore, manage to draw his attention, and soon the pair is being ferried across the Derwent to the small settlement which is now readying itself for the final close-down.
But the weather continued to be terrible, and so Knopwood was forced to stay overnight as the guest of Bowen, grateful that he didn't have to travel back in an open boat to Sullivans Cove.
Bowen's accommodation at Risdon Cove started off as a tent fashioned from an old sail, but an entry in Meehan's survey of Risdon Cove in November 1803 suggests that by then he lived in a hut, quite understandably as Martha Hayes was also with him.
There are also later suggestions that both Bowen and Moore have a room -- or rooms? -- in Mr. Mountgarret's house, a much larger and much more comfortable hut in a more sheltered position, but details remain unclear.
In his diary Knopwood does not mention the presence of Martha Hayes and her baby, both of whom would undoubtedly have been there.
Much hard work is meanwhile still taking place on board the Ocean, which is now made ready for the transport of a large group of soldiers, settlers and convicts back to Sydney.
Today the empty water casks are being taken ashore to have them filled up again, a heavy, cold and wet job that would have kept many of the crew and prisoners busy.



The Mercury

Tuesday 13 July 2004, page 8


Rush to erect more huts


July 13, 1804

Because of all the winter rain there is plenty of water about in the nearby creeks to fill still more water casks in the Ocean. (Hopefully these casks were not filled with water from the Hobart Rivulet, as even at that early stage its quality would have been suspect.)
In the settlement itself, the recent arrival of so many additional people caused a marked increase in the weekly rations needed to feed and clothe everybody.
With all these pressures on the food supply it is clear that some serious calculations have to be made, such as the quantity of food available in the Government store divided by the number of mouths to be fed.
Collins has given it some thought and now orders first of all a muster of the prisoners in the settlement next Tuesday immediately following the issue of provisions on that day.
The Commissary is also to take down once again the name of every person in the settlement and classify them into the various groupings of the food rations they are entitled to.
Collins furthermore wants to know the quantity of wet and dry provisions remaining in Store, and how long they will last if continued to be issued at the present rates.
Finally, Commissary Fosbrook and his clerks are asked to close the books on their expenditure since they left England, up till the 17th next.
Collins obviously wants to use the approaching departure of the Ocean as an audit date for the accounts and send them to his superiors in England.
Another matter still absorbing much of Collins' attention is the efforts to get his people under cover.
At the arrival of the Ocean just about everybody (except some of the officers) were still living in huts, but with the sudden influx from all the additional people from Port Phillip a housing program is put in motion to get the rest of them under dry cover.
The prisoners are therefore hurriedly building more huts, while some of the huts at the Risdon Cove settlement are being dismantled to be used again at Sullivans Cove.
The roofing of these new huts, however, remains a problem, as the timber in the area turns out to be not much good for splitting into shingles.
Therefore long grass and similar vegetation -- such as leaves of the grass tree (Xanthorrhoea arbrea) -- is being used for that purpose, but it is a material that clearly is a great fire hazard.



The Mercury

Wednesday 14 July 2004, page 21


Collins’ ‘phantom’ son


July 14, 1804

A biting early morning frost and more water casks are being filled and taken on board the Ocean, together with other supplies needed for the trip back to Port Jackson.
Knopwood and Harris hold court, and preside over the case of two men who robbed the Government stores, and were found guilty.
Then, in his function of magistrate, Knopwood visits the Ocean and takes possession of certain items, but with his usual magisterial discretion doesn't give any further details.
In one of the cold and damp huts housing the marines, Mary Kearley gives birth to a boy named George, after his father.
Unfortunately, the child lives only briefly and is recorded the next day as having died.
Knopwood does not record the death of the child or its funeral (the parents may have been Irish and therefore Catholic?).
Although a high mortality rate of newly-born babies was quite common in those days, the poor diet of the mother over the past year or so would not have helped the growth of the unborn child.
In the evening, Knopwood hosts at his dinner table Lieutenant Johnson and George Collins, the 10-year-old son of Governor Collins.
Being the illegitimate son of the Governor, the official records are very discreet if not totally silent on the presence and movements of this boy.
The musters do not mention him.
He is certainly not counted in the muster of late July 1804 and Knopwood's note in his diary that he hosts the boy at his dinner table is indeed the only firm proof we have of his presence in Hobart Town at that time.
When Collins left Sydney for London in 1796 this son had been left behind, but from 1800 onward he was under the protection of Governor King -- a personal friend of Collins -- who in January 1804 used the return of Lieutenant Bowen on the Integrity as a suitable occasion to send the boy back to his father.
Some years later King apprenticed the young boy at Collins' request to HMS Buffalo, and in this way ensured for Collins' son what was seen in those days as a good start in life.
Commented Collins: I trust he will do well.
With the same Anna Yeates, Collins also had a daughter named Marianne.
This girl was married off to an American whaler, Samuel R. Chase, who had been roaming Bass Strait for several years.
At the time of her marriage to this hard-bitten seaman, she was all of 15 years-old.



