I is for inns and hotels

Rules for being a licensed publican in 1816

Who can be a licensed publican in VDL?

On the eastern shore of Hobart in 1818, there were only three licensed publicans at Herdsman’s Cove, Clarence Plains and Kangaroo Point.

In 1819, only three again outside of Hobart Town – Black Snake, Clarence Plains and Herdsman’s Cove.

In 1820, Herdsmen’s Cove and Black Snake & Old Beach Ferry were the only two outside of Hobart.

The first mention of a licensed publican in the Sorell municipality was in March 1822. But by August 1822, he was in trouble.

William Marsh 1822

I then found mention of Daniel Long being able to sell spirits, wine and beer in the country area at the Plough and Harrow in Sorell Town in 1824. Also mentioned was James Honey at Plough and Harrow at Pitt Water.

Using the Tasmanian Names Index Daniel Long is the licensed publican from 1824-1829.

A writer of an article in the local paper in 1825 was worried about the number of ‘sly grog shops’ in Van Diemen’s Land.

By 1827, there were 36 licensed publicans in Hobart Town and 22 in the country area. That included:

  • Daniel Long of Pittwater – Plough and Harrow
  • Brereton Rolla Watson of Sorell Town – Sorell Inn
  • James Kestall Buscombe of Richmond – Lennox Arms

By 1829, there were 50 licensed publicans in Hobart Town and 37 in the country area. That included:

  • J. K. Buscombe, Lennox arms, Richmond.
  • W. Currie, Blue bell, Sorell.
  • D. Long, Plough & Harrow, Sorell.
  • C. Layman, Wheat-sheaf, Sorell.
  • B. R. R. P. Watson, Sorell inn, Sorell

By 1830, there were 47 licensed publicans in Hobart Town and 40 in the country area. That included:

  • J. K. Buscombe, Lennox Arms, Richmond
  • Joseph Clyne, Gordon Arms, Richmond,
  • Henry Fisher, Wheat Sheaf, Sorell.
  • Henry Leigh, Sorell Inn, Sorell.
  • Dan. Long, Plough and Harrow, Sorell

A Political Association meeting included information about licensed publicans in 1835.

Political association

To find out more about the inns and hotels of Sorell in the early 1800s, use the Libraries Tasmania search everything and use Sorell Inn Hotel as your keywords. Remember you will also get information for Port Sorell which you will need to eliminate.

Present day hotels in Sorell include the Pembroke Hotel and the Gordon Highlander, both pictured below.

Gordon Street, Sorell showing Post Office, C M Yates tea shop, Sorell Garage and Pembroke Hotel


Gordon Highlander Hotel

Reminder: Clicking on images and blue links will take you to the original document.

G for Gard family

Thanks to David Gard for writing this post for the A-Z challenge.

Blue links will take you to the digitized images from Libraries Tasmania website or newspaper articles from National Library website Trove. Clicking on the images will take you to the original article.

WILLIAM GARD, my great great grandfather was born in the village of Allington, Dorset, England in 1815. It is not sure when or how he immigrated to Australia but he was the only one of the seven (7) children in his family to migrate. His father Edward 1789-1823, a stone mason died in Dorset, England when he was only eight.

William somehow made his way to Pittwater, Tasmania (now Sorell) where he became one of the largest land holders in town, but after receiving more than his share of bad luck he was forced on a number of occasions to liquidate his assets. However, through sheer determination he managed to rebuild on each occasion.

His grandfather, Robert Gard was transported to Van Diemen’s Land as a convict in 1818 and buried in Richmond district in 1834 which would have been a few years prior to William arriving in the colony. He also had a brother, Joseph who was transported to Tasmania as a convict in 1838 and was pardoned in 1847. Joseph died in Sorell in 1866. It is not known whether they reunited. Williams uncle, Thomas Bennett Gard was also transported to Van Diemen’s land in 1822 after a reprieve from the death penalty and like his father Robert he was assigned to magistrate James Gordon to work his farm in Pittwater.

William was described as a hard working industrious colonist and built quite a large portfolio of properties and ran a number of business ventures in Sorell. He was on the board of the Sorell Causeway committee and a member of the Clarence council, and a justice of peace. A large farm he leased with a business partner Henry Clack was dissolved in 1840 when William ran off with Henry Clacks wife, Mary Ann Clack (nee Parsons) who he later married in 1848.

