Why would I choose Thomas William Birch? Simply because there are lots of questions that I would like to ask him especially as his early life appears to be a mystery. Some notes about and questions for Thomas.
- Thomas William Birch is the first member of my family to voluntarily settle in Australia.
- When was he born? There is uncertainty about his actual date of birth. It is generally accepted that he was born sometime in 1767 but it may have been later.
- Where in England was he born?
- Who were his parents? Some family trees provide parents for him but I have not yet seen any documents or sources confirming his parentage.
- We do know that he arrived in Hobart Town in May 1808 aboard the whaler, Dubuc.
- We know that he was a medical officer aboard the ship and there are accounts of him occasionally working as a doctor in Hobart Town.
- Where did Thomas do his medical training?
- Why did he decide to remain in Hobart Town? We can make assumptions, the obvious one being that he married a local girl and decided to settle in the colony. On 12 September 1808 Thomas married Sarah Guest (1792-1868), daughter of George Guest and Mary Bateman, at St David's Church. Hobart Town. The following month the Dubuc left for the return trip to England but sank in the Derwent River.
- The second assumption would be that Thomas could see potential in making a new life in the colony. The settlement was only four years old when Thomas arrived. Before long Thomas proceeded to establish himself as a merchant. Sealing and whaling were also profitable industries from Hobart Town at thta time.
- Thomas and Sarah had seven children (a daughter died as an infant).
- We know that by the time of his death in 1821, Thomas was one of the richest and most successful business people in Hobart Town. It would be interesting to know what this man was really like as a person.
- When Thomas died unexpectedly in December 1821 he left a complicated will that took 18 years to settle. Why did he plan his affairs that way?
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