Immigrants Recruited by the Launceston Immigration Aid Society 1855-1862. Copyright (c) 1999 Kevin Green



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Immigrants Index



In November 1853, the Reverend Benjamin Drake was invited from Victoria to Van Diemen’s Land to establish an Independent Ministry at the Don. Arriving in Launceston, Drake was to meet up with fellow Congregationalist, John West, and it was that meeting which lead to the formation of the Launceston Immigration Aid Society - the Society which introduced, as immigrants, the families and individuals listed in this book.

John West had developed and expounded ideas concerning immigration principally as part of the Anti-Transportation movement, but with the achievement of that freedom the focus was to be redirected into consideration of the means of achieving the introduction of the "right’ sort of immigrant.

Benjamin Drake’s initial contribution was to provide an up-to-date assessment of the experience of labourers in the "Eastern" areas of England.

  Of the hundreds of farm labourers he was personally acquainted with, [Drake] did not know one who took in a weekly newspaper. The cost was too serious an item to be spared from their scanty income. Fathers, with families numbering from three to ten children, only got from six to ten shilings a week for six days toil of twelve hours, and the wages of robust and able young men were from a shilling to fourteen pence a day. Again, the large landed proprietors were frequently bigots, and only allowed patches of vegetable ground to families on condition that the parent attended the church of the patron, while farmers often intimated that, unless their servants went to the same place of worship as themselves, they would be deprived of employment and left to seek the workhouse as their sole refuge.1

John West saw in Drake’s description of the plight of the rural labourers of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex the opportunity for "introducing men and women who would leaven the labouring classes and become part of a stock that would supply the ever-increasing wants of a new and fertile country".2

The circumstances of the formation of the Launceston Immigration Aid Society were described by Henry Dowling, the Secretary of the Society.

  at his [Rev John West’s] request, acting in concert with Mr Du Croz, of this town, I called a meeting of several gentlemen interested in the subject, at my office, on the 5th of November, last year, when it was resolved to form an association to be called - ‘The Launceston Immigration Aid Society:’ which contemplated -1. the employment of an agent; 2. the Provision of funds for the agent’s expenses and the immigrants’ outfits; 3. Their distribution amongst the Colonists; 4. The collection of re-payments for the loans so made; and finally, the rateable distribution of those repayments to the subscribing members, according to the amount of their subscriptions.3

The fifteen men who made up the Launceston Immigration Aid Society were well-known figures in Launceston, all associated with West throughout the Anti-Transportation movement. William and Thomas Button, J S Waddell, Frederick Du Croz, Richard Green and his partner William Cleveland, John Ward Gleadow, William Pritchard Weston, two members of the Archer family (Joseph and William, jnr) Thomas Drew, Simeon Lord, Theodore Bryant Bartley and Henry Dowling himself are identied. The fifteenth member it might reasonable be supposed was John West himself. Each subscribed 100, thus providing a ‘capital’ of 1500 to carry out the aims of the Society. The Society also sought financial assistance from the Colonial Government. The letter containing the request is not extant - it is entered in the Register of Correspondence and the Colonial Secretary replied on 16 November 1853 as follows:

  The Bounty regulations do not contemplate any contribution by the Government towards the passage money of persons not under engagement as servants . . . a restriction which the Lieutenant-Governor regrets the funds at his disposal will not admit of being dispensed with.4

But the Bounty Regulations were about to change. A plan drawn up by the Government Immigration Agent (John Dickenson Loch) was forwarded to the Colonial Secretary on 11 November 1853. Loch’s plan clearly takes into account the aims and methods of the Launceston Immigration Aid Society. As the Legislative Council was not due to meet until April 1854, the Lieutenant-Governor directed that the scheme be submitted to Members of the Legislative Council by letter. This unusual and controversial method of presenting a public matter for consideration by the Councillors has meant that the opinions of some of them have survived. All members were decidedly in favour of the scheme but perhaps it will suffice to provide extracts from the responses provided by John Ward Gleadow and William Archer, members of the Legislative Council who were also subscribers to the Launceston Immigration Aid Society.

