Category Archives: Sydney

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.

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.

A commemoration dinner for the Governor

On Thursday 28 December 1809 His Majesty’s ship Hindostan and the store-ship Dromedary arrived in Port Jackson, with His Excellency Lachlan M‘Quarrie Esquire on board the latter ship. Delayed by contrary winds, they came to anchor in Sydney Cove on the Saturday, and His Excellency the Governor and his Lady landed at ten on the Sunday morning with due ceremony and proceeded to Government House.

The event signalled a new phase in the life of the colony, in which the King’s authority had to be re-asserted after the rebellion against Governor William Bligh. Macquarie was a strong figure, and the public were left in no doubt that it was in the interests of the civil and military establishment and all citizens to remain on good terms with him.

Three years later, in the Sydney Gazette of 9 January 1813, we find a notice announcing that, ‘A number of respectable Inhabitants of this Colony propose dining together on the 29th instant in order to commemorate His Excellency Governor Macquarie’s Landing in, and assuming the Command of this Territory.’ The next issue notified readers that the dinner would take place at No. 11, George-street, Sydney, and listed the names of the seventeen Stewards from whom one could obtain tickets. At the head of the list is ‘Wm. Cox, Esq.’

The dinner duly took place and in view of the warmth of the season was organised as a fête champêtre, with a tent erected in the front garden of Mr. Robert Jenkins, one of the Stewards and Treasurer. The tent was ‘fancifully decorated with various ensigns, together with a variety of shrubs and boughs, formed into wreaths, festoons, and other neat devices,’ and ‘on the outside of the tent the British Colours were displayed.’ There were nearly 150 persons present, ‘among whom were many Gentlemen of the first respectability.’

The company sat down to dinner at six and during dinner the band of the 73rd Regiment supplied musical accompaniment, playing ‘a number of appropriate airs.’ The President was William Gore, Esq., and the Vice-President William Cox. Each of these two gentlemen sat ‘supported by a Clergyman on the right; the Stewards were seated at equal distances from each other; and the rest of the Company placed themselves promiscuously without respect to rank or difference of condition.’

After dinner there were fifteen toasts, ‘all of which were followed by well adapted airs.’ The toasts indicate ideals and preoccupations of the time. The first three toasts were to the King, the Prince Regent, and the Queen and the rest of the Royal Family. After a toast to the success of ‘the British Arms, by Sea and Land’ came the toast to the Governor: ‘Governor Macquarie! May the Anniversary of his assuming the Command of this Territory be commemorated and reverenced by our latest Posterity!’ The next two toasts were to ‘the Founder of the Colony’, Governor Phillip, and the Minister for the Colonies, Earl Bathurst. The eighth and central toast is interesting and perhaps surprising: ‘Mr. Wilberforce, the Friend of the Colony, and of Mankind in general.’ This was followed by a toast to religion and virtue: ‘May Religion and Virtue be the Foundation whereon the Superstructure of our Colony will be reared.’ The next four toasts developed further the theme of progress in the colony, by way of unanimity, commercial and agricultural prosperity, the establishment of an export trade, and an ‘intended Library. May every Inhabitant of our Colony unite in promoting the general diffusion of useful Knowledge!’ The second-last toast, ‘proposed by a Gentleman’, was to Lieutenant Colonel O’Connell and his 73rd Regiment. And the final toast was, ‘Good Night!’

The landing: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 7/1/1810, pp. 2-3. Notice of proposed Commemoration Dinner: 9/1/1813, p. 1. Stewards: 16/1/1813, p. 2. Report of the dinner: 30/1/1813, p. 2.

The Blue Mountains: forbidding and forbidden

Rugged, precipitous and densely wooded, the Blue Mountains to the west of Sydney could easily seem an inhospitable and rather frightening place to someone unaccustomed to the ways of the Australian bush.

