The Colonnade, Bridge Street: a chronology

A number of articles and comments on the Unhurried Traveller website refer to the Colonnade, Bridge Street, Sydney. The partial chronology given below is intended to co-ordinate some of the information relating to the Colonnade. Also included are some biographical details concerning people associated with the Colonnade, and some details concerning developments in the general vicinity.

Grateful acknowledgement is made of information contributed by a number of readers in comments; see in particular ‘The Colonnade, Bridge-street’ and comments there. It is hoped that further chronological details can be added from time to time.

c. 1820s – 1830s. Lumber yard on southern corner of George and Bridge Streets.

1827. Land known as the Orphan Grant (or Orphan House Ground), bordered on the west by George Street and on the south by Bridge Street, subdivided into six lots and sold.

1828. August. John Edye Manning (in England) appointed registrar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

1828. 27 December. John Verge, previously and later architect, now farmer, arrived in Sydney ‘with his son, a shepherd, a flock of Hampshire sheep, various supplies and agricultural equipment’; settled at 70 Pitt Street; received land grants; ‘Most of his architectural work in Sydney appears to have been done between 1830 and 1837, when he retired to Lyndhurst Vale and later to Austral Eden’; ‘his time of maximum activity, 1830-34’; ‘His domestic buildings were the colony’s high-water mark of the Regency style, in its austere stucco vernacular, and in this context he was one of the earliest and most important practitioners of the Greek Revival in Australia’; ‘The pre-eminent early nineteenth century country house in Australia, and Verge’s masterpiece, is Camden Park, Camden, designed for John Macarthur in 1831-32 and built in 1832-35’; ‘One of the richest and most spatially dramatic interiors in early Australian colonial architecture is seen in the hall at the massive Elizabeth Bay House … designed in 1833, and built in 1835-37’; ‘The important terraces, shops and bazaars designed for such businessmen of Sydney as Samuel Lyons and John Edye Manning, father and son, have all disappeared. The only surviving Verge terrace house is the pair designed and built for the Sydney tradesman Frederick Peterson in 1834-36, 39 and 41 Lower Fort Street, which remains as an example of Verge’s many routine commissions for city frontages’ (ADB).

1829. May. Manning arrived in Sydney with his wife and five children.

1830. Thomas Brett established a wine and spirit warehouse, known as (or including?) St. John’s Tavern, on the northern corner of George and Bridge Streets.

1831. February. Verge bought land on the site of 346 Sussex Street, and built his house there.

1831. November. Manning received two land allotments at Rushcutters Bay. Eventually, ‘His large land holdings included houses and stores in Queen Street, Sydney, land at Brisbane Water, Melbourne, Carcoar, Goulburn and Wollongong, and a lease of Vermont near Camden’ (Australian Dictionary of Biography).

1831. 5 December. An ‘illumination’ (display of lights) for the newly arrived governor General Richard Bourke; St. John’s Tavern participated.

1832. 18 June. Supreme Court: Thomas Brett, of St. John’s Tavern, was sued successfully by Rebecca Miller for breach of promise.

1833. 29 July. Sydney Herald, p. 2: William Jones, printer, and Mrs. Mary Jones and Lucilla Jones, arrived from London.

1833. August. A piece of land was purchased from Thomas Collins by John Edye Manning; he commissioned John Verge, architect, to design for the property a terrace of seven houses and shops, called the Colonnade.

1834. 7 October. Sydney Gazette: shops include those of Mrs. Boatwright (seminary for young ladies) and Mr Metcalfe; some shops yet to be let.

1834. (Details from a number of newspapers of various dates.) Colonnade, no. 1: Commercial Banking Company of Sydney (newly established). 2: Joseph Pritchard (selling assorted goods). 3: H.J. Sloman, Boot and Shoe Depot; and Spyer Brothers (selling various goods); and later in the year Mr. Grace, solicitor. 4?: Mrs. Metcalfe (selling bonnets). 6: Mrs. Boatwright, School for Young Ladies. 7: Mr. G.W. Evans (bookseller and stationer; formerly surveyor and explorer).

1836. 9 January. Sydney Gazette advertises the whole of the Colonnade for sale (via auctioneer Samuel Lyons).

1836. 22 January. Australian: Colonnade, no. 1: purchased by Mr. A. O’Reilly (Anthony O’Reilly, currier, established a leather and grindery warehouse at the Colonnade). 2: Mr. Joseph Pritchard. 3: Messrs. Spyer Brothers. 4: Mr. W. Moffitt. 5: Mr. W. Jones.

1840s. Colonnade, no. 17: Thomas Revel Johnson operated from no. 17 a newspaper, Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (1845-1860; subsequently entitled Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle, 1860-1870).

