Forcett

"Anonymous" thus writes in "Tasmanian Nomenclature" :—

"Forcett was so named after the home of Mr. James Gordon (often spoken of as Captain Gordon). He was appointed district magistrate, and resided at Richmond, in what is now known as the Rectory. If not the first, he was one of the first appointed. I would like something more brought out about this old place, for my grandmother, who was the youngest daughter of a doctor, who came out with Phillip's fleet in 1788, lived with her sister at Pittwater from 1814 till she married in 1829."

It may be of interest to add, in conjunction with the above, the following extract:—

"August 18th, 1818. — John Lakeland, Inspector of Public Works, to Mary, daughter of Dr. Arndell, Hawkesbury, N.S.W., and sister of Mrs. James Gordon, Pittwater."

From Dr. James Ross's "Hobart Town Almanack" of 1830:—

"The branch road (from Cambridge) then proceeds along the southern sandy beach at Pittwater for about four miles, till it reaches the entrance from Frederick Henry Bay into Pittwater, about half a mile wide. Across this inlet, which is navigable for ships of 500 tons (vessels of that burden having already taken in cargoes of wheat from this fertile corn district), a ferry boat conducts the traveller to Forcett, the residence of Mr. Gordon, the police magistrate of the extensive district of Richmond and the Coal River, and thence to the populous district called the Lower Settlement of Pittwater.

At four miles from Sorell town the road passes Forcett, already mentioned, the country residence of Mr. Gordon, J.P. His farm is in an advanced state of improvement, being mostly fenced in. The orchard also is worthy of mention, affording a plentiful crop of improved apples, from which large quantities of cider are annually made. A fine country extends for three miles to the south of Forcett, called the Lower Settlement of Pittwater, entirely cultivated, and divided into numerous small farms."

The following advertisement appeared in "The Hobart Town Courier" (No. 652) of Friday, February 15, 1839:

"To the Settlers of Pittwater—The undersigned begs to inform his friends in the neighbourhood that he has commenced the business of wholesale merchant, and intends to conduct it as follows: First, to sell all articles of general consumption at the merchants' prices, Hobart Town. Second, not to break bulk. Third, not to give any credit, but to
take colonial produce at the freight less than Hobart Town prices. This will be enforced without any exception. The advertiser is prepared to make contracts for corn to be delivered in three months. Advances made on all goods shipped by the Booth. Wm. Blyth, Forcett, February 5, 1839."

According to Middleton and Maning's "Tasmanian Directory and Gazeteer" of 1887, Lewisham is given as a township, five miles from Sorell, in which there then resided Messrs. Obadiah Higgins, Chas. W. Jones (hotelkeeper), Alfred Parker, John Thompson, D. Sapwell, Robt. Thorne, senior and junior, and Fredk. Thorne. Lewisham has, apparently, since merged into Forcett, for, whilst Lewisham House is still the name by which Mrs. Steele's good private boarding-house is so well and favourably known, the appellation, unfortunately, seems to be dying out.

Walch's "Tasmanian Guide Book" of 1871 records:

"Lewisham, five miles from Sorell, on the narrow channel between Pittwater and Frederick Henry Bay, is at present a very small settlement, but has a school under the Board of Education, and an inn, and is regularly visited by the coasting vessels trading between this district and Hobart.

In the early days Victoria House, now the residence of Mr. Chas. W. Jones, and Lewisham House were both used as inns or hotels. The only hotel now in the district is Mr. Daly's Albert Inn. Before the Sorell Causeway was built in 1878, to enable residents of the neighbourhood to get to Hobart Town, it was necessary to ferry them across to the Seven-Mile Beach, by way of Lewisham or Dodge's ferries. Lewisham is about a mile from the main road at Forcett, a by-road to it turning off to the right. 1

More About Forcett

In 1870, Forcett Estate was in the possession of Mr. James Gunn. This is probably the property now known as Forcett House, recently purchased by Mr. Horace L. Harvey, a son of the late Mr. D. H. Harvey, Hobart. Mr. H. L. Harvey, who is a member of the Sorell Municipal Council, also owns Studley Park, where he resides, and which is one of the finest estates in the Forcett district. An interesting account of the Steele family's long association with Studley Park is given in "the Cyclopedia of Tasmania," which was published in 1899, and is well worth recording.