An article by a ‘Sydney correspondent’ in the Brisbane Courier in 1876, in which the writer reflected on the significance of the expedition of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth, described the Blue Mountains as ‘that seemingly impenetrable succession of gaunt ranges, dense forests, and rocky fastnesses.’ In 1813 settlement was confined to the area between Newcastle to the north, Shoalhaven to the south, ‘and the base of the grim, defiant Blue Mountains in the west.’ There were settlers on the Nepean and Hawkesbury Rivers, but in the west ‘those gloomy sentinels stood barring the passage and forbidding further progress.’

An authoritarian government added to this sense of inaccessibility by declaring the country west of the Nepean out of bounds to all but a favoured few. Preoccupied with issues of public order and land use, the early Governors did not want convicts or settlers escaping from lawful oversight beyond the bounds of approved settlement.

At the foot of the mountains, on the western bank of the Nepean, lay a grassed area known as Emu Island. In an Order of 11 April 1812 Governor Macquarie noted that some settlers and others had been in the habit of sending ‘Horses and Horned Cattle’ to graze on this and other crown land west of the Nepean. In future anyone found guilty of such trespass would be severely punished. Moreover, no one was allowed to cross the Nepean River or travel in the country west of it without a written pass from the Governor or Lieutenant Governor. The only exception was for those associated with the sheep farms of Messrs. M‘Arthur and Davidson in the area known as the Cowpastures. Wild cattle grazing west of the Nepean were government property, and anyone found hunting, stealing or killing them would be prosecuted for felony, ‘and punished in the most exemplary Manner.’

The more the Blue Mountains were magnified in the public imagination as a near insuperable obstacle, the greater the achievement of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth might seem after the explorers found a way through. And the more energetic the Government was in claiming crown rights over the country west of the Nepean, the more subordinate the mountains and plains might seem to the dictates of officialdom. So proceeded the grand conquest of the mountains and the opening up of the territory beyond for pasturage and agriculture.

‘Crossing the Blue Mountains sixty-three years ago’, Brisbane Courier 15/4/1876, p. 6; also in The Queenslander 22/4/1876, p. 14. ‘Government and General Orders’, Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 18/4/1812, p. 1.

Holidays in Sydney in 1827

In a notice dated 26 June 1827 and advertised during July in the Sydney newspapers the Monitor and the Australian, the Bank of New South Wales announced that, ‘The Bank in future will be open for Public Business from Ten o’Clock in the Morning till Three o’Clock in the Afternoon,’ and that holidays would be observed on stated days. Church festivals that fell on Sunday (e.g. Easter Sunday) were not mentioned, as Sunday was not a business day. Thirteen days were set aside for holidays as follows:

Half Yearly Settlement of the Books (four days): at the beginning of January and at the beginning of July: New Year’s Day and the following day, and 1 and 2 July.

Official celebrations (three days): 31 January, Governor Macquarie’s birthday; 19 July, the King’s Coronation; and 12 August, His Majesty’s birthday.

Church festivals (eight days): as well as Good Friday, Easter Monday and Whit Monday: 17 March, St. Patrick’s Day; 23 April, St. George’s Day; 30 November, St. Andrew’s Day; 25 December, Christmas Day; and 26 December, St. Stephen’s Day.

If any holiday fell on a Sunday, it was to be kept on the following day.

Monitor 3/7/1827, p. 6 (also 5 and 12 July); Australian 11/7/1827, p. 1.

The five Macquarie towns

Just before Christmas in the year 1810, Governor Lachlan Macquarie issued an Order in which he noted the ‘frequent Inundations of the Rivers Hawkesbury and Nepean,’ the calamitous effects of these inundations on the crops in that vicinity, and the consequent serious injury to the subsistence of the Colony. To guard against a recurrence of such calamities, he had ‘deemed it expedient … to erect certain Townships on the most contiguous and eligible high Grounds in the several Districts subjected to those Inundations.’