1841. Manning ‘became a victim of the depression, for his property and stock were heavily mortgaged and his shares worthless’ (ADB).

1841. 5 July. ‘Directory of the Public Institutions and Government Offices in Sydney’, Sydney Herald: the office of the Australian newspaper is in Bridge Street, in the ‘lowest house in the Colonade’.

1846. 5 August. Sydney Morning Herald, p. 1: William Walker a new occupant at the Colonnade.

1846. 7 September. Sydney Morning Herald, p. 2: Colonnade, no. 17, known as the Dolphin Hotel, ‘together with the premises adjoining’, advertised for sale by William Jones, proprietor; used as a printing office; ‘The situation is first-rate … being the principal entrance from George-street to the Circular Wharf, Customs House, and all the public Government Offices…’

R.J.M. Newton, ‘Manning, John Edye (1783–1870)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967; and online. Harley Preston, ‘Verge, John (1782–1861)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967; and online.

William Jones, printer

William Jones was a printer and newspaper publisher in early Sydney and later in Goulburn. His career is documented in a variety of sources. The following is a selection of details and references, to be expanded on.

William Jones, printer, with his wife Mrs. Mary Jones and daughter Lucilla, arrived in Sydney from England on Friday 26 July 1833, according to the shipping arrivals news in the Sydney Herald. They came out on the Warrior, which left London on 13 March and Hobart Town on 21 July.

The NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages records the death of an infant Lucilla Jones in 1833; no father’s or mother’s name is given and no district is indicated.

As William Jones remarried in January 1839 (see below), it is believed that his wife Mary Jones died between 1833 and 1838. BDM records for this period show three instances of a Mary Jones: 1836, Mary A., aged 40; 1837, Mary, aged 63 (presumably too old); and 1838, Mary, aged 36. Burial records for the period are incomplete.

In a list of Government contracts for 1834, William Jones is listed for printing the Government Gazette at 20 shillings per sheet, ‘the printer finding paper and delivering the Gazette’. In an advertisement in the Sydney Herald of 30 June 1834 Jones gives his address as ‘“Government Gazette Office,” Bridge street, Sydney’; he was advertising for a compositor and a pressman.

In September 1837 Jones announced that he had moved his business to premises formerly occupied by the bookseller George Evans.

William Jones, printer, of Bridge Street, married Jane Elizabeth, daughter of Mr. Jilks, ‘late Chief Constable of Sydney’, at St. Philip’s Church, Sydney, on Tuesday 22 January 1839.

In October 1840 Jones was found guilty of a libel in his newspaper the Commercial Journal against John Ryan Brenan, magistrate and coroner, who sought damages of £1,000 and was awarded £100.

1842: While still married to Jane Jilks, Jones had a son out of wedlock by Sarah Skerton or Skelton (William Henry Jr.). They married twenty-seven years later.*

William Jones is listed in the Prints and Printmaking Australia Asia Pacific database, which has a small number of references for his activities between 1834 and 1847.

1869: Jones married Sarah Skerton (9/8/1869, Petersham).* [The entry in the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 785/1869, gives the bride’s surname as Skerton; district Sydney.]

1874: Jones died. He was buried in Balmain Cemetery.* [An entry in the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, 2166/1874, gives William Jones’ age as 83 years. This would place his birth in 1790 or 1791.]

‘Shipping intelligence’, Sydney Herald 29/7/1833, p. 2. Warrior passenger list. Burial records: the City of Sydney website has information on the Old Sydney Burial Ground and archaeological work on the site (the latter page has links to an inventory of burials (1792-1820) and an explanation of the inventory and bibliography). Government contracts: Sydney Herald, Supplement, 3/2/1834, p. 2. Government Gazette Office: Sydney Herald 30/6/1834, p. 3. Move to Evans’ premises: Sydney Herald 7/9/1837, p. 1. Marriage: Sydney Monitor and Commercial Advertiser 28/1/1839, p. 2. Libel: Australian 31/10/1840, p. 2. Newspaper in Goulburn: cf. Rod Kirkpatrick, ‘Survival and Persistence: A Case Study of Four Provincial Press Sites’. Prints and Printmaking Australia Asia Pacific: William Jones (printer).

St. Philip’s [not Phillip’s]: the old church (1798/1800/1809-1856) was on the site of Lang Park (across the road from the current church), westward of Bridge Street; a historical summary via the present church website includes a view of the old church, which had a round tower. The State Library of New South Wales has a drawing from 1848. Drawings in the National Library of Australia show the old St. Philip’s church and buildings opposite, and the old St. Philip’s church and St. Patrick’s church on Church Hill. From a somewhat later date there is in the State Library a photo of Bridge Street looking west with the current church in the background.

