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This website is primarily concerned with the early years of Australian, and in particular Tasmanian history, as described on the About Us page. For the principle families see the Books page. If you're looking for something specific use the Search function, and if you wish to reproduce material from this website see the Copyright Guidelines page for further information. Use the Contact Us form to get in touch, or view our Website Registration, Privacy and Site Updates page for details on how to get more out of this website.

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The Early Settlement of Tasmania

The following notes are compiled from memoranda and records kept by the writer's father, who was the first white male child born in Tasmania.

Colonel Collins arrived in the Derwent in February, 1804, with most of his party, and they landed at Risdon which Collins named "Rest-down." I know that this fact is disputed by some. I have got my information from my father who was born here in 1805, and who had repeatedly heard his father, one of the free selectors, state that it was called Rest-down; and besides, Governor Collins allowed a female passenger to land first, a Miss Mary Hayes, and upon her setting foot on shore he called it Rest-down. This lady married and had numerous descendants, and being my father's aunt sometimes visited him and as a boy I have heard this lady say most emphatically that Collins had called the place Rest-down. She was then about 70 years of age, so that I feel that I am right, whatever Mr. Walker or others may have thought to the contrary, notwithstanding. 1


Sporting Gossip by "CRANBROOK"

The subject of our illustration this week is one of the most popular and prominent sportsmen in Tasmania. In fact, he is so thoroughly identified with racing in the "tight little island" that his retirement from active participation in the sport would be a blow from which it would not recover for a long time. Sportsmen of his stamp are not as plentiful as the proverbial mulberry leaves. Mr. Agnew is the only surviving son of the Hon. Dr. Agnew, formerly Premier of Tasmania, and a member of a County Antrim family which has produced a lengthy list of disciples of Esculapius. 1

Eliza Waterman

Eliza "Waterman" was a convict; arriving on board the ship Hydery in 1832, after having been convicted of "stealing from the person" and sentenced to seven years transportation. Also on board the Hydery with Eliza, was her seven year old son, William Powell jnr. 1 Extensive research has revealed that Eliza "Waterman" was in fact, Elizabeth (aka Eliza) Mary Smith, daughter of John Smith and Mary Waterman of Oake in Somersetshire, England. Eliza having been baptised on 30 April 1806 and with an older brother William baptised earlier on 5 July 1804. 2

  • 1. TAHO - Conduct record - image #322
  • 2. Ancestry : Somerset Heritage Service; Taunton, Somerset, England; Somerset Parish Records, 1538-1914; Reference Number: D\P\Oake/2/1/3

The Powell Family

About this section ...

These pages document the known details of one Tasmanian POWELL family and the subsequent lives of various family members and groups.

Possible Surname Origin

Welsh - It is a patronymic form of the Welsh name 'hywel' (later anglicized as Howell), and the prefix "ap" meaning "son of", together forming 'ap Hywel', or "son of Hywel". It is an uncommon name among those of Welsh ancestry. It originates in a dynasty of kings in Wales, and Brittany in the 9th and 10th century, and three Welsh royal houses of that time onwards. The House of Tudor one of the Royal houses of England, also descended from them. - Wikipedia

Irish - Sometimes a surname adopted as equivalent of Gaelic - 'Mac Giolla Phóil' - 'son of the servant of St. Paul' -

Horton College - Its Founding and History


One of the most interesting pages of Tasmanian history is the record of Horton College Ross, an institution which, founded and conducted upon the lines of the great old English public schools, and allied to the freer and more independent atmosphere of Australia, was in the latter half of the 19th century famous all over Australia. The property, which belongs to the Riggall family, of Ross, is now being demolished, and the news of its passing will be received with genuine regret by many professional and public men, not only in Tasmania but in every State of the Commonwealth, who are old boys of Horton. During its 38 years of useful work the college was the home of a great succession of boys, and many of Tasmania's most successful doctors and barristers, best known clergymen, most enterprising merchants and many others in different walks of life, in addition to the sons of many of the older country families were educated there. 1

A Visit to Horton College


Amongst the many educational establishments, of which the Australian colonies have reason to be proud, Horton College stands forth prominently. During a recent visit to Tasmania, I had an opportunity of inspecting this excellent institution, and of noting the many advantages that it possesses from a health-giving as well as from an educational point of view. Horton College is situated about two miles from Ross, a small township on the Hobart and Launceston railway line. The latter city is the nearest to Ross, being about 50 miles distant, and the locality is looked upon as one of the healthiest in Tasmania. The College was founded in 1855 by the late Captain Horton, whose widow still resides at Summercotes, a pleasant spot within view of the college. The latter stands on the slope of a clear hill, near the Macquarie. River, which affords a safe bathing place for the students, besides being convenient for boating and fishing.1