The stated purpose of the townships was to provide accommodation and security to the settlers affected by the floods. Accordingly the townships were organised on a particular basis. Each settler was to be assigned ‘an Allotment of Ground for a Dwelling house, Offices, Garden, Corn-yard, and Stock-yard proportioned to the Extent of the Farm he holds within the influence of the Floods.’ These allotments could not be sold or alienated separate from the farms in connection with which they were allotted; they were always to be considered part of these farms.

The five districts concerned, and the names of the townships to be established, were: Green Hills, Windsor; Richmond Hill, Richmond; Nelson, Pitt Town; Phillip, Wilberforce; and Nepean, Castlereagh.

The local constables were to submit returns listing the settlers whose farms were affected by flood, the number of persons in their families, the size of their farms, and the number of animals in their flocks and herds. These returns, on the relevant form, were to go to the Principal Magistrate, William Cox, and from him to the Governor. The Acting Surveyor was then to mark out allotments.

Following this process, settlers were to erect houses as soon as possible and move in. The houses were to be of brick or weather-board, with brick chimneys and shingled roofs, and were to be no less than nine feet high. Official plans for the houses and offices would be left with the District Constable, and each settler had to build in conformity with these plans.

Christmas Day holiday and services

Just before Christmas in the same year, the Sydney Gazette also carried orders concerning Christmas Day (which fell on a Tuesday). ‘By divine Permission’ the church of St. Phillip, at Sydney, was to be consecrated on that day by the Principal Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Marsden. The Governor announced that he ‘is pleased to dispense with the Labour of all the Prisoners, and other Men working for the Government, on Christmas Day and the Day following.’ They were required to work as usual on other days of the week. Moreover, they were required on Christmas Day to parade at the usual hour and place for Divine Service.

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 15/12/1810, p. 1; similarly, ibid., 22/12/1810, p. 1. Cf. ‘The Macquarie Towns’, State Library of NSW website. St. Phillip’s church: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 22/12/1810, pp. 2-3. Christmas Day holiday: ibid., p. 3.

The case of the disappointed lovers

We learn further details of the case of Miller v. Brett, in which the plaintiff sought compensation for breach of promise of marriage, by comparing the reports in the Sydney Gazette, which is the fullest, the Sydney Herald, which seems often to be too much of a paraphrase, and the Australian, which, though shorter than that in the Sydney Gazette, has the advantage of lucidity.

In arguing the case for the plaintiff, Mr. Wentworth accused the defendant of being a ‘fickle swain’ who was prepared to trifle with a girl’s affections. He called on the jury to award such damages as would discourage others from proceeding some way towards matrimony without fulfilling their promise and obligations.

Mr. Macdowell in reply called into question the motives of the plaintiff. A woman of delicacy would refrain from having details of her disappointment placed before a court, whereas a party keen on acquiring an ‘establishment’, a term fashionable in England for the financial gain possible in such cases, would be prepared to endure ignominy to get the money. As for the defendant, Mr. Macdowell argued that he had shown delicacy throughout the courtship and was to be commended for drawing back from a marriage which he was now convinced would not be successful.

The rumours and the resulting enquiry relating to whether the defendant was already married had obviously been significant factors in altering the situation for the defendant, but it appears from the newspaper reports that neither party in the court room was interested in bringing all the rumours and facts to the surface. We are therefore left with material for conjecture, without the satisfaction of being sure that we have gathered all the key details. From the Sydney Gazette we learn that the defendant apparently lived with a woman in England and had a child by her; from the Herald we learn that he was rumoured to have ‘a wife and family’ in England. That there was a malicious attempt to upset the marriage plans seems certain, and that the attempt was eventually successful seems certain as well, despite an intermediate phase when the Bennetts declared themselves content with the results of the enquiries that had been made.

Mr. Macdowell, in enlarging on the sentiments associated with love and marriage, shows an impressive acquaintance with Milton and Shakespeare. He admits that, ‘Probably he (the defendant) had never read Milton, or if he had, probably that passage describing the union of hearts as necessary to the Hymeneal Rite, and not hands only, had not occurred to him; yet had [the] defendant arrived at similar conclusions by a different process of thinking.’