George W. Evans: for an outline of his career cf. ‘The pursuit of knowledge under difficulties’.

21/6/2012: some details added.  * 8/5/2013: some details added, based on comment to this post (see below).

The European crossing of the Blue Mountains: some bibliography

The following is a selection of references, to be added to progressively.

Some early materials

Blaxland, Gregory, A Journal of a Tour of Discovery across the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, in the Year 1813, with references and explanatory notes, maps, etc. by Frank Walker, [Sydney, S.T. Leigh & Co., printers, 1913?].

Anon. [James O’Hara], The History of New South Wales, London, J. Hatchard, 1817; 2nd ed., 1818.

[Evans, George William; Turpin, Mary Lemprière], The First Crossing of the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, by George William Evans, Deputy Surveyor General of New South Wales, 30th November 1813, compiled by his daughter, Mary Lemprière Turpin, née Evans, [Sydney?], [publisher?], c. 1913.

 Some studies

Anon., Crossing the Blue Mountains: Journeys through Two Centuries, from Naturalist Charles Darwin to Novelist David Foster, Potts Point NSW, Duffy & Snellgrove, 1997.

Brownscombe, Ross (ed.), On Suspect Terrain: Journals of Exploration in the Blue Mountains 1795-1820, Brighton East VIC, Forever Wild Press, 2004. Including original materials, some previously unpublished. Reviewed: Network Review of Books (The Australian Public Intellectual Network), March 2005 (Paul Genoni).

Cameron, Bruce, ‘Sun Valley’, Dictionary of Sydney, 2008. Including reference to evidence of Aboriginal inhabitants in the Blue Mountains. Sun Valley is near Springwood. Cf. Bruce Cameron, Sun Valley and Long Angle Gully: A History, Valley Heights NSW, the author, 1998.

Cunningham, Chris, The Blue Mountains Rediscovered: Beyond the Myths of Early Australian Exploration, Kenthurst NSW, Kangaroo Press, 1996.

Currey, C.H. ‘The First Crossing of the Blue Mountains by Governor and Mrs Macquarie and the Foundation of the City of Bathurst on May 7, 1815’, Journal (Royal Australian Historical Society) 41.3, 1955.

Ellis, M.H., Lachlan Macquarie, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1978.

Havard, W.L. (ed.), ‘Gregory Blaxland’s Narrative and Journal Relating to the First Expedition over the Blue Mountains, New South Wales’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), 23.1, 1937, 28-42.

Havard, W.L., and B.T. Dowd, Historic Glenroy, Cox’s River, Hartley N.S.W., [Blaxland NSW], Blaxland Shire Council, [1937]. Online presentation of text and images, The Lithgow, Hartley Town and Around Website.

Houison, J.K.S., ‘John and Gregory Blaxland’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), 22.1, 1936, 1-41.

Lee, Ida, Early Explorers in Australia: From the Log-Books and Journals, Including the Diary of Allan Cunningham, Botanist, from March 1, 1817, to November 19, 1818, London, Methuen, 1925, chap. XV, at p. 489. ‘Cunningham Reaches Pandora’s Pass’. Brief description of Allan Cunningham’s journey over the Mountains, September 1822. A transcript online.

Low, John, ‘A Rude, Peculiar World: Early Exploration of the Blue Mountains’, in Peter Stanbury (ed.), The Blue Mountains: Grand Adventure for All, Sydney, Macleay Museum, University of Sydney, 1985; 2nd ed., Sydney, Macleay Museum/ Second Back Row Press, 1988.

Mackaness, George (coll. and ed.), Fourteen Journeys over the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, 1813-1841 (Australian Historical Monographs, New Series, 22-24), 3 vols., Sydney, Mackaness, 1950; repr., Sydney, Horwitz-Grahame, 1965.

Macqueen, Andy, Somewhat Perilous: The Journeys of Singleton, Parr, Howe, Myles and Blaxland in the Northern Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls NSW, A. Macqueen, 2004.

Persse, Michael, ‘Wentworth, William Charles (1790–1872)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, and online.

Pulver, W[orters] R[eadett], Notes on the First Crossing of the Blue Mountains, 1813, The Institute [The Northern Engineering Institute of New South Wales], 1913.

Ritchie, J., A Biography of Lachlan Macquarie, Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1986.

Ross, Valerie, The Everingham Letterbook: Letters of a First Fleet Convict, Wamberal, Anvil Press, 1985.

Scott, Ernest, Australian Discovery, London, Dent, 1929; repr., New York, Johnson Reprint Corporation, 1966. Online (Project Gutenberg).

