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Octant with ebony frame

Date: 1819 - 1831
Overall: 80 x 354 x 285 mm, 1.15 kg
Display Dimensions: 315 x 290 x 80 mm
Medium: Ebony, brass, bone
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Octant
Object No: 00006677
Place Manufactured:London

User Terms

    An octant with ebony frame, brass fittings and a graduated arc of 45 degrees arc. Engraved on brass arm 'W. & T. Gilbert, London'. Brothers William and Thomas Gilbert worked from 148 Leadenhall St. between 1819-1831.
    Thomas Gilbert, became the first Colonial Storekeeper in South Australia. He arrived from England on board the CYGNET in 1836. He was a pioneer responsible for all government stores which included pioneering equipment, rations, hardware, clothing. Gilbert's store and residence were built on the northern side of the Torrens, adjacent to the Iron Store. He ran the first post office from his residence. The buildings were the first European structures built on the Adelaide Plains .

    SignificanceThis octant is representative of the early development of marine navigation al equipment. This particular octant is also associated with Thomas Gilbert, an early colonist in South Australia and public figure in Adelaide.
    HistoryThomas Gilbert left the business in London and migrated to South Australia in 1836. He became the Colonial Storekeeper for the state and died in 1873. His obituary related his life in the early days of the colony:

    "Mr. Thomas GILBERT.— Having attained a ripe, old age, Mr. Thomas Gilbert, one of the early pioneers of South Australian colonisation, died in this city at a quarter past 8 o'clock on Friday morning, Hay 86. Mr. Gilbert and his brother William carried on business for many years in Leadenhall-street, London, as opticians to the Hon. East India Company, and their experiments for the improvement of glasses were
    so extensive that the Government assisted them by a suspension of the Excise supervision, so that their large outlay should not be increased by the payment of duty. When first the idea was started of colonizing South Australia Mr. Gilbert entered into the project with great energy, and from March, 1834, to the time of
    his departure two years afterwards he devoted to it his entire time, and no small amount of money, acting in conjunction with Mr. (now Sir George). Kingston, Mr. John Brown, Mr. (now Sir Richard) Hanson, Mr. Gouger, Dr. Everard, and other early colonists, who were endeavouring to bring into action the plan suggested by their coadjutor, Mr. Edward Gibbon Wakefield. In March, 1836, the Act for the establishment of the colony having been at length passed, Mr. Gilbert sailed in the CYGNET, Captain Rolls, with Sir George Kingston, Captain Lipson, ' Dr. Wright, and a large party of surveyors and labourers. On September 10 of the year mentioned they landed at Kangaroo Island,
    where they remained till they were sent by Colonel Light to Holdfast Bay. Mr. Gilbert, who had charge of the Government stores on board the - CYGNET, received the appointment in England on March 3, 1836, of Colonial
    Storekeeper, and he also acted for some time as Postmaster. The latter office he resigned on December 13, 1836, but the former position he retained till December 31,' 1854, when he retired with a pension of £200 a year, which he.
    enjoyed for the remainder of his life.
    He was one of the earliest-appointed Magistrates of the colony, and a very regular attendant at the meetings of the Bench. Perhaps no man in South Australia has had a larger circle of attached friends, and it would not be too much to say that he was really beloved by all who had the pleasure of his intimate acquaintance. Since his retirement from the public service he continued to live in Adelaide, but as age slowly crept on him he became gradually confined indoors, and during the last two or three weeks to his bed, suffering no more pain than what may be inseparable from the decay of nature. He was a man of sincere though unobtrusive piety, and it will occasion no surprise to those who knew him best that his mind to the last was in a tranquil and happy state. Had he lived to the 30th of next August he would have completed his 87th year. Many may remember his brother Henry, who died in the colony some years ago, and to still more will the name of his nephew Mr. W. B. Gilbert be familiar as having been for some time connected with a daily newspaper called the Adelaide Times. That gentleman married a daughter of the late Mr. Maddock, solicitor, and afterwards settled in Melbourne.
    The pensions of Mr. T. Gilbert and Captain Lipson, it may be noted, were the only two provided for by Act 12. 1860,
    when the Superannuation Act was repealed. On Sunday, June 1, the remains of the late Mr. T. Gilbert were interred at the West-terrace Cemetery. The body was removed from the deceased's lodgings to St. Paul's Church, where a portion of the burial service was read, and was followed to the grave by a large number of gentlemen, of whom a great
    proportion were old colonists.
    Among those who attended to show that they shared in the general respect in which Mr. Gilbert was held we noticed His Excellency the Acting-Governor (Sir R. D. Hanson), Sir Henry Ayers (Chief Secretary), Sir John Morphett, Sir G. S. Kingston (Speaker of the House of Assembly), the Hon. G. Stevenson (Attorney General), Dr. Mavo, Dr. Cotter, Messrs. T. E. S. Symes, Gerald Jay, S. Gibbons, R. Barnes, J. C. Hillson, O. Stange, W. D. Fisher, John Brown, E. W. Hitchin, H. F. Shipster.E. W. Andrews, W. Kyffin Thomas, James Frew, G. W. Hawkes, R. G. Thomas, Henry Robinson,
    W. B. Carter, R. H. Cruttenden, J. and G. Ellery, G. Young, W. R. Mortlock, M.P., W. C. Cox, J. Quin, W. H. Hillier, A. G. Burt, and others. The service was conducted by Dean : Russell.
    We are requested to mention that Mr. John Flanoe would have been present but for illness. "

    [Page 13, South Australian Registar, Tuesday, 17 June 1873.]

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Octant with ebony frame

    Collection title: Tilbrook collection

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