The Rajah Quilt

The Rajah Quilt

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Van Diemen's Land in 1823

More from Ross Brown's story of Charles Dewhurst.  Here is a picture of Hobart Town in 1822, the year before Charles' arrival.

Hobart Town had become quite a busy port with the export of grain, sheep to New South Wales, Mauritius and elsewhere;  and, of course, there was a steady inflow of ships bringing over a thousand convicts to the island each year.

Thinly scattered around the cove and up the foothills of Mt Wellington was a small settlement.  Standing out above the other buildings was St Davids Church, started in 1817 with its spire;  a little nearer and to the right was Government House a two-storey building located across what is now Elizabeth Street between the Town Hall and Franklin Square.  It stood in a large park of well-tended trees and shrubs running down to the water’s edge.  Further to the right near the waterfront stood the Commissariats Store built to house 4500 bushels of wheat and remains of which are still visible as part of the present Customs House.  Many of the warehouses were two and three storied.  To the north further, were the warehouses on Hunter Island in what became known as the Old Wharf area.  The New Wharf along the south side of the bay was under construction.  This is the present Salamanca Place area.

Dwellings were timber mostly with rather untidy gardens in front and few fences.  All roofs were shingled.  The stone buildings were typical Georgian style with regularly spaced doors and windows.

Many of the roads were macadamised but not cobbled.  Over the next few years the colony was to see a great improvement in the condition of the roads.

Hobart Town 1821
The population of the whole colony at the time was about 19000 and predominantly male.  In Hobart Town there were about 7000 people and perhaps 1000 houses as well as the barracks, stores, inns and other buildings.  Paintings of the place done at the time give the impression of far fewer buildings but there were 430 houses in a survey done in 1821.

Emancipated convicts, that is those whose time had expired or had been granted full pardons, and convicts made up about 45% of the population.

There were several thousand free settlers who had come to make their fortune.  In the early twenties private settlers encouraged with grants of land and the enticement of cheap convict labour.


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