William Rayner, Sophia Cullen and Mary Meaney

William Rayner was born on 19 August 1792 on Norfolk Island, the eldest son of William Rayner and Elizabeth Goldsmith, by the admission of his father some 40 odd years later to the Society of Friends in Hobart.1 When William was four his father abandoned the Island for Sydney, and ultimately Newcastle. His mother Elizabeth, as Louis Daniel's puts it, moved in with their neighbour Robert Jones, who farmed alongside the Rayners on the slopes of Mt. Pitt...2 William was baptised on 20 May 1804 on Norfolk Island by Rev. H. Fulton as William Jones, using the surname of his step-father, but there can be little doubt that William was the son of William Rayner given his later usage of the name and his association with his birth family in Van Diemen's Land.3

  • 1. Minutes of Hobart Town Monthly Meeting of Friends: University Special Collections; University of Tasmania; Sandy Bay, Tasmania S.1. A.1. 1833-1857
  • 2. Daniels, Lou: The Rayner Family; Privately Published; 1999
  • 3. TAHO Rayner Correspondance Folder

New South Wales and Norfolk Island

The Scarborough sailed from England on 19 January 1790 for New South Wales as part of the notorious second fleet. The other ships were the Royal Navy storeship HMS Guardian, the storeship Justinian, and the privately chartered transports Lady Juliana, Neptune, and Surprize. The voyage was notorious because of the conditions suffered by the prisoners, and the subsequent horrific death rate. The transport of convicts for the second fleet was managed by private contractors, Camden, Calvert and King. 1,006 convicts embarked on three of the ships, mostly young men and teenage boys, and only 60% were still alive after eight months of arrival in Sydney. More than a quarter died on the voyage out. This contrasts with the death rate on the First Fleet of only 2.8%. It caused a huge scandal in Britain once the news of the voyage reached England in 1791, but no satisfaction was ever gained, despite a media campaign and the bringing to trial of the worst of the sadistic ship's captains, Donald Trail.1

  • 1. Flynn, M 2001, The Second Fleet: Britain's grim convict armada of 1790, Library of Australian History, Sydney.

George Wilson and Jane Thirkell

George Wilson was born on 28 January 1831 and baptised on 17 April 1831 in Muiravonside, Stirling, Scotland.1 George Wilson married Jane Elizabeth Thirkell on 12 June 1862 in St. John’s Church, Launceston.2 Jane was born on 3 January 1846 and baptised on 18 February 1846 in Launceston, Tasmania, the daughter of Robert Thirkell and Jane Elizabeth Schutte.3

According to K. R. von Stieglitz in A Short History of Cressy and Bishopbourne:

Robert Thirkell, who had come with his wife and family on the "Malabar" in October, 1821, was given a grant at Bridport shortly after arriving. Later he came to "Newham Park," which adjoins "Darlington" and managed the property for his friend, Simpson, for several years. He also owned "Woodstock" after the Rowcrofts had left.4

  • 1. GROS OPR Births and Baptisms 486/00 0020 0040 Muiravonside
  • 2. TAHO Marriage Registration RGD 1862/417
  • 3. TAHO Birth and Baptism Registration RGD 1846/2911
  • 4. von Stieglitz, K. R.: Evandale, Tas. : K.R. von Stieglitz, 1947

Know Tasmania

KNOW TASMANIA is a series of short articles published in the Mercury newspaper during 1928 and 1929; probably in response to the following preliminary article -

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Royal Society, the Governor (Sir James O'Grady) put in a timely plea for the cultivation by Tasmanians, and especially young Tasmanians, of a wider knowledge of their state. Sir James has found Tasmania a country of absorbing interest. He has been here for only a little over a year, but he has seen more of it and knows more about it than the average Tasmanian. Make a liberal allowance for the fact that it is part of the recognised duty of a Governor to become acquainted with and study the features of the country in which he is the King's representative, and still Sir James O'Grady could give most Tasmanians a start and a beating in a test as to knowledge of the island, its charms, and its resources...... 1

  • 1. KNOW TASMANIA. - Examiner (Launceston, Tas. : 1900 - 1954), 10 March, 1926, p. 4.