Anthony Cottrell:

a background figure of significance in the settlement of the Morven district and Port Phillip

David Beswick

(Revised 5 February 2001, To be published in Tasmanian Ancestry)

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It was hard to make out the name and location written in the bottom left hand corner of the convict conduct record of the my great great grandfather Thomas BESWICK. It looked like "Cottrell, Morven"; and so it proved to be, but when I wrote up what we knew of our history for the Beswick Family Reunion in 1992 we were left with a significant gap of about ten years from the time of his arrival in Tasmania on the Sir Godfrey Webster in 1823, aged 18, until the year before his marriage in 1834 when he was on a ticket of leave(1). Thomas was born in a London slum, Seven Dials, the son a publican also named Thomas Beswick and his wife Margaret, probably HOPPERTON(2), but we knew nothing of the kind of life into which young Thomas was thrust in the years immediately after being ejected from the crowded streets of London, until we began to learn something of Anthony COTTRELL, the "young man of character" to whom he was assigned as a convict servant. We were then given a window onto the life of Thomas that would not otherwise have been open to us, for not only was Cottrell mentioned in some historical accounts, but he was associated with much better known and well documented figures in the early history of Tasmania and Victoria, including Batman, the artist Glover, surveyor Wedge, Robinson 'the conciliator', some notorious bushrangers and the aborigines in the time of the "Black War".

As we discovered more we formed the view that our ancestor Thomas Beswick was singularly fortunate in being assigned to "young" Mr. Cottrell, who was indeed a year younger than Thomas. Although he was a known figure, little has been written about Cottrell. His story deserves to be told. It was initially a tough life on the frontier in the 1820s with violent encounters between settlers and aborigines and with bushrangers in which Cottrell played a significant role. Anthony Cottrell was appointed Chief Constable of Launceston in 1833(3). He became one of the 15 members of the Port Phillip Association(4) and left Launceston to join the original party of settlers with Batman on the Yarra in 1835 from which he returned after some years to Tasmania. Only a brief insight into his life and character can be given at this stage. It has been prepared as background to the assignment years of young Thomas and others who lived in the district of Nile River (or Cox's Creek), Gordon's Plains and Morven (Evandale) between 1825 and 1835.

John Helder Wedge, Assistant Government Surveyor, noted in his diary that on 24 August 1825 Mr Cottrell and Capt. Barclay called at my tent to point out where they had taken their land, and on 10 November 1825 while in the Morven district he dined with young Cottrell, and on 12 November 1825 he marked off 200 acres for Mr. Fenning and 650 for Mr. Cottrell with whom I dined.(5) The editors of the diaries say in a note that Anthony Cottrell was Special Constable at Gordon's Plains (Evandale) and was Brady's guard after his capture by Batman [1826]. He also helped Robinson with the natives. He was an original settler at New Town in 1804.(6) The notion that he was a settler at Newtown in 1804 is an error although there was an early settler there named Cockerell(7) The Registrar General's official register of births which has him born in Tasmania on 21 March 1806 is also wrong. That date is probably his correct date of birth, but the place is wrong: it was taken like many early records from the registration of a baptism; however, in this case it was an adult baptism in the Sorrell Parish on 19 April 1826. He was registered as the son of William and Ellen Cottrell and was described in the register as a farmer living in the "South Esk County of Cornwall".(8) It appears that he was in fact born in Britain and emigrated in 1824, perhaps on the Cumberland(9), then "locating" a grant of land almost immediately.

"Young" Cottrell must have been an enterprising youth, for he was only seventeen years old when he wrote to Lord Bathurst on 8 October 1823 from "27 Saville Place, Mile End Road", as follows(10):

Supported by the said Mr. Barreth, who described him as "a young man of character and responsibility, possessed of the property named"(11), his plea met with success and he was soon the master of an estate and convict servants on the Nile River, a tributary of South Esk, to the south of the present day town of Evandale in the district then known as Morven. So Thomas Beswick's convict record bears the notation 'Cottrell, Morven' and the convict muster records show that he was "assigned to Mr. A. Cottrell" at least in 1825, 26 and 30 before being on a ticket of leave in 1832(12). His experience with Cottrell in the raw farming district of the Nile for some six years must have been very significant for his later life in Tasmania. As we have noted, other well known figures in that area provide us with documentary evidence of what it was like there.

