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Royal Veterans of Tasmania

1826 - 1833

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This site is set up as a tribute to those men and their families who either stayed or retuned to settle in

Australia . This area has been kept short with intent. It will only contain a very small amount of detail . More can be supplied on request if we have it. If anyone can add to this information please email- us . We have placed the name and e-mail of those who have further information on these men.
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The information below was supplied by Cherie Thompson redinoz@winshop.co.au
"NOTE "Information given on any person listed will be passed on to Cherie and to Gwenda,to allow completion of this Project
THE ROYAL VETERANS in VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.
Gwenda M. Webb.
published Tasmanian Ancestry Vol 16 No. 1 June 1995.
 

On 26 August 1826 the ship John Barry arrived in Hobart Town bringing the first Royal Veterans' Corps.

This group consisted of Captain John Darcy, Lieutenants Robert Travers and Stephen Collins, three Sergeants, three Corporals, fifty Private soldiers, forty-five women and forty-two children. Reinforcements for the group continued to arrive in small numbers until the end of l 827.3 Altogether sixty-three rank and file were to serve here and forty-three were to remain as permanent settlers.

Recruiting for the group had started in September 1825, when a Proclamation issued by the War Office in

London stated that three Companies of Veterans were required for service in the Colonies, Coys 1 and 2 in New South Wales and Coy 3 in Van Diemen's Land. Details of eligibility included the requirements that enlistees should be former servicemen of good character, honourably discharged and must have references from members of the clergy or some other respectable citizens. They were to be less than fifty years of age and have no serious body infirmity. It was necessary to pass a medical examination. As it was intended that these soldiers should be discharged in the colony and remain as permanent settlers, they could bring their wives and children with them, provided these were not too numerous! Among the inducements offered to the men to enlist were that they were offered cavalry rates of pay and could count their time as Veterans for further pension entitlements.

After arrival the Veterans were sent to various parts of the island. Captain D'Arcy took a detachment with

him on the Government brig Prince Leopold to George Town, while others were based at Swansea (at the appropriately named Waterloo Point), Brighton, the Clyde and the Huon (Birch's Bay) settlements. In all these areas some of the Veterans were overseers on the public works, supervising convicts as they built roads, bridges and public buildings. Others (probably those who had previously served in cavalry regiments) became mounted police, protecting settlers in outlying districts from aborigines, bushrangers and escaped convicts.

Only eleven men remained in Hobart Town as overseers. Among them was . William Hunt .

In a letter home he described his work:
My station is over a gang of convicts consisting of 40 to 80, all in chains with heavy irons around each leg.
I fetch them from the prison barracks at halfout at ten till one for dinner, then again halfpast two until six at night, in winter from seven in the morning until five in the evening, then I take them back into the barracks where they remain till I fetch them out in the morning. I have to overlook them with a stick in my hand and to see them work and I and obliged to be very severe with them. If I report any of them for neglect, they get 25 to 50 lashes. The work my gang do is making the town streets and levelling them and gravelling them and I have the honour to say I have completed the first street in Hobart Town and I believe there are nineteen more wanting completing, so that if please God, I live and have my health I have three years work cut out for me.
Poor William was not to be spared. He was transferred to Birch's Bay, and died there early in 1828.
William was not the only casualty suffered by the Veterans .
Lieut. Stephen Collins, . died in the same year. As a serving officer he was accorded a funeral with full military honours, attended by the Governor, his fellow officers and the town's military and civil establishment. The Hobart Town Courier reported the occasion, mentioning the drama, watched from outside the burial ground by ordinary citizens, as the sun sank down behind Mount Wellington he was laid to rest and the Last Post was played.
The Veterans' first casualty had been . John Poulton, . who died at George Town in. An officer, 1827.
Others who died while still doing their military service were . Robert Coonan . Martin White . William Egan . and John Smith.
When a soldier died, his pay stopped immediately and, as this was before the day of Widow's Pensions,
his widow had to seek employment. There were plenty of Hobart residents ready and eager to employ the widows, but they were less willing to take the children as well and so assume responsibility for their upkeep. Consequently, several of the Veterans' children were placed in the King's Orphan Asylum; to bere claimed by their mothers upon the latter's re-marriage or the child reaching the age of employment or apprenticeship at twelve years. The children of Privates
Coonan,White, Egan and Smith were all placed thus; the case of Ann White aged two years, next-of-kin of her widowed father, being particularly heart-breaking.
Despite suffering these early losses, most of the Veterans survived their military service until 1830.
However, the Governor was not happy with them. In dispatches back to England Arthur referred to them as absolutely useless and described them as... tired, worn out men with families - not at all the Characters to discipline the sulking,unruly subjects (the convicts) placed under their charge.
He proposed to progressively discharge the Veterans, because they were paid at a higher rate than the
other soldiers, and to replace them as overseers with other persons.
Towards the end of 1829 the men were notified that their discharge was imminent and asked to express
their wishes regarding settlement in the colony and landgrants. This information is held in the Archives of Tasmania in a file headed"Nominal return of men of the RVC who are desirous of settling in the Colony". This file, with two extensions contains forty-three names.
 