The Mercury

Thursday 15 July 2004


Too cold for church service


July 15, 1804

Because of the heavy showers and frosty temperatures, it is decided to cancel the divine service which was about to be held.  With that decision out of the way, Knopwood invites his friends Lieutenant Moore and Dr Mountgarret, who had come over for the day from Risdon Cove, to join him for a yarn in his tent.



The Mercury

Saturday 17 July 2004, page 15


The move from Risdon


July 17, 1804

Knopwood accompanies Lieutenant Johnson to the Government Farm at Cornelian Bay, from where Johnston is ferried across to Risdon Cove for a meeting with its Commandant, Lieutenant Bowen, to discuss the removal operation planned for next week.
They decide to move first of all the Risdon livestock across the river to the Government Farm, so that there is no further worry about their upkeep and care.
All the agricultural equipment can then also be taken to the farm or the Government Store at Sullivans Cove after which, for security reasons, the prisoners will be taken in small groups to the Ocean, followed by the free settlers and their families.
Several of the sick seamen from the Ocean put ashore into the settlement's small hospital when the ship arrived in Sullivans Cove appear to have improved sufficiently well to be taken back on board again.
This will have pleased Captain Mertho very much as the crew of his ship was much under-strength as a result of all the calamities they suffered during the journey from Port Phillip to the Derwent. But a further eight are still recuperating on shore, of whom at least one was still very ill.



Sunday Tasmanian

Sunday 18 July 2004, page 17


Hasty unloading causes problems


July 16, 1804

On board the Ocean, the ship's carpenter is still occupied with repairing the damaged rigging, but this did not prevent Harris and Knopwood having a pleasant lunch on board with Captain Mertho, after which they went ashore to continue their pastime, probably in Knopwood's tent.
The audit of the inventory of the Government stores in stock as requested by Collins last week created practical problems for the clerks.
The arrival of the Ocean and its hurried unloading saw much of its freight stacked everywhere just to get it out of the way.
But in consequence this haste resulted in a serious mix-up of old and new stock and, to cover not only his own back but very likely also any other “irregularities” within the store, Commissary Fosbrook reported to Collins that: “From the very confused state the stores, provisions etc are at present in owing to the colony having been divided for a great length of time, and the stores etc recently brought from Port Phillips being mixed with those landed earlier, I fear that it will be impossible to procure an account of the expenditure of stores and provisions in time for sending to England, as it will be absolutely necessary to have a survey on the remaining [goods], which is at present impracticable until the temporary Store House can be made ready for the reception of the stores and provisions from the present temporary tents. We will, however, use every exertion to procure returns to send by the first subsequent conveyance.”
Collins was not happy as he knew the Government accountants in London -- far removed from reality on the other side of the globe -- had little time for excuses of this nature, but of course had no alternative but to accept Fosbrook's reply.
What was subsequently discussed between these two remains unknown, but some idea may be gleaned from the fact the matter ended not with an inventory being sent to London but instead a recommendation for an increase of Fosbrook's salary



