The book, The story of South Hobart street by street by Donald Howatson (2012) provides some information about the streets in this area. Davey Street was named after the Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land from 1812-1816 - Thomas Davey (p19). A section of Davey Street, west of Elboden Street, was originally known as Holebrook Place but was also referred to as Upper Davey Street or Davey Street (p26). This section of South Hobart contained many impressive houses on large blocks of land. The mansion, Holebrook, was situated on four acres of land (approximately 330 Davey Street today) while a house just down the road in the location of 328 Davey Street was built on three acres of land. This house was built by Hugh Ross, possibly in 1834, and one of the features of the property was the view of the harbour and Sandy Bay (p12). The house was set back on the block and approached via a driveway for carriages through an impressive garden. Additional information about the history of this house can be found on the blog, On the Convict Trail.
|Map of section of Davey Street (Google Maps)|
As well as his main occupation as a merchant George looked for further opportunities and was involved in initial exploration and acquisition of land in Port Phillip (Victoria) from 1835. He wrote articles about the new colonies which were published in the UK. Articles in Trove show that he was actively involved in the life of Hobart Town. However towards the end of the 1830s George decided to return to Scotland and on 4 April 1837 the first advertisement appeared in the Hobart Town Courier that the Mackillop house in Davey street was on the market as the family was returning to the UK. George and his family did not return home until the early 1840s and over the years a series of advertisements appeared in the paper about the property and its contents. It is from these advertisements that we learn what the house was like.
An advertisement in the Hobart Town Courier 7 April 1837 provides the following description.:
The advertisement then goes on to describe the property:THAT splendid family mansion, situate in the most delightful part of Davey street, and bounded by the Sandy bay rivulet, the property of George Mackillop, esq. comprising every accommodation that can possibly be required.The first floor consists of a drawing room 29 feet by 16, dining room and parlour, a bed room, butler's pantry and sleeping room, kitchen, scullery, &c. under which are spacious cellars.On the second story are six large bed rooms, fitted with cupboards, three dressing rooms, and store closets.The attics comprise two servants bed rooms and a store.The whole is fitted up in the most complete manner, with water closets, &c without regard to expense, and elegantly finished.The out offices consist of a stable, loft and servant's sleeping room, large store, coach houses, oven, wood and fowl house, pig sties, and sundry other buildings in the yard, which is securely fenced.
Obviously this was an impressive house in a great location.The premises stand on 2 acres, 1 rood, 27 perches of excellent ground; the garden has been trenched 15 inches deep, well manured, and stocked with trees, all of which were loaded this season with the choicest fruit (the pears and apples still remain); strawberries and raspberries were in the greatest abundance the never-failing stream at the bottom affords a constant supply of water, and the neighbourhood is truly respectable, having the residences of Thomas Learmonth, esq. on one side, and Hugh Ross, esq. on the other.The beauty of the surrounding scenery is too well known and admired to require comment.The title is a new grant.
One of the key sentences in the above description was that the residence of Thomas Learmonth was on one side of the property and the residence of Hugh Ross was on the other side. Family stories mentioned the Learmonth connection with the Mackillop family and articles in Trove show that George and Thomas Learmonth had a business partnership and were involved in other activities in the community. I knew therefore that the Mackillop property was near the Learmonth property but not exactly where those properties were.
On 9 August 1839 the Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen's Land Gazette contained the following information:
COMMISSIONER'S OFFICEGeorge's land would have bordered on Davey Street and continued down to the Sandy Bay Rivulet. Hugh Ross' property would have been in the vicinity where Davey Place now is so George's property would have bordered on the town side of the Ross property and continued in the direction of Elboden Street.
George Mackillop, 2a. 1r. 37p., suburbs of Hobart Town, originally Matthew Forster, Esq., who sold to Thomas Learmonth, who transferred to the applicant; claim renewed 4th June, 1839-Bounded on the north west by 217 links along Holebrook-place, on the south west by 12 chains and 10 links along an allotment granted to Hugh Ross to the Sandy-bay rivulet, on the south east by that rivulet, and on the north cast by 12 chains 82 links along an allotment occupied by or belonging to Thomas Learmonth to Holebrook-place aforesaid.
As well as confirming the size of the block of land and providing additional information as to its location, the above paragraph from the newspaper also provides history as to previous ownership. Matthew Forster (1796-1846), a former soldier, arrived in the colony in 1831 where he became chief police magistrate. Thomas Learmonth (1783-1869), like George Mackillop, was from Stirlingshire in Scotland and was a merchant in India before arriving in Hobart Town in the early 1830s to continue his trade as a merchant there. The Australian Dictionary of Biography includes an article on the Learmonth family. Thomas had obviously had obtained land in Davey Street and later transferred part of this land to George when George arrived in the colony.
The other clue that I had to the location of the property was in article in Trove when land that had belonged to another great (x 3) grandfather, Thomas William Birch (1767-1821) was sold in 1839. The Hobart Town Courier 2 November 1838 contained a detailed description of the land to be sold, including mentioning some of the neighbours -
... in the immediate vicinage of the mansions and residences of J. H. Moore, W. Proctor, Hugh Ross, G. M'Killop, T. Learmonth, E. Hodgson, and J. Hackett, Esquires; also, the lands of Messrs. Harris, Dunkley, and Hurst ; the Glebe and Salvator Rosa Glen.
When exploring Hobart on foot in November I took a number of photographs of the area where George's property would have been located.
|Intersection of Davey Place and Davey Street|
|View indicating partial depth of the property|
|View of the River|
|A driveway in Davey Street leading to a house|
|Sandy Bay Rivulet|