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The roadrunner: William Byrne, mining fields mailman. Part One: The Mount Bischoff mail.

William Byrne (c1828–1911) was tall, muscular, clean shaven and long-haired, and he spun a yarn like Fenimore Cooper.[1] If he lacked the zip of the Warner Brothers bird and the insight of that other roadrunner, Forrest Gump, he made up for it in persistence. It was said that had all his West Coast mail trips been strung together end to end—on a floating bridge, presumably—he could have rounded England and returned.

William Byrne, from the Weekly Courier,
15 June 1911, p.22.

Byrne’s reputed ex-soldier father John Byrne might have preferred an Irish homecoming.[2] In 1842 the Byrne family, including teenaged William and four siblings, were ensconced in a timber house at Horse Shoe Farm, Coal River, in the southern Midlands, but the lure of a fertile Van Diemen’s Land Company tenancy was apparently enough to pack them off to Cooee Creek in the north-west.[3] Success on the Victorian goldfields won William his own property at Mooreville Road, where he was said to have been one of the pioneers of the potato trade to Sydney.[4]  In chartering a schooner for direct trade with Sydney, Byrne displayed the sort of initiative that would win him long-distance mail contracts. Labouring on the farm must have given him his endurance. 

This 1876 Charles Sprent survey of Waratah lots shows the original dray route (left) to Mount Bischoff
known as Bog Lane. Survey 76458, courtesy of DPIPWE.

The Mount Bischoff mail

The first ‘road’ to Waratah took a wide sweep from Browns Marsh on the Surrey Hills block across Knole Plain, before approaching the town from the south-west through a muddy tunnel in the horizontal scrub known at Bog Lane. This was the track rutted out by ore carters employed by the Mount Bischoff tin mines. Early mail delivery depended on the good will of travellers between Emu Bay and the Mount. The government demanded a quid pro quo before investing in Bischoff. Chairman of directors of the Mount Bischoff Co William Ritchie reported in December 1873 that

‘the Government now virtually repudiate their promise of a pound a week towards the expense of a weekly mail. They also decline to give anything towards the road—but say that when twenty leases shall have been granted and the rent paid they will take our application into consideration’.[5]

The Mount Bischoff Co took the matter into their own hands, contracting William Byrne as its mailman at £90 per year.[6] Presumably he rode a horse where possible, leading it the rest of the way. Mine manager WM Crosby became the first Mount Bischoff postmaster, pocketing £60 per year on top of his manager’s salary.[7] Byrne did things his way, his method of carrying loose letters horrifying the Emu Bay postmistress.[8] (However, as it turned out, that was nothing compared to his treatment of newspapers.) Byrne was contracted to arrive at Waratah each Tuesday at 2pm, seven hours before the outgoing mail closed. However, he usually appeared at dusk, putting locals into a flurry answering their mail in the short time remaining.[9]

As the volume of mail increased, the Mount Bischoff Co petitioned the government, which finally agreed to take over responsibility for the entire mail service at the expiration of Byrne’s contract.[10] In the meantime, Byrne was accused of delivering mail to the wrong people because he was illiterate—but he wasn’t illiterate, and other Byrne clients vouched for his services.[11] When, inevitably, he lost his mail contract to the VDL Co’s tramway service, his clients farewelled him with a signed testimonial expressing their gratitude.[12]

A crop from Charles Sprent’s 1879 chart shows the original dray ‘road’ to Mount
Bischoff via Knole Plain, the line of the VDL Co’s horse-drawn tramway and the
later line of road into Waratah, deviating from the other near the Hellyer River.
From AF395/1/41 (TAHO).

Carrying the mail on the Emu Bay and Mount Bischoff Tramway

The VDL Co’s horse-drawn tramway was completed to its original terminus of Rouses Camp, 4 km from Waratah, in 1878. The company began to provide a tri-weekly service, contracted to arrive in Waratah at 5pm. You might expect a commercial transport operator to trounce a lone horseman for efficiency, but VDL Co manager James Norton Smith knew that rogue elements governed his service.

A VDL Co tram operating in the forest at the 29-Mile mark. It demonstrates the basic technology of a horse-drawn, timber-railed tramway. Courtesy of the Burnie Regional Museum.

Firstly, if the mail was late reaching Burnie, it was late starting for Bischoff. Then there were the employees. Through the building of the tramway, and now in its operation, the temperance wagon was frequently overturned. Daniel Shine, timekeeper at Rouses Camp, was a valuable informant on local affairs, but also a regular drunkard.[13] On two occasions Norton Smith sacked him, only to reinstate the repentant man.[14] Driver Higgs posed such a threat to the public that he was relegated to support duties.[15] Hampshire Hills stableman and storekeeper ‘Dusty’ Miller got ‘on the spree’.[16] Even tramway inspector Hugh Lynch was known to get ‘on the burst’.[17]  Henry Crispin was ‘hopelessly drunk and asleep behind a log’ near Michael Bevan’s Hampshire Hotel in March 1877 when an accident happened on the line that he could have averted.[18] With so many imbibers along the way it probably wasn’t a surprise when a case of whisky consigned to Bevan disappeared in transit in 1878.[19] The publican later went to fisticuffs with tram driver William Lennard.[20]

Thirdly, there were the horses. The tramway was an equine graveyard. Many injured animals must have been shot. In 1879 Shine gave a requiem for four of the six animals meant to be in harness, telling Norton Smith:

‘”‘Black Wallace” was bled to death yesterday. “White Prince” is given over [useless]. “Punch” is expected to go the way of all flesh tomorrow, and “Wallace” … is crippled and not expected to do any more work, so that I expect it will be some time before we shall have full loading on our trucks’.[21]

Norton Smith’s accountant RA Murray recalled a horse named Boxer returning to Emu Bay

‘with his shoulders literally cut to pieces. They actually look as if a dog or some animal had eaten a piece out of them, and he is either strained in the forequarters or something internally wrong, as it is with the greatest difficulty he can walk at all’.[22]

Those with treatable conditions required careful attention. In 1882 an employee at Hampshire sent a long list of medicines required to fix the horses under his charge—including licorice powder, antimonial powder, camphor powder and tartarized antimony.[23]

Equine unpredictability also led to thrills and spills. In December 1879 the grey horse Turpin shied at the 39-mile mark, throwing Launceston brewer John Glennwright under the mail truck.[24] The passenger spat blood, sustaining injuries that his solicitor valued at £500.[25] There were other accidents with a human cause.  On another occasion the brake broke near Rouse’s gate, fracturing one horse’s ribs, killing two sheep and breaking the legs of three others.[26] In January 1882 the mail coach was derailed in a collision with a trolley left on the track near Waratah, throwing passengers out of their carriage.[27]

Opening of the Emu Bay and Mount Bischoff Tramway at Rouses Camp, 1 February 1878. PH30/1/1865 (Libraries Tasmania).