It appears that the technicalities of the case were fairly clear from the outset. A promise had been made and (for whatever reason) broken. In these circumstances, in accordance with the law of that time, the judge directed the jury to find for the plaintiff and award reasonable and just damages. After about twenty minutes’ consideration the jury found for the plaintiff and set the damages at £100.

The reports of the case offer valuable insights into social and legal conventions in early nineteenth-century Sydney, and throw interesting light on questions of style and accuracy in newspaper reporting.

Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 21/6/1832, p. 3. Sydney Herald 21/6/1832, p. 2. Australian 22/6/1832, p. 3 (including the quotation concerning Milton).

A memorable December

In the early 1830s, walking along George Street from Sydney Cove, one soon came upon St. John’s Tavern, on the north corner of George and Bridge Streets. On the other side of Bridge Street and extending along that street was a Lumber Yard.

The Tavern was one of a number of buildings that stood on what used to be called the ‘Orphan Grant’ or the ‘Orphan House Ground’, which stretched between George Street and the ‘Stream of the Tanks’, and was bordered on the south by Bridge Street and on the north by the allotment of James Underwood. This ‘Orphan Grant’ was subdivided into six separate lots and sold off in 1827. Offered for sale at the same time was the Orphan School Grant at Cabramatta (6,000 acres), subdivided into lots, and offered for lease was farming land near Bathurst also known as the Orphan School Grant (1,000 acres, of which 20 were reserved for a possible church and school).

In October 1830 we find Thomas Brett advertising his recently opened ‘Wholesale and Retail Wine and Spirit Warehouse. St. John’s Tavern, Opposite the Lumber Yard, George-street.’ He acknowledged the ‘flattering patronage’ he had already received, and assured his friends and the public of ‘his determination to persevere in the sale of the finest articles that can be produced, and at such prices as cannot be undersold by any house in the trade.’

The name of St. John was appropriate to a tavern that housed Masonic Lodge Rooms where the Australian Social Lodge held its meetings. The feast-days of St. John the Baptist (24 June) and of St. John the Evangelist (27 December), six months apart, were particular occasions of celebration for the Masonic movement. In December 1831, for example, to honour the anniversary of St. John the Evangelist, the Australian Social Lodge ‘regaled their friends’ at ‘Brett’s, St. John’s Tavern’, while the Leinster Marine Lodge assembled at the Royal Hotel and the Military Lodge gathered in the Non-commissioned Officers’ Mess room at the Military Barracks.

December 1831 was a memorable month. On the 2nd General Richard Bourke arrived to become the colony’s eighth Governor, and on the 5th the town held an ‘illumination’, in which St. John’s Tavern took part. It was also a personally memorable time for Thomas Brett, but the outcome was not what he had originally intended. Nor was it the outcome expected by Rebecca Miller, whose guardian was Mr. William Bennett, baker, of Parramatta. Thomas met Rebecca at Mr. Bennett’s home, became an admirer, made frequent visits, wooed and won Rebecca, and received Mr. Bennett’s approval to marry her. The wedding was set down for around Christmas time, or New Year’s Day at the latest. Wedding clothes were prepared and guests invited.

However, there was a hitch. The Bennetts received warning that Thomas was already married. Enquiries were made and the family were able to satisfy themselves that Thomas had no wife in England, as had been rumoured. But by this time Thomas found himself no longer willing to proceed with the marriage, and he wrote to Mr. Bennett to that effect on 23 December.

We learn these details from the newspaper report of the court case which eventuated. The matter was heard before Justice Stephen and a common jury at the Supreme Court on 18 June 1832. Rebecca Miller, under age, through her guardian, was suing Thomas Brett for breach of promise of marriage, and seeking compensation of £1,000. William Charles Wentworth was counsel for the plaintiff, while counsel for the defendant was Mr. Macdowell, who professed himself in awe of the fame and ability of his learned colleague.

[To be continued.]

