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The Country between Hamilton and Frenchman's Cap


DURING the past season, circumstances which I need not detail rendered it necessary for me to undertake a journey from Hobart to the Valley of the Loddon River, which lies at the base of the mountain called the Frenchman's Cap. Long, however, ere we reach this eminence, the districts we have to pass through are very imperfectly known. As some account of the same may be interesting to the readers of the Courier. I have compiled the following narrative from notes made during my excursion, and which I offer you for publication.1

Number Four

Friends and relatives were allowed to visit the women on production of an order to that effect from the Superintendent of Convicts. The interview was to be conducted in the presence of one of the superintendents, and was limited to half an hour. No gift or present of any kind was allowed to pass between them. These visits were generally discouraged, and difficulties were thrown around the obtaining of an order for the purpose. On one occasion a man of a pronounced Jewish type of countenance, medium height, spare almost to attenuation, and dressed in a new tweed suit, made his appearance with an order to see his sister, Mrs S. This lady was the wife of Ikey S., a well known 'fence'—or receiver of stolen property—in London. This nefarious trade he had carried on for many years, until at length—a warrant being obtained—a well-organised swoop was made on the premises by the police, who seized an immense quantity of ill gotten booty contributed by the light-fingered gentry who infested the city. Ikey escaped capture and fled to America, but his wife was seized and transported. A reward of £100 was offered by the English authorities for Ikey's apprehension. When the time allotted for the interview had terminated, the man and sister (so styled) parted; but I was keen enough to notice the prolonged embrace, and, as their lips met, the passage of a gold coin from mouth to mouth. One of the superintendents had a suspicion that the man was the notorious Ikey, and immediately after his departure he rode into town and divulged it to the then Chief District Constable, Mr Capon; but he found that Mr Capon was well-informed, and had his eye upon him. The next vessel to England bore both the prisoner and his captor. Mr Capon delivered Ikey to the London police, and claimed and obtained the reward. 1

Number Three

At the early hour of five o'clock on a glorious summer morning in the month of January, 1829, a stranger passing by the door in the brick wall of 'The Factory' in Murray street, Hobart Town, would have seen its inmates streaming and swarming through the narrow portal like bees in search of a new home. Women of all ages—girls of 16 or 18, handsome in feature, but bold and unblushing; women of mature age, hardened and impudent; old women, ugly and wrinkled by intemperance and vice—were pouring out by scores into the street, where, as fast as they came up, they were formed into a long procession. No one will suppose from the above remarks that I—a child of seven years old—was given to moralising. To me it was simply a season of intense excitement; yet the sage moralist, looking on the scene there presented, would have found food for sad reflection. As soon as the last prisoner had left, the door was slammed to and locked; and the procession—flanked by constables and a few soldiers from the garrison, and preceded and directed by the two superintendents—moved at a slow pace up Macquarie street towards their new quarters at the Cascades. 1

Number Two

The cause of this bitter and revengeful feeling against the Rev. W. Bedford was to be traced farther back than to the part he took in the late commission. In a few words it may be given, for the subject is a delicate one, and narrated in detail would present a dark picture of the state of society at that time. When Mr Bedford arrived in the colony in 1823, he, was then in the prime of life, entered upon the duties of his chaplaincy with all the zeal and ardour that new position and new responsibilities aroused and inspired. However, in the course of his visitations he soon came into contact with, and was very much shocked at the revelation of the gross immorality that then prevailed. Thinking that to expose it would be sufficient to effect its removal, he waited on the Governor, Colonel Sorell, with a long list of names of the offending parties, including not a few who were in the pay of the Government. The worthy chaplain was good humouredly snubbed. On the arrival of Colonel Arthur in 1824, Mr Bedford waited on him, and found in that great reformer of abuses and rigid disciplinarian, a ready listener; the result being that a large number of women were disevered from their unholy associations and sent to the Factory, vowing vengeance on the man who had been the means of their incarceration. 1

Number One

On the occasion of a recent visit to Hobart, as I wandered over the scenes of my childhood, I found myself mentally exclaiming against the Vandalism of Progress, which had improved places out of all recognition, and in some places had obliterated landmarks once so familiar, and still well remembered. Cold, unenthusiastic utilitarianism had crushed out all sentiment, I thought of the time when I had been accustomed to walk along the pebbly beach extending from the Commissariat (now Bonded) Stores to Murray-street, and of the difficulty experienced at a high state of the tide in passing along dry shod, as the waters dashed against the fence which skirted the foot of the hill at the back of old Government House—of old Government House itself occupied successively by Governors Sorell, Arthur, Franklin, Wilmot, and Denison; embowered and almost hidden in a sylvan growth of blue gum trees and native shrubs, its upper and lower piazzas festooned and secluded by creepers and trailing plants, and its old paling fence barring the further extension of Elizabeth street. Now that street has cut its way through the site of the old weather boarded vice-regal residence, which no longer exists, the trees and shrubs up rooted and burnt, and the hill on which it stood cut down and thrown into the river to form wharves and docks. 1