According von Steiglitz(13), whose writing tends to reflect local tradition,

Elsewhere von Steiglitz says that Cottrell and John Darke (J. H. Wedges's nephew) captured Jeffries(14). We will come to relations with the aborigines shortly, but first some insight into local conditions from what happened with bushrangers. Cottrell's part in guarding Brady seems to have been no more than that of a police guard after he was taken by Batman. It was in accord with his developing role as a public servant. But there are differing accounts of the capture of Jeffries. John Charles Dark wrote to Wedge, 23 January 1826(15):

Then followed Dark's account of an exchange of shots and how he "desired Cottrell to come out and go with me to surround him, but he had mounted his horse and was away to Mr. Coxes in no time for a party" and how

Dark had his own purpose in claiming credit ahead of Cottrell, for he wrote to his uncle John Helder Wedge seeking his support for a large grant of land from the Governor in recognition of his services. It is hard to know the truth of the matter, but we assume in view of the later responsibilities given to him that it is likely that Cottrell was not as useless in the capture of Jefferies as Dark made out and von Stieglitz probably had reason to give him some credit. It is clear from his diary that Wedge did not have a high opinion of his nephew. Nevertheless, he gives us an interesting picture of life on the frontier - and would we not love to know where young Thomas was among Cottrell's men during this episode!

For eyewitness descriptions of the land where they lived we have reports of the Land Commissions and the graphic evidence of Glover's paintings a little later, together with the artist's recorded comments on the scenery. Cottrell had "located" his 650 acres on the north west side of the river Nile(16). The land commissioners described the area as "sheep walk", indicating that most of it was not ploughed or likely to be suitable for growing crops but that sheep could graze on the grass amongst the trees. On 19 December 1827 they passed through several farms and noted "indifferent sheep walk" to the rear of Capt Osler's farm where they "came to a miserable hovel where the natives had wounded a man of Mr Cottrell's a few days before". The next day they "viewed Crown Land between Osler and Cottrell, it is stony, and hilly, fair sheep walk, tho' Cottrell's [is] excellent sheep farm ... to the ford in the Nile, hilly, fit for sheep alone - across the River ... same character ... to Pitcairn's farm which forms part of Mill's Plain - good land - ..."(17)

A contrast with the stony hills around Cottrell's place is seen in their description of the property of James Cox, the largest in the district, to which Cottrell went for help when Jeffries appeared.

It was a few years yet before Cox built the historic home Clarendon, but the economic foundations for a successful enterprise were already laid in those early days; whereas Cottrell's property and the other blocks near it along the Nile remain today not much further developed than they were then.

Where was young Thomas when one of Cottrell's men was wounded at the "miserable hovel"? We don't know, but in similar vein to that report is a story which was passed on to me as part of the family tradition. We do not know now whether it came from the experience of Thomas Beswick with Anthony Cottrell or some quite independent source, but it brings out the fear of attack which was realistic for those living in isolated huts. It is said that "one of them" was in a hut alone when he looked out and saw a black man dodge behind a tree. He looked about and saw another, and more on the other side of the hut. Realizing that he was surrounded, and that being alone he would have little chance of making an effective defence, he hit upon a plan of deception. He put on his hat and went outside, came back in, took off his hat and changed his coat, went out again and walked around, came in again and repeated the procedure several times, changing his clothes to simulate the appearance of different men, until he saw the natives quietly go away.

The home of the artist John Glover was a few miles upstream from Cottrell's place, on the opposite side of the River, beyond the future township of Deddington, which never became much more than a surveyor's dream. His work is well represented in the principal galleries of Australia, and in particular, the painting The River Nile, Van Diemen's Land, in the National Gallery of Victoria, is one of the best known from the early colonial period.

It was painted about 1838, a few years after Anthony Cottrell and his assigned servant Thomas Beswick had left the area. Together with the earlier Milles Plains in the Tasmanian Gallery, it represents a new immigrant's perception of the open bushland character of Cottrell's farm where it came to the river near the crossing about where Deddington was planned to be. As Gleeson observed in regard to Glover's appreciation of the typically open bush parkland which was so common in much of South Eastern Australia(18),

John Glover arrived in Australia in 1831 and built his house "Patterdale" near Deddington in1832, naming it after one of his former homes on England which had belonged to William Wordsworth - and the romantic connection is not accidental.

Glover has been criticised by some commentators, from the perspective of a political and racial sensitivity, for his stick-like and impersonal, rather distant, depiction of aborigines in scenes such as The Nile River, Milles Plains and Aborigines at Risdon. Gleeson, for example comments(19),

It need not be so. Glover often included small figures of men and animals in his landscapes, and his sketchbooks in the National Library in Canberra have several examples of the same type of small figures where white men are present in bush and pastoral scenes. There were certainly people present in Van Diemen's Land who had quite different attitudes to those attributed to 'most of the early settlers', and Cottrell was reputed to one of them in spite of his experience of conflict and support of Robinson. Nevertheless, he took charge of a group of Sydney aborigines who had been imported by Batman to help in capturing the Tasmanians. They formed a support group who were kept in the rear of Robinson's mission group when they went to the North West(20).