The Mercury

Monday 19 July 2004, page 20


A long, cold winter


July 19, 1804

Another typical Hobart winter's day with stormy wet weather and snow on the hills around the settlement. Knopwood's comment: “A very bad night of wet”.
There is very little surviving evidence about the way in which the common settlers and convicts -- all people far less fortunate than the privileged senior officers -- coped with this wintry weather.
The huts in which most people lived would by now, at best, only be a structure hurriedly put together from whatever building materials their environment offered such as timber frames, walls made from woven acacia boughs plastered with wet clay (or planking for the lucky ones), a roof structure also made from timber found in the bush, and covered with either slabs of timber, bark or grass sods or an old sheet of canvas.
Due to the lack of glass and pre-made doors, these openings were closed off with sheets of canvas, soaked in oil to make them waterproof.
Around the hut would be the essential stack of firewood and kindling and, again for the lucky ones, a small enclosure with one or two chickens or even a hog, carefully tended for the time it would be slaughtered.
Soon, a paling fence or a simple stick fence with brushwood woven into it would mark the area of their land around the hut and, more importantly, would keep out the local wildlife stalking the chickens. No domestic furniture is mentioned in the cargo lists, implying that everybody had to create their own tables and chairs, shelves and the like from whatever suitable timber could be obtained. Unfortunately, none of these early items of furniture have survived, but we can be quite certain that palings were used to fashion deal tables, while in most cases the seating consisted of benches, which are easier to make than chairs and can seat more persons in a given space.
Fireplaces were soon constructed from whatever pieces of sandstone could be found (one building material fortunately in plentiful supply), while the flue above the fireplace would usually consist of planking. (Some old bush huts in Tasmania still have a basically very similar fireplace, while much of their original furniture would not have been much different from that described above).
Cooking was done in iron cooking pots, of which one had been provided to each hut, while the tableware consisted of standard issue Mess Bowls, Platters and Spoons (wooden); kettles of different sizes (9, 13 and 18 litres) are also mentioned. The pots and kettles would hang from an iron chain or hook over the fire, and it was the task of the women (or in the convict huts, one of the prisoners) to keep the fire going at all times (the only means to get dry and warm again at the end of the day) and have the necessary meals ready at the right time of the day.
Most menus would have consisted of a stew of some kind, and kangaroo meat cooked in a pot or barbecued over an open fire. There were very few greens available, soon causing many cases of scurvy to appear.
Bread may have been made from time to time (at that early stage, there still would have been very few proper bread ovens about), but the first versions of the later damper would have been a much more frequent item. (The word already turns up in the Australian literature during the 1820s.)
Few details of the bedding arrangements are known but the absence of blankets was much felt that winter, and when Governor Collins prepares a new list of additional required items from London, there are three items that head this list: Provisions, Cloathing, Blankets and Rugs, for 396 people -- a sad and telling comment on the priority requirements of the day.
The clothing that was provided was equally poor, and those who had come with the expedition without an extensive wardrobe from home (like all prisoners) would have had to do with coarse blue jackets, waistcoats, rough trousers and socks -- and with not a word spoken about warm underwear!
The shoes issued from the stores were apparently all of the same size, forcing many to go about on bare feet -- at that time a not uncommon experience for many anyway, even in England.
For the women, their clothing was equally simple. Shifts, petticoats, jackets, caps, stockings and hats were normal attire, while lengths of (unspecified) materials were available for purchase from the store. Such purchases had, of course, to be paid for in cash and in a community where any cash was in very short supply -- many had to do without.
During the first few years or so, these shortages of even the most essential items of clothing and food were the reasons why we read in the surviving documents of often quite severe penalties being meted out for the theft of an item of clothing, or for the theft of a goat, a chicken or other items of great domestic value.



The Mercury

Tuesday 20 July 2004, page 8


A hard day’s night


July 20, 1804

A cold and wet day, offering little comfort to those having to work hard in the open.
During the evening Lieutenant Johnston returned from Risdon Cove and stayed with Knopwood for the night, no doubt discussing with him -- over a good glass of wine -- the outcome of his arrangements with Lieutenant Bowen for the operation next week.
Meanwhile, the repair work on the Ocean is still continuing, the ship's carpenter now making a new mizzen topmast, again using the facilities of the settlement's convict workshop for this purpose.



The Mercury

Thursday 22 July 2004, page 14


Rigours of the chill


July 22, 1804

Still very wet and very cold, and with the mountain and surrounding hills covered under a deep layer of snow.
Knopwood's diary makes no mention of a service being held but during the afternoon, Lt Bowen, Wilson and Knopwood dined with Lt Johnson, joined later by Capt Mertho and again the logistics of the coming evacuation of the Risdon settlement will have been the main subject of conversation.
Then, probably because of the cold weather, Bowen was encouraged to stay overnight at the cove and spent the night with Johnson.
The frosty night sky was brilliantly clear, giving all those awake during the small hours of the morning a perfect view of a near-total eclipse of the moon over the mountain.



