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Swan River Colony ◄ ● ► London and New Brunswick

The brig Arpenteur, from Fremantle, with Henry, Louisa, and their four daughters, and two servants, Mr. Fermaner and wife, on board, arrived at Adelaide, South Australia, on 23 May 1848. They transferred to the schooner Sisters, which arrived at Hobart on 21 June.

Hobart Town 1841

Hobart Town – Ile Van Diemen (1841)
Auguste Etienne Francois Mayer 1805-1890
National Library of Australia PIC Drawer 3082 #U2937 NK2067

There they settled into the life connected with their station in life, mixing with the other colonists in the city. Henry Drake worked at the Commissariat store, which is now the location of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Alun and I first visited the Museum in Hobart in 1981, little realising the connection my family had with the place. I visited it again in 1993, shortly after commencing my research for my MA thesis into the role of the Commissariat during the Crimean War. By that stage I had found out more, and knew of the building’s significance to my family.

Tasmanian Museum136

The old Commissariat Store, now the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania.
©Megan Stevens 1993

Finding the houses that the Drakes lived in in Hobart took me a bit longer. I had had a clue to the first one in a letter written by Louisa Maria from Hobart in a letter to her father dated 24 January 1875, in which she said: “Our old house looks so small! next [to] St. Joseph’s …” The location was confirmed in an advert in the Colonial Times of 22 September 1848, which read:

To Let,

THAT Genteel and very Commodious FAMILY RESIDENCE in Macquarie-street at present in the occupation of Mr. Assistant-Commissary-General Drake, and adjoining the Catholic Church. Possession can be given in a few days; and for further particulars application may be made to Mr. Richard Roberts, Builder, Trafalgar-place.

Hobart Town, Sept. 22, 1840.

This advert suggests that the Drake family did not stay at this house for very long.

161_3 Macquarie St Hobart 1

The house in Macquarie Street, Hobart, adjoining St Joseph’s Catholic Church.
©Alun Stevens 2017

As luck would have it, I have managed to find some information about the everyday life of the Drake family while they lived in Hobart. Living there, at the same time as them, was Annie Baxter Dawbin. Extracts of her Journal were published in 1992 by Lucy Frost under the title A Face in the Glass: The Journal and Life of Annie Baxter Dawbin. I was very excited when I found a reference to “Mrs. Drake” in this book, and I was even more delighted when, in April 1998, Lucy Frost very kindly provided me with entries about the Drake family which had not been included in her book. The following are extracts from Annie’s Journal :

10th December 1848 Sunday. 1  Another & another! It sometimes astonishes even me, to think how I have been so persevering in keeping a journal; and the only reason I can give for it is, that it is my veriest amusement! I can grumble in my book, when I cannot do so to anybody = and what would a woman’s life be without a whim or a grumble? –

But how Dame “Fortune” favors me just now! only to imagine there happening to be a Pic-Nic at the moment I wished to commence a new journal! Such a piece of good luck does not occur every day; (neither do Pic-Nics!) and then ‘tis the “first of the Season”! Alas! for erring Man! We all believed the weather to be too unsettled for such an al fresco affair, but tried to persuade ourselves that we thought it would be fine. –

Well then, commencons. On Friday Mrs Burgess 2  agreed to have the party on the morrow – time, 11 o’clock; place – Brown’s River; Weapons! – (Ladies’ tongues.) not named. Seconds were not mentioned, as some of us had not got rid of our First, and so the Principal remained to be ––
Eh bien! after arranging which of us should take pies, tarts, sausage rolls, etc – we had the pleasure of adding our mite.