In October 1832 after sending some captured aborigines to Flinders Island from the North West Robinson went to Hobart and left Cottrell in charge of his group including Truganini, Woorady and several other Tasmanian aborigines together with some convict servants. They went down the West Coast to meet Robinson at Macquarie Harbour. Some natives who had previously tried to kill Robinson joined them peaceably and were taken back to Hunter Island to be sent to Flinders Island. In January 1833 when crossing the Pieman River near its mouth two convict men were on a raft being pushed across the river by Truganini and two other aboriginal women. (They were excellent swimmers while the white men usually could not swim at all. Truganini had saved Robinson from drowning or being killed by pursuing natives at the Arthur River on a previous expedition.) On this occasion the current was too strong and they lost control of the raft and the two men were lost as the raft was swept across the bar and disappeared into the breakers. Robinson later castigated Cottrell for lack of care and supervision. Vivienne Rae Ellis in telling the story comments(21):

There is no question about the danger posed by conflict with the aborigines of the area. The time during which our Thomas was assigned to Cottrell coincides with the period of greatly increased violence in relations between settlers and natives which had followed a massive increase in the number and size of land grants from 1823(22) . The Ben Lomond band whose territory extended to the South Esk killed 20 people and at least 31 members of that tribe are known to have been shot. Other bands from neighbouring tribes also visited that district. People in recently settled areas were in conflict with the aborigines especially from 1828; settlers and their servants were killed, houses were robbed and huts burned along the South Esk and Nile Rivers. The "Black War" reached its height in 1830-31. If the Quakers were still impressed by Cottrell's personal disinterestedness as well as his zeal, it can only be because of his apparently calm disposition.

Plomley concludes his note on Cottrell with the remark, Cottrell got on fairly well with Robinson during their association, which points strongly to an easy temper on his part. His assigned servants no doubt were beneficiaries of that easy temper, and it may well have been a contributing factor to the fact that Thomas Beswick, unlike our other convict ancestors in Tasmania, had no subsequent convictions.

As we have seen, there is reason to believe that Cottrell had altruistic motives in his dealings with the aborigines. Cottrell and Glover might of course have had different attitudes, but it is hard to tell. In terms of visual impact, however, regardless of any assumed personal prejudice, it seems likely that Glover meant by the presence of the departed aborigines in his Nile River and Milles Plains to emphasise that he was showing the landscape in its natural state rather than as a product of European settlement. The last of the aborigines was removed from the district by none other than Anthony Cottrell at about the time when Glover arrived in 1831. Robinson, who had been employed as a 'conciliator' by Governor Arthur, had already obtained the voluntary surrender of some in the North East at the end of 1830. In 1831 Cottrell was given the job of capturing the remaining aborigines in the Fingal Valley(23) and he brought in the last of the North East people from near Oyster Bay in January 1832. Whether Glover ever saw them in their natural environment may be doubted, but they were not distantly so much as keenly remembered by Glover's neighbours.

We may assume that while Thomas might well have been called to serve in the contingent led by Cottrell in "the black line"in 1830, when every able bodied man was required, he probably left him at about the time Cottrell joined the Aboriginal service in September 1831. Thomas then obtained his ticket of leave and was able somehow to purchase 50 acres of farm land near Evandale which had a shoemaker's shop associated with it. When he married a young widow, Mary PECK, at Launceston in 1834 he was described as a shoemaker and he had a property in Bathurst St. Mary had been married in 1829 to Jeremiah Peck. She was born in Sydney in 1813, the daughter of Alexander MACKENZIE, a soldier from Scotland who arrived in Sydney with Governor Macquarie at the end of 1809, and Anne CLARKE who was transported from Liverpool on the Canada in 1810. Her mother's relationship with Mackenzie brought her to Paterson's Plains in 1818, and later into the household of her mother and Thomas BRENNAN, an ex-convict from Ireland and Norfolk Island whom Anne Clarke married in 1820. Mary inherited her father's land on the North Esk after he died in 1819. Mary and Thomas Beswick lived on that land for over twenty years after 1834.

In another valley not far from Glover's place, among the foothills of Ben Lomond, was the bush farming establishment of that well known colonial adventurer, John Batman. On New Years Eve 31 December 1834 some of the members of the association then being formed for the Port Phillip venture, with Batman and his family, the surveyor Wedge and others, made a picnic climb of the mountain to watch from the top as the sun rose on the New Year(24). John Glover was among them. Large in size, somewhat portly and 67 years of age they marvelled that he made it although they took him up on horseback, which considering the rugged terrain was no mean feat in itself. Glover made some sketches there and they named a small lake on the mountain after him although it was later officially known as Lake Youl, no doubt after the first chaplain at Launceston whose memory at that time took precedence over the artist whose reputation was yet to be made, at least in the colonies, although he was not unknown in England, had won an award in Paris, and was able that year, 1835, to send sixty-eight paintings to London which were exhibited in a Bond Street gallery. But what a momentous year it was to be! A few months later Batman made his famous deal with the aborigines of Port Phillip.