The men gave their rank and name and stated whether they wished to settle in town or country, giving the
location preferred . Most significantly of all, the form has a final column, which contains comments (presumably made by the officers), on each individual's general character. Some are listed as good, reliable, others' as good when sober, or given to drink or indifferent.
Some confirm Governor Arthur's opinion of them, being described as tired worn out, unable to cope with
responsibility or useless. A few men opted for employment in the Colonial Public Service: Benjamin Toplis, Augustus Walsh,Thomas Hughes, John Waugh.
Significantly, many men chose to settle in areas in which they had served. Apart from those wishing to
resume practising their trades or seeking employment in the towns of Hobart and Launceston, some popular choices were George Town, the Brighton district, the eastern shore of the Derwent and the East Coast. By 1831
most had assumed their civilian status and were already settled. In Hobart, Veterans' Row was erected for them. In his Almanac & Directory for 1831,23 James Ross described... the neat little brick cottages of the veterans being built just beyond the northern end of Murray St. Some were already completed in 1831 and occupied by
John Kirkwood, W'm Hill, John Hepburn, W'm Skerrow, W'm Cleary, W'm Jervis and Benjamin Shires on one side of the road.
 
On the other side were housed Matthew Howard (a shoemaker), Alexander Fullerton, BURNS William James
ComptonThomas Leonard, W'm McKay, W'm Page, Simon Carson and Thomas Homer, W'm Kirsons (tailor) and James Panton (also a tailor). Samuel Coulston, . Although. described by Ross as "labourers" several of them had rejoined the Police as civilian Constables; however, most served only for a short time. The same Directory of 1831 also mentions that work was in progress at East Arm on the River Tamar, erecting cottages for some six to eight members of the late RVC. Originally eight Veterans had asked for farmland grants of fifty acres. Joseph Allan amended his original request for land at East Arm to a suburban grant in Launceston; instead, he received a suburban grant in George Town! He was to remain living there until his death in 1858, rearing a large family who intermarried with the locals.
Farming grants originally estimated to be of fifty acres, but later measured by Government Surveyor
Thomas Scott to be rather larger, were taken up by William Holliday, Pat Cunningham, Jas.Rowley, Jas. Kelly, Jas. Boskell and James Kerrigan.
A series of misfortunes befell the East Arm settlers. Patrick Cunningham's wife, Jane, was killed by
aborigines in 1831. Rowley was drowned when his boat was upset in the river in 1833.Mrs Rowley applied for Power of Attorney and was successful, being granted administration of effects after the property was sold in 1834.
William Holliday was the longest survivor of the East Arm settlement. He remained living on his original
grant for fifteen years. In 1845 William, then aged fifty-two years, together with his second wife and some of his family, moved to Victoria to become a pioneer once more in the Kyneton district. He died in 1878 ....a respected figure and veteran of Waterloo.
Others who settled in the north of the colony were Joseph Bilson, . Charles Bennett, , . John Orchard,
Augustus Walsh and . Samuel Johnson (Johnston) . Johnson had been one of the Sergeants of the Veterans. He had had a long and good career as a soldier and had fought in the Peninsular War during which he had been captured and held prisoner for four years. He had been transferred from his original battalion, the 95th Foot to the 10th Foot - a Garrison Battalion, prior to his enlistment in the Royal Veterans' Corps. A native of Devon, he had applied for land on the East Coast but sold this in 1835. He was appointed Superintendent of the Female Hiring Depot in Launceston. He was one of the most highly regarded of the Veterans, his death in 1852 warranting a favourable Obituary in newspapers in both the north and south of the island.
As newspapers in early Tasmania tended to chronicle the progress of the upper classes, there is not much to
report on the progress of ordinary settlers, unless they were overtaken by sudden misfortune. Consequently it is impossible to follow the fortunes of all of the forty-three Veterans who settled here.The official records of the 1842 Census contain names of some of them and giveslight indications of how they were faring.
 
Veterans' Row retained its name on the map and justified it, as there were still Veterans living there.
William Skerrow is the only labourer remaining there; he became the victim of a cowardly murder in l846. William Cleary had bought up some of the adjoining properties,partly to cater for his growing family and also for the increased trade as Mine Host of his inn, the "Sir Thomas Brisbane". Other surviving Veterans still living in Veterans' Row were Simon Carson, James Panton and William McKay all three of them tailors.
William Cleary was another success story. He had applied for a licence in 1833 and held it until his death in
1847, when the business was taken over by his wife, Agnes, and later by his son, James. It passed out of the family hands in 1857, by which time Veterans' Row had become Murray Street.
Other Veterans who held licences at various times were:William Lee - Adam & Eve, Waggon & Horses,
Harvest Home (Hobart); Jas. Burnip - Blacksmith's Arms, Castle Inn (Pontville); Thomas Hughes - Ross Hotel (Campbell Town district), Victoria Hotel at Tunbridge (Oatlands district); Augustus Walsh - Gardiner's Lodge (Launceston).
 
