University of Tasmania
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Hugh Macintosh and Peter Degraves : the story of an officer and a gentleman

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posted on 2023-05-26, 04:54 authored by Jefferys, G
This work examines the lives of Hugh Macintosh and Peter Degraves who were the founders of Hobart's Cascades Mills and Brewery. In the early years of Hobart Town the activities of these two men had huge long term impact on the social and cultural development of the young colony. Peter Degraves is, today, primarily remembered as the founder of Cascade Breweries and as one of Tasmania's first industrial entrepreneurs. It is commonly known that within only fifteen years of his arrival in Hobart in 1824, Degraves had built a timber mill, a flour mill, a brewery, a ship building yard, a large farm and a theatre. All of these enterprises were financially successful, while two of them, the brewery and the theatre, are still operating today, almost 200 years later. Yet there is little in the existing literature that deals in any detail with the 46 years of Degraves' life prior to his arrival in Hobart Town and what few details there are regarding that period, are generally vague or, at best, brief with little or no documentary support other than material that Peter Degraves himself wrote. The thesis examines the scant supporting evidence of Degraves' pre-colonial life in the existing literature and shows the reason for the brevity and vagueness was that most of what is accepted as the history of Degraves' early life is either exaggerated, glossed over or just plain false. Further there is a large body of information regarding his early life that Degraves' deliberately omitted from any telling of his life story and which has, as a consequence, until now has remained undiscovered; for example the fact that he had been a bankrupt for most of the first decade of the 19th century and been imprisoned for twelve month for theft in 1810-11. This new evidence paints a very different and more complete picture of Degraves the man, a man of genius and ruthlessness; a man who could successfully turn his mind to almost any task but who desperately sought to obscure the shames of his past. This new material also provides insights that explain the forces that drove Degraves to succeed at any cost while demonstrating the brilliance of a man who had no formal training or genuine expertise in any of the fields in which he claimed to be an authority; and yet was able to manifest results that matched his claims. In contrast to Peter Degraves Major Hugh Macintosh is rarely remembered in his own right and occurs almost as an afterthought when the history of the Cascades Brewery or Peter Degraves is mentioned. Apart from being Degraves' brother-in-law it is sometimes recalled that the two men were partners in the Cascades' foundation and expansion. It is also occasionally or briefly noted that Macintosh was an ex-officer of the Honourable East India Company's Army and that he was the co-owner of the ship Hope, which brought him, Degraves, their families, workers and equipment to Hobart. Beyond these small details almost nothing exists describing the life of Hugh Macintosh. This thesis demonstrates that, despite his present historic obscurity, Macintosh was in fact centrally and closely involved with a number of important historic events and personages in England, India, Persia and Australia. For example, without the support of Hugh Macintosh Henry Savery would not have written Australia's first novel, Quintus Servington. The thesis specifically examines the period of the lives of Macintosh and Degraves prior to their arrival in Hobart and why both men chose to obscure and alter that past. After providing an overview of the histories of these two men the work then examines the sources of the mythology that grew around Degraves after he had established himself in Hobart Society and how that mythology was perpetuated to the present day. It will juxtapose popular assumptions about Degraves and Macintosh against the archival record in a process to separate the real backgrounds of Degraves and Macintosh from the stories that have been disseminated about them and will demonstrate the process by which Degraves and Macintosh were able to use the tyranny of distance‚ÄövÑvp to reinvent their personal histories in Van Diemen's Land.


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 2011 the author

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  • Open

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