Stockton, Eugene (ed.), Blue Mountains Dreaming: the Aboriginal Heritage, Winmalee NSW, Three Sisters Productions, 1993; 2nd ed., ed. Eugene Stockton and John Merriman, Lawson NSW, Blue Mountain Education and Research Trust, 2009.

Thomas, Martin, The Artificial Horizon: Imagining the Blue Mountains, Carlton VIC, Melbourne University Press, 2003. Reviewed, Network Review of Books (Australian Public Intellectual Network), February 2004 (Paul Genoni).

The above details are based on information to hand.

Can a thief be trusted to record the temperature?

George Edwards Peacock, meteorological observer at the New South Wales Government’s South Head weather station between 1841 and 1856, had arrived in Sydney as a convict in May 1837. (See the entry for 28/3/2011.) His trial, conviction and transportation were undoubtedly traumatic for a family that had reason to look upon itself as highly respectable.

George’s father, Daniel Mitford Peacock, had been a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained a first-class degree in mathematics in 1791. Not only was he among that élite group of students, called ‘Wranglers’, but he was ‘senior Wrangler,’ having gained the highest marks in the examination. Accordingly he was one of the two recipients in that year of Smith’s Prize, awarded for excellence in mathematics and natural philosophy (physics).

A biographical note in a dictionary published in 1816 (with reference to 1814) records that Daniel had the degree of M.A., was a Fellow of Trinity College, was ‘one of the preachers at Whitehall,’ and was the author of Considerations on the Structure of the House of Commons (1794) and a Pamphlet against the Conductors of the Critical Review. His other works include The Principles of Civil Obedience, Laid down by Locke and Paley, Analyzed and Confronted with the Doctrine of Scripture, in a Sermon, Preached before the Judges of the Assizes at Durham, July 26, 1815; and Remarks on the Essentials of a Free Government, and on the Genuine Constitution of the British House of Commons, in Answer to the Theories of Modern Reformers, Cambridge, 1817, a work based on Montesquieu’s L’esprit des Loix. In these two works the author, Rev. D.M. Peacock, is stated to be (with some variation of wording) Rector of Great Stainton (or Staynton), Durham, Vicar of Sedbergh, Yorkshire, and formerly Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Two years later appeared his treatise on A Comparative View of the Principles of the Fluxional and Differential Calculus, Cambridge, 1819.

Rev. Daniel Mitford Peacock became rector of the Parish of Stainton in 1812. He purchased part of the estate at Great Stainton from the Marquess of Londonderry in 1823. In 1835 he sold it to John Lord Eldon, who had acquired the rest of the estate from the Marquess of Londonderry in 1826.

Mathematical ability ran in the family. We find Mitford Peacock (1800-1828), Daniel’s eldest son, of Bene’t College, Cambridge, as ‘second Wrangler’ and recipient of Dr. Smith’s Prize in 1822. Mitford became a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, gained his M.A. (year uncertain), and took holy orders, but died young, at Hastings on 20 May 1828. His epitaph records him as ‘Elder son of the Rev. D.M. Peacock Rector of / Great Stainton in the County of Durham.’ He died in ‘the 28th year of his age.’ ‘Christian meekness, and humility, purity and modesty, / Truth and sincerity, uncompromising integrity, active benevolence, and a tenderness for the feelings of others / Bespoke the blessed influence of religion in his heart / throughout life; he died in single reliance on the / Merits and Meditation of the Redeemer our / Lord Jesus Christ.’

It was against this background of intellectual and ecclesiastical eminence and respectability that George Edwards Peacock fell. In 1835 he used a power of attorney to appropriate money belonging to his brother Rev. Edwards Peacock (1804-1895). Accused and found guilty, he was fortunate to escape a death sentence, which was commuted to transportation. As a convict in New South Wales he was fortunate again in gaining honourable and steady employment as a meteorological observer and compiler at the South Head weather station in Sydney. After the weather station closed in 1856 he became clerk to a prominent solicitor, Montagu Consett Stephen, son of Chief Justice Sir Alfred Stephen. But in November of that year he was charged with stealing over 200 pounds from the funds of the solicitor. He disappeared and (it has been shown) escaped to England, where he lived under another family surname, Cust, until his death at York in 1873.

Are we to understand that such a man, shown to have been conspicuously deceitful in matters of money and personal trust, was nevertheless unwaveringly reliable in being on hand, four times a day, day after day, over a period of fifteen years, to observe and record with fastidious care, perhaps through an inherited capacity for mathematical precision, details of temperature and air pressure, dew point, rainfall, wind direction and strength, and general features of the weather, on which official, public and scientific judgments could be confidently based?