Dick Leach drives the ‘rabbit hutch with wheels’

These were the variables governing delivery of the ‘Royal Mail’. However, the well-known tram driver Dick Leach (1844?–85) certainly delivered through hail, rain and snow. Born into a Bog Irish family, he grew up alongside the Gaffneys at Arms of the Creek, part of the ‘Paddys Scrub’ Irish enclave near Deloraine, his younger brother James Leach being the well-known drover and West Coast meat supplier.[28]

Leach generally wasn’t responsible for the very uncomfortable customer experience of riding the Emu Bay and Mount Bischoff Tram. One customer suggested that the passenger carriage of the ‘rabbit hutch with wheels’ might be better suited as a public toilet, while another preferred to walk back to Emu Bay than suffer a second dose of the ‘wretched vehicle … a cross between a small cattle truck and a sardine tin …’[29] It does seem to have been true, though, that Dick liked a tipple, once being given notice to apologise ‘and keep order’ after boozily abusing a customer.[30]  Fortunately for him, there was no breathalyser on the tramway.

Like Byrne, Leach was branded with illiteracy. It was alleged that he carried letters up and down the line for days without delivering them ‘because he couldn’t read himself and he was too independent to ask anyone else to look at them’. If anyone complained about this behavior, the complainant stated,

‘he would grumble and say he need not carry any letters along the line at all, he only done it to oblige people, he only had to carry them from one post office to the other …’[31]

In this case it was probably true: Leach couldn’t sign his own name on his marriage certificate.[32]

Waratah in 1881, showing the Mount Bischoff Co’s bridge over the Waratah River and the Stanhope Smelter on the hill at left.
Waratah c1880, showing the Mount Bischoff Co’s tramway bridge as the only crossing of the Waratah River. The deviation of Smith Street around the Mount Bischoff Co’s machinery site is sketched in, as is the VDL Co’s proposed station and railway formation. The reserve for the post office is represented by the blank block on Smith Street, conveniently located next to the Stanhope Smelter.
Cropped from AF721/1/755 (TAHO).

In November 1881 the tramway was finally extended—with iron rails—into Waratah.[33] Since the attendant VDL Co mail service gave Bischoffites a turnaround of only two hours, they conducted much of their postal and telegraphic business by candle or lamplight in the early evening—and not in a purpose-built post office, but at the house of Charles Hall, 2IC at the Mount Bischoff Mine. At first there was no public bridge across the Waratah River. Many customers had to negotiate the narrow Mount Bischoff Company tramway bridge in the dark to reach Hall’s house in Smith Street, opposite St James’ Church.[34] The ad hoc post office was transferred to Stutterd’s house in June 1881, but evening business continued to be troublesome, customers having to provide their own lighting in order to send and collect mail or telegrams.[35] Miss Dixon was postmistress and mudlark, fulfilling the unenviable task of delivering telegrams in all weathers and all depths of mud.[36]

The first Waratah Post and Telegraph Office, 1882. Courtesy of the Waratah Museum.

The government built Waratah a post and telegraph office just as the VDL Co was unveiling its steam railway. The redundant Dick Leach moved to another mail service.  He was killed when his horses shied while he was driving the coastal mail coach out of Forth in 1885, aged only 41.[37] It was reported that most of the coach passengers had abandoned the service because they believed Leach was drunk.[38] No mail reached Waratah that day as a result of his accident.[39]

[1] ‘Shaughraun’, ‘Notes off and on’, Tasmanian, 17 May 1884, p.28. American novelist James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) wrote romantic tales of frontier life such as The last of the Mohicans (1826) and The prairie (1827).

[2] See Richard Hilder, ‘Pioneers of Emu Bay: John Byrne of Uplands’, Advocate, 10 March 1926, p.11; Richard Hilder, ‘The real pioneers of Emu Bay and the town of Burnie’, Advocate, 10 April 1935, p.10. The story of John Byrne coming to Van Diemen’s Land as a soldier sounds rather like a convict smokescreen, except that the 1842 census record contains the claim that John Byrne and his wife arrived in the colony free. There are no Tasmanian birth records for William Byrne and his brother John, who could well have been born in New South Wales or even Ireland. Yet William Byrne claimed to have been born in Hobart.

[3] See Census of Van Diemen’s Land, 1842, CEN1/1/39–113 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/detailnonmodal/ent:$002f$002fNAME_INDEXES$002f0$002fNAME_INDEXES:473341/one?qu=john&qu=byrne&qf=NI_INDEX%09Record+type%09Census%09Census, accessed 2 October 2020. ‘Foreshore rights’, Daily Telegraph, 5 November 1901, p.4. John Byrne died at Emu Bay on 25 May 1854, aged 56, death record no.57/1854, registered at Horton (Stanley), RGD35/1/23 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=john&qu=byrne&qf=NI_INDEX%09Record+type%09Deaths%09Deaths#, accessed 28 September 2020. He left a wife, Margaret Harris, and eight children. Margaret Byrne, née Harris, died at Emu Bay in 1885, aged 85 (‘Deaths’, Launceston Examiner, 30 September 1885, p.1).

[4] ‘Passing of a pioneer’, North Western Advocate and the Emu Bay Times, 7 June 1911, p.2; Richard Hilder, ‘The real pioneers of Emu Bay’, Advocate, 9 February 1935, p.9. Twenty-five-year-old William Byrne married 20-year-old Ann McKee on 1 February 1855 by Roman Catholic rites, marriage record no.1106/1855, registered at Oatlands, RGD37/1/14 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=william&qu=byrne, accessed 23 September 2020. Both were ‘free’ and signed their own names. Their son John Byrne was born on 1 July 1858, birth record no.400/1858, registered at Emu Bay, RGD33/1/36 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=NI_NAME%3D%22Mckee,%20Ann%22, accessed 23 September 2020.

Their son Alfred Byrne was born on 1 July 1858, birth record no.400/1858, registered at Emu Bay, RGD33/1/36 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=NI_NAME%3D%22Mckee,%20Ann%22, accessed 23 September 2020. The father was a farmer at New Country, Emu Bay.

[5] William Ritchie to James Smith, 17 December 1873, NS234/3/1/2 (TAHO).

[6] Minutes of the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co directors’ meetings for 1875 and 1876 reveal that he received £7 10 shillings per month, or £90 per year. William Byrne’s brother John Byrne (‘senior’) and son John Byrne (‘junior’) were also on the Mount Bischoff Co payroll as ore carters in the years before the Emu Bay and Mount Bischoff Tramway was completed. See NS911/1/1 (TAHO).