Some of the Veterans came from farming backgrounds and the prospect of owning land, even if conditions
were very different from those in rural England, was appealing to them. John McCafferty acquired 40 acres at Brighton, but did not live long to enjoy it, dying on his land in 1830. Others in rural areas whosurvived for varying periods were John Digney who spent several years at Ralph's Bay before settling at Invermay; Alex. McDonald took up land at Geilston Bay and then went into business as a corn chandler in Hobart Town;George Layman farmed at Spring Bay. A small group had land in Glenorchy; William Lee, Stephen Meaney and John Nash had land at the Black Snake and farmed there for several seasons.
John Nash's wife died there in l835.58 He subsequently remarried and moved to Victoria. Stephen Meaney
became ill, moved into town and died in l838.59 His wife raised their children and survived him until 1874 when she died,60 being described as a pensioner's widow. William Lee had a withered arm and a young family. He abandoned his land in 1834 in favour of keeping an inn. James Walker also had a land grant of 40 acres at Glenorchy and received additional land to help him cater for the needs of his family. He died in 1835 and his land was transferred to William Jervis, another veteran.
The longest adult survivors in Tasmania of the John Barry passengers were Benjamin Shires, who died
1879 and his wife Sarah; Thomas Leonard, listed as a confirmed drunkard who sold his necessities nonetheless survived until 1866.
I have not been able to trace all sixty-three Veterans, especially those who emigrated to the mainland, and
it is hard to reach a general conclusion about them. For many the highlight of their lives was having been a participant at Waterloo or one of the other battles of the Napoleonic Wars, and much of their lives was over by the time they arrived here. They did desire a better life for their children than that offering in England at the time, and most of them achieved this.

The enlistees who arrived in the "John Barry" in 1826 were:

Captain John D'Arcy
Lieutenants Robert Travers and Stephen Collins
Sergeants James Burnip, Samuel Johnson(Johnston) and William Lee.
Corporals Joseph Costello, Thomas Homer, John Kenworthy and Stephen Meaney.
Privates Joseph Allan, Charles Bennett, Joseph Bilson, James Boskell(Bowskill), James Brindley, William Burns, Simon Carson, William Cleary, James Compton, Robert Coonan, Samuel Coulston(Coulson), Patrick Cunningham, John Digney, Alexander Donaldson, William Egan, John Fraser(Frazer), Alex Fullerton, John Heyburn (Hepburn), William Hill, William Holliday (Halliday), Matthew Howard, Thomas Hughes, William Hunt, John Irvan(Irvine, Irving), William Jervis(Jarvis),James Kelly, James Kerrigan, John Kirkwood, John Kirsons (Kerivan) , George Layman, Anthony Lee, Thomas Leonard, John McCafferty, William McKay(McCoy), Linsay McPherson, Peter/Patrick Mangan, John Nash, John Orchard, William Page, James Panton, John Poulton, Thomas Quin, James Rowley, Benjamin Shires,William Skerra(Skerrow, Skerrar), John Smith, Charles Stewart, Daniel/John Storer(Storey), William Sullivan, John Thompson, Benjamin Toplis, James Trotter,James Walker, Augustus Walsh, John Waugh, Martin White.
Recruited locally? Edward Munday(Mundey) , James Jordan
I have done my best to trace all members of the RVC but there are gaps in the surviving records. There are
no records of the discharges for Pte Kirsons (Kirvan) nor for Edward Munday and James Jordan. The latter two were possibly the locally-born settlers who were recruited to fill the places of some veterans who died. Both Munday and Jordan applied for land grants on the grounds that they were members of the RVC, and these grants were allowed.
There are inconsistencies in the various records in the spelling of some surnames and often confusion with
the Christian names: James, Joseph and John often alternated. John Kenworthy and Thomas Homer appear on lists sometimes as Privates and other times as Corporals; they were probably promoted and demoted.
Cavalry rates of pay were:
Sergeant 2s 2d per day , Corporal is 1s 7 1 /2d per day , Private 1s 3d per day (less than 7 years service) , 1s 4d per day (7 to 14 years service) , 1s 5d per day (14 to 21 years service).
References
Family Members, Military records  ,Pay rolls, Pay Musters, Cemetery Records, Church Records & General Muster Records, Mitchell Library ,Sydney Australia
The information is intended for short Historical value only,
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Last revised: Saturday, 08 May 2010 09:02:55