The Mercury

Friday 23 July 2004, page 12


Last acts of settlement shutdown


July 23, 1804

Today, the final closing down of the Risdon Cove settlement begins in earnest. Everybody is told to pack their things and any remaining Government property, such as tools, is to be taken to the store at Sullivans Cove.
Livestock is herded into holding pens close to the shore and waiting begins for the boats to carry everybody to the Ocean.
The carpenter of the Ocean meanwhile has finished a new mizzen topmast, enabling the crew to reship it, a tricky job high above all the other rigging of the ship, while the weather continues to shower them with sleet and hail.
On shore, Knopwood married prisoner Samuel Gunn to Janet Paterson, a free woman and the daughter of Overseer William Paterson.
This marriage was another example of the ease with which the free society moved and mixed with at least the better types of convicts. The settlement at Hobart Town was a very small community of people thrown together from all walks of life.
Progress, if not indeed their very existence in a distant and desolate part of the world, depended on a sensible compromise between the official classification of all people, on paper, and the realities of the real environment in which they all found themselves.
Samuel Gunn was an ex-navy shipwright who soon became a trusted tradesman on the waterfront. When it appeared that Janet had become pregnant a hasty marriage was arranged, and their child was born later that same year.
Gunn was a hard worker who soon had his own house built near the waterfront. It was so large that he was able to rent some space to the Grove family, another convict and a trusted friend of Governor Collins.



The Mercury

Saturday 24 July 2004, page 15


Ocean ready for sea


July 24, 1804

After the mizzen topmast was reshipped yesterday, the repairs on the Ocean seem to have come to an end and Collins is formally told that the Ocean is now ready for sea.
With yesterday's preparatory moves out of the way, Collins therefore now issued instructions that the crew of the Ocean were to start removing all people, stock and stores from Risdon to Sullivans Cove as planned, and so that afternoon one of the Ocean's longboats goes to Risdon in readiness for their transport which was to start tomorrow. (These large rowing boats were shallow enough in the water to be able to go up the Risdon Creek and moor in front of the Government store close to the shore.)



Sunday Tasmanian

Sunday 25 July 2004, page 43


Settlers sow the seeds of self sufficiency


July 25, 1804

As arranged a few days ago between Lieut Johnson and Lieut Bowen as a first priority, the cutter that went to Risdon yesterday was kept busy all day ferrying the livestock from the Risdon settlement across the Derwent. A later return listed one bull, nine cows and seven calves, 29 sheep and 16 lambs in total.
The Bull has been accustomed to draw,” reported Collins later, adding that “he is now very usefully employed at the Harrow”.
This bull would indeed have been welcomed by the prisoners working at the farm, because at that time the area of ground already in cultivation at the very new farmstead included some 8ha sown with wheat, 1/2ha with oats and 1ha with rye -- a not inconsiderable effort given the primitive hand tools that the convicts had to use for grubbing the land and tilling it.
Furthermore, they are still preparing paddocks and
facilities for the 200-odd Bengal cattle, expected to arrive soon in the Lady Barlow.
The cleared but now unused paddocks at Risdon Cove are also not allowed to go to waste. Collins therefore gave instructions to “fill them with seed, since the settlement would benefit by the Produce”, and that from now onward these paddocks were to be managed as part of the Government Farm just across the river.
It had become late when they finished this job of ferrying all the livestock and implements across the river, but then Lieut Bowen returned with the last boat back to Sullivans Cove to see Knopwood who, on behalf of the Governor, still seems to be keeping a discreet eye on proceedings.