[7] Minutes of Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co directors’ meetings, 21 June 1875, NS911/1/1 (TAHO). Crosby was paid by the government; Byrne, the mailman, was paid by the Mount Bischoff Co.

[8] ‘Mount Bischoff’, Cornwall Chronicle, 19 September 1874, p.3; Minutes of Mount Bischoff Co, 6 September 1875, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).

[9] ‘Mount Bischoff’, Launceston Examiner, 20 June 1876, p.3.

[10] Minutes of Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Co directors’ meetings, 7 June 1875, 20 March and 20 April 1876, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).

[11] ‘Watchman’, ‘A grievance’, Tribune, 7 December 1878, p.2; John Lay, E Johnstone, W Nelms and E Dunstan to James Norton Smith, 16 December 1878, VDL22/1/6 (TAHO).

[12] ‘Bischoff’, Mercury, 14 May 1878, p.2; Advert, Cornwall Chronicle, 20 February 1879, p.13.

[13] See, for example, Daniel Shine on the Browns Plain rush in his letters to James Norton Smith, 15 and 20 January 1879, VDL22/1/7 (TAHO).

[14] James Norton Smith to RA Murray, 26 December 1877; Daniel Shine to James Norton Smith, 22 January 1878?, VDL22/1/5 (TAHO).

[15] Hugh Lynch to James Norton Smith, 23 April 1877; RA Murray to James Norton Smith, 26 December 1877, VDL22/1/5 (TAHO).

[16] RA Murray to James Norton Smith, 14 May 1879, VDL22/1/5 (TAHO).

[17] RA Murray to James Norton Smith, 14 May 1879.

[18] RA Murray to James Norton Smith, 20 March 1877, VDL22/1/5 (TAHO).

[19] Michael Bevan to James Norton Smith, 18 February 1878, VDL22/1/4 (TAHO).

[20] Michael Bevan to James Norton Smith, 17 February and 23 June 1880, VDL22/1/8 (TAHO).

[21] Daniel Shine to James Norton Smith, 1 October 1879, VDL22/1/7 (TAHO).

[22] RA Murray to James Norton Smith, 8 May 1877, VDL22/1/5 (TAHO).

[23] Robert Harris to James Norton Smith, 12 September 1882, VDL22/1/10 (TAHO).

[24] RA Murray to James Norton Smith, 11 December 1879, VDL22/1/7 (TAHO).

[25] Josiah Powell to James Norton Smith, 25 June 1880, VDL22/1/8 (TAHO).

[26] RA Murray to JC Climie, 16 October 1877, VDL22/1/5 (TAHO).

[27] ‘Observer’, ‘The late accident at Waratah’, Launceston Examiner, 6 January 1882, p.3; ‘Fortnightly summary of news for home readers’, Mercury, 2 January 1882, p.1.

[28] See 1848 census record for John Leach and family, CEN1/1/104 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=NI_NAME%3D%22Leach,%20John%22, accessed 25 September 2020. Richard Leach appears to have been the cause of the marriage of 30-year-old John Leach and 21-year-old Anne Mullins, both ex-convicts, at Launceston in 1844. No birth certificate has been found for him, but he was said to be 41-year-old at his death.

For James Leach see Nic Haygarth, ‘Frontiersmen five: the Gaffney brothers, building, supplying and hosting Tasmania’s west coast mining fields’, Journal of Australasian Mining History, vol.17, October 2019, pp.59–71.

[29] ‘A Late Victim’, ‘Railway to Mount Bischoff’, Launceston Examiner, 9 September 1879, p.3; ‘Sicnarf Gink’ (Francis King), ‘Mount Bischoff Tramway’, Launceston Examiner, 11 September 1879, p.3.

[30] TD Patterson to RA Murray, 14 July 1882; James Norton Smith note on letter dated 15 July 1882, VDL22/1/10 (TAHO).

[31] John Deacon to James Norton Smith, 26 October 1882, VDL22/1/10 (TAHO).

[32] Twenty-seven-year-old Richard Leach married 32-year-old Elizabeth Lawson by Australasian Wesleyan rites on 25 December 1871 at the house of George Lawson, Chudleigh, marriage record no.79/1871, registered at Deloraine, RGD37/1/30 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=richard&qu=leach, accessed 26 September 2020.

[33] ‘Waratah’, Mercury, 23 November 1881, p.1.

[34] ‘Bischoff’, Tasmanian Mail, 19 July 1879, 1879, p.15; ‘Mount Bischoff’, Tasmanian Mail, 9 October 1880, p.4.

[35] ‘Mount Bischoff’, Mercury, 23 July 1881, p.2; ‘The Owl’, ‘Records of a fortnight in Waratah’, Launceston Examiner, 30 August 1883, p.4.

[36] ‘Silverpen’ (Henry Glennie), ‘From Launceston to Waratah, Mount Bischoff’, Launceston Examiner, 17 September 1883, p.3.

[37] ‘Hamilton-on-Forth: fatal accident at the Forth’, Daily Telegraph, 8 June 1885, p.3.

[38] ‘Late coach accident’, Launceston Examiner, 9 June 1885, p.3.

[39] Accident to the NW mail coach’, Launceston Examiner, 8 June 1885, p.3.

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Jack the Shepherd or Barometer Boy: Middlesex Plains stockman Jack Francis

DYI dentistry would make for intriguing reality TV (Channel Seven’s new blockbuster The chair anyone?) but in the nineteenth-century Tasmanian backwoods it was an everyday reality. Many people were far removed from medical services, and if you owned forceps you were licensed to operate. Middlesex Plains stockman Jack Francis (c1828–1912) was a model of self-sufficiency—hunter, stock rider, tanner, bootmaker, rug maker, leather worker, blacksmith, tool maker and dentist. Whether he aspired to more advanced surgery is unknown, but his prowess with the pincers must have made for some tense moments around the family dinner table.

From Chudleigh to Waratah, including the Field brothers’ stations of Middlesex Plains and Gads Hill. Map courtesy of DPIPWE.