Orphan Grant land for sale: Australian 7/4/1827, p. 2. St. John’s Tavern, recently opened: Australian 29/1/1830, p. 1. Anniversary of St. John the Evangelist: Sydney Monitor 31/12/1831, p. 2. Court proceedings: Australian 22/6/1832, p. 3. Louis Green, ‘Macdowell, Edward (1798-1860)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967, pp. 164-165, and online. Michael Persse, ‘Wentworth, William Charles (1790-1872)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 2, 1967, pp. 582-589, and online.

The commencement of a bright and happy era

On Wednesday 30 November 1831, ‘the sons of brave old Scotland,’ in the words of the Sydney Gazette, celebrated St. Andrew’s Day ‘with the customary honours, shewing that however far awa’, they still reverence and love the land of their fathers.’ In the evening they held a dinner at the Royal Hotel, ‘accompanied by a number of their brethren of the rose, the shamrock and the leek.’ An assembly of some 80 or 90 people, ‘comprising many of the highest rank in the colony,’ sat down to enjoy the national feast. There was enough on the tables ‘to gladden the heart of an alderman.’ Peter Macintyre, Esq., wore the costume of a Highland Chief which he had worn when welcoming the arrival of His late Majesty in Scotland in 1822. Under the chairmanship of the Colonial Treasurer, Campbell Drummond Riddell, Esq., and with the Acting Governor Colonel Patrick Lindesay in attendance, there were toasts and speeches. The new Governor, General Richard Bourke, was expected any day, and the toasts to him and Colonel Lindesay ‘were received with loud and long-continued bursts of applause.’ For the toast to the Irish-born General Bourke the band of the 39th Regiment played the air Erin go brah (‘Ireland for ever’) and for the Scottish-born Colonel Lindesay, the British Grenadiers.

Two days later General Bourke’s ship the Margaret sailed into Port Jackson ‘in gallant style’, amid high expectation on the part of the local inhabitants, and cast anchor in Sydney Cove. Captain Westmacot, His Excellency’s aide-de-camp, landed and proceeded to Government House. General Bourke stepped ashore on Saturday 3 December and took the oaths of office, and the flow of official announcements over his name began to be published.

The people of Sydney were preparing to welcome their new Governor with an ‘illumination’ – the lighting up of buildings and streets and the lighting of fireworks – and carried out their plan on Monday 5th. Volume I, number 35 of the recently founded Sydney Herald, precursor of the Sydney Morning Herald, reported that, ‘On Monday evening, the most extensive and general illumination ever exhibited in this Colony, took place.’ It noted that lamps, transparencies and candles were used to form ‘emblematical devices’ and other effects. ‘Fire balloons and fire works of every description’ appeared, and there was firing of guns by ships in the harbour. The ‘emblematical devices’ were described in more detail by the Sydney Gazette.  Lamps and transparencies were used to form words and symbols: ‘William the Fourth, the patriot King!’, ‘Forward, Australia!’, ‘Bourke’s our Anchor of Hope!’, ‘W. IV’ with a crown between the letters, a crown with ‘W.R. IV’ and ‘Bourke’, ‘G.B.’ with a crown in the centre, a crown with ‘The King, Bourke and Reform’ and ‘Honest Men and Bonnie Lasses,’ a harp with the words ‘Cead Millee Faltha’ (‘a hundred thousand welcomes’) and ‘Erin go Bragh.’ St. John’s Tavern had simply a large ‘B’ (which presumably stood for ‘Bourke’ rather than ‘Burton’s Ale’). The Waterloo Warehouse had a transparency ‘representing Asia, Africa, and America, in the act of presenting their tributary offering to Europe.’

Both newspapers reported that people were peaceful and well behaved. The Sydney Gazette commented: ‘Thus passed off this auspicious night, in honour of an occasion, which seems to be hailed by all ranks and degrees of society as the commencement of a bright and happy era in the annals of Australia.’

