Monday, 11 January 2016

George Guest - Seven Stars part 2

When we were in Hobart last November I went looking for the possible location of the Seven Stars. At that time the information that I had stated that George Guest had land in Campbell Street and that he ran the Seven Stars (Hotel, Inn, Tavern, Public House), usually with the address of Campbell Street but sometimes Old Market Place. The addresses usually came from the annual licencing records published, with name of licensee and hotel, in the newspaper from 1825. One article had mentioned that the hotel was near the bridge that crossed the Hobart Rivulet and was therefore near the Collins Street corner.
Corner of Collins Street & Campbell Street
From the newspaper articles I have found via Trove since returning home I am sure that the Seven Stars would have been located in Campbell Street across the road from City Hall (previously the market).
Probable location of the Seven Stars in Campbell Street
The Seven Stars was one of many hotels in the area known as Wapping, near the Docks.
Derwent River & Docks at end of Campbell Street
Reading the articles about the area published in the early twentieth century the Hobart Rivulet was a prominent feature that was a main water resource for the settlement. It also flooded from time to time and over time the rivulet has been diverted and drains added to remove excess water. The rivulet still exists today but is only a fraction of the rivulet in the early days of European settlement.
Hobart Rivulet 2015
A photograph of a possible sketch of the Seven Stars can be located on the LINC site. The image is from the Archives Office of Tasmania.
Seven Stars
What did the Seven Stars look like?
In the Census of 1841 and 1842 the building was described as a timber building.
An article in the Critic 30 January 1915 describes the building: - There is an absence of design about the building, and the only thing to recommend it is the enduring material of which it is built—swamp gum and good old stringy bark. The most enlightened commentary of the times in which it was built is the presence of wooden shutters. From what one recollects of these many years ago they were strongly fashioned and fit to resist a siege when some of the wild spirits of the times were out on the rampage, looking for trouble.

The Daily Telegraph 3 February 1904 provided this information:-
On the right-hand side of Campbell street proceeding from the direction of the wharf, and one door removed from the Campbell-street bridge, stands, a weatherboard edifiice of a somewhat tumble-down appearance. It lies off the street, and at least 3ft -below the level of the footpath.

The Seven Stars was located opposite the Market. The description of the buildings of the street in 1831 states: - On the right or east side, fronting the Market Place, was the London Arms, kept by the Messrs. Lucas, afterwards the “ House of Blazes,” next to this property, belonging to G. Guest, which was afterwards theSeven Stars Inn,” the premises of Peart, a baker... Critic 9 February 1917

When was the Seven Stars established?
So far I do not have an answer to this. We know that George Guest and his family arrived from Norfolk Island at the end of 1805 and was granted land at what was later known as Macquarie Point in January 1806. Reports about this parcel of land indicate that George cleared and farmed the land but lived with his family in Campbell Street. He therefore had land in Campbell Street from his early days in Hobart Town. The first mention of Seven Stars in the newspapers currently on Trove occurs in 1825 in a  licensing list. The first  mention of licenses for liquor establishments appears in one of the 1817 newspapers but it does not list names of people or hotels. However in 1821 George Guest junior is listed as being licensee of the City of London Arms which was next door to what became the Seven Stars.
Except for a few issues from 1810-1812 there are currently no newspapers for Hobart Town prior to 1816 so I will continue to search other sources for clues. One newspaper for 1814 will appear in Trove later this year. Until 1820 George was making frequent trips to Sydney and it is hard to imagine how he juggled farming at Macquarie Point, managing 300 acres at Risdon as well as possibly having property in Sydney and running the Seven Stars. Maybe the family initially lived in a building on the land which was later converted to a liquor establishment.

The Guest family and the Seven Stars
George Guest held the licence to the Seven Stars until 1829. George was granted the licence but in October 1829 transferred ownership to Thomas Devine.
There were a number of owners and then in 1840 the licence was transferred from Isaac Lear to George Guest junior. This George Guest kept the licence until his death in 1845. The family then relinquished the licence until 1856 when the grandson of our original George Guest applied for and was granted the licence. However the premises by this time were considered unfit for public use and the licence was not renewed in 1857.
Members of the Guest family also operated other hotels in Van Dieman's Land including William Guest who was licensee of the Lovely Banks Inn at Green Ponds.

As with most research the more you discover the more questions begged to be answered.

There is still lots to investigate about the Seven Stars. Reading the nostalgia pieces written in the early twentieth century many of the locals remembered the Seven Stars, often fondly. From what I have read so far the establishment had a chequered history which all contributes to the colourful story of this area of Hobart Town. One project will be to go carefully through Trove to find out as much as possible about the Seven Stars when the Guests were not involved. There appear to be a number of court cases resulting from events at the Seven Stars. Eventually the Seven Stars was used as a private house before being demolished in the clean up of the Wapping area in the first quarter of the twentieth century.

The State Library of Victoria has a number of books I want to look at including -
Here's Cheers: a pictorial history of hotels, taverns and inns in Hobart by C J Dennison 2008
Down Wapping: Hobart's vanished Wapping and Old Wharf districts 1998
as well as general histories of Hobart Town. All I need is time!

Wapping, Hobart - Picturing the Past - Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery - YouTube


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Deb Jones Thank you for the comment - Excellent work! I'm transcribing a Mortgage involving my ancestor (John Sheppard, Dorchester Butt - beside the Theatre Royal) in 1835 that also mentions George Guest's property (& reinforces your locale research). You're welcome to a copy - or a scan of the original. It's great to have confirmation of the location.