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Sketch of the history of Van Diemen's Land and an account of the Van Diemen's Land Company

Date: 1832
Overall: 230 x 150 x 20 mm, 504.18 g
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00048295

User Terms

    Bischoff's history of Tasmania and the establishment of the Van Diemen's Land Company provide important and very different models of European settlement in Australia during the colonial period.
    SignificanceEuropean settlement of Australia followed several diverse paths. While the settlement of Port Jackson was a colonial government establishment and Victoria's earliest settlers took up land without any official sanction, large areas of land were settled by companies applying commercial principles to land management. The history of the Van Diemen's Land Company represents a significant model of settlement rarely investigated in the context of European settlement in Australia.
    HistoryThe Van Diemen's Land Company was formed in 1824 with the intention of producing wool cheaply in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) to supply the British textile industry. The company was granted 250,000 acres in the north-west of the island and in October 1826 the TRANMERE arrived at Circular Head carrying company personnel, supplies and equipment. These settlers were supported by company officials who had arrived in Hobart earlier. These included the chief agent Edward Curr, superintendent Stephen Adey, agriculturist Alexander Goldie, architect Henry Hellyer and surveyors Joseph Fossey and Clement Lorymer. The company was also granted assigned convicts.

    Circular Head acted as a temporary base while the company surveyors set about exploring for good agricultural land. By 1832 the Company establishments consisted of Surrey/Hampshire Hills (population 62 men, 7 women and 10 children); Woolnorth (24 men, 11 women and 25 children) and Circular Head (45 men, 11 women and 25 children) which had become the main settlement.

    The company was never successful in becoming a major wool producer and revenue from wool sales was just £20 000 from 1829 to 1852. The situation was exacerbated in the 1840s when assigned convict labour was removed. In these circumstances the company's British shareholders decided to lease or sell some of its land and from 1841 the township of Stanley and farm allotments of Burnie were progressively sold or leased to tenant farmers. In 1842 there were 241 tenants, but by 1851 the number of tenants had grown to 846.

    Despite the difficulties of its early years, the Van Diemen's Land Company continued to diversify its interests throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and today has extensive commercial interests in mixed agriculture in northern Tasmania, and tourism focused on Woolnorth.

    James Bischoff was listed as Managing Director of the Van Diemen's Land Company in its 1832 annual report. His sketch of the history of Van Diemen's Land which precedes the account of the establishment of the Van Diemen's Land Company is provided as contextual history for the company's shareholders. The account includes a folding map illustrating the company's grants and showing the road it established from Launceston to Circular Head.

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