Dr Hadley 3  came down at 10 o’clock to know when we were going, how, or whether we really were intending it at all? William 4  was in bed, lazy – so I asked his friend to walk up, which he did, and after he came down stairs, I made up my mind I had far rather go for a quiet ride, than to the Pic-Nic. However, the Fates decreed differently, and so we drove to the appointed place, accompanied by DHadley and MSmith – (the latter rejoices in the Nickname of “Old Joe”!) Our’s was a pleasant little party, and I drove some part of the way which was quite a treat to me. On the road we passed Mr and Mrs Burgess, 5  and Mr Drake; the latter was waiting to escort the young ladies on horseback, consisting of Miss Burgess, 6  Misses M. Scott and Misses Power 7  & Fenton: The Cab was in [?] before, containing Mistresses Bedford & Drake, & Misses Scott and Allport. 8  We had no rain worth naming on our way down; and drove to  Mr Freeman’s, 9  where I alighted to see Mrs Freeman 10  who had presented her caro sposo with a little boy, 11  some five weeks ago. She looks delicate, and the “sweet pledge” very weakly. Poor little soul! how I wish she were better off = it is such a pity to see so pretty a creature thrown away on the wilds of Tasmania – and with so strange a man to share her fate! Our two compagnons de voyage, walked on to scene of action, and we drove there; we found MBurgess in a most un-Pic-nic-like humour imaginable, and his face truly Bardolphian. These are the men for police Magistrates, they carry weight in themselves, and are none of your light, easy folks who care for others opinions more than their own! And after this small detour, I’ll resume my sketch.

We walked over some rocks, and came to a very snug spot where there was a natural alcove, in which I seated myself, having for pillow the air cushion, and a large boat cloak above me. Then the good people commenced so busily putting out the various eatables; and a table cloth was spread on the flat rocks below where I was sitting. All was so nicely arranged, cucumbers cut, potatoes boiled, curry warmed = when a small boat hove in sight, and the “Dido” came sailing along in the face of a squall! But ‘twas Woman’s, not Heaven’s, breath that caused it! ‘twas Miss Burgess cooeing in sweet accents to the obdurate youth on board the little craft! And now to describe the fair girl who thus lost her time & voice! She is rather petite in figure, but not a “little” plain; she was dressed, disguised I should say in the commencement of a riding habit; I say this, because she herself allowed she had left the skirt behind! – The dress was very narrow, and she had on a horse-hair petticoat, which naturally seemed anxious to burst the bounds and be free; the dress was too short for the under garment, and when she walked, or turned quickly round, ‘twas the most comical looking affair in the world, and impossible to prevent, [?] causing a laugh. Her hat was large, & well fixed at the back of her head, which gave her a degage look! But as I was saying, she wafted a cooe to Mr Austin (who never heard it) and “held aloft a snow white” handkerchief which was so small that even those happy Beings near to her could scarcely see, much more the person in the boat. – Of a sudden it was suggested that something larger would be better to hold out for a signal, when oh! horrors, one of the “Parent-Pic-Nic’s” table cloths was taken, perfectly regard less of the naked appearance it would leave the table in!

Whilst this scene was enacting the rest of the party joined us = Miss M. Scott looking so coquettish & pretty; Miss Power so warm as to be obliged to apply (not her eau-de-Cologne) her handkerchief to her face! Then came a young Officer of the 99th(whose name I cannot spell, and with whom Miss Fenton is smitten,) stepping along so merrily over the rocks, and never caring an iota for his fair friend – who came toiling on with her long-skirted bright, green habit! He might well sing “The girl I’ve left behind me”, for he never looked again at her, & to me seemed like “the soldier tired of maiden’s charms”.

We were going to luncheon, when up rode MessrsJohnson, Power; 12  and soon after Major Smigly and Captn Pratt. Before these last arrivals however such a heavy shower of rain came down, and all were glad to come into my parlour, excepting by the way, Dr Hadley and Mr Burgess. Such a clearance of pies took place tho’, and I think a few buns were the only victims to rain.
After the shower had passed, or fallen rather, some of our inmates moved out, and disposed themselves in picturesque groups = par èxample: Misses Power & Fenton sat on a rock at some distance with their plates on their laps, and doing the amiable to MJohnson who was rushing about to accomplish their wishes.

Mr Burgess had found some curry to his liking, and was taking advantage of it = he was almost happy, when my cruel friend Dr Hadley caught up the pepper box, and instead of dusting the cucumber with it, allowed it to escape in the old gentleman’s direction, thereby causing an exceedingly unpleasant twitching of the nose; he did not see what it was for some time.
A second shower came, and I liked it better than the first; one naturally feels more amiable after having had dinner, which I had indulged in. There was a tolerable collation, and all seemed correctly merry. Soon after the meal was over, all went away with the exception of Dr Hadley & myself, who sat amused spectators of the “packing up”, which was going on at a short distance from us. Mrs Drake lost one fork; all the spoons were there!
All pleasant things must end, so after giving, & receiving a “kiss”, I mounted Napoleon, and my kind friend led him over the rocks; at the same time I expect wishing me & my horse far off!