The Reid Family

William Reid and Catherine Shields
No birth, death or marriage records or other details for either William or Catherine have been found so far. Their family would consist of three sons and seven daughters, born over a period of twenty-four years.

It is believed that father William, a blacksmith, and wife Catherine were living in (Old) Philpstoun village and working in the local area for the majority of the time between the births of their first and last child. William and Catherine's ten known children were -

  1. Helen REID (1739-?)
  2. Jannet REID (1740-?)
  3. James REID (1743-?)
  4. Helen REID (1745-?)
  5. Katherine REID (1748-?)
  6. Isobel REID (1750-1819) married Robert BYRES (c1750-1814) circa 1775 1
  7. William REID (1752-?)
  8. Hugh REID(1755-?)
  9. Jean REID (1757-?)
  10. Janet REID (1763-c1829) married Archibald MEIKLE (c1764-c1841) by Banns in Linlithgow on 22 Jan 1804 2
  • 1. No marriage registration details found
  • 2. GROS : OPR Marriages 668/00 0050 0385 - Linlithgow

Van Diemens Land

"It is not in such a hurried and incomplete account, nor even in volumes of records that you get a true history of such a colony.
It is the little man, his wife and children who never get into history,
... who made Tasmania out of Van Diemens Land,
... who suffered from the stupidity of officials,
... who broke the first soil and planted their crops,
... who defended themselves against bushranger and black,
and whose sturdy independence and common sense finally won the day." 1

James Byres and Jeanett (Jessie) Gibb

James Byers was born on 2 July 1828 and baptised on 3 August 1828 in Kirknewton, Midlothian, Scotland, the only son of William Byers and Margaret Wilson. William is noted again as "of Kaims" but this time the baptising minister is not recorded.1

James Byers married Janet Gibb on 19 June 1853 in Abercorn, West Lothian, Scotland.2 There were two registrations, the other occurred on 4 July 1853 in Ecclesmachan, West Lothian, Scotland.3 Janet Gibb was born on 15 March 1827 and baptised on 15 April 1827 in Uphall, West Lothian, Scotland, the daughter of George Gibb and Helen Cunningham.4

  • 1. GROS OPR Births and Baptisms 690/00 0040 0043 Kirknewton and East Calder
  • 2. "Scotland Marriages, 1561-1910," database, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), James Byars and Janet Gibb, 19 Jun 1853; citing Abercorn,West Lothian,Scotland, reference ; FHL microfilm 1,066,611, 102,974.
  • 3. GROS OPR Banns and Marriages 666/00 0020 0087 Ecclesmachan and "Scotland Marriages, 1561-1910," database, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), James Byers and Janet Gibb, 04 Jul 1853; citing Ecclesmachan,West Lothian,Scotland, reference ; FHL microfilm 1,066,629.
  • 4. "Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950," database, FamilySearch ( : 2 January 2015), Janet Gibb, 15 Mar 1827; citing , reference 2:1815M9H; FHL microfilm 1,066,639.

Mary Byres and Robert Kerr

Mary Byers does not appear to have had her birth registered, but from her age stated at later events was born about 1825, probably in Kirknewton, Midlothian, Scotland.1 Mary Byers married Robert Kerr in two ceremonies on 3 July 1846, one in Ecclesmachan, and one in Bathgate, both in West Lothian, Scotland.2 Robert was born on 18 July 1822 in Crammond, Scotland, the son of John Kerr and Margaret Corstorphine.3 Robert Kerr and Mary Byers would go on to have eleven children.

  • 1. Rackham, Margaret, Family Group Sheets, "Wilson Descendants," Book 2, Page 66. Date of birth calculated from age stated at death as 94 in 1919
  • 2. GROS OPR Banns and Marriages 685/2 460 171 St Cuthbert's and 662/00 0040 0231 Bathgate
  • 3. "Scotland Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950," database, FamilySearch ( : 8 December 2014), Robert Kerr, 18 Jul 1822; citing , reference 2:1827025; FHL microfilm 1,066,764.