Cottrell might well have been one of those watching the first sunrise of 1835 on the mountain, unless he was too busy preparing for his marriage which was to take place a few weeks later. As noted above he was one of the members of the Port Phillip Association which undertook to share expenses of the expedition to the mainland where Batman was empowered to treat with the natives as William Penn had with the tribes in America, or so they saw it. Anthony Cottrell gave up his post as Chief Constable of Launceston and went to the Port Phillip district with the first settlers in 1835 after marrying Frances SOLOMON (daughter of Joseph Solomon) at Evandale on 21 January. Their first three children were some of the first born in the new settlement: Ellen Lowes, 1835, Anthony Crisp, 1837, and Harriet Ann 1839.(25) Cottrell was known as a stock agent, the first in Geelong, and as an auctioneer in the area West of Melbourne(26). He is officially remembered in the name of a hill and an outer western Melbourne suburb, Mt. Cottrell, near Melton. When Batman died Cottrell tried without much success to make arrangements to save something from his old friend's ruined estate for the benefit of Batman's children. He had previously lent Batman 1000 pounds(27).

Cottrell's close relationship with his former Tasmanian neighbour and friend John Batman continued to be evident in legal and commercial arrangements in the early days of the settlement of Port Phillip, and there was a further family connection. When the Port Phillip Association, which had been planned before Batman's first trip, was formally established in July 1835 after his return home to gather resources for the main settlement, Batman declared that he held one share in trust for Joseph Solomon, Cottrell's father in law, who had not been an original sponsor in 1834.(28) The extraordinary claims to large areas of land made by members of the Association after Gellibrand returned from his exploration in February 1836 were such that each began to ship stock to holdings of 40,000 acres or more. The members of the Association claimed in 1838 to have shipped between 2500 and 500 sheep each, and Cottrell is listed with 1000.(29) Of course the Government of NSW did not allow them to keep this land acquired by "treaty" with the aborigines, and it is not known what happened to Cottrell's claim or to his sheep. His share in the Association was sold to banker and fellow member Swanston in July 1838 for 411 pounds, which corresponded to one seventeenth of the value after expenses of the assessed value of the 10,416 acres which the Government eventually allowed them to purchase.(30) Solomon also sold his share to Swanston, as did several others.

It is a significant insight into their expectations regarding the 600,000 or so acres they originally sought that Wedge, in a letter written in August 1835, commented on William Buckley's report from experience with the aborigines that "They are divided and wander about in families, and there is no such thing as chieftainship among them", Wedge adding in italics, but this is a secret that must, I suppose, be kept to ourselves, or it may affect the deed of conveyance if there should be any validity in it.(31)

In March 1839 Cottrell was an auctioneer in Melbourne operating from an office in William Street, which was a second building at the back of a block purchased by Batman at the first legal land sales conducted by Hoddle in June 1837 on which Batman had built a two story building on the SW Corner of Collins and William Streets with a large ground floor room which was the main assembly point for residents and known as the Auction Rooms. It was there that Cottrell sold a wide range of Batman's possessions under orders from his executors seeking to recover funds to repay Batman's creditors after his death in May 1839. Cottrell's acquisition of this place of business came by virtue of an interesting legal agreement with Batman in January 1839, for which the deed still exists, in which he undertook to pay Eliza Batman, John Batman's wife who was about to leave for England, 60 pounds a year for the rest of her life in exchange for a peppercorn rental on the building in William Street. The background is that Batman appears to have been estranged from his wife and had declared in his will made in December 1837 that she should receive only 5 pounds from his estate, and was not entitled to dower out of any land he held. Whether the arrangement with Cottrell amounted to real compensation of lasting value is difficult to say, as Cottrell moved to another place of business in Queen Street early in 1840, and in September 1840 he returned to Tasmania.(32)

Several more children were born to Anthony and Frances Cottrell in Tasmania: William Joseph later known as William Ostler b. 25 March 1842; Fanny Randall b. 16 May 1843; Sarah Alicia Barbara b. 6 August 1844; and Joseph Solomon b. 21 March 1846. Cottrell's original land on the Nile passed into other hands in 1839 and he acquired another smaller property of 5 acres near Launceston that year. Later he was a partner with Joseph Kirby, Eliza Solomon and Henry Lion in a 1 acre property in 1857. His later years were lived in Hobart where Anthony Cottrell died at his home in Elphinstone Road on 4 May1860, aged 54.