The Mercury

Monday 26 July 2004, page 17


Stocktake shows supplies tight


July 26, 1804

Realising that the food shortage will become a major issue during the next few months, Collins orders everybody in the possession of livestock to give the details to the stores depot on Hunters Island in the next three days.
Hopefully, this would give him a better idea of the food supply and breeding stock on hand in the settlement.
The resulting figures from that census give an interesting picture of the carefully nurtured livestock on hand at that time: 21 cattle, 61 sheep, 18 goats, 56 pigs, and 176 geese, ducks and fowls. Much of this stock appears to be intended for breeding purposes, and the arrival of a few newborn lambs and the like is often mentioned even in official documents.
The arrival of the Lady Barlow in another few weeks, plus careful breeding, was to add considerably to these numbers so that a census taken in 1806 was able to report the presence of six horses, 280 cattle, 727 sheep, 113 goats and 27 hogs.
The full text of Governor Collins' instructions on the evacuation of Risdon is also now being released, ordering that [those members] of the establishment at Risdon Cove which the Lieutenant Governor does not retain at Hobart Town will embark on the Ocean on Sunday July 29.
Captain Bowen will give such directions as may be necessary to prevent any delay occurring when the boats arrive in the creek.
For the protection of the remaining buildings and other property at Risdon against marauding natives or escaped convicts -- or even free settlers in search of building materials -- a small guard of the Royal Marines from Hobart Town, under the command of a corporal, replaced the present guard of the NSW Corps at Risdon Cove.
They travelled with the boats from the Ocean to Risdon, while these boats returned with the last of the contents of the Government storehouse at Risdon Cove.
Still keeping an eye on things, Knopwood walked to opposite Risdon, from where Wilson ferried him across to the Risdon settlement where he first dines with Lieutenant Bowen, and then stays with Wilson, who still lives in a small hut just behind the Government Store.
Clearly, the era of settlement at Risdon Cove was drawing to a close.

NOTE: After July 1804 the paddocks at Risdon Cove continued to be utilised as a farm, a use being confirmed again early in 1805 when Collins toyed with the idea of making it another Government Farm where he intended to sow the Ground, now in cultivation there, with Wheat or Barley; two or three people, who are good for little else, can very well attend to it during its progress. But probably because of its poor and dry soil and its inconvenient location (its access required the use of boats, of which there were few available and their use by unreliable prisoners constituted a security risk) the use of the site soon changed into that of a sheep run, guarded by a few convicts.

These were the paddocks which originally had been cleared and worked on by the Risdon prisoners and settlers.
What in the end the Risdon paddocks actually produced was never formally recorded, but on their return in Sydney in August 1804 the former inhabitants of this settlement told the Sydney Gazette that eighteen acres had been left in the ground and had a very promising appearance, while at Sullivans Cove (probably meant here is the Government Farm at New Town) where there were 19 acres and a half in wheat, and four acres in other grain, which would have been doubled if circumstances had allowed the whole of Lieutenant Governor Collins' Establishment being landed at the Derwent in one voyage from Port Phillip.
During the winter and following spring of 1804, the last few building materials which could still be salvaged from the huts etc (the stone store for instance lost its doors, doorframe, any fittings and probably its roofing rafters) were taken away, leaving the remainder to the elements -- and bushfires.
However, the comfortable hut of Dr Mountgarret (purchased by Governor Collins for pound stg. 99) remained in use by the senior officers from Hobart Town, who began using it as a destination for picnics and kangaroo hunts. For instance, the diary of Knopwood notes that in January 1806, he, Lieutenant Lord and others enjoyed an al fresco dinner in the garden of the cottage, a pleasant environment created by the botanist Mr. Brown when he lived there two years ago.
But when Knopwood returned to Risdon a year later he was most upset to find that the cottage, his favourite place for relaxation, had burnt to the ground, courtesy of two convicts who used to work there. (These two should have known better, what with Knopwood being a very severe and at times vindictive magistrate when it came to convicts making life unpleasant for him.)
From then onward the site was only used by “the gentlemen” and others for kangaroo hunting until 1812 when Colonel Geils obtained the land.
For emergency accommodation he first erected a new store (using the rubble of the earlier Bowen store, he built his new one slightly higher on the slope behind the site of the earlier one), and then erected a two-storied brick homestead (Restdown) on the site of Lieutenant Moore's old hut.
Today only a few scattered bricks remain of what would have been in those days a very substantial two-storied brick farmstead.
Geils left the farm again in about 1815, after which the occupation of the house and the land became irregular until 1829 when Thomas Gregson obtained the property and erected a new timber dwelling on it, using pine weatherboards from timber cut along the Huon River.
This was one of the first products of the first timber cutters beginning to settle along the river. Established in his new home, Gregson led a busy social and political life in which the elderly Knopwood, during the last few years of his life, occasionally took part.
Gregson continued to live here until his death in 1874; his cottage continued to be occupied, but after a long life went up in smoke during the bushfires of February 1967.