Daniel Mitford Peacock, Justice of the Peace: Accounts and Papers, vol. 7: Relating to Courts of Law; Juries; Elections; &c.: Session: 4 February – 20 August 1836, 1836, Justices of Peace [List of Persons Appointed to Act as Justices of the Peace, in England and Wales], County of York, North Riding, at p. 83; biography: A Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland, London, Colburn, 1816, p. 265; rector of Stainton: Durham Diocesan Records, Letters testimonial (admissions), letter of 19/2/1812, to Stainton-le-Street rectory; British History Online, Parish of Stainton; estate at Great Stainton: British History Online, Stainton. Mitford Peacock, second Wrangler: The New Monthly Magazine, 1/3/1822, Varieties, at p. 113; death: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 98, June 1828, Obituary, Clergy Deceased, at p. 571; epitaph: St Helens, Ore, Monumental Inscriptions, 25/07/2004, Bedford Memorial Program, Memorial Inscriptions for Old Parish of St Helens, Ore, in the County of East Sussex. Col Fullagar, ‘The Life and Disappearance of George Edwards Peacock’, Bonhams & Goodman, Auction News 4.2, October 2008, p. 7 [pdf].

George Edwards Peacock: lawyer, convict, meteorological observer, artist

George Edwards Peacock is included as a landscape painter in the Dictionary of Australian Artists Online. The dictionary article (1992, revised 1992-2003) records that he was baptised in Sedbergh, Yorkshire, on 4 September 1806. He was ‘younger son’ of Rev. Daniel Mitford Peacock, vicar of Sedbergh, and his wife Catherine, née Edwards (hence George’s middle name). He was educated at Sedbergh School and became a solicitor (February 1830). But he experienced financial difficulties and ‘forged a power of attorney for transfer of stock valued at £7,814, the property of his brother, Rev. Edwards George Peacock.’ He was tried at the Old Bailey and sentenced to death (11 September 1836), but the sentence was commuted to transportation for life. He arrived in Sydney (on the Prince George) on 8 May 1837 and was sent to Port Macquarie. He had married in England, and his wife and son (their names are not given) joined him in Port Macquarie three months after his arrival and then by 1839 moved to Sydney, where George was allowed to join them. He had been a clerk at Port Macquarie; in Sydney, after training under the government astronomer James Dunlop, he became a meteorological observer at the government weather station on the South Head of Port Jackson, living alone in a cottage nearby (his marriage broke up). He also took up painting and became known for his views of the harbour and other subjects. In December 1845 he received a conditional pardon (which required him to remain in the colony). ‘After the South Head weather station closed in 1856, official records make no further mention of Peacock and it is not known where or when he died.’ The article gives details of his painting career.

In 2002 the State Library of New South Wales produced George Edwards Peacock in the Picture Gallery: Guide. The Library has more than forty of his paintings. He is described as ‘the youngest son of the Reverend Daniel Mitford Peacock.’ The date of his conditional pardon is given as June 1846. ‘What happened to him after 1856 is a mystery: not even the date or place of his death is known.’

On 12 December 2003 the ABC’s 7.30 Report broadcast a segment on Col Fullagar, an insurance broker who ‘spends his spare time travelling around the country, documenting and even cleaning the grave sites of notable artists from Australia’s past.’ On Col Fullagar’s website, Last Resting Place of Australian Artists, a search for George Edwards Peacock now yields the information that he died on 23 January 1875;

Appears to have returned to England, changed name to George CUST and died in 1875. Buried in unmarked grave at York Cemetery, England.

In an article published in Bonhams & Goodman, Auction News 4.2, October 2008, p. 7, Col Fullagar tells the story of how he discovered George’s fate.

The State Library of New South Wales Guide cites: Garry Darby, ‘Peacock, George Edwards’ in Joan Kerr (ed.), The Dictionary of Australian Artists 1770-1870, Sydney, Oxford University Press, 1992; Mitchell Library Pictures Research Notes PXn 90; Old Bailey Session Papers 1836 (eleventh session), London, 1837, pp. 751-757. Col Fullagar, ‘The Life and Disappearance of George Edwards Peacock’, Bonhams & Goodman, Auction News 4.2, October 2008, p. 7 [pdf]. New South Wales Reports of Crime for Police Information [1856-1862], 17 November 1856.

Hopefulness amid the burning sands of Libya

In colonial times, understanding of Libya (to judge from newspaper evidence) was strongly influenced by references to that region in classical and biblical literature. For the most part Libya was thought of as a vaguely defined southern region of heat and burning sands.