Williams financial troubles started in 1843 when he was declared insolvent and was forced to sell off much of his assets. After a 2 year struggle to re-build, a trading vessel he owned was maliciously set on fire (could it have been lit by Henry Clack ?) The Sorell community, which held him in very high esteem called on the government to assist him with his losses and help him obtain another vessel which he intended to trade between Hobart Town and Adelaide.

Community help after an arson attack


In 1853 William managed to purchased the towns iconic Bell Bell Inn, but his bad run of luck started again where in 1863 when another large fire destroyed the Inn and he lost all his possessions. He managed to raise a mortgage of 2000 pounds to re-build the inn however the financial strain was too much and for the second time he was declared insolvent and the Inn was passed back to the mortgagee, William Lindsay.

In 1855 William experienced another devastating fire on his farming property where he lost a large stock pile of wheat, grain, barley, oats and peas as well as live stock. William had not taken out insurance because of the way he was treated by the insurance company after the fire that destroyed the Blue Bell Inn 2 years earlier.

In 1864 his entire property holding of fifteen (15) properties in Sorell were put up for sale however because of his debts, it is not known whether he had any equity left after the sales. Lindsay died in 1866 and the Blue Bell Inn was put up for a quick sale and it was purchased by William Gard’s son, Edward (our great grandfather) for a bargain price of 300 pounds. Edward also experienced financial difficulties when he was forced to raise a further mortgage of 180 pounds. In 1869 Edward defaulted on the mortgage and lost possession of the Inn.

On 7 February 1867 William passed away in Sorell with cause of death noted as gout.

In 1874 Edward again managed to regain the family inn but found the financial burden too much and again after a short period of time he lost possession thus sadly ending the Gard connection with the Inn.

B for Bluebell Inn

Thanks to David Gard for writing this post for the A-Z challenge.

Blue links will take you to the digitized images from Libraries Tasmania website.

THE BLUEBELL INN :- record of events and Gard association


  • Original Inn was built from timber by William Currie
  • William Curry forced to mortgage it to a David Hoy for 250 Pounds
  • William Patterson took over the lease from David Hoy

1836-1839 William Curry again took over the lease


  • William Curry advertises it again for lease
  • William Curry charged with murder but gets off with manslaughter

1842-1844 Leased to a Jonathon Watson


  • William Curry again assumed control
  • William Curry transfers the mortgage from David Hoy to Thomas Featherstone and Rev. John Robertson

1844-1852 Thomas Featherstone leased it

1853 William Gard purchases it from Featherstone and Robertson

1856 William Gard leases it to John Smith for 12 months

1857-1863 William Gard operates it again.


  • Fire destroys the inn William Gard loses everything
  • William Gard raises a mortgage of 2000 pounds from a William Lindsay
  • William Gard rebuilds the Inn from brick and stone
  • William unable to overcome his financial difficulties so property is passed back to Lindsay


  • William Lindsay dies and his trustees put the property up for sale
  • Edward Gard (William Gard’s son) purchases the property for 300 pounds
  • Edward Gard like his predecessors also fell on hard times and was forced to raise a mortgage from a Elizabeth Eady for the sum of 180 pounds

1867 William Gard died


  • Edward Gard defaulted on the mortgage and it was transferred to William James
  • William James died leaving the estate to his 1 year and 9 month old infant son, Arthur Edwin James

1872 Supreme court orders that the property pass to John Henry James, who was the administrator for the infant


  • Edward Gard again raises the money from John Henry Peacock Oldmeadow to redeem Bluebell
  • Edward Gard again forced to mortgage it to Richard James Lucas

1907 Richard Lucas sells it to John Frances Dore

1913 Edward Gard died

1936 The Inn was sold to Mrs. Sadie O’Brien (nee Long) and with her sister Mrs. Eileen Myra Ingram, the Inn was transformed into a maternity hospital. Mrs. Ingram was the the wife of the local doctor

1940’s Hospital is closed, ground floor is leased to Mr. & Mrs. Claude Hean and the other part by the Cornelius family

1945-1985 The property is purchased by Mr. Ephrain Alan Newitt from Mrs. O’Brien. The Newitts used it as their family residence

1985 The property was sold to Alla & Michael Ward and becomes listed by the National Trust

1992-1997 The Bluebell Inn became an Inn again – operated by Heather & Peter Boulot

1997-1998 Operated by Jill & Les Schulze

1998- Operated as an Inn by Marlene & Barry Gooding.- unknown when it closed

2012 I (David) visited Sorell and noticed that it was again a private residence and was told that it was owned by someone on the mainland and rented out. I was also told that it was again for sale at $700K.