  There are already parties willing to associate themselves together, to bring out superior immigrants, and I believe then more would be done in a few months by such bodies than could be accomplished in years, if left to individual effort. (J W Gleadow)

[I] am decidedly of opinion that the Bounty System of immigration is the best that we can adopt - inasmuch as it places the matter in the hands of the parties most interested - and therefore most likely to introduce a class of labourers adapted to the requirements of the Colony than that of the Land and Emigration Commissioners, with their "shovelling-out" system. (W Archer)5

With the approval of the Legislative Councillors assured, new Bounty Regulations were announced in January 1854: the Launceston Immigration Aid Society made application for 60 family tickets and 40 single tickets. The hopes of the Society were announced to the people of Launceston at the valedictory service held to mark Drake’s departure upon his recruiting mission. Held as John West’s church on 8 March 1854, the speakers included West, Rev. Charles Price and Drake himself.

  Mr Drake mentioned the case of a trustworthy man, with a family of ten children - a sort of bailiff, whose weekly wage was ten shillings - as an illustration of the tyranny enforced, and remarked it was only one case of thousands. Before leaving England, Mr Drake was appealed to by him, as he could not get to this side of the world of which some indistinct rumours has reached, and when told there was no hope, himself and his wife wept in bitterness of spirit in the presence of their children, whose prospects were so gloomy. But I hope, added Mr Drake, that in less than 12 months this deserving and christian family will be in your midst . . .6

Leaving his wife and two small children to be cared for in Launceston, Drake left on his recruiting mission. He returned to Launceston on the Whirlwind with 335 immigrants

  selected with great care by Mr Drake, none but respectable and really useful persons - as far as it is possible to judge -

A month later it was reported that they had been readily employed.7

The Bounty scheme was suspended in March 1855 due principally to the lack of Government funding, but a Colonial Immigration Board established later that same year was authorised to issue debentures on the Land Fund to raise money for immigration, and Bounty Immigration was resumed in March 1856. The Launceston Immigration Aid Society immediately sought 94 family and 100 single tickets. The Board rejected the Society’s application, claiming that

  the number of individual applications under the regulations of 1st March last is so considerable that the Commissioners do not consider it expedient, having regard, especially to the funds at their disposal, to resort to any other mode of introducing immigrants . . .8

The Society responded by arranging for individual members to apply for Bounty tickets; and these tickets entrusted to Rev Benjamin Drake, engaged once more as the Society’s recruiting agent.. This time Drake was accompanied by his wife and family on his voyage to England, and his recruiting efforts were extended to include the engagement of servants for members of the Hobart Town Immigration Society along with its Launceston counterpart. Immigrants recruited on this second mission were to come out to Tasmania in the Southern Eagle (arrived Launceston 28 August 1857) and the Trade Winds (arrived Hobart Town 22 February 1858).9

A third group of immigrants was to come to Tasmania in 1862; travelling via Melbourne on the Solway (arrived Melbourne 15 March 1862) and the Netherby (arrived Melbourne August 1862). Drake did not return to England for this third, and as it was to prove, final recruitment. As Bounty Tickets issued on behalf of the Society were circulating in England, Drake was explaining the workings of the Society’s system of immigration to a Select Committee of the Tasmanian Legislative Council; and putting forwarded an even more comprehensive plan for further immigration

  by which I believe a considerable number of Agricultural Immigrants could be annually brought out on a principle almost self-sustaining.10

But the economic climate of the 1860s was not right for further immigration schemes and the Launceston Immigration Aid Society folded. It had been responsible, however, for the introduction of over 850 immigrants; immigrants who are acknowledged as being among the most successful introduced into Tasmania.

The records of the Society do not seem to have survived; so that the initial information now available concerning the immigrants comes from the details recorded by the Immigration Agent at Launceston upon the arrival of the immigrants. The Immigration Agent recorded Name - Age - Trade, Calling or Qualification as stated by the immigrant, - Religion - Education - and Native Place for each family or single immigration ticket. The details recorded by the Immigration Agent11 have been taken as the starting point, providing the basic list of immigrants recruited by the Society. But any comprehensive study of the immigrants as a group must require greater detail about each family and each individual. This present work seeks to provide a genealogical summary for as many of the immigrants as possible, using a variety of genealogical sources to supplement (and in some cases, correct) the detail recorded by the Immigration Agent.