The travels of Herodotus included Libya and Egypt; he wrote of Libya in connection with theories as to the origins of the waters of the Nile, and noted the size and beauty of the long-living Ethiopians who inhabited the southern part of Libya. The temple of Jupiter Ammon, visited by Alexander the Great, was in the deserts of Libya, near great pillars of salt. At one time Carthage held sway from Libya to Spain. After the Roman conquest of Carthage, Libya became one of the major sources of grain for supplying the city of Rome. ‘The parts of Libya about Cyrene’ was a well-known phrase from the New Testament story of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). By ancient custom the Bishop of Alexandria had authority over Egypt, Libya and the Pentapolis (five cities with Greek origins, including Cyrene and Berenice, modern Benghazi). Some argued that, according to biblical prophecy, Russia would occupy Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya in the last stages of the power struggles before the prophesied battle of Armageddon.

Literary allusions seemed to fill people’s minds even when Africa was being opened up by exploration. A report by Dr. Livingstone (1813-1873) from Ujiji, dated 1 November 1871, mentioned Libya in connection with a story thousands of years old, that an admiral of the Pharaohs had sailed round Libya with the sun on his right hand (that is, around the south of Libya from east to west) and was not believed. (Ujiji was where Henry Stanley found Dr. Livingstone on 28 October 1871.) Present at the British Association meeting in October 1874 was ‘Dr. Schweinfurth, who returned lately from a romantic expedition into the Desert of Libya.’ Not only was Libya fabled and romantic but the expeditions that went there were likely to have an aura of romance.

When W.C. Wentworth wrote his poem ‘Australasia’ for a Cambridge poetry prize in 1823 (published in the Sydney Gazette in 1824), he lamented the convict origins of New South Wales but offered the consolatory thought that the Roman empire, which stretched ‘From Libya’s sands to quiver’d Parthia’s shore,’ had even more disreputable origins.

Libya is the focus of a poem which appeared in the Melbourne Argus in 1852. Nicholas Mitchell, in ‘The Oases of Libya,’ developed the theme that ‘Nought wholly waste or wretched will appear | Through all the world of Nature or of mind.’ There is always hope in the midst of sorrow, happiness in the midst of desolation, stars to illuminate the darkness, faith to alleviate gloom. The oases of Libya are a case in point, ‘plots of verdure’ that gladden the traveller. The very first sight of them, and the fragrance that comes on the breeze, give relief to weary pilgrims. The fresh leaves, the birds, the mossy rocks, the green grass, the trees and vines and fruits, the flowers, bring luxurious thoughts, ‘While skies more clear, more bluely seem to glow, | To match the bright and fairy scene below.’

Herodotus: Sydney Morning Herald 14/7/1863, p. 2; Australian 5/8/1842, p. 2 (Ethiopians). Temple of Jupiter Ammon: ‘Salt’, Colonial Times 10/8/1847, p. 3. Carthage: Queanbeyan Age and General Advertiser 15/6/1865, p. 4. Grain supplies for Rome: South Australian Advertiser 19/6/1866, p. 2; cf. Launceston Examiner 11/12/1850, p. 4. Pentecost: Mercury (Hobart) 13/6/1871, p. 3. Bishop of Alexandria: Sydney Morning Herald 9/6/1843, pp. 2-3 at p. 2. Armageddon: Sydney Morning Herald 8/2/1854, p. 5. Dr. Livingstone: Rockhampton Bulletin 3/10/1872, p. 4. British Association and Georg August Schweinfurth (1836-1925): South Australian Register 26/10/1874, p. 6. ‘Australasia, written for the Chancellor’s Medal, at the Cambridge Commencement, July 1823, by W. C. Wentworth, an Australasian’, Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 25/3/1824, p. 4. Nicholas Mitchell, ‘The Oases of Libya’: Argus 7/8/1852, p. 4.

D’Arcy Wentworth, 1762-1827

On 10 July 1827 the Monitor announced, within a heavy black border, the death of D’Arcy Wentworth (who had died on 7 July):

Died at his Estate of Home-bush, Aged 65, after a severe attack of Influenza, universally regretted, D’Arcy Wentworth, Esq. the oldest Magistrate in the Colony, many years Surgeon-General, Colonial Treasurer of the Colony, and Chief Police Magistrate of Sydney; all of which important offices he filled with singular credit to himself, and satisfaction to the public, of all classes and degrees.

The Monitor felt ‘real grief’ in recording his death. ‘He was a lover of freedom; a consistent steady friend of the people; a kind and liberal master; a just and humane Magistrate; a steady friend; and an honest man.’ His talents were ‘not brilliant’ but ‘very solid.’ He was prudent and cautious, independent, and reliable. He had large land-holdings and may have been the wealthiest man in the colony. He sought to maintain people’s rights and so advance the welfare of the people.

In short, considering the paucity of men of wealth in the Colony sincerely attached to the people, we consider Mr. Wentworth’s premature death (for his looks bade fair for ten years longer of life) a national loss.

