University of Tasmania
Stokes_whole_hons_thesis.pdf (24.21 MB)

The settlement and development of the Van Diemen's Land Company's grants in North-western Van Diemen's Land, 1824-1860

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posted on 2023-05-27, 10:01 authored by Stokes, HJW
This thesis represents an attempt to complete the history of the Van Diemen's Land Company from its foundation in 1824 to the dismissal of its first Chief Agent, Edward Curr, in 1842 which was begun by A.L. Meston and to carry the story on to 1860 by which time the Company had assumed what was essentially its final form. At his death Meston had completed his history only up to 1828 although two topics, the location of the grant and the Company's relations with the aborigines are carried through to their conclusion, the former in 1847 and the latter in 1842. Meston deals in considerable detail with the foundation of the Company, the exploration of the area in which the grant was to be located and attempts to change the grant and therefore these topics have here been dealt with only briefly; much of the material Meston used for his section on the foundation of the Company is in any case located in London. Meston's papers, including the incomplete manuscript (which was later published) and notes and references for the whole period the work was intended to cover are now in the possession of the University of Tasmania Library; the latter are not very detailed and it proved necessary to go through the outgoing dispatches, incoming dispatches and annual reports again. These records, now located in the Tasmanian State Archives, are the main sources for this thesis, together with the various returns of employees and livestock and minutes of the Court of Directors and colonial Board of Consultation which were consulted where relevant. The outgoing dispatches are by far the most important of the Company's records as they describe in great detail everything that took place on the Company's estates; the incoming dispatches and the annual reports are less valuable as they tend to reflect what the Directors wanted to happen rather than what actually did happen, the annual reports in particular often showing a distressing ignorance of the Company's colonial environment and operations and a tendency to distort facts and figures. The Company began with a colossal blunder in taking a grant of 250,000 acres in an area about which nothing was really known. The information given to the Directors about the north-western part of the island was admittedly misleading but they must have known that none of their informants had actually seen the area; the Directors appear to have convinced themselves that the whole of Van Diemen's Land was first-class sheep country because that is what they wanted to believe and had it not been for the doubts expressed about the north-west by the Government it is probable that they would have consulted even fewer \authorities\" on the island than they did. It soon transpired that north-western Van Diemen's land was quite unsuited to large-scale sheep-rearing and the Company after making many unsuccessful attempts to change the grant was forced to save what it could from the wreck of the capital invested in the grant first by selling livestock for breeding purposes and later by leasing and selling its land to private settlers; the latter together with farming operations on a small scale has kept the Company in existence to this day."


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  • Unpublished

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Copyright 1964 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Page number 14 was not used. Chapter 5 (pp55‚Äö-60) was incorrectly bound after the appendices in the submitted original and there is a note to this effect on page 61. However, chapter 5 in this copy sits between chapters 4 and 6 where it should be.

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  • Open

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