"The late Lieutenant Joseph Steele, J.P., came to the colony in 1830, and settled at Studley Park, about 18 miles from Hobart, where he entered upon agricultural and pastoral pursuits. The estate then consisted of 400 acres, on which he built a brick house, with bricks made on the spot. An extensive breeder of sheep and cattle, Lieutenant Steele was the owner of several other properties at Carlton and elsewhere, and when he died, in 1849, these properties were divided, among his five sons, the father of Mr. Richard Studley Steele (Mr. Richard Steele) receiving the homestead. He also followed agricultural and pastoral pursuits until he died in 1854, leaving one son and one daughter.

Mr. Richard Studley Steele, J.P., son of the late Mr. Richard Steele, and grandson of Lieutenant Steele, was born in 1854, and educated in Melbourne by Colonel John Montgomery Templeton, of Fitzroy. At the age of 20 he took possession of Studley Park, his father having left the property to his wife, and she, at her death, in 1873, left it to her son, the subject of this notice, who has managed it ever since. Mr. Steele has added largely to the property since he has held possession, so that now (1899) it has an area of 1,880 acres.

As a breeder of Shropshire sheep, Mr. Steele has a reputation extending over the whole of the Australian colonies, his pure bred stock having gained the highest honours on numerous occasions in New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, as well as in Tasmania. This is not to be wondered at when it is remembered how carefully that reputation has been built up. When he embarked on this branch of the business, 15 years ago, Mr. Steele purchased some Shropshires which had been imported from England direct. They were 15 in number. A year later he purchased another lot, 38 in number, also directly imported; and since then he has on four different occasions been instrumental in importing this special breed of sheep from England. He has now about 300 pure-bred Shropshires. Here it may be said that all his importations were pure-bred, are registered in the Flock Book of the Shropshire Breeders' Association, and were accompanied by the breeder's certificate. Mr. Steele breeds these sheep specially for supplying the Australian market, where they find a ready sale at the highest prices. He has exhibited at the New South Wales Sheepbreeders' Association's Show, held in Sydney, on many occasions, and has secured champion and other prizes thereat, and has also been a successful exhibitor at the Royal Agricultural Society's Show, of Victoria. At the shows of these two bodies he has obtained prizes from 1887 to 1895, and at the Agricultural and Pastoral Association shows in Hobart he secured prizes from 1889 to 1898. Mr. Steele is also a breeder of crossbred sheep, as well as of cattle, for consumption in the local markets, and he likewise cultivates a portion of his land.

Mr. Steele was appointed a magistrate in 1884. He has always taken an interest in educational matters, and was for some years chairman of the local Board of Advice. He was also chairman of the Lower Sorell Road Trust for some years, and generally takes an interest in anything affecting the welfare and progress of the district. He has lately built a handsome new residence at Studley Park, which is not more attractive outside than it is within, being replete not only with every comfort and convenience, but with those elegancies which betoken the presence of culture and artistic taste.

Among other fine estates in the district may be mentioned Woodside, Bankton, White Hills, Rayburn, etc. Besides cereal production and pastoral pursuits, some considerable attention has been directed to the planting of apricot and apple trees, which are generally yielding well. In this last-named connection Messrs. Taylor Bros., A. Grierson, I. Gangell, A. C. Reardon, C. W. Jones, and others are worthy of mention. Long association with Forcett's history and progress, many names are brought to mind—Reardon, Jones, Rollings, Steele, Dodge, Denholm, Alomes, Ward, Grierson, Long, Gangell, Blackmore, Young, Kearney, Cooper, etc. Mrs. Emily Reardon may be termed the grand old lady of Forcett, whose 95th birthday was celebrated in May last. She is still hale and hearty.

The Gangell family is one of the oldest in Tasmania. Mrs. Mary Ann Paget, who died recently in Hobart, was a native of Forcett, having been born there in 1836. She was the daughter of Mr. John Gangell, of Forcett, who died at the age of 90 years, and was the third white child born in Tasmania, from the first marriage in Tasmania—that of Corporal Gangell, of the Royal Marines, and Mrs. Ann Skelton, on Sunday, March 18, 1804, at Lieut.-Governor Collins's house, by Rev. R. Knopwood.

All things considered, Forcett, enjoy ing many of the modern-day advantages, is a very interesting settlement. 2

  • 1. KNOW TASMANIA - The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 15 October 1928: p 3
  • 2. KNOW TASMANIA - The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) 20 November 1928: p 5

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