Given that 40,000 years of Aboriginal custodianship are unrepresented on official charts of the area, it shouldn’t be surprising that Francis’s comparatively miniscule 40-year familiarity with this former Van Diemen’s Land Company (VDL Co) highland run is not recorded on its landmarks. Unlike his notable successor, Dave Courtney (recalled by Courtney Hill), the short, stocky Francis cut no memorable figure. He had no moustaches he could tie behind his back or thick beard to hide his face. Nor was he a ‘man of mystery’, as much as some might have preferred him to be. Francis’s convictism was unpalatable in some quarters even after his death. One newspaper editor omitted the words ‘though a prisoner for some trifling offence’ from his obituary.[1] Highland journalist Dan Griffin was less mealy-mouthed but confused Jack Francis the stockman with Jack Francis the builder and failed assassin.[2] Both men were transported from England to Van Diemen’s Land, the latter for taking pot shots at Queen Victoria, but Jack Francis the stockman was the most benign and pathetic of transportees, being a boy convicted of stealing a barometer.[3] These beginnings make his nickname ‘Jack the Shepherd’, recalling the notorious Irish outlaw, even more ironic.[4]

Jack Francis and Dan Griffin at the Chudleigh Races, from the Weekly Courier, 23 January 1904, p.23.

A native of County Armagh, Northern Ireland, Francis was apparently apprenticed as a ‘rough shoemaker’ when he faced court in Lancaster, Lancashire, England.[5] He probably had no idea how those skills would serve him in future years. Measuring all of 167 cm, he must have had a basic education. He could write, but with apparent difficulty, clearly preferring to dictate letters rather than write them himself.[6] Transported for seven years on the Egyptian in 1838, the boy convict served Launceston bootmaker Amos Langmaid before being assigned to rural masters James Grant at Tullochgorum near Fingal and Theodore Bartley at Kerry Lodge near Breadalbane.[7]

By now Francis was getting his leather in the field as well as at the end of an awl. After securing a certificate of freedom in 1845, he was a shepherd at Bentley near Chudleigh before securing his first posting to the highlands.[8] If childhood transportation to the antipodes hadn’t shaken his being to the core, his life now got a mite more adventurous. Because of Legislative Council parsimony, there were few public road bridges in northern Tasmania before 1865, but the VDL Co Track by which the highlands grazing runs were accessed from Chudleigh had dangerous fords much later than that. Negotiating the track for the first time, Francis and his two companions found the Mersey River almost impassable. Jim Garrett took the other two men’s clothes across on horseback, but with such difficulty that he could not return for the men, who of course had no chance of wading the torrent. They therefore had to spend the night without warm clothes or bedding, and were without food until late the next day when crossing became possible.[9]

This was probably in 1851 when grazier William Kimberley became the first victim of a beautiful mirage called the Vale of Belvoir. In that year Kimberley leased 1000 acres of this snowy glacial valley as a summer sheep run, posting Francis as their protector.[10] Barometer boy apparently had more of an issue with ‘wolves’ than with the highland weather. Thylacines—but more likely wild dogs—were said to have decimated Kimberley’s flock, although the survivors thrived, some being too fat to travel.[11]

Perhaps tubby sheep were Francis’s passport to the overseer’s position at Fields’ Middlesex Plains Station. This was a lonely, isolated job, with only the annual muster party and the occasional prospector like James ‘Philosopher’ Smith or surveyor like Charles Gould to interrupt proceedings. However, a routine of maintaining fences, preventing liver fluke in sheep, rescuing stock from bogs and patch-burning the runs left plenty of time for the hunter-stockman’s real occupation, snaring and hunting—primarily for the fur industry, secondarily for meat.

Middlesex Station, 1905, photo by RE Smith, courtesy of the late Charles Smith.
Same view of Middlesex Station in 1993, 88 years on. Nic Haygarth photo.

The stock-in-trade of the highland stockman was the brush-possum-skin rug. The cold highland climate necessitated thick furs, and Francis, with his expertise in leatherworking, was well placed to take advantage of the demand for this specifically Tasmanian product.[12] Possum-skin carriage rugs and stock-whips he sold to VDL Co agent James Norton Smith fetched £2 and 16 shillings each respectively.[13] This was useful money, given that a stockman or shepherd’s annual wage was in the range of only £20–£30, supplemented by rations (flour, sugar, tea, tobacco, perhaps potatoes and some meat) delivered to a depot on Ration Tree Creek at the foot of Gads Hill, the milk he could wring from a cow, a few skilling sheep and an abundance of wallaby and wombat meat. He would have grown a few hardy vegetables, guarding them against frost and snow.

Jack Francis letters to the VDL Co’s James Norton Smith in 1875 and 1884 respectively, showing the difference between Maria’s fluent hand (above) and Jack’s laboured one (below).
From VDL22/1/9 and VDL22/1/12 (TAHO) respectively.

Not every woman would have fancied the lifestyle, but plenty of Jack’s contemporaries were accustomed to hardship. Jack Francis married 29-year-old house maid and factory worker Maria Bagwell (c1830–83) at Deloraine in 1860, subordinating his Roman Catholicism to her Protestantism.[14] She had been transported for seven years for stealing barley meal in Somerset in 1849. Perhaps she needed the nourishment, measuring only 166 cm as a nineteen-year-old. Her prison record is littered with the phrase ‘existing sentence of hard labour extended’. In 1852 she had been ‘delivered of’—deprived of?—an ‘illegitimate child’ at the Female House of Correction.[15] What happened to this unnamed girl from an unnamed father? Just as elusive is George Francis (?–1924), the child apparently born to Jack and Maria Francis during their time at Middlesex.[16]

The house maid seems to have taken to station life. In 1865 Maria Francis escorted surveyors James Calder and James Dooley from Middlesex Station to Chudleigh. To their ‘amazement’, their guide sat astride her horse like a man

‘and thus rode the whole way … with an amount of unconcern that surprised us not a little; and as if determined that we should not lose sight of this extraordinary feat of horsewomanship, she rode in front of us almost the whole distance, smoking a dirty little black pipe from one end of the journey to the other’.[17]

The couple’s son George Francis had arrived by 1871, when a child was mentioned by a visitor to Middlesex. Now Jack Francis revealed himself to be not just a skilled shoemaker and possum-skin rug maker but an expert tanner, clothing himself and his family in leather. They lived

‘in a clean and comfortable hut. A very few minutes sufficed for Mrs Francis to give us a cup of good tea, with abundance of milk, toast, and bread and butter, and when bedtime came she provided us with flealess bed-clothes, an unusual luxury in the bush….’

Jack Francis was ‘a very handy fellow … adept at shoeing a horse or drawing a tooth, having himself made a first-rate pair of forceps with which to perform this last-named operation …’ [18]

Final resting place for Jack and Maria Francis, Old Chudleigh Cemetery. Nic Haygarth photo.
Headstone of Maria Francis, Old Chudleigh Cemetery. Nic Haygarth photo.

