AN AUSTRALIAN PIONEER.
Seventy six years ago last Friday a certain ship sailed out out of Port Philip Heads to seek, across Bass’s Straits, some where on the banks of the Derwent, a spot to which might be transferred the penal settlement which she had been sent out to form on our shores. He keel was the third that furrowed our waters. We can be hardly sufficiently thankful that it left no trace. The Ocean was the name of the transport which brought hither this cargo of “ rattlesnakes,” together with some few artisans and settlers. She had been escorted by a line of battle ship called the Calcutta, on board which was the official staff of the expedition. But it was war time, and so soon as the captain of the frigate had seen Governor Collins and his “settlement” fairly landed at Port Nepean, he sailed away on his business, and subsequently, after having made a stout fight of it with the enemy, was captured, and passed a few years more or less agreeably in a French prison. When Cochrane blew the Calcutta into the air with the tricolor flying at her peak, in the Basque Roads affair, no doubt Captain Woodroof partook of an extra glass of grog at the naval mess established at Verdun for he was a true tar of the old school, and, it is satisfactory to know, ended his days in “Greenwich tier.” Meantime the settlement on the Tootgavook Sand hills did not go on at all well. Collins sighed for an island all to himself. Governor King, at Sydney—a practised pen and ink man—with the little Lady Nelson for a postman, could at any time “ come senior officer ” over him. So ho, with many economic twinges, again chartered the Ocean to carry him to Van Dieman’s Land, and on Jan. 30, 1804, departed from this “ uninhabitable ” country, and finally founded Hobart Town, where he rests, after life’s fitful fever, in the chancel of a church which old Tasmanians assert was called St. David’s after him. Among the adventurous settlers who accompained Governor Collins to the future scene of his kind-hearted labors was the widow of a naval officer, and her family of four daughters and a son. Her husband, a captain in the navy, had been killed in the expedition to Egypt. There were thousands of such suffering women under the dreadful war cloud in which old England was at this time enveloped. Lord Hobart, the then Secretary for the colonies, advised Mrs. Hobbs to emigrate, and so it came about that the little family were among our first colonists who quitted our shores 76 years ago, and the lash of whom was on Friday, on the very anniversay, laid in his grave in the St. Kilda cemetery. A life so unpretentious as that of Mr. James Hobbs might claim to avoid public notice, but that in his 88 years he has seen, if not exactly the birth, at any rate the growth of the seven great colonies of Australia. He was born at Saltash, in Cornwall, and at 10 years of age was pu<- into the service, whore, as they say, he was reared “between two guns.” After his mother and sisters had settled at Hobart Town, he joined his Majesty’s ship Buffalo at Sydney in 1804, and when that ship departed for England with Governor King in 1806, he was drafted with the gunner, the boatswain, the carpenter, and nine seamen . into the Purpoise, Captain Porteous, of which John Oxley, afterwards Surveyor General of New South Wales, was the first lieutenant. The curious reader will find some interesting particulars of the tyrannical conduct of “ Bounty Bligh,” the Governor at r Sydney, in the “ Chronicle of Port Philip,” by Mr. H. G. Gurner, which that gentleman gathered from Mr. Hobbs. The stories that might be told are far beyond our present limits. A man who has seen and spoken with Australian Governors by the dozen, who remembers the time when His Excellency, asking a guest to dinner, requested him at the same time to bring his loaf of bread with him, would have many odd tales to tell. Throughout his long life Mr. Hobbs preserved a character of great energy and staunch integrity. For some years he was in the Customs department of this colony, when he retired with a pension of L 137 10s. in 1854. He was married to a daughter of Mr. Joseph Hone, the master of the Supreme Court of Hobart Town (brother of the celebrated William Hone), by whom he had a family of 12 children. To them and to his numerous friends it must be a satisfaction to know the good name he has left behind, and his death may serve to remind his fellow-colonists that there is now living but one other person who was present at the famous attempted settlement in 1803. The portrait and some further particulars respecting Mr. Hobbs may be found in the curious volume, “Early Historical Records of Port
Phillip,” which was recently published by the Victorian Government. —“Argus,” Feb. 2. _______
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Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 76, 20 March 1880
AN AUSTRALIAN PIONEER. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 76, 20 March 1880
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