His funeral took place on Monday 9 July. The Australian reported that there was a procession nearly a mile long from his home at Homebush (spelled Home Bush) to the church at Parramatta. The chief mourner was Mr. C. Wentworth (i.e. his son, William Charles Wentworth). The service was taken by Rev. Samuel Marsden. The Wentworths were descended from the Earl of Strafford; the family seat was originally Wentworth Castle, in the County of York. D’Arcy was born in Ireland and arrived in the colony in 1790. On his retirement from the position of Principal Surgeon after 29 years he was praised in Government and General Orders as having uniformly conducted his duties in an ‘able, zealous, humane and intelligent manner.’

The obituary in the Australian concluded:

As a man, his manly and independent principles—his high integrity—his moderation—his urbanity—his public and private virtues—could not fail to endear him to his friends and fellow citizens, and to excite throughout the Colony the liveliest feelings of regret at his demise. | It might, without great exaggeration, be said of him, as was remarked by the late Earl of Cork and Orrery of Sir Horatio Mann, Minister to the Duke of Tuscany, in 1754—“He is the only person I have ever known, whom all his countrymen agree in praising.”

Monitor 10/7/1827, p. 3. Australian 11/7/1827, p. 4. ‘Wentworth, D’Arcy (1762-1827)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, pp. 579-582, and online.

St. Patrick’s Day, 1827

On Saturday 17 March 1810, early in the first year of Lachlan Macquarie’s tenure of office as Governor of New South Wales, the Sydney Gazette reported:

His Excellency was this day pleased to give an entertainment to a number of the Government artificers and labourers, in honor of the day, being Saint Patrick’s; on which occasion true British hospitality displayed itself; and every heart was filled with sentiments of respect and gratitude.

This commemoration of St. Patrick’s Day is presented as a gesture on the part of Governor Macquarie rather than a celebration that arose from within the Irish community.

In 1827 St. Patrick’s Day again fell on a Saturday. According to a report in the Australian newspaper, the day had not been celebrated in Sydney with a public dinner before that time. ‘Saint George and Andrew … have each had their day, and their respective votaries for years back, but in Sydney Poor Pat had no one to give him a dinner in public before Saturday last.’ In that year, a committee of gentlemen arranged for ‘Dinner on table at half-past five,’ and a memorable occasion resulted.

In a lengthy report, the newspaper article describes in detail the dinner and the customs that attended it. Mr. D. Wentworth was President, with Dr. Douglass on his right. St. Patrick is mentioned a number of times. There were ‘such dishes as might have tempted Saint Patrick himself with all his respect for Lent or ordinances of “Mother Church” to the contrary, to break his fast over.’ Mr. Wentworth, with a full glass of Irish whiskey, spoke in memory ‘of one whose fame can never die’, and at the toast the 57th’s band ‘struck up the saint’s favourite air—Patrick’s day in the morning.’ The calls for an encore, and the bursts of applause, ‘would scarce have failed to gratify the Saint, could he but have been present.’ Rev. Mr. Power proposed a toast to ‘Thomas Moore—the bard of the Isles,’ and in response to a request from his countrymen and distinguished visitors he gave them a song ‘in the original erse, with the tone, rich brogue, and humourous spirit, that would go hard towards puzzling Saint Patrick himself to equal or excel.’

Other toasts were drunk to the King, the Duke of York and the rest of the Royal Family, the Army and the Navy, Governor Darling, Mrs. Darling, the ladies of the Colony, Governor Macquarie (‘drank in solemn silence’), Chief Justice Forbes, the Chairman, the former Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, Major Goulburn, Mr. M‘Leay, and others.

It was after midnight before the last of the company dispersed. ‘A feeling for political discussion’ prevailed towards the end of the evening, but it was partial and evanescent, and ‘it may be truly said, that harmony, cordiality, and general good feeling reigned paramount.’

The author of the newspaper article, most probably the editor (Robert Howe, son of the first proprietor George Howe), whose stature would presumably have earned him an invitation to the event, noted that he himself was not Irish: ‘It is rather unfortunate, that we have but a very slight and impartial acquaintance with the “life and adventures” of the “rite merry and facetious” Saint Patrick.’

The Chairman, D’Arcy Wentworth, born in Ireland, was much respected in the colony. He died a few months later (7 July). The reputation of Dr. Douglass with the authorities was variable; he was obviously in sufficient standing at the time to play a prominent part on St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish poet Thomas Moore (1779-1852) had by this time become a novelist; his novel The Epicurean was published in 1827.

St. Patrick’s Day was observed by the Bank of New South Wales as a holiday in 1827 (cf. Holidays in Sydney in 1827).