I took a short proménade à chéval, and returned & sat on the cloaks, when Messrs Balis & Smith had a chat with me; William, who was smoking, came up & directed the former gentleman’s attention to Miss Fenton, whom Mr Austin was assisting in the most gallant manner to put on horseback; it was quite amusing to see how tiresome the stirrup was, – it would not be arranged! The two gentlemen went away with their basket, and soon joined the lady on horseback. All the rest of the party had sauntered on towards the Inn where their horses were; Our voiture came shortly, and in we got. As we were turning the corner from the Beach to the road, we espied Mr Austin and Miss Fenton some way on the Beach = and really I was thinking she would have done well to go in the ‘Dido’ with her attendant. She followed us, and joined the other Equestrians. We remained at Mr Freeman’s only time enough to drink his health, and allow him to return the compliment, and then went on; as we were going up the hill we observed Miss Fenton very much on one side, and shortly after, off she came. I cannot endure to see another fall = I would rather do so my self – I then know how much I’m hurt! and besides which I’m used to it. She was only frightened, poor girl; and got on her horse again and rode home. Immediately all the people had left the carriage, I set to work crying = and I had regularly to struggle to prevent feeling most unpleasantly hysterical.

I could not help observing the different way in which different persons acted! evidently, none of the “dark fair sex” liked the young lady, for they all took the accident so tamely! Oh! for a feeling, responsive heart! Give me this, and I care not what other qualities may be wanting; yet I too well know what a misery it is to the person who has it.

Miss Power came riding back and said in a boisterous voice, at the same time pulling up her voice “What are they staying there all day for? She is not hurt I suppose”! and then having said this, cantered off. We reached home in good time, and thanks to Miss Buckland’s red jacket, I felt none the worse for the cold wind; by the bye, this article of dress is most comfortable and almost becoming; it is quite Bandit-looking in its way.

William walked up to Mrs Roberts’ for Louis: 13  & Dr Hadley & Mr Smith remained with the promise of having something to eat = this was not to be; John cannot endure giving anything unless in proper style, and as he was rather a long time in effecting this, Mr Smith went off to get the finale to the “day” = which was a Polka at Mrs Drake’s. Dr Hadley went away with the little man, and returned soon after = when he kindly passed the evening with me.

William went up to Mrs Drake’s, and had a very pleasant hour or two; it being Saturday night, “Sweethearts & Wives” retired earlier than they would have done = and those happy people who had either the one or the other, were left to ruminate on them!! –

And so the day passed, and to me pleasantly; it is some time since I’ve felt so amiably disposed to Mankind in general, as this day. ‘Twould be a good thing if it had the effect always of improving one’s mood = but unfortunately with the sweets, come the bitters!

10th January 1849 Wednesday … Yesterday we went to hear the Band, and there was scarcely any ladies there; 2 Misses Sorell 14  with Mr C. Cumberland, 15  and Mrs Drake with her two little girls. 16

11th January 1849 Thursday. We went for a delightful ride yesterday, our party consisting of Mistresses Drake, E. Bedford, Miss Scott Dr Hadley, Louis & myself. We first went round the Domain, and then down to the Beach, where we took such a nice canter. I put on my straw hat for the first time, and found it such a comfort! The face is some completely shaded in it: It is certain flying in the face of the multitude, but altho’ the Hobartians may be warm, the Sun is warmer, so I’ll humour the latter. … Mrs Drake is a queer, good-humoured, vulgar little woman, rides well I think – but snubs her daughters! I was at her house yesterday morning; it is a really pleasant one, and the garden so pretty.

25th January 1849 Thursday. All has gone on much as usual, so I’ve not troubled my journal much this week; We have ridden nearly every day, and I’ve been favored with Harold. On Monday Mr & Mrs Drake, Messrs Tancred & Sharland and Dr Hadley dined with us. On Saturday we had a juvenile Pic-Nic out in the Domain; the small “fry” consisted of the two Misses Drake, 17  4 Bedfords, and our own 2. They behaved very well, and were no trouble. We returned at 6 o’clock, and Mrs Bedford, Misses Scott & Burnett & Dr Hadley passed the evening with us.

