J for James Gordon

James Gordon is mentioned often in newspapers both in Sydney and within the Sorell Municipality.

But first a bit about the man and his arrival in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania).

James was born in 1779 in the town of Forcett in Yorkshire, England. At age 27, he emigrated to Sydney and became a well known trader.

Marriage in 1814

In January 1814, he married Elizabeth Arndell and by April that year, he was appointed Naval Officer in Hobart Town. As he had good connections back in England, he was also appointed as a magistrate and as part of the Lieutenant Governor’s court.

Appointments of James Gordon

But by late 1815, he was working his farm in the Sorell municipality rather than being a Naval Officer.

When researching James Gordon and his influence in the Sorell municipality, I looked in Trove on the National Library Australia at how often he was mentioned in newspapers. Up to 1842 at his death, he was mentioned about 750 times. Below are some of the interesting events he was mentioned in.

1816 supplying fresh meat to the commissary

Fresh meat

1819 Sheep speared by aboriginals – to read the rest of the report, click on the image.

Sheep speared

1821 Cautioning trespassers on his property

Don’t trespass!

1822 Contracting for bricks – maybe to start his house?

Bricks wanted

1823 Building his house – click on image to read the rest of the article

Building his house

1824 Agricultural meeting also mentions Robert Gard, a servant of James Gordon – click on image to read more

Agricultural meeting

1824 Offering reward after killing of property

Reward offered

1829 New appointment in the district of Richmond

New appointment

1833 A ‘Native Youth’ wrote a letter to the editor about James Gordon 

1834 James Gordon had problems with the government

Government problems

1836 Letting a farm

Letting farm

1837 Chairing meeting of Sorell residents – click on link to read more of the meeting

Chairing meetings

1840 Judging at the Hobart Town Horticultural Society – widely respected in the farming community – click image for more

Horticultural Society

1841 American aloe at Forcett

Aloe at Forcett

James Gordon’s death and funeral in August 1842 was written about by  The True Colonist Van Diemen’s Land Political Despatch, and Agricultural and Commercial Advertiser..

Death notice

In his will, everything is left to his wife Elizabeth and upon her death it goes to her relatives as the Gordons did not have any children. A copy of the will can be read here – such beautiful handwriting.

Land grants

It was in 1803 that James Meehan, a surveyor of the time, first passed through the district now known as Sorell. On one of his trips, he was reported as exploring north west of the Coal River and returning by way of Prosser’s Plains and the Sorell district. He was the first non-aboriginal to travel in this direction and the range of hills between the Derwent River and Sorell municipality now bear his name.

Until 1821, the district was known as Pittwater, but it is uncertain how this name came about. Perhaps it was named after William Pitt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in England. Perhaps it was named after an early settler, Thomas Pitt, who visited the district in 1804. James Meehan knew of Pitt’s interest and often referred to the area as Pittwater.

In 1805 George Prideaux Harris was sent by Lieutenant David Collins to survey the Pittwater area. He had high hopes for a fine harbour with a lovely city on its banks but was disappointed when the report mentioned shallow water and not suitable for a harbour.

By 1806 the first farms were under cultivation in Gloucester as Sorell district was then known. The first land grants were confirmed by Governor Macquarie in 1812 to the following people:

Robert Alloms or Allomes Charles Anthony William Baxter Jacob Billett or Bellette
John or James Birchall Richard Buckingham James Davies Frederick Dawes
J. Duncombe William Fenner Arnold Fisk Mary Fogarty
Silas Gatehouse James Grimes William Hambly James Hannaway
Jane Hobbs William Hopley Jane Horton (Gill), A.W.H.Humphrey
John Ingle Charles Jeffries Thomas Kent John Knox
Alexander Laing I. Larsome John Liddle David Lord
Edward Lord R. W. Loane William McDowall John Miles
George Morrisby Robert Nash Thomas Pennington J. Prestage
Bartholomew Reardon Walter Redpath Mary Richardson Thomas Riley
S. Sederick James Turnbull John Wade M. Wicks
Charles Willis J. Wilson William Wilson W. Wood
Thomas Richardson Thomas Solly?

By 1815, so much wheat was being produced that a flour mill was built by Robert Nash and a year later a site for a township was purchased. This site was originally part of a grant given to John Clarke, then sold to James Gordon, who further sold it to Thomas Archer who immediately sold it to the Government at an advance of £150-0-0 (CSO1/301/7306 at archives of Tasmania)

In the Hobart Town Gazettes of 1816-1818 Nash, Allomes, Gordon, Hannaway, Birchall and Thorne had their goods advertised by creditors. In the same period, the editor of the Gazette placed reminders that subscribers of Pittwater and other parts of the country who were up to three years in arrears with subscriptions could make payment in wheat. Goods were often exchanged because currency was often in short supply.

John Birchall of Marsh Farm, began in 1816 a wheat delivery service from Pittwater to Kangaroo Point on his new schooner ‘Young William’ at a rate of 1/6 a bushell. He offered a free delivery for those who wished to contribute to the fund for the relief of relatives of those wounded at the battle of Waterloo.

By 1819 there were 9 residents but there were about sixty farms in the district which was now known as “The Granary of Australia.”

More land grants were given in 1824 and the municipality had been divided into four areas.
G – Gloucester – Sorell, Pawleena and surrounds

Robert Allums William Baxter Jacob Billett John Birchall Mr Buckingham
Mr Burchall James Davis John Duncombe Arnold Fish (Fisk) Mr Fogherty
Mr Gatehouse Government Mr Gregory William Hambly jun William Hambly sen
A.W.H. Humphrey William Jenner Thomas Kent Roland W Loane Richard Loisonce
Mr E Lord Peter Mills George Morrisby Robert Nash Thomas Pennington
Thomas Prestage Bartholomew Reardon Walter Redpath Mr Riley Samuel Sedrick
John Wade Charles Willis Mr Wilson

H – Harrington – Midway Point, Orielton

Richard Coleman John Hatcher John Ingle Lieut Charles Jeffries James Lord
Mr D Lord Mr Martin Horatio William Mason James Mayberry John Palmer Stone
Dr Henry St John Younge

P – Pitt – Pittwater

Mr Champion Mr Kelly James Kelly Mr Roberts

S – Sussex – Forcett, Dodges Ferry and surrounds

Nathaniel Ayres Thomas Bowden Riley Buckingham Mr Clark Walter Colquhoun
Mr Crowder Mary Geils James Gordon James Hannaway Jane Hobbs
Rachael Hoddy John Hulan Thomas Allen Lacelles John Lakeland Joseph Pendill
William Rayner(or) jun William Rayner(or) sen George Raynor Bartholomew Reardon Mr Redpath
Isabella Riley Thomas Riley sen Thomas Riley jun Mr Scott William Shirley
Ann Shuttleworth Mr Smith Mr Steel John Tapley Mr Waddel (Alex Stewart Waddle)
John Welch Samuel Westlake William Woolley

The Tasmanian Archives has many links to land grants in the state and they can be found here. Some are online and others you need to visit or contact the Archives.

To find out more about land settlement in Tasmania, the UTAS eprints has a PDF available here.