NOTE: This house has often been referred to in the past as “the first Government House”, although from the above it is clear that this is incorrect: no Governor ever lived there.)
Nowadays, only a few archaeological remnants of the first “Hobart” still manage to hang on. They include the (mostly indistinct) foundations of a few huts, some remnants of stone paddock enclosures and a few piles of rubble, once intended to be used for the construction of stone cottages, intentions that all came to nothing.
An archaeological dig at Mountgarret's hut confirmed the size and relative comfort which his abode offered to his guests, but beyond that the silence of the fields and the spirits of the past have returned to this site of suffering, misery, hopes and death.



The Mercury

Tuesday 27 July 2004, page 10


Sawyers’ slack output of concern


July 27, 1804

Still staying at Risdon Cove, Knopwood made an early walk “to see the sawpits”, a clear indication that timber had been sawn here for use at the Risdon Cove settlement. Bowen and Knopwood then enjoyed breakfast, and viewed with great interest a very large emu, which had just been brought in by “Bowen's man”.
The background for Knopwood's curiosity in the sawpits can probably be found in Governor Collins' General Order for that day (of which Knopwood would most likely have had prior knowledge), in which he expressed his concern about the slack output of the sawyers and others working the timber pits in the forests around the Hobart settlement. (Perhaps quite understandable in view of the terrible weather in past weeks!)
He reminded them again of the fact that there was a mighty lot of building going on (much hastened of course by the arrival of the people from Port Phillip), and that their output was below that what it should have been.
From that day onwards, every pair of sawyers was expected to produce a minimum of 400 feet of sawn timber weekly, with an allowance of 60 feet for each day of rain.
The overseer was to check this output, and was to report on the quantity of timber sawn by each pair of sawyers at the end of the week.
And to put pressure on the whole thing, Collins added that any shortfall of that target is to be made good during the next week, “on pain of the Sawyers so offending being deprived of the indulgence of working in their extra time, and of the saw belonging to the public”.
In other words: no saw, no tools to make extra money on the side during the weekends.
Later that day, Bowen and Wilson ferried the chaplain back to the other side of the river, and while on the water they observed a large school of porpoises and even a
whale -- an important sighting because the commercial value of these large mammals was becoming increasingly clear.
They landed “at the settlers” (at the mouth of the New Town Creek, a location within a short distance from the Government Farm nowadays covered by Queens Walk below Runnymede and within a short distance from the Government Farm), and it was thus from here that Knopwood walked back to his marquee at Sullivans Cove.
Most punishments handed out in the settlement (almost always involving prisoners) were in the form of floggings, a gruesome business always ending up in a bloody and dreadful mutilation of the prisoner's back.
Although aware of the need for handing out this form of physical punishment from time to time, Collins did not much like it.
He was acutely aware of the fact that many of the more severe floggings usually incapacitated the recipients for the rest of their life, making them useless for the performance of any meaningful work and thus be a burden on the Government for the rest of his life.
To avoid this as much as possible, Collins therefore issued instructions that day that “the Assistant Surgeon on duty at the General Hospital will attend all punishments that may occur among the Prisoners”.
On board the Ocean the crew is still waiting for the signal from Governor Collins to depart, and in the meantime overhauling the sails.



The Mercury

Wednesday 28 July 2004, page 24


Farewell dinner on board


July 28, 1804

Captain Mertho visits Governor Collins to receive his formal instructions to proceed to Sydney: Having Received on board the Ship under your Command the Several Persons named in the enclosed list you will proceed to Sydney, where you will deliver them for which this letter shall be your order.
This being the last day on the Ocean before the embarkation of passengers and freight begins in earnest, Captain Mertho decided to give a formal farewell dinner in the cabin of his ship before he would be too busy with the demands of his job. For this reason no work was done by the crew.
Towards the middle of the day, Knopwood and Mountgarret boarded the ship and were joined shortly after by Collins and his mistress, Mrs. Power. They all had a pleasant time in the great cabin of the Ocean and did not leave again until late that afternoon.
Back in his tent, Knopwood then received a visit from James Grove with his wife and their son, some of the very few prim and proper people at the settlement who in their letters home confessed to be feeling very much out of place in the decidedly not so prim and proper society of Hobart Town.
But Grove was burdened by his conviction as a forger and therefore knew that he could not be critical of the faults of others.
Nevertheless, Grove was a very intelligent and innovative person, whose views on many matters were often sought.