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 17/3/1810, p. 2. ‘Anniversary of Saint Patrick’, Australian 20/3/1827, p. 3. J.J. Auchmuty, ‘Wentworth, D’Arcy (1762-1827)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, pp. 579-582, and online. K.B. Noad, ‘Douglass, Henry Grattan (1790-1865)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, 1966, pp. 314-316, and online.

Some European views of Japan in the nineteenth century

References to Japan in nineteenth-century newspapers in Australia are spasmodic and provide a very incomplete view of that country. The word ‘japanned’ occurs frequently in advertisements in connection with a variety of articles that were subjected to that lacquering process. As for the people, lifestyle and cultural achievements of Japan, there was a strong inclination to believe that European culture and attainments were significantly more advanced.

Thus in 1825 the Australian newspaper reprinted a letter to the editor of the Singapore Chronicle in which the writer commented on the language and ideas in several newspapers in the Australian colonies. According to the writer, the newspapers showed a range of regrettable linguistic developments in Australian English; however, they also offered evidence of ‘the rapid advancement of a country destined at some future day in all likelihood to alter the whole frame of society in Eastern Asia, and to give law to China and Japan.’

According to the Sydney Gazette in 1829:

In the island of Japan, we have the example of a people, who having attained a high degree of civilization and knowledge of the arts of life, have nevertheless abstracted themselves from intercourse with foreign nations. … There [in China], as in Japan, society appears to have attained a point at which all further progress and improvement have been arrested.

A small indication of the ignorance, or prejudice, which affected views on the ‘Far East’ may be found in an article on the history of printing, published in the Colonial Times in 1827, according to which Japan did not obtain the art of printing until the sixteenth century, subsequent to its invention in Germany in 1457.

There was, nevertheless, a recognition that Japan produced impressive manufactured goods. In the Sydney Monitor in 1828 a contributor is quoted as saying that Sydney is a place where,

… if you have but the money, you may procure any thing that convenience requires, and indulge if you please, the most capricious freaks of fancy, from the clumsiest Dutch toys, to the exquisite manufactures of China and Japan.

In quoting this passage the writer of the article disputes the possible implication that the items are widely available, but there is no criticism of the view that manufactures from China and Japan are typically, and in contrast to some items of European origin, ‘exquisite.’

Letter to the editor: ‘Comparisons are —’, Australian 20/10/1825, p. 2. Knowledge and civilization: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 10/3/1829, p. 2. Printing: Supplement to the Colonial Times 12/10/1827, p. 2. Manufactures: Sydney Monitor 23/8/1828, p. 3.

Japan, 15 June 1896: earthquakes and a tidal wave

In April 1892 the Adelaide Advertiser printed a description of ‘the great earthquake of 1891’ from a letter written by an agent of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company at Hiogo, Japan, and forwarded to the company’s Adelaide office. The writer described the earthquake as ‘the greatest seismic disturbance of the present century. The first and most severe shock occurred at 6.40 a.m. on October 28 and lasted about three minutes…’ During those few minutes nearly 10,000 people were killed and nearly 20,000 injured, and nearly 130,000 buildings were destroyed and over 50,000 partially destroyed (the writer gives exact figures).

The shock was accompanied by a low rumbling sound, the earth was violently shaken, and moved like the surface of a pool of water agitated by the wind, although the morning was perfectly bright and calm. … The earthquake was felt from Sendai in the north to Nagasaki in the south, over an area of 92,000 square miles, but most severely between Kobe and Tokio, the centre being the Nagoya-Gifu plain, one of the Japan’s great gardens.

Five years later there was another major upheaval, this time centred further to the north-east. By way of a ship that came directly from China and Japan, a report arrived in Australia a few weeks later of ‘the subsidence of a huge area off the northern coast of Japan.’

On Monday, the 15th June, the whole coastline of Iwate, Miyagi, and Aomori Prefectures, and of Rikuzen Province, a stretch of land measuring from 150 to 200 miles in length, was inundated by a tidal wave. Hundreds of houses have been swept away and probably thousands of lives lost. … There is unfortunately no room to doubt that the nation has to mourn a devastation almost, if not quite, equalling the terrible earthquakes in Central Japan in 1891.

The tidal wave was ‘preceded or accompanied by great seismic disturbances.’ The affected area stretched ‘from Sendai Bay on the south to Hachinohei and the eastern head of Aomori Bay on the north.’ The event was ‘a crushing catastrophe.’ Details to hand ‘suffice to make it clear that the country is face to face with little less than a national disaster. The feeling of the people is that the year promises to be a dark one.’

1891 earthquake: Advertiser (Adelaide) 23/4/1892, p. 4. 1896 earthquakes and inundation: quotations are from the report as printed in Sydney Morning Herald 21/7/1896, p. 6; see also Brisbane Courier 25/7/1896, p. 9.