(Introduce the key focus of your research plus a clearly stated research question)
George Guest (1765-1841) was my great (x4) grandfather. In 1783 he was arrested for stealing pigs and a horse. George Guest was a First Fleet convict who travelled to Norfolk Island in January 1790. In September 1805 George and his family relocated to Hobart Town. While on Norfolk Island George became a major land owner and farmer and understood that when he left Norfolk Island he would be compensated with grants of land on his arrival in Van Diemen’s Land. George received some land grants but was to dispute whether this was fair compensation for the rest of his life.
The initial settlement on the Derwent was at Risdon Cove in 1803 before being relocated to the present site of Hobart in 1804. Prior to the relocation some of the land at Risdon Cove had been cleared for farming and Lieutenant-Governor Collins later provided seed for the planting of crops. When the settlers decided to return to Sydney the land was intended to be used as a government farm. There was a need for a reliable supply of grain for the new settlement so land in the Risdon Cove area was made available for farming. In January 1806 George Guest was considering a grant of 300 acres of land in the Herdsman’s Cove area near Risdon Cove though later references show that the land grant was at Risdon Cove. By 1809 twenty acres of the land was farmed for wheat and George had 63 cattle and 49 sheep.
George Guest made many trips to New South Wales where he also had some land but his main landholdings were in Van Diemen’s Land. In 1813 a neighbour, Major Geils, attempted to add George Guest’s land to his property on the grounds that Guest was in New South Wales. In a letter to Geils, Governor Macquarie stressed that the 300 acres at Risdon Cove belonged to George Guest as part compensation for the land and house he had surrendered when leaving Norfolk Island. George Guest continued to own this land until at least 1827 when it was advertised for sale.
My research question is:
Where exactly was the location of George Guest’s three hundred acres of land at Risdon Cove?
- Lieutenant-Governor Collins provided seed for growing wheat and Barley at Risdon Cove in 1804.
- In 1805 Lieutenant-Governor Collins proposed opening up the land in Risdon Cove area for settlers to farm.
- Lieutenant-Governor Collins, in a letter to Governor King on 27 January 1806, wrote that George Guest had selected land ‘in one allotment in the neighbourhood of Herdsman’s Cove’.
- In 1809 general muster, George Guest is listed as owning 300 acres at Risdon / Clarence Plains.
- In 1827, land at Risdon Cove owned by George Guest described as ‘at the junction of a small chain of ponds and the Risdon Cove’.
- George regularly travelled between Hobart Town and Port Jackson (a sample of some of the visits provided).
- Neighbour, Major Geils, attempted to claim George Guest’s land and Governor Macquarie confirmed the 300 acres belonged to George Guest.
- Advertisement for sale of land in 1827.
- Historical Records of Australia (HRA) series III Despatches and Papers Relating to the States. Vol 1 p248-249.
- HRA vol 1 p317.
- HRA vol 1 p355.
- Irene Schaffer (ed). 1991. Land Musters, Stock Returns and Lists. Van Diemen’s Land 1803-1822. Hobart. p54.
- Advertisement. The Hobart Town Courier 24 November 1827 p3.
- Advertisement. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 21 January 1810 p1; 2 February 1811 p2; 18 July 1812 p1; 20 March 1813 p2; 16 October 1813 p1; 4 March 1815 p2; 14 December 1816 p2; 29 November 1817 p4; 18 April 1818 p1; 26 December 1818 p2.
- HRA vol 2 p30-31.
- Advertisement. The Hobart Town Courier 24 November 1827 p3
Widening your search:(Where else might you find relevant information)
State Library of Victoria
The State Library of Victoria holds books relating to the history of the Risdon Cove area. These can be checked for references particularly to George Guest and neighbouring landholders including Andrew Geils.
- Glover, Margaret. History of the Site of Bowen’s Settlement, Risdon Cove. Hobart, National Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania Occasional Paper No. 2. 1978. [SLTF 994.61 G51H]
- McGowan, Angela. Archaeological Investigations at Risdon Cove Site 1978-1980. Hobart, National Parks and Wildlife Service Tasmania Occasional Paper No. 10, 1985. [SLTF 994.61 M17A]
- McPherson, Kaye. Risdon Cove from the Dreamtime and the First Hundred Years. Lindisfarme, Manuta Tunapea, Puggaluggia, 2001. [SLTF 994.61 M24R]
- Tardif, Philip John. John Bowen’s Hobart: the Beginning of European Settlement in Tasmania. Hobart, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 2003. [LT 994.6102 T17J]
Tasmanian Historical Research Association
Tasmanian Historical Research Association Papers and proceedings have been published since 1951. These are available to view online via the State Library of Victoria website.
The library also holds paper indexes for this publication:
- Tasmanian Historical Research Association. Index to the Papers and Proceedings. Vol 1 (1951-1983), Hobart, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 1991.
- Tasmanian Historical Research Association. Index to the Papers and Proceedings. Vol 2 (1984-1993), Hobart, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 1998.
- Tasmanian Historical Research Association. Index to the Papers and Proceedings. Vol 3 (1994-2003), Hobart, Tasmanian Historical Research Association, 2006. [G994.6 IN23R INDEX]
Continue to search online newspapers in Trove for references to George Guest and his land, particularly in the Herdsman Cove, Risdon Cove and Clarence area as well as land belonging to neighbours including Andrew Geils. Articles on the history / reminiscences of people living in these areas may appear in later newspapers.
LINCA series of maps – AF316 County Maps (Lands and Surveys Department) – can be located on the LINC website. The maps and plans in this collection are arranged according to their County and Parish. Risdon Cove and surrounding area is in the Parish of Forbes in the County of Monmouth.
Locating a map showing the location of the 300 acres belonging to George Guest at Risdon Cove would be a great addition for my research; however any additional information as to where the land was located would help the search. Hopefully a search of the AF316 County Maps series will be useful.
Books and / or articles about the early history of Risdon Cove or the wider Clarence area could provide useful background information particularly if they discuss how the land was farmed. They may also contain a map or sketch of the area around the original Risdon Cove settlement which may indicate further development of the land after the closure of the settlement. References and bibliographies may also be useful for providing additional leads for research.
This research requires looking for information relating to events that occurred two hundred years ago and therefore making information available in the findings is unlikely to be an issue for anyone, especially as material about the events at this time is available in the public record.
I will add any information located as part of the story of George Guest and his family in my blog. Using information ethically in blogs (and other publications) has been a discussion point in the Australian Local & Family History Bloggers Facebook page. The use of material from other sources without recording that the material is the work of, or belongs to, others should not occur. Much of the material available online is available as Creative Commons and can be freely used provided acknowledgement of the source is provided. However in some cases it is necessary to first obtain permission from the organisation or person making the material available before using it. Blogs make it easy to include a link back to the source page for images and other material used in a post. Apart from the ethics of this it is a courtesy to other researchers.