The Mercury

Thursday 29 July 2004, page 18


Soldier numbers a constant worry


July 29, 1804

The weather was still so bad (gales and rain) that the normal open-air divine service was cancelled once again, but this did not stop the crew of the Ocean unloading the powder kegs destined for the settlement. For security reasons they were the last item unloaded.
Then the soldiers of the NSW Corps from Risdon Cove began to board the ship, together with some settlers, other travellers and the Risdon convicts.
While Collins was very pleased to rid himself of the worthless soldiers from Risdon Cove, he did worry about the relatively small number of marines he had at his disposal in Hobart Town.
In a report he wrote this week he mentioned that he had at his disposal only one captain, one first lieutenant, two second lieutenants, three sergeants, three corporals, two drummers and 37 privates.
Of these, one of the sergeants is so afflicted with Rheumatism that I hardly ever expect to see him on duty again, while one of the sick privates ought to be invalidated and sent back to England.
Collins also foreshadowed the need to erect proper barracks for his marines and for that reason puts the name of Lieutenant Lord forward for promotion to Barrack Master, in recognition of his attention and vigilance at all times.
Precisely what barracks eventually had been built is not clear (a later pen sketch of Sullivans Cove by G.P. Harris shows a long building), but when Governor Macquarie inspected the accommodation of the troops in 1811 he was utterly disgusted with the existing facilities and gave instant instructions that new barracks were to be erected.
The resulting Anglesea Barracks soon commenced, and their alignment askew from Davey Street still reflects to this day the location of the old road to Sandy Bay, to which the new barracks fronted onto.
From here it veered towards the left where the road went through a gap in the contours, after which it wound its way downhill via Byron Street and Quayle Street, from where it crossed the Sandy Bay Rivulet into Princes Street and towards what was to become Sandy Bay.



The Mercury

Friday 30 July 2004, page 16


Bowen and lover separate


July 30, 1804

Ay the crack of dawn Lieutenant Johnson and Mr. Wilson joined the boats of the Ocean on their way to Risdon Cove to supervise the transportation of the remainder of the population of the Risdon settlement to the ship later in the day.
It took nearly the entire day to complete the transfer, but at 8.30 that evening Johnson called in at the tent of Knopwood to say that everyone was now on board the Ocean except Lieutenant Bowen, who for the next few days or so before his departure slept at the farm, at the house which he built for Martha Hayes. This was the last time that Bowen and Martha Hayes were together, and they would never meet again.
(Bowen did try several times to return to Van Diemen's Land, but because of his rank (by then a naval captain) could only do so in circumstances befitting that rank. The first opportunity came when the death of Governor Collins became known in London. He applied to become his successor but was refused because, as a naval officer, it was argued that he could not command army troops -- the same issue which had also caused him so much trouble at Risdon Cove with Lieutenant Moore.
At some later stage Bowen tried once again when the position of Commissioner came up in connection with an inquiry into the state of the Australian colonies, but this application was also refused. Without such an official appointment his position in society as a naval officer would not permit him to return to Van Diemen's Land to revisit an earlier liaison with the daughter of a convict and he never saw Martha or their two children again.
However, on the occasion of her wedding in 1823, their daughter Martha Charlotte was remembered by her father in the form of a present and/or endowment, implying an ongoing contact of some form between her -- if not with her mother Martha as well -- and Bowen.
But after his death in 1827, Bowen's Will no longer remembered Martha Hayes or his daughter in Van Diemen's Land, with most of his estate going to members of the Bowen family and with a small amount going to a Sarah Sinclair, my natural daughter, born in London in October 1812 to an unknown mother. Another small amount went to a Sinah Bywater, his 28-year old faithful female friend from North Wales. (Given that Bowen died from a lengthy and serious -- but undiagnosed -- illness, one wonders just what the relationship was between him and this young Welsh woman.)
It was also noted that Bowen's wife, Elizabeth Lindley Clowes, was not mentioned in this will. It is not known whether she was still alive at the time of Bowen's death.
Just how many soldiers and convicts in the end returned from Risdon Cove to Sydney remains uncertain as several of the soldiers had already been sent back again for various disciplinary matters, while of the convicts it is clear that occasionally a few skilled or otherwise well behaved men were quietly transferred to the Collins settlement to be put to work there.
Among the male prisoners allowed to stay (nearly all of them tradesmen, people whom Collins describes as useful Mechanics) was the notorious Dennis McCarthy, the rogue builder of the road to New Norfolk and also the Pirie St bypass, later named New Town Rd.
The only female prisoner allowed to stay was a Mary Lawler, the wife of convict Michael Lawler, who was one of Collins' prisoners.
Also mentioned as being officially transferred from Risdon to the list of people to be fed from the public stores at Hobart Town is a settler's wife Eliz. Hayes.
The use of this name is a curious but blatant white lie, as Elizabeth Hayes had, in fact, already arrived with her husband Thomas Hayes in February with the rest of the Collins expedition. The real identity of this woman was, in fact, her sister-in-law Maria Hayes, the convict wife of Thomas Hayes' brother Henry and the mother of Martha Hayes, the companion of Bowen.