Thursday 1st of February 1849 – … Mr & Mrs Drake were here on Tuesday evening, and she took the children to the Band on that day. Now then to copy music, as my time is limited rather. 18

7th August 1849 Tuesday   Yesterday afternoon W.C. 19  promised to drive me to call on Mrs Turpie; I was very ill in the morning, but got better in the apres-midi: when 3 o’clock came, I started with Martin to Mrs Dawson’s, but she was from home; I then went to Mrs Drake’s, and found her ready to go out shopping; so I took compassion on her, and drove her to Kissock’s, where she made me choose her some laces for handkerchiefs; and then on to the commissariat Store = I then returned home, and finding William still from home, went out to Mrs Booth’s, where I sat more than half an hour.

The Commissariat Department in Hobart was not a large one. It consisted of a Deputy Commissary-General, four Assistant Commissaries-General, nine Deputy-Assistant Commissaries-General, and two Commissariat Clerks. The Tasmanian Royal Kalendarof 1849 20  listed them as follows:

Office Macquarie-street, Hobart Town.

Dep Commissary Gen. Geo Maclean, in charge of Department.
Assist Commissaries Gen, Wm Fletcher, 21  in charge of commiss chest and payments, Hob Town; T G S Swan 22  in charge of general duties, commissariat chest and payments, Launceston; T J Lemprier [sic], in charge of the district of Oatlands; and W H Drake, general duties Hobart Town.
Dep Ast Commissaries Gen, G Horne, 23  in charge Norfolk Island; H Ashton 24  in charge of Southern, or Hob Town dist; H Priaulx, in charge of provision duties, Launceston; J Nicholson, provision duties, Launceston; T Brown, 25  in charge of district of Tasman’s Peninsula; Dep Assist Commissaries Gen, W H Laidly, T Tomes, 26  W R Parrott, F W Waldron, 27  (under orders for embarkation for another station or England.)
Treas Est Clerks, Messrs F G Woolrabe 28  & F G Swan, H Town.

Of the gentlemen listed above, the following were to serve in the Crimea with Henry Drake: George Maclean, Frederick William Waldron, Herman Frederick George Woolrabe, and Frederick George Swan.

George Maclean and William Fletcher had served with Henry’s father, John Drake, in the Peninsular War.

Interestingly enough, Henry Drake’s future son-in-law, Charles Henry Marshall, was also listed in the 1849 Tasmanian Royal Kalendar, as Justice of the Peace at Woolnorth, Circular Head (Stanley). 29  Charles Henry Marshall was then 31 years old, and Henry’s daughter, Charlotte, 11 years old. Even though it is possible that the Drakes knew of Charles’s existence – Dorothy Chadder, the wife of Charles’s great uncle, Dr. William Marshall, was the sister of Henry Drake’s grandmother, Sarah Drake (née Chadder) – it is unlikely that the Drakes met Charles when they were all in Tasmania, as the Drakes were in Hobart, and Charles was on the other side of the island, at Stanley and the very isolated Woolnorth station on Cape Grim.

Annie Baxter Dawbin continued herJournal entries in 1850:

4th January 1850 Friday. On Wednesday we rode with Mrs Drake; I certainly must say it was rather cold & raw, & I did not enjoy my ride as much as usual.
Thursday too, was such a dreadfully dusty day; the dust swept thro’ the streets in clouds. It being Band day, we rode to the Gardens just as the last tune was being played.
Today Mr & Mrs Drake, Mr & Mrs E. Bedford, Miss Scott and Dr Hadley dined with us; and Mr & Mrs Curll, 30  the Misses Burnett, Misses Sorell, Miss Buckland = Messrs Sorell, Montgomerie, MacDonald, Nunn, and Clarke came in the evening. They remained late, owing principally to the rain, I think.

That same day, a “juvenile ball” was held at Government House, with “Mr., Mrs. and Miss Drake” attending. The “Miss Drake” would have been 13-year-old Louisa Maria Drake.

The next day, on 5 January 1850, The Courier contained the following advert:

Household Furniture, Cottage Pianoforte, Books, Green-house Plants, &c. &c.