There evidence of all the children except Joseph having married, leaving several lines of descent. Ellen married George PRYDE on 24 November 1855. The eldest son Anthony Crisp Cottrell became a barrister with a house in Macquarie St. Hobart in the 1860s(33). He married Sarah Elizabeth DUGALL 10 December 1864 and later moved to New Zealand where he died at Christchurch on 1 October 1874(34). Anthony senior's widow, Frances, also died in New Zealand(35). Harriet married George Corney WESTBROOK on 26 May 1858, but she died 11 August 1861 after having at least one child, and he later married her sister Fanny 6 April 1864. William first married Constance Mary TAPFIELD 25 April 1868 who died 8 July 1877. William was with the Union Bank at Oatlands when he married Louisa Matilda JONES elder daughter of William Jones of Musgrave House, Oatlands 25 March 1884(36). There were children of both those marriages. Sarah married Edwin FOWLER 6 April 1864, the same day as the wedding of her sister Fanny.

For more than forty years Anthony Cottrell's papers were in the possession of his daughter Mrs Fowler who lived later in William Street, Melbourne(37). Those papers included a diary kept by a member of the advance party Batman left at Portarlington in June 1835, selections from which were published in The Argus and copied in The Examiner in 1905. It is not known whether Cottrell's papers, said to have contained books of memoranda, have survived. No detailed and connected account of his interesting and historically significant life has yet been published. Perhaps it might be hoped that this limited effort might encourage a more substantial work if those papers can be found.

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Whether Glover ever saw them in their natural environment may be doubted, although there is one record that he might have seen a group at Risdon Cove in 1831 after their capture, but the aborigines were not distantly so much as keenly remembered by Glover's neighbours, and his feelings for the memory could well have shared in the those deeper emotions which were to haunt settlers for generations to come and which can be seen to survive in the presence of those undoubtedly human figures in The Nile River or in Milles Plains.

By 1900 those distant figures still imagined moving among the trees and bathing in the river were recalled as 'children of the mist' in the romantic bush poetry of the West Coast where Cottrell had assisted Robinson to 'bring in' the last of them. It is a romantic piece, in the traditional sense, not out of place in association with the work of an expatriate English artist deeply influenced by that tradition, which he consciously represented in the naming of his new home "Patterdale" after his previous home in England which had belonged to Wordsworth. The name can still be seen on a road side letter box a few kilometres beyond Deddington.


Through the valleys, softly creeping
'Mid the tree-tops, tempest-tossed,
See the cloud-forms seeking, peeping
For the loved ones that are lost.
Not for storm or sunshine resting,
Will they slacken or desist,
Or grow weary in their questing
For the Children of the Mist.

Where are now those children hiding?
Surely they will soon return,
In the gorge again abiding
'Mid the myrtle and the fern.
Ah! the dusky forms departed
Never more will keep their tryst,
And the clouds, alone, sad-hearted,
Mourn the Children of the Mist.

E'en the wild bush-creatures, scattered,
Ere they die renew their race,
And the pine, by levin shattered,
Leaves an heir to take its place.
Though each forest thing, forth stealing,
Year by year the clouds have kissed,
Vainly are those white arms feeling
For the Children of the Mist.

Dead the race, beyond awaking,
Ere its task was well begun;
Human hearts that throbbed to breaking
Are but dust beneath the sun.
Past all dreams of vengeance-wreaking,
Blown where'er the tempests list.
But the cloud-forms still are seeking
For the Children of the Mist.

[From In Tasman's Land: Gleams and Dreams of the Great North West by 'J.S.' Published for the Emu Bay Railway Company about 1900.]

To be fair to their memory in the minds of their living descendants it should be recognized that they did not all die without offspring. There are probably more people in Tasmania today who identify themselves as aboriginal than there were aborigines in Van Deimen's Land before British settlement. Strangely, in a natural process more successful than the best efforts of the lawmakers of the time of tragic encounter, their genes survived mixed with those of European and other origins largely through the agency of the lawless 'Straitsmen' who had sufficiently recognized their humanity to make wives of some of the women, albeit by force in many cases of the North East people being raided by sealers from the off shore islands. It is, perhaps, significant for our story that a woman who is a descendant of the aboriginal community of Bass Strait, with her husband and children, was one of the last residents of the Florence Vale homestead built at Derby by Thomas Beswick son of the convict Thomas who shared Cottrell's early encounters with the native people. She is today recognized as one of the leading representatives of Tasmanian Aboriginals and was among those present in that capacity at the reception for the Queen on her visit to Launceston in March 2000. [See My Past - Their Future by Molly Mallett, Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Blubber Head Press, 2001.] An earlier resident of the same house at Derby was a daughter of Thomas jr. and his wife Catherine, named Angelina Mathinna Beswick who carried in her second name the name of an aboriginal girl after whom the town Mathinna was named. A grandson of Angelina Mathinna's was Attorney General of Tasmania during part of the time in the 1980s and 1990s when the Tasmanian State Government began to recognize the continuing existence and claims to identity of the Tasmanian aborigines as a living people. Two other ministers in the Tasmanian Government in the same period, though not all at the same time, were also descendants of the Beswick family of Florence Vale and of Thomas the convict. Such is the mixed history of our land.