Today not even a headstone in the Old Chudleigh Cemetery records this go-getter’s existence. Around Middlesex Station the ‘old’ European names are forgotten: Misery (now Courtney Hill), the Sirdar (after Horatio Herbert Kitchener of the South African War), Pilot, Sutelmans Park, Vinegar Hill, Twin Creeks. Who named them all and why? No journalist interviewed the old station hands. Yet while the Francises left their mark only in written history, digitisation of archival records is enriching our knowledge of displaced people like them, who lived remarkable lives in remote places.

[1] ‘A veteran drover’, Examiner, 7 March 1912, p.4.

[2] ‘DDG’ (Dan Griffin), ‘Vice-royalty at Mole Creek’, Examiner, 15 March 1918, p.6.

[3] See conduct record for John Francis, transported on the Egyptian for seven years in 1839, CON31/1/12, image 175 (TAHO), https://stors.tas.gov.au/CON31-1-12$init=CON31-1-12p175, accessed 16 February 2020.

[4] For the nickname see, for example, ‘River Don’, Weekly Examiner, 4 October 1873, p.11; ‘A veteran drover’, Examiner, 7 March 1912, p.4.

[5] Francis’s obituarist in, for example, ‘A veteran drover’, Examiner, 7 March 1912, p.4, claimed that he was born at Woodburn, Buckinghamshire, 5 February 1828. Francis’s convict records make him a native of County Armagh.

[6] Indent for John Francis, CON14/1/48, images 25 and 26 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/tas/search/detailnonmodal/ent:$002f$002fARCHIVES_DIGITISED$002f0$002fARCHIVES_DIG_DIX:CON14-1-48/one, accessed 16 February 2020. Compare, for example, his letter to James Norton Smith, 11 April 1881, VDL22/1/9 (TAHO), written by his wife Maria Francis, with his letter to James Norton Smith, 25 July 1884, VDL22/1/12 (TAHO), written in his own hand after Maria’s death.

[7] Conduct record, as above.

[8] ‘A veteran drover’, Examiner, 7 March 1912, p.4.

[9] ‘A veteran drover’, Examiner, 7 March 1912, p.4.

[10] ‘Crown lands’, Courier, 5 February 1851, p.2; ‘Surveyor-General’s Office’, Courier, 3 December 1851, p.2; ‘The Tramp’ (Dan Griffin), ‘In the Vale of Belvoir’, Mercury, 15 February 1897, p.3.

[11] ‘The Tramp’ (Dan Griffin), ‘In the Vale of Belvoir’, Mercury, 15 February 1897, p.3.

[12] HW Wheelright, Bush wanderings of a naturalist, Oxford University Press, 1976 (originally published 1861), p.44.

[13] Jack Francis to James Norton Smith, 10 October 1873, NS22/1/4; and 25 July 1884, VDL22/1/12 (TAHO).

[14] Married 24 December 1860, marriage record no.657/1860, at St Mark’s (Anglican) Church, Deloraine, RGD37/1/19 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=john&qu=francis&qf=NI_INDEX%09Record+type%09Marriages%09Marriages&qf=NI_NAME_FACET%09Name%09Francis%2C+John%09Francis%2C+John, accessed 15 February 2020. On his marriage certificate, Jack underestimated his age as 28 years.

[15] See conduct record for Maria Bagwell, transported on the St Vincent, CON41/1/25, image 16 (TAHO), https://stors.tas.gov.au/CON41-1-25$init=CON41-1-25p16, accessed 15 February 2020. See also birth record for Maria Bagwell’s unnamed illegitimate female child, born 7 September 1852, birth record no.1780/1852, registered at Hobart, RGD33/1/4 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=NI_NAME%3D%22Bagwell,%20Maria%22#, accessed 15 February 2020.

[16] George Francis died 12 January 1924, will no.14589, administered 7 March 1924, AD960/1/48, p.189 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=george&qu=francis&qf=NI_INDEX%09Record+type%09Marriages%09Marriages+%7C%7C+Deaths%09Deaths+%7C%7C+Wills%09Wills&qf=PUBDATE%09Year%091906-1976%091906-1976, accessed 16 February 2020.

[17] James Erskine Calder, ‘Notes of a journey’, Tasmanian Times, 18 May 1867, p.4.

[18] Anonymous, Rough notes of journeys made in the years 1868, ’69, ’70, ’71, ’72 and ’73 in Syria, down the Tigris … and Australasia, Trubner & Co, London, 1875, pp.263–64.

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The twilight zone of Charlie Drury, Surrey Hills hunter

The palm of being Waratah’s first alcoholic probably belonged to its first resident doctor, John Waldo Pring, a Crimean War veteran who drank himself to death in the years 1876–79.[1] One of his lowest moments came in March 1876 when he escorted a disguised detective to a sly grog shop for a snort.[2] Another who upset early Waratah’s temperance wagon was former Sussex labourer Charlie Drury (c1819–76), who traded native animal hides for rum. For decades before Waratah was born Drury lived a twilight existence remote from civilisation, with often only his dogs, his drink and the spirit world for companions. He even went out on a bender, leaving a legacy of decimated wildlife, delusional folklore and fire-managed grasslands to the hunters and graziers who followed him.

Mount Bischoff, Waratah, Knole Plain and the Surrey Hills. Map courtesy of DPIPWE.

Transported at 20 on a fifteen-year sentence for larceny, the 178-cm tall Drury was no mal-nourished urchin.[3]  James ‘Philosopher’ Smith rather generously called him ‘a sturdy type of an Englishman’.[4]  Drury could read—books and newspapers were delivered to him in the back country—although no letters survive to testify to his fluency with the pen.[5] Arriving in Van Diemen’s Land in July 1839, he went straight into the assigned service of British pastoral enterprise the Van Diemen’s Land Company (the VDL Co) at the Surrey Hills, working with hutkeeper Edward Garrett and stockkeeper Richard Lennard (c1811–94).[6] The area between the Hellyer River and Knole Plain would be his home for most of his remaining life. His early services to the VDL Co were valued at only £15 per year (when he was stationed at Emu Bay 1845–46) but rose to £30, a typical stockman’s wage of the time, in the years 1850–52.[7] Hunting would have brought in much more than that.