Are instructed by Assistant Commissary-General Drake, who is proceeding to England,

On THURSDAY next, the 10th January, at 12 o’clock, his Household Furniture and Effects, on the Premises, Davey-street, consisting of –
TABLES, CARPETS, and RUGS, FENDERS and FIRE-IRONS; silver and plated articles; an excellent cottage pianoforte, nearly new; iron and brass double and single bedsteads, wardrobes, chests of drawers, washstands and furniture, and a large variety of sundries; saddlery; small library of books, consisting of Martin’s British Colonies, Scott’s Miscellaneous Prose Works, Neibuhr’s Rome, Sir John Malcolm’s History of Persia, Conder’s Popular Descriptions of various Countries – 14 vols. Buckingham’s America, Family Library, &c. &c.; a choice collection of greenhouse plants.

ALSO – Five Shares in the Douglas River Coal Company.

Terms – Three months’ credit to purchasers to the amount of £25 and upwards, on approved acceptances.

Just where this house was in Davey Street, Hobart, I don’t know.

Swan River Colony ◄ ● ► London and New Brunswick


1. Lucy Frost notes: “First entry, new volume.”

2. Amelia Burgess (née Husbands) (~1793-1881). 

3. Dr. Henry Hadley (1812-1874).
DEATHS. HADLEY. – 15th, at Malvern, Henry Hadley, M.D., Deputy Inspector General. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Standard [London, England] 19 Aug. 1874: 7. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 23 July 2013.]

4. Annie’s brother, Capt. William Charles Hadden (1813-1902), R.E.

5. Francis Burgess (1793-1864) and his wife, Amelia.

6. Ellen Burgess (~1821-1908), daughter of Francis and Amelia Burgess.

7. One of these Misses Power was probably Louisa Charlotte Power (~1832-1927) (later Bennison).

8. Mary Morton Allport (née Chapman) (1806-1895).

9. Rev. Edward John Freeman (1806-1886).

10. Anne Sturley Freeman (née Bush) (1819-1864).

11. Edward John Freeman (1848-1905). Edward John Freeman jr. was born on 7 November 1848.

12. Robert Power (1794-1869).

13. Possibly a son of Capt. William Charles Hadden, brother of Annie Maria Baxter (née Hadden, later Dawbin).

14. One of the Misses Sorell was possibly Julia Frances Sorell (later Arnold) (1826-1888).

15. Possibly Col. Charles Brownlow Cumberland (1801-1882).
DEATHS. CUMBERLAND. – On the 27th inst., at 21, Milverton-crescent, Leamington, Major-General Charles Brownlow Cumberland (retired full pay), aged eighty-one. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Morning Post [London, England] 30 Nov. 1882: [1]. 19th Century British Newspapers. Web. 3 Oct. 2015.]

16. Laura Mary Drake and Emily Caroline Drake.

17. Probably Louisa Maria Drake and Charlotte Augusta Dring Drake.

18. Lucy Frost then notes: “Annie returns to Yambuck until leaving [her husband, Andrew] Baxter in June.”

19. Annie Maria Baxter’s brother, Capt. William Charles Hadden (1813-1902), R.E.

20. J. Wood (comp.), The Tasmanian royal kalendar, colonial register and almanack 1849, (Hobart, 1849), p. 96.

21. ACG William Fletcher (~1796-1872).

22. ACG Thomas George Sanden Swan (~1794-1857).
DIED. SWAN. – On Sunday last, in St. John’s-street, Chichester, Thos. G. S. Swan, Esq., Deputy Commissary General, who recently returned from India, after an absence of many years. He was 64 years of age. His remains, which were interred in St. Paul’s Churchyard on Wednesday, were attended by the whole of the Depot Battalion, now stationed at Chichester Barracks. [“Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries.” Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle etc [Portsmouth, England] 21 Mar. 1857: n.p. British Library Newspapers. Web. 29 Apr. 2018.]

23. DACG George Horne (1810-1885).

24. DACG Henry Ashton (1809-1876).

25. DACG Thomas Browne (~1814-1857).

26. DACG John Tomes (~1820-1879).

27. DACG Frederick William Waldron (~1815-1885).

28. CC Herman Frederick George Woolrabe (1818-1873).

29. J. Wood (comp.), The Tasmanian royal kalendar, colonial register and almanack 1849, (Hobart, 1849), p. 71.

30. DACG Henry Curll (died ~1869) and his wife, Marianne Ellen (née Tillett, later Greenwood) (1832-1883).

©Megan Stevens 2018

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