Of these immigrants, the recruiting agent Benjamin Drake, told the Select Committee of the Legislative Council in 1861

  I have seen them pass from their settled homes in England, through all the excitement of preparation for embarkation, the dangers of the voyage; to the commencement of their colonial life.12


1 Examiner Supplement 11March 1854 p1
2 ibid
3 Examiner 22 June 1854 p2
4 Quoted in Letter to the Editor ibid
5 CSO 24/242/9551 Archives Office of Tasmania
6 Examiner Supplement 11 March 1854 p1
7 Examiner 5 April and 12 May 1855
8 CB 7/5/2 Letterbook of the Immigration Board Archives Office of Tasmania
9 A listing of immigrants by the Trade Wind has been published by the Van Diemen's Land Norfolk Island Interest Group; also the diary of William Fordham, an Hobart Town Immigration Society immigrant on that voyage.
10 Evidence of Rev Benjamin Drake Legislative Council Papers 1861 Paper 150
11 CB7/12 Descriptive List of Immigrants, 1851 - 1867 Archives Office of Tasmania
12 Legislative Council Papers 1861 Paper 150

Select Bibliography

Cyclopedia of Tasmania Hobart 1900 (Fascimile Reproduction, Launceston, 1988) Volume II of this work contains biographical notes of several Launceston Immigration Aid Society immigrants.

H Button, Flotsam and Jetsam: Floating Fragments of Life in England and Tasmania, Launceston c 1909

J Fenton, Bush Life in Tasmania London 1891

J Gill, Engraved in Memory, Launceston 1988

K A Green, "A Superior Class of Immigrant" The Launceston and St Andrew’s Immigration Societies and the Immigrants they introduced to Tasmania, 1855 - 1862. Launceston Historical Society, Occasional Papers 1893
"Immigration as an alternative to Transportation", Bulletin of the Centre for Tasmanian Historical Studies, Vol 3 No 1 (1990 - 1991) pp 150-163

N J Hudson The Hudson Family: Tasmanian Pioneers, Burnie 1988

K Pink And Wealth for Toil; Burnie 1990

C Ramsay With the Pioneers: Hobart 1957


A compilation of this nature depends on the work of a great number of people, and it is difficult to ensure that all who have assisted are properly acknowledged.

The staff of the Archives Office of Tasmania and the Tasmaniana Collection of the State Library in Hobart and the Local History Room in Launceston have provided valuable assistance and access to archival as well as printed sources. Much information was also obtained from the Branch Libraries of the Genealogical Society of Tasmania at Hobart, Launceston, Burnie and Devonport, the library of the Victorian Genealogical Society and the Family History Centre of the L D S Church, Moonah. The publication of the Pioneers Index for Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania has provided direct information as well as clues as to further searching. I am especially grateful to the many descendants who have so willingly provided details from their own researches.

Arrangement of the listing of Immigrants

The list is arranged by name of immigrant in the case of single immigrant tickets and by the name of the head of the family for family tickets. Details given in the Immigration Agents Records (CB 7/12 Descriptive Lists of Immigrants) are given in the left hand column. The right hand column gives a genealogical summary of each immigrant for whom there is information in addition to that provided in the Immigration Agents Records. Launceston Immigration Aid Society immigrants are identified by bold print.

The Summary is arranged in the order - Birth, Death and Marriage. This order has been used so that details of Birth and Death (where available) can be conveniently given in relation to the immigrant’s spouce. If I might take my own forebear as an example:

a 07MAR1862 Melbourne VIC
per Solway
a 10MAR1862 Launceston TAS
per Black Swan
np NFK,@ 22
GREEN Isaac b c1839 Syderstone NFK to GREEN William & GREEN Jane Hurn d 16FEB1898 Launceston TAS <64.98L> m 05JAN1865 Perth TAS to Young Eliza b 07MAY1839 Shoreditch MDX to YOUNG Frederick or Shadrack & YOUNG Eliza Mallows a 1863 Melbourne VIC per Golden Land a 21JUL1863 Launceston TAS per Black Swan d 09JAN1926 Collinsvale TAS <1277.26H>

Isaac GREEN was born at Syderstone in Norfolk circa 1839 to Willian GREEN and his wife Jane (nee Hurn) and died at Launceston, Tasmania on 16 February 1898. Isaac married Eliza Young at Perth, Tasmania on 5 January, 1865 (the marriage is not registered in the records of the Registrar-General). Then follows the known details of the birth, arrival in the colony and death of Eliza Young.

Our thanks

We would like to thank Kevin Green for making his book available for publication on the AUS-Tasmania Genealogy web site. Kevin Green holds the copyright to this work, therefore it can not be downloaded or used in any publication without his written permission.

To add your name as a contact researcher on a listing click on Immigrant Aid Society request.

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