See note 38 to Chapter 1 for documentation of the assignment of Thomas to Anthony Cottrell.
Evidence of Cottrell's landholding and character follows:-
From `The Diaries of John Helder Wedge':
p. 22 (10 Nov 1825) dined with young Cottrell
(12 Nov 1825) Marked off 200 acres for Mr. Fenning and 650 for Mr. Cottrell with whom I dined.
p. 81 [Note] Anthony Cottrell was Special Constable at Gordon's Plains (Evandale) and was Brady's guard after his capture by Batman [1826]. He also helped Robinson with the natives.

Note: Gordon's Plains was on the North East side of the South Esk and North West of the Nile River (or Cox's Creek) which flows down from Ben Lomond. [See British Museum maps BM 92405 (2) and (3) which date from 1839 and 1841.] Today Clarendon, built by James Cox, is an historic homestead belonging to the National Trust. It is marked on the Tasmanian Lands Department 1:500,000 map, and current road maps, in the same place a few kilometres on the Evandale side of Nile township. Landholders named on 92405 (2) in that locality were Jas. Cox and S. Byron, with Scott, Wedge, Cameron and Barclay (both North and East) a little further away. West [1852] gives James Cox of Clarendon as chairman of a committee elected in 1847 to support a move by the northern magistrates to persuade the Government to end transportation. Evans' list of `lands granted' on the South Esk about 1820 includes the following sequence: Samuel Porter 60, Andrew Barclay 500, Thomas Brennan 30, John Griffin 30, James Cox 300, Thomas Scott 700, James Cox 400, Andrew Barclay 300. [Note Porter (who has land adjoining land later owned by Thomas Beswick) and Brennan (the step-father of Mary Mackenzie who married Thomas.)] Some of these names appear together with Cottrell in the account of the capture of the maneater Jeffries as reported in a letter of John Charles Darke to John Helder Wedge, 23 January 1826.

Plomley: Friendly Mission, has the following note:
COTTRELL, Anthony (c.1806-60). No information about his early life, but he had been a farmer at the Nile River and special constable and pound keeper at Gordon's Plains, 1828 - , and one of many who led parties at the time of the line, before he volunteered in September 1831, almost certainly at John Batman's suggestion to lead a `friendly mission' in search of natives accompanied by the Sydney blacks whom Batman had imported. At first operating from Batman's at Ben Lomond, during which time he obtained several natives, he joined Robinson in 1832 on his expedition to north-western Tasmania, and on its completion made his way down the coast to Macquarie Harbour, obtaining a few blacks on the way. Cottrell left the aboriginal service in April 1833 and was rewarded with a grant of land and appointed to the post of chief constable of Launceston. Cottrell got on fairly well with Robinson during their association, which points strongly to an easy temper on his part.

Thomas might not have been with Cottrell for the first year or so after his arrival in VDL as Cottrell appears to have taken up land on the South Esk in 1825, and he was probably only 19 years old then: indeed he and Thomas were about the same age. But it seems to have been the only assignment for Thomas. As he obtained a ticket of leave sometime between the musters of 1830 and 1832 and Cottrell joined the Aboriginal service in September 1831, it is a fair guess that Thomas went to Launceston or began farming on his own land, on a ticket of leave at about the same time as Cottrell began that work. Thomas probably obtained his land on the South Esk near Evandale at about that time, and might have worked it before going to Launceston, and he could have begun work there as a shoe maker as there was a shoe maker's shop on the land later sold by the original owner. Certainly he had it before 1833 when the first record appears as a mortgage when he was in Launceston working as a shoemaker. Another deed relating to a small 1 acre piece excised from the original and still belonging to Mrs Kelly for a time makes reference to a shoemaker's shop associated with a house on that land, and it may be that Thomas learned the trade there that he later practised in Launceston, perhaps learning it from the original occupier of that shop. The land had been "located" to Robert Kettle and was bounded by farms held by Porter (north) and Childs (east) and by the South Esk, and included a piece in the possession of William Yates which was bounded by land held by George Collins (north), McDonald Campbell(south) and Joseph Lowes (east). The land Thomas owned was sold John Williott in 1866 as recounted in Chapter 3, and appears on later maps as "granted to Williatt" for he arranged to have it officially granted after he purchased it.