St. Andrew’s Day: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 3/12/1831, p. 2. Illumination: Sydney Herald 12/12/1831, p. 4; Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 8/12/1831, p. 2.

The pursuit of knowledge under difficulties

Mrs. Boatright and her School for Young Ladies at No. 6, Colonnade, Bridge-street, Sydney, had a decidedly notable neighbour at No. 7. George William Evans, bookseller and stationer, was formerly a surveyor in Government employment and an experienced and successful explorer. His expedition in late 1813 was the first fully to cross the Great Dividing Range, after the partial crossing by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth earlier that year.

Born in England in 1780, Evans married in 1798 and emigrated to the Cape of Good Hope. From there he moved to New South Wales in 1802. He worked for a time as an official store-keeper at Parramatta, then in 1803 became acting Surveyor-General and explored the Warragamba River. In 1805 he became a farmer on the Hawkesbury River but suffered in the floods of 1806. In 1809 and following years he was involved in surveying and exploring, with the areas of his responsibilities varying between New South Wales and Tasmania. He surveyed Jervis Bay (1812); explored the Illawarra district in an expedition from Jervis Bay to Appin (1812); surveyed land grants in Van Diemen’s Land (1812); led an expedition across the Great Dividing Range to the Macquarie River on the other side of Bathurst (1813); received as a reward a grant of land near Richmond in Van Diemen’s Land; went to Hobart (1814); returned to Sydney to serve as a guide for an official tour of districts towards Bathurst (1815); explored various areas south of Bathurst (1815); went back to Hobart (1815); returned to Sydney to join John Oxley in exploring the Lachlan River (1817); went back again to Van Diemen’s Land (1817); again returned to Sydney to join Oxley in exploring the Macquarie River (1817-1818); returned to Hobart for land survey work; accompanied an expedition to Macquarie Harbour (1822); resigned (1825) on health grounds, subsequent to controversy over favours dispensed by the former Lieutenant-Governor (William Sorell) and survey officials; received a pension; returned to England; taught art; lost his property in a banking failure (according to the Sydney Morning Herald); obtained a lump sum in lieu of his pension and returned to Sydney (1831); established a business as a bookseller and stationer (1832), first at No. 4 the Colonnade, then No. 7, then in Lower George Street; worked also as drawing master at The King’s School (Parramatta); published a book (A Love Story, by a Bushman) which the Sydney Gazette hailed as apparently ‘the first novel the Australian press has put forth’ (1841); retired from his business as bookseller and stationer (1842); moved to Hobart (1844); and died there in 1852.

This brief survey of events, extending across the first half of the nineteenth century, necessarily gives only the merest outline of a life full of activity and adventure. George William Evans could have been a figure in one of the books he sold to customers, George Craik’s The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties.

His time in Sydney as bookseller and stationer was marred in the end by an accusation of forgery relating to unexplained alterations in a tender document for the supply of stationery to the Government. He was arrested and allowed out on bail, then found not guilty. The case must have taken a toll, he was in his early sixties, and he retired from business soon after and left Sydney, never to return.

The biographical sequence given above is based mainly on details in A.K. Weatherburn, ‘Evans, George William (1780-1852)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 1, 1966, pp. 359-360, and online. Cf. A.K. Weatherburn, George William Evans, Explorer, Sydney, Angus and Robertson, 1966; idem, Australia’s Interior Unveiled: A Biography of George William Evans (1780-1852), Surveyor, Explorer and Artist, Ryde, NSW, A.K. Weatherburn, 1987. No. 4, Colonnade: cf. e.g. Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 4/10/1832, p.4. George Street: cf. e.g. Australasian Chronicle 20/2/1841, p. 3. [William Harvey Christie], A Love Story, by a Bushman, 2 vols., Sydney, G.W. Evans (printed by Kemp and Fairfax), 1841. Court case: cf. e.g. Sydney Herald 29/4/1842, p. 3, 18/7/1842, p. 2. Biographical note: Sydney Morning Herald 2/1/1843, p. 2.