Saturday, 8 October 2016

George Guest at Risdon Cove - part 1

George Guest (1753-1841) and his family arrived in Hobart Town in September 1805 from Norfolk Island. The decision had been made to close the settlement on the island and George and his family were among the first to leave. However as George had a number of land holdings on Norfolk Island, a house and livestock, he left Norfolk Island on the understanding that he would be fully compensated for the land surrendered. George did receive a number of grants of land but, feeling that he never received full compensation for his Norfolk Island land, he spent many years petitioning for full compensation.

Earlier in the year I investigated the location of the Seven Stars inn in Campbell Street once owned by George Guest. When I visited Hobart last year I also visited the location of land in the area of what is now Macquarie Point which was the first land granted to George Guest in January 1806. As mentioned in the previous post my next goal was to locate the location of 300 acres of land granted to George Guest, probably in 1806, in or near Risdon Cove. Previous research in the Historical Records of Australia (HRA) had located reference to George owning 300 acres in the Risdon area.

On the 27th January 1806 Lieutenant-Governor David Collins wrote a letter to Governor King in Port Jackson informing him of what he had done so far in assisting George Guest settle into the new colony. George Guest had brought sheep with him from Norfolk Island. Not all survived the trip but some were kept by George while the remainder were purchased by the government at £3 per head. George was also allowed to land thirty-seven gallons of spirits for his own use. George Guest was under the impression that he should receive 424 acres of land in the new colony. The land at Fosbrooks (later Macquarie) Point was twenty-four acres. At one stage it was decided that George Guest would receive the rest of the land as four allotments of 100 acres and Collins reported that he had told George Guest to choose suitable land. However George then decided to remove his family to Port Jackson where his children could receive an education. George sold a yoke of oxen (two oxen) and some other animals but announced that he would return to claim land in Van Diemen's Land. He had also provided the government with a quantity of provisions including salted pork, flour and sugar in exchange for twelve cows and one calf. George Guest and his family were to travel to Port Jackson aboard the Sophia and would receive full victuals for two weeks. The letter concluded with the statement that "I understand he purposes returning at some (not very) distant Period to occupy his Farms, which he has now chosen in one allotment in the Neighbourhood of Herdsman's Cove." (HRA series III vol 1 pp354-355)
Map showing Herdsmans Cove (top) in relation to Risdon Cove (middle)
The map above shows Herdsmans Cove in relation to Risdon Cove. (Tardif) Subsequent references to the 300 acres of land belonging to Geoge Guest all provide Risdon Cove as the location.

The original European settlement on the Derwent River had been at Risdon Cove from 1803 until 1804 when Collins decided to establish the settlement of Hobart Town across the river. In February 1805 Lieutenant-Governor Collins wrote to Governor King that he had decided to open a Government Farm at Risdon Cove but some allotments could be made available for settlers. (HRA series III vol 1 p317).  A follow-up letter in October 1805 described how land in that previously cultivated area had been tilled again and replanted with barley and wheat. Collins had expectations of "an abundant produce from the ensuing harvest". (HRA series III vol 1 p331) When Collins travelled to Australia via the Cape of Good Hope he had brought with him "Cape Seed" which grew better in the new colony than the seed from England. (HRA series III vol 1 p248) The plan for a Government Farm at Risdon Cove appears to have been short lived but the area was made available to new settlers arriving in the colony to farm. George Guest would appear to have been one of these settlers.

The returns of the General Muster 1809 show that George Guest was a settler at Risdon Cove, Clarence Plains, where he owned 300 acres of land. He was farming twenty acres of wheat, had 63 cattle, 49 sheep and 1 pig. (Shaffer p54)

In April 1813 Governor Maquarie wrote a letter to Major Geils making it clear that Geils had no right to assume the 300 acres of land belonging to George Guest as part of Geil's property at Risdon Cove. Governor Maquarie stressed that Guest's land had "been regularly assigned to him and taken possession of by him in part Payment of his Norfolk Island Claims on Government." (HRA series III vol 2 pp30-31).  Geils had tried to add the land to his property arguing that Guest had left his property to go to New South Wales.  Advertisements in  newspapers located via Trove show, George Guest was regularly travelling between Van Diemen's Land and Port Jackson at this time. Macquarie told Geils that the only way that he could aquire the land was to purchase it directly from George Guest. George Guest kept possession of the 300 acres at Risdon as shown by an advertisement in the Hobart Town Courier 24 November 1827 advertising the Risdon land for sale or let.

When we visited Hobart last year we had passed Risdon Cove when we travelled via the ferry to MONA. We did visit other locations in Clarence including Bellerive and Kangaroo Bay but did not visit the Risdon Cove area. The need to create a research plan for an Introduction to Family History course provided the impetus to try and locate the actual location of George's 300 acres.

Historical Records of Australia (HRA) series III Despatches and Papers Relating to the States. vol 1 & 2

Schaffer, Irene (ed). 1991. Land Musters, Stock Returns and Lists. Van Diemen’s Land 1803-1822. Hobart, St David's Park Publishing.

Tardif, Philip John. 2003. John Bowen’s Hobart: the Beginning of European Settlement in Tasmania. Hobart, Tasmanian Historical Research Association.

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 

Advertisement. The Hobart Town Courier 24 November 1827

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