The Mercury

Saturday 31 July 2004, page 23


Collins’ full report to London


July 31, 1804

With most passengers on board, the Ocean is now ready for departure but still the waiting for the official despatches to Sydney and London, which Collins and his clerks are frantically writing in great numbers.
For Collins in particular, this was his first proper opportunity to report to his superiors in England on what he had done since they left Port Phillip and why in the end he moved far away from the originally specified coastline of Bass Strait to the Derwent River in Van Diemen's Land.
To the extent that he had been asked to create a power base to control the strategically significant Bass Strait (in the same manner as Raffles in 1819 would settle on an obscure small Malayan Island in order to secure control of the traffic in the Straits of Malacca), Collins' removal to the Derwent had failed this objective demonstrably -- perhaps one of the reason why his superiors in London did not show much interest in him or his settlement until after Collins' death in 1810.
The removal of Lord Hobart from office at the outbreak of the war with France did not, of course, help his position very much either.
Collins also reported that the temporary storehouse they started to erect on Hunters Island a few weeks ago was now nearing completion, enabling him to contain all my dry Goods and most of my provisions.
Collins was slightly ahead of himself there, as it would not be until November that this temporary building was actually finished and in use, and as a wooden structure with a thatched roof it began from that month onward to appear on the various sketches of Sullivans Cove.
But it was very much a temporary affair only, intended to be replaced with a Stone Store House as soon as Richard Clarke, at present still occupied with building the stone powder magazine, would be ready with that job. (This stone store eventually became the brick building still present in Macquarie St, nowadays in use as offices for the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery).
Knopwood also made use of the opportunity to write to his relations and friends in England, as did indeed many others. However, one very scarce commodity within the settlement was writing paper, and one wonders what kind of deals would have been made by many to obtain the necessary paper on which to write a letter.
Bowen, meanwhile, has been very busy on Martha's behalf to ensure her ongoing well-being after his departure. He used his influence with Collins to have Martha reclassified as a female settler, which gave her the right to claim land; but being a woman she only got 50 acres (20ha) -- half the usual allocation to male settlers.
Located alongside today's Lampton Avenue and fronting onto the Prince of Wales Bay, it was on this land that Bowen erected for her a farmhouse, which stood on or near the site of the present sports ground of the Goodwood Primary School -- in all probability the very first habitation erected in what was to become the Glenorchy area.
Bowen also made sure that Martha obtained the use of a convict labourer, while from a return of livestock a few days later we learn that by that time she had eight sheep and two goats, which two years later had increased to two cows, 35 sheep and 14 goats. By then she also had two acres in cultivation for wheat, altogether an inventory that put her on par with quite a few of the other (male!) settlers.
The efforts by Bowen to get her settled were not wasted.
Late that evening a longboat turned up in the cove with the master of the whaler Alexander, which at that moment was anchored in Adventure Bay, engaged in whaling. She was a British whaler from Newcastle of 301 tons and a crew of 29 men and had been around in Australian waters for the past year or so.