The following notes are from K.R. von Stieglitz A History of Evandale (Rev. Ed. 1992, Evandale History Society):

pp.21-23 [Section Jeffries, the Cannibal Bushranger at "Logan Falls"
gives a different account from that reported by John Darke in his report to Wedge.]

p.27 [This reference to Cottrell is in a section entitled Some Early Settlers which refers to William Ostler, J.H. Wedge, Alexander McLeod and Donald Mcleod before mentioning Cottrell.]
One of Captain Ostler's boundaries was crown land on the other side of which was Anthony Cottrell's grant. (Cottrell was spelt several ways in the old papers).
Cottrell was constable and poundkeeper for the Gordon Plains area, between the Nile district where he had his grant, and Evandale. He was raided by the blacks several times, and does not seem to have had an idle minute, helping his friend John Batman catch them, as well as chasing bushrangers when necessary. Their best catch together was the cannibal bushranger and baby-killer, Jeffries.
He finally moved to Victoria with Batman, to whom it is said, he lent 1,000 pounds towards financing the first expedition to found the new colony. In Victoria, Cottrell finally became an auctioneer, and was the first salesman of livestock at Geelong, near which there is a hill named in his honour.

[Note: In regard to Donald McLeod, a Major of the 56th Regiment, who had arrived 27 November 1820 and had been granted `Talisker' and `Gledessary', we have a quote from the Hobart Town Gazette of 11 December 1826 which settles the question of where Emu Plains was: `All cattle found trespassing on Talisker belonging to D.McLeod, Esq., formerly a run for Government stock and known as Emu Plains and the Sugar Loaf will be impounded'. Emu Plains, given as the home of Jeremiah Peck at the time of his marriage to Mary Mackenzie, is identified with Talsiker and the Sugar Loaf. This confirms the guess I made in Endnote 45 to Chapter 2 of the 1992 history, ties it in with the home of the Peck family at the time that Jeremiah's father and bothers were convicted of stealing sheep from the Government Farm, and relates it to the later home of Thomas Peck, William Renton Kerr and Richard Jordan at Talisker.]

p.32 [In reference to The Tragedy of John Batman, after Batmans death in 1838:]
Anthony Cottrell, his neighbour at the Nile in Tasmania, had always remained his friend, and tried no to save something from the financial wreckage for Batman's children. But there was little he could do, too many debts had been left unpaid, ....

p.54 [In reference to the sale of `Strathmore' `by order of Samuel Bryan, on Tuesday 21 July 1846. (Samuel Bryan and his brother William, whose grant was `Glenore' at Carrick, were `rich Irish gentlemen'. The road to `Glenore', co-incidently, is included in the description of Thomas Beswick's land at Adelphi, near Whitemore.):]

"Lot 3, 650 acres adjoining the last [2,000 acres in two separate locations on the Nile] fronting on the river Nile, originally located to A. Cothell". (Sold for L1.7.6 per acre.) Anthony Cottrell, (the name was spelt several different ways) was Constable and Pound Keeper for Gordon's Plains, the area which lay between Evandale and Nile. A Friend of John Batman's, as mentioned elsewhere, Cottrell and John Darke (J. H. Wedges's nephew) helped capture bushranger Jeffries, and guarded Matthew Brady after Batman took him. Cottrell seems to have been a settler at New Town, as early as 1804. Not much is known of him except that, according to Melville, he helped G. A. Robinson to round up the last of our aboriginies. He also lent Batman L1,000 towards the Port Phillip venture. He married Frances, daughter of Joseph Solomon, Acting Superintendent of Roads and Bridges, in 1835. She died in New Zealand.

[Note: As Joan Bessel has pointed out, the Cottrell at Newtown in 1804 must have been a different person, perhaps his father. We know that Cottrell was a young man in 1825.]

Joseph Solomon built `Riverview' at Evandale in 1836, and is buried in the Church of England cemetery there, for although he had been brought up a Jew, he became a Christian. Joseph was the grandfather of Albert Edgar Solomon, a Premier of Tasmania.

p.78 Bushrangers on the whole had a pretty hard time of it in the infant settlement of Evandale. Batman and Cottrell, Sinclair and Massey, with the others, were not too busy pioneering to be able to put up some sort of defence against them.

p.81 Anthony Cottrell, Constable and Poundkeeper at Gordon Plains, was unfortunate enough to have had his farm raided by the black natives three years earlier, during December 1827, and one of his men had been wounded. Murdoch and O'Conner, as Land Commissioners, visited the property a few days after the raid, and their Report refers to "the miserable hovel where the raid took place". [From the context, apparently, from Ross's Almanack 1830.]