Drury would have been thrown out of his official work when the VDL Co shut down all operations in 1852. He attended the Victorian gold rushes in February of that year, but would have returned to his old haunts after northern graziers the Field brothers (William, John, Thomas and Charles) rented the Surrey Hills in 1853, living chiefly off the proceeds of his unfettered hunting.[8] Of course he also had the gold ‘bug’, finding a little gold at Cattley Plain under the Black Bluff Range in 1857 or 1858.[9]

The old lag was joined at the Surrey Hills by fellow ex-convict Martin Garrett (aka Garrett Martin, c1806–88), who had racked up an impressive record of robbery in Dublin, bushranging in New South Wales and probation served at Port Arthur. Not bad for a dairyman![10] Both men took to hunting, with a little prospecting on the side.[11] Like other highland hunter-stockmen such as Jack Francis of Middlesex Plains, Drury had a little cottage industry going, his specialty being the whittling of celery-top-pine walking sticks manufactured on commission.[12] It would be surprising if he didn’t also make and sell possum-skin rugs, which could fetch £2 each. The two men lived in a surprisingly sumptuous eight-room house with a blacksmith’s shop, stable, out-houses and cattle yards about two kilometres east of the Hellyer River.[13] The cottage was designed for the VDL Co by none other than onetime colonial architect John Lee Archer—something of a comedown from his work on Parliament House and the treasured Ross Bridge.[14]

Drury’s twilight zone

Decades of isolation in the boondocks of failed VDL Co settlements may have taken their toll on Drury. Even well after the tribal Aboriginal people had been driven out of the north-west, the ‘ghosts’ of their clashes with the VDL Co and the isolation played havoc with him. The company’s old Chilton homestead up above the Hellyer River was said to be haunted by the spirits of murdered Aboriginals. Drury reputedly enjoyed being lulled to sleep there by ghostly ‘music’, until one night a more lively manifestation left him crouched in the fireplace with his gun drawn.[15]

Drury sold skins to his former VDL Co workmate and ex-convict Richard Lennard, who was now keeper of the Ship Inn at Burnie. Lennard would regularly bring a horse and dray up to Drury containing grog and rations, returning to Burnie with the skins. On one occasion when Lennard was arriving at Surrey Hills, Drury came out to meet him, calling out, ‘I know what you are going to tell me—Jack Flowers is dead.’ This referred to the ex-convict known as ‘Forky Jack’, a previous workmate, who had died recently. Lennard knew that Drury had had no contact with the outside world during that time, so how could he possibly know of Flowers’ death? ‘He passed over here’, Drury told him, calling ‘Charlie [distant], Charlie [loud], Charlie [distant]’—on his way to hell.[16] James ‘Philosopher’ Smith got the same story from Drury, who had heard Flowers calling him ‘in the most hasty manner possible while very quickly passing through the air’. The hallucination, if that is what it was, apparently occurred at about the time of Flowers’ death.[17]

Drury had other supernatural experiences/hallucinations and beliefs. One day he was out hunting not far from home when it came on dark. He sat down under a tree for a nap, intending to hunt badgers (wombats) when the moon rose. He was awoken by a clap on the shoulder and the words, ‘Charlie! Didn’t you say you were going to start out after the badgers as soon as the moon was up? Here it is more than three hands high’. The speaker, Drury told his friend William Lennard, wore a sleeved waistcoat and an English top hat. Drury gathered his dogs, including Long Jim, who his new friend pointed out to him a little way off, and as he did so the apparition ‘backed away through a swamp and faded out’.[18]

On another occasion Drury and William Lennard were camped at an isolated place called Sutelmans Park somewhere near Bonds Plain (east of the Vale of Belvoir). Come morning Drury declined to leave camp, having been warned by the banshee (a female Irish spirit who heralds death) during the night that some misfortune would befall him if he did so. Lennard persuaded Drury to disregard the warning, and they went out hunting with Drury’s favourite dog Turk. Later that morning they found the dog dead. ‘There you are’, Drury remarked, ‘what did I tell you?’ Drury then tried to bring the dog back to life by ‘wailing’ over it. Lennard recalled laughing at him for being so foolish, whereupon Drury ‘levelled his gun at him and threatened to blow his head off’. Realising the precariousness of his position, Lennard quickly came to his senses.[19]

In the early 1870s Drury’s unusual ways made it into an international travel book. When an 1871 party visited the Surrey Hills, Drury fed them cold beef, and the visitors got to try those famous possum-skin rugs, which, as was customary, were alive with fleas. While his guests battled these, Drury went badger hunting by the light of the moon with about a dozen kangaroo-dogs, bringing home three skins and one entire animal—presumably for breakfast. As he explained at the dining table, ‘the morning after I have been out badger-hunting at night I always eat two pounds of meat for breakfast, to make up for the waste created by want of sleep’. Drury also recalled his pack of ferocious hunting dogs falling in with a ‘flock’ of seven ‘hyenas’, four thylacines being killed at a time when, unfortunately for him, there was no government thylacine bounty.[20]

Drury and the Bischoff tin

Through the 1850s and 1860s the VDL Co was tantalised by reports of gold discoveries on or near its land. The company’s local agent, James Norton Smith, appears to have placed some faith in Drury as a potential gold discoverer, following his claim to have found gold at the Cattley Plain, and as late as 1872 offered him prospecting tools and discussed a reward for discovery of payable gold.[21]

Prospector James ‘Philosopher’ Smith got to know Drury, calling at his cottage in December 1871 when short of food after discovering one of the world’s greatest tin lodes at Mount Bischoff. Drury had seen Smith pass by on his way to Bischoff, and now expressed surprise that he was able to stay out in the bush so long. He also told Smith that he had no food—a statement that no doubt sent a shock wave through the enervated prospector. However, relief was at hand:

‘He [Drury] replied that what he meant was that he had no beef but had kangaroo, bread and tea. He hurriedly invited me into the house and commenced to prepare a meal with the utmost celerity. He slung a camp oven containing fat and then seized a chopper with one hand and a leg of kangaroo with the other and in a few minutes he had some of the meat frying while he also attended to the tea kettle.’[22]

Smith would have found accounts of this visit written long after his death harder to swallow. In 1908 and 1923 claims were made that Smith found the Mount Bischoff tin in Drury’s hut. ‘There’s a mountain of it just outside there’, Drury apparently told Philosopher, sending him a few metres to the summit of the mountain.[23] Why anyone who had been at Waratah in its early days, when Mount Bischoff was accessed via a tunnel through the horizontal scrub, would suggest the existence of a stockman’s hut in such a position it is hard to imagine.

Drury was the stuff of which disenfranchised prospectors are made, the bumpkin shepherd who stumbles upon a fortune. The strongest argument against the Drury discovery story—apart from his stock of hallucinations—is Smith’s unblemished reputation for integrity. The closest that Drury is likely to have got to the Bischoff scrub is the very edge, where the wallabies snoozed before making their way to the grassy plains at night to feed.

Protective of his father’s reputation and achievements, Garn Smith interviewed Jesse Wiseman and William Lennard, both of whom had hunted with Drury in the early 1870s. Both said that Drury never claimed to have found the Mount Bischoff tin.[24] Wiseman recalled Drury saying, ‘Just fancy us hunting about here all these times and not knowing anything about [the Mount Bischoff tin]‘.[25]

Yet other Drury acquaintances told a different story. An anonymous source claimed that ‘old Charlie Drury made no secret about telling travellers in those days that he directed Mr James Smith to where the tin was, he having a few specimens of this strange metal in his hut, which he showed to “Philosopher” Smith, who continued the quest …’[26]

Grazier John Bailey Williams was another to vouch for Drury, telling Lou Atkinson ‘I ought to have found Bischoff as Drury told me of the mineral, but I paid no attention to him. I had heard so many wild stories of this sort’.[27] Williams had encountered Drury while trying to run sheep in the open grasslands at Knole Plain in 1864–65.[28] His application to lease 6500 acres of Crown land there foundered, with many sheep reportedly starving to death.[29] Well might he have wished for a tinstone saviour!

However, it seems that wild stories were Drury’s stock in trade. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if the old sot had mineral samples in his hut—but it would be a great shock if they were cassiterite specimens.[30]

Opportunity knocks

The Mount Bischoff Tin Mine and its new trade route with Emu Bay brought financial opportunity to previously remote hunter-stockmen. Fields’ Hampshire Hills overseer Harry Shaw wanted to set up an ‘eating house’ along the road. [31] Garrett must have had similar commerce in mind when he tried to buy land at the Hampshire Hills.[32] He later drove the VDL Co Tram between Emu Bay and Bischoff and worked as a blacksmith at the Wheal Bischoff Co Mine.[33] Drury became a commercial operator. He and his mate John Edmunds established a base on the hunting ground of Knole Plain, leaving Garrett to hunt the Surrey Hills. Their hut stood right along the track to the mountain, on grasslands that the Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Company wanted to keep for feed for the bullock and horse teams carting between Waratah and the port at Emu Bay. They were professional hunters paying a £1 annual licence and returning up to £70 per season for shooting 600 to 1000 wallabies as well as the brush possums which formed their possum-skin rugs—at least that was told they told a visiting reporter.[34] The suggestion that such men obeyed government regulations is ludicrous. Additional money was to be had packing supplies for mining companies, as well as supplying Waratah with wallaby meat and some of the grog that they received from Emu Bay.[35] Feeding 20 kangaroo dogs alone would necessitate constant hunting.

Mount Bischoff from Knole Plain, 2009. Nic Haygarth photo.

The new trade route through to Emu Bay also gave hunters like Drury and Garrett better access to skin buyers—although their attempt to sell the skins of Drury’s beloved badger seems to have foundered. [36] While Garrett and Drury were out hunting, their charges—the Field brothers’ notoriously wandering cattle—wandered onto Waratah dinner plates, much to their owners’ disgust. In 1874 Thomas Field called for police intervention.

So did the Mount Bischoff Company when the first pub opened in town.[37] Drury’s unofficial pub never closed. One man was discharged from Walker and Beecraft’s tin claim for getting drunk there.[38] Drury himself was likely to get ‘on the spree’ at any time, making him an unreliable employee.[39] There was a celebrated incident in which Drury got hammered on a keg of rum and accidentally burned down his and Edmunds’ hut, destroying not only his own skins and stores but supplies belonging to prospectors Orr and Lempriere and surveyor Charles Sprent. The only thing salvaged was the keg, to which the hunter was said to have clung ‘with the affection of a miser’.[40]

Drink eventually killed Drury in his hut at Knole Plain. James Smith learned that:

‘His end was a melancholy one.  He had been drinking somewhat heavily when two Christian men from Waratah went to see him at his hut … While talking to his new friends he lay down on his bed and seemed to doze but when after a time one of them tried to rouse him it was found that he was dead.’[41]

Detail from Charles Sprent’s January 1874 map, ‘Plan of agricultural sections on Knole Plain, County of Russell’, showing ‘hut and kennels’ (upper right, just above the road reserve. AF396/1/806 (TAHO).
Potential rubble from Drury’s hut protruding from the furrows of a future plantation on Knole Plain in 2009. Presumably Drury remains buried here, although the eucalypt that marked the spot is long gone. Nic Haygarth photo.

Finding Drury

Drury is said to have been buried beneath a eucalypt near his hut on Knole Plain.[42] Did anything remain there of either his hut or his grave? Examining an old map of Knole Plain more than a decade ago, Burnie surveyor and historian Brian Rollins found the notation ‘hut and kennels’. Brian was interested to find a James Sprent survey cairn that was marked on the same map. We resolved to combine our interests and, under the stewardship of Robert Onfray from Gunns, we made a trip to the Knole Plain area. We found ploughed remains of a long-fallen building which suggested Drury’s hut or some later version of it. No weathered cross tilted over the detritus. No bleached bones poked out of the furrows of the plantation coup. Perhaps Charlie Drury is six feet under the tussock grass, raising a toast with his insubstantial friends, his beloved dogs crashing through some underworld after twilit kangaroo, badger and tiger.

[1] ‘Mount Bischoff’, Devon Herald, 27 September 1879, p.2; he died of natural causes, 19 September 1879, inquest SC195/1/60/8154 (Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office, afterwards TAHO), https://stors.tas.gov.au/SC195-1-60-8154, accessed 29 February 2020.

[2] ‘Sly grog selling at Mount Bischoff, Cornwall Chronicle, 27 March 1876, p.3.

[3] Drury was transported on the Marquis of Hastings. See his conduct record, CON31/1/12, image 31 (TAHO), https://stors.tas.gov.au/CON31-1-12$init=CON31-1-12p31, accessed 1 March 2020, also Description list, CON18/1/16, p.200 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=charles&qu=drury#, accessed 23 February 2020.

[4] James Smith notes, ‘Exploring’, NS234/14/1/ 3 (TAHO).

[5] Cavanagh (?) to James Smith, 24 January 1875, no.38, NS234/3/1/4 (TAHO).

[6] VDL61/1/2 (TAHO). For Lennard see conduct record, CON31/1/27, image 179 (TAHO), https://stors.tas.gov.au/CON31-1-27$init=CON31-1-27p179, accessed 1 March 2020.

[7] VDL133/1/1 (TAHO).

[8] From Launceston to Melbourne on the City of Melbourne, 3 February 1852, POL220/1/1, p.558 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=charles&qu=drury#, accessed 23 February 2020. Drury’s sentence expired in March 1853, leaving him free to choose his employer (‘Convict Department’, Launceston Examiner, 19 March 1853, p.6).