1. Beswick, David, The Family of Thomas and Mary Beswick, private circulation 1992, revised are chapters available at the following web address: Beswick Family History,

2. See the web page

3. CSO 50/9 (1834) Police Dept. 28 December 1833

4. Crawford, the Hon. Mr. Justice, W. F. Ellis, and G. H. Stancombe. (Eds.) The Diaries of John Helder Wedge 1824-35. The Royal Society of Tasmania, 1962. Introduction p xvi ff.

5. Crawford, Ellis and Stancombe (Eds.) Diaries. p. 22

6. Crawford, Ellis and Stancombe (Eds.) Diaries. p. 81

7. G. W. Evans, Description of Van Diemen's Land, William Heinemann, London, facsimile edition 1967. p.63; Godwin's Guide to Van Diemen's Land, facsimile edition, Tasmanian Gov Printing Office.1990. p. 9.

8. Card copy of parish register item (original not available), Tasmanian Government Archives, Hobart.

9. HTG 25 February 1825: married on 5th inst. Harris Walker and Miss Barbara Cottrell lately arrived on the Cumberland. Suggestion of her being a sister or other relative who travelled with him in the name Barbara being given later to a daughter and a granddaughter of Anthony Cottrell.

10. Bonwick Papers Box 15 No 7246 Vol 148. Transcripts: Cottrell to Bathurst, 8 Oct 1823

11. Bonwick Papers, as above, Barreth to Horton, 20 October 1823.

12. AJCP PRO 78-79 convict musters, Thomas Beswick for which I am indebted to Joan Bessell.

13. K. R von Steiglitz A History of Evandale, Evandale History Society, Rev. Ed., 1992. p. 27

14. von Steiglitz pp 21-23, 54

15. Mortmain, a collection of choice petitions, memorials, and letters of protest and request from the convict colony of Van Diemen's Land written by divers persons, both and lowly, and collected and transcribed from the originals by Eustace FitzSymonds with numerous pages of the manuscripts shewn in facsimile. Hobart : Sullivan's Cove, 1977. Number LXXXVII. CSO 1/254/6085. Referred to by Joan Bessell in private correspondence.

16. Maps showing the location are on display at the Evandale Historical Society.

17. McKay Anne (Ed.) Journals of the Land Commissioners for Van Dieman's Land 1826-28, Hobart 1962. pp 72-73

18. Gleeson, James (Ed.) Colonial Painters. Lansdowne, Melbourne, 1971. pp 98-100.

19. Gleeson p. 100

20. Plomley, N.J.B. Friendly Mission. The Tasmanian journals and papers of George Augustus Robinson 1829-1834. Hobart, THRA; Supplement 1971. See note on Cottrell. Ellis, Viviene Rae, Trucanini: Queen or Traitor? O.B.M., Hobart 1976. pp 59-60, 64-65

21. Ellis p 65

22. Ryan, Lyndall, The Aboriginal Tasmanians. St Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 1981. Morgan, Sharon, Land Settlement in Early Tasmania. Cambridge University Press, 1992.

23. Ryan p. 153, 157

24. Crawford, Ellis and Stancombe (Eds.) Diaries p. xvi

25. It is by no means certain that the first child Ellen Lowes was born in the new settlement of Port Phillip in 1835. She and the next child Anthony Crisp, b. 1837, are both registered for those years in NSW from a baptismal record for 1839 at St. James Church, Melbourne, which also gave rise to Victorian registrations from these two and the third child Harriet all for 1839. There is no Tasmania registration for Ellen, but the Victorian birth appears to have been inferred from the later baptism. Conditions in the settlement were very primitive in the first few months and Batman's wife, for example, did not come over until 1836 when a house had been built. If Ellen Cottrell was born in the new settlement she could have the first child born there.

26. von Steiglitz p. 27

27. von Steiglitz pp. 32, 54

28. Hopton, Arthur James, A Pioneer of two Colonies: John Pascoe Fawkner, 1792-1869, The Victorian Historical Magazine [VHM], 30, 103-250 (1960), p. 153.

29. Hopton, VHM, 30, p. 130

30. Hopton, VHM, 30, pp. 152-3

31. Hopton, VHM, 30, p. 119

32. Savill, Barbara J., Where Batman built in Melbourne, VHM, 47:285-290

33. HTG 9 May 1863 p. 31

34. The Mercury 3 November 1874.

35. von Steiglitz p.54

36. The Mercury 1 April 1884.

37. The Examiner 2 March 1905.

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