[9] See WR Bell, ‘Report on the hydraulic gold workings at Lower Mayday Plain …’, 14 May 1896, EBR13/1/2 (TAHO). In June 1858 a prospector W MacNab testing the Hampshire and Surrey Hills for gold complained that a mining cradle he expected to use had been removed for use by a stockkeeper from the Surrey Hills Station. See W MacNab to James Gibson, VDL Co agent, 9 June 1858, VDL22/1/2 (TAHO).

[10] See his conduct record, CON39/1/2, p.334 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/all/search/results?qu=Martin&qu=garrett, accessed 23 February 2020. After a stint in the New Town Invalid Depot (admitted 24 November 1886 to 17 December 1886, POL709/1/21, p.207) Garrett died of ‘dropsy’ (oedema, fluid retention) in Launceston in 1888 when he was said to be 82 years old (2 December 1888, death record no.391/1888, registered in Launceston, RGD35/1/57 [TAHO]).

[11] Garrett may have discovered the barytes deposit at the Two Hummocks near Fields’ Thompsons Park Station (James Smith to Ritchie and Parker, 10 July 1875, no.327, VDL22/1/4 [TAHO]).

[12] Richard Hilder, ‘The good old days’, Advocate, 5 January 1925, p.4; Charles Drury to James Norton Smith, 24 July 1872, VDL22/1/4 (TAHO).

[13] ‘Country news’, Tasmanian, 30 August 1873, p.5; G Priestley, ‘Search for Mr D Landale’, Weekly Examiner, 11 October 1873, p.19.

[14] Agreement between the VDL Co and builder George Fann, 4 March 1851, VDL19/1/1 (TAHO). Fann was paid £150 for the job on 19 April 1852 (VDL133/1/1, p.153 [TAHO]). Archer sent two designs for a stockkeeper’s hut to James Gibson on 17 February 1851, although unfortunately the designs cannot be found on file (VDL34/1/1, Personal letters received by James Gibson [TAHO]). See also the 1842 census record for Richard Lennard, who was then living at the VDL Co’s old Chilton homestead. He was one of ten men from the ages of 21 to 45 resident there at the time, only one of whom arrived in the colony free, while another qualified under ‘other free persons’. Two who were in ‘government employment, six in ‘private assignment’. Two were ‘mechanics or artificers’, two were ‘shepherds or others in the care of sheep’, five were ‘gardeners, stockmen or persons employed in agriculture’ and one was a ‘domestic servant’ (CEN1/1/8, Circular Head, p.63 [TAHO], https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/all/search/results?qu=richard&qu=lennard, accessed 1 March 2020).

[15] William Lennard, quote by RS Sanderson, ‘Discovery of Tin at Mount Bischoff’, RS Sanderson to Arch Meston, May 1923?, M53/3/6 (Meston Papers, University of Tasmania Archives, Hobart).

[16] William Lennard, quoted by RS Sanderson, ‘Discovery of Tin at Mount Bischoff’.

[17] James Smith notes, ‘Exploring’, NS234/14/1/ 3 (TAHO).

[18] William Lennard, quoted by RS Sanderson, ‘Discovery of Tin at Mount Bischoff’.

[19] William Lennard, quoted by RS Sanderson, ‘Discovery of Tin at Mount Bischoff’.

[20] Anonymous, Rough notes of journeys made in the years 1868, ’69, ’70, ’71, ’72 and ’73 in Syria, down the Tigris … and Australasia, Trubner & Co, London, 1875, pp.263–64.

[21] James Norton Smith to VDL Co Court of Directors, Outward Despatch 38, 15 May 1872, p.482, VDL1/1/6; James Norton Smith to Charles Drury, 12 June 1872, p.493, VDL7/1/1 (TAHO).

[22] James Smith notes, ‘Exploring’, NS234/14/1/ 3 (TAHO).

[23] ‘Patsey’ Robinson, quoted in ‘The oldest inhabitants’, Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 24 April 1908, p.2.

[24] GH Smith, ‘The true story of Bischoff’, Advocate, 1 May 1923, p.6.

[25] Jesse Wiseman quoted by RS Sanderson, ‘Discovery of tin at Mount Bischoff’.

[26] ‘1866’, ‘Discovery of tin at Mount Bischoff’, Advocate, 30 April 1923, p.6.

[27] John Bailey Williams, quoted by RS Sanderson, Discovery of Tin at Mount Bischoff’.

[28] John Bailey Williams to Charles H Smith, Du Croz & Co, 25 January 1865; and to VDL Co agent Charles Nichols, 11 April 1865, VDL22/1/3 (TAHO).

[29] Thomas Barrett to R Symmons, 2 March 1867, VDL22/1/3 (TAHO).

[30][30] Thomas Broad claimed to have seen tin specimens in Drury’s hut—but did Broad have enough expertise in mineralogy to make that call? See Thomas Broad, ‘Mt Bischoff’s early days’, Advocate, 3 May 1923, p.2.

[31] James Smith to Ferd Kayser, 15 January 1876, NS234/2/1/2 (TAHO).

[32] James Smith to Martin Garrett, 30 June 1875, no.310, NS234/2/1/2 (TAHO).

[33] Hugh Lynch to James Norton Smith, 23 April 1877, VDL22/1/5; Daniel Shine to James Norton Smith, 27 October 1879, VDL22/1/7 (TAHO).

[34] ‘Country news’, Tasmanian, 30 August 1873, p.5.

[35] For packing, see WR Bell to James Smith, 20 July 1875, no.335; and Joseph Harman to James Smith, 11 October 1875, no.450, NS234/3/1/4 (TAHO).

[36] AM Walker to James Smith, 11 February 1873, no.115, NS234/3/1/2 (TAHO).

[37] Minutes of directors’ meetings, Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Company, 7 September 1875, NS911/1/1 (TAHO).

[38] Mary Jane Love to James Smith, 12 October 1873, no.290/291, NS234/3/1/2 (TAHO).

[39] William Ritchie to James Smith, 9 March 1874, NS234/3/1/3 (TAHO).

[40] ‘Trip to Mount Bischoff’, Mercury, 18 December 1873, p.3.

[41] James Smith notes, ‘Exploring’, NS234/14/1/ 3 (TAHO). Drury died 3 March 1876, death record no.151/1876, registered at Emu Bay, RGD35/1/45 (TAHO), https://librariestas.ent.sirsidynix.net.au/client/en_AU/names/search/results?qu=charles&qu=drury#, accessed 23 February 2020. Cause of death was given as ‘excessive drinking’.

[42] ‘An Old Hand’, ‘The O’Malley and the Labor Movement in Tasmania’, Zeehan and Dundas Herald, 28 May 1908, p.2.