Person:George Robinson (38)

George William Robinson
Facts and Events
Name George William Robinson
Gender Male
Birth? Abt 1800 Attleboro, Bristol, Massachusetts, United States
Marriage 7 Jul 1823 Hobart, Tasmania, AustraliaSt David's Church of England
to Elizabeth Presnell
Death? 7 Sep 1839 Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Burial? 11 Sep 1839 Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Dan Cerchi (descendant) writes: On 20 October 1818, in the American sealing brig General Gates sailed from Boston bound for the "Pacific Ocean and Canton". On board the General Gates was a young man, George William Robinson c1800-1839, who was never to return to his home country. En-route for the Pacific Ocean, George Robinson was left on the extremely remote southern Indian Ocean island of St Paul, where he spent 23 months hunting seals. After being picked-up, c March 1821, he was then taken to Kangaroo Island, a short distance off the coast of South Australia where he spent a further 19 months hunting seals. The General Gates returned to pick-up George Robinson then sailed for Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania), arriving there on 2 November 1822. George left the ship at Hobart Town, taking as payment 1 Spanish Dollar and 10 gallons of rum for more than 4 years brutal, grisly, work and near complete isolation. The General Gates continued on her voyage which had already become infamous and was to become even more so. Seven months after his arrival, George married Elizabeth Presnell, the daughter of a convict couple. He was set-up in business by his father-in-law. However, the call of the sea appears to have been renewed. Several years after his arrival in Hobart Town, George purchased the Endeavour (of Norfolk Island), renamed her Hunter and sailed for Port Jackson (Sydney) then to New Zealand on a sealing voyage. The voyage was unsuccessful. On his return to Van Diemen's Land, George was forced to sell his ship. In a bid to recover his financial situation, George chartered and fitted out the Hunter for a combined sealing/trading voyage to the Isle of France (Mauritius) and various islands en-route. The Hunter sailed from Launceston on 14 December 1825, called at Kangaroo Island, Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago off the southern coast of Western Australia, St Paul Island, Rodrigues, Isle of France, then returned via Amsterdam Island to Hobart Town, arriving "home" on 15 October 1826. George was accompanied by his "family" on both of these voyages. George spent the remainder of his life in Hobart, spent in numerous occupations: inn-keeper, coach owner, post master, farmer. George William Robinson died in Hobart on 7 September 1839, aged 39 years. He was survived by his wife and 7 of their 8 children."

Dan Cerchi has since apparently found out that the island that George was left on for nearly 2 years, with only one other person for company, was Amsterdam Island, which is near St Paul. Interestingly, during his voyage on the Endeavour, which he reamed Hunter in 1825, Robinson left two members of his crew on the same island. They were there for 14 months with very little in provisions until rescued by another ship.

In "The Robinson Saga, Notes for an Exhibition in the State Library of Tasmania", 30 June 1978, Sir William CROWTHER writes:

"George W. Robinson was born in the state of Massachusetts in 1800. When 18 years old, he was induced to ship aboard the "General Gates", Captain Abimeleck Riggs, for a whaling and sealing voyage, which was to become notorious. He left the ship in Hobart, in November 1822, with wages of one Spanish dollar and ten gallons of rum. On July 7th 1823, Robinson married twenty-two year old Elizabeth Presnell, daughter of William Presnell, a settler from Norfolk Island.

"William Presnell was a successful carter and brewer, and a man of property. His son-in-law also entered the carting business, and kept the Eagle Tavern in Argyle Street. Robinson was given 50 acres of land at New Norfolk by Presnell, and in 1824 was granted another 200, on which he intended to grow and manufacture tobacco, as well as enter other agricultural pursuits. He was at this time in possession of buildings and property to the value of 1500 pounds. A son, James William, was born on April 25th, 1824.

"In 1825, George Robinson mortgaged his store and land at New Norfolk, and the Waterloo Inn in Davey Street to Mr Kemp, in order to fit out his schooner, the "Hunter", for a sealing voyage. The vessel was of sixty-one tons burthen and cost 800 pounds. He and his family sailed for Sydney in May, Mrs Robinson returning by November 5th when twin daughters, Elizabeth and Sarah, were born. The sealing voyage was not a success, as the vessel was severely damaged in Jarvis Bay. On October 15th 1826 George Robinson arrived in Hobart on the "Hunter", with a cargo of sugar, rice and sundries, from Port Louis, Isle of France. During his prolonged absence, his property had been acquired by Mr Kemp. The "Hunter" was sold the following year, and another daughter, Stella Ann, was born in October 1827.

"George W. Robinson was refused another grant of land in 1828 on the grounds that he already kept a store in the Tasmanian Inn in Argyle Street, and had sold the land previously granted to him. Robinson, at this time, possessed capital to the value of 1,936 pounds, including cattle and sheep worth 680 pounds, and 500 pounds worth of stock in hand at the store. He engaged in some farming at Sorell Springs where the Presnells owned the White Hart Inn. By 1832, Robinson was postmaster at Lovely Banks and licensee of the Lovely Banks Inn.

"He then erected a new Black Snake Inn at Granton in 1833, and established a coaching service to and from Hobart, for the comfort of his guests. The arrival of the American whaling schooner "Ionic", on November 1835, caused some problems for Robinson. The master, William Clark, and the mate had been fellow crewmen with Robinson on the "General Gates" in 1819. and were anxious to enlist his help in their search for Captain Riggs. Riggs was guilty of barratry and cruelty to his crew and had last been heard of in Batavia in 1825. However they could not persuade Robinson to join them. He continued his business at the Black Snake until 1837, when he became licensee of the Fox Inn at Glenorchy. He died on September 7th 1839 after a short illness, and was buried in St David's cemetery."

Crowther lists his references as:

  • Bent, A. "The Tasmanian Almanack" 1824-1830.
  • McNab, R. "Murihiku." Wellington: Whitcombe and Tombs, 1909.
  • Robinson, James William "Reminiscences." (typescript).
  • Archives Office of Tasmania: CSO 1/65/1311, CSO 1/86/1929., CSO 1/761/16317, LSD 1/73/P352, Hobart Town Gazette, May 1825, October 1826, Hobart Town Courier, October 1833, MB 2/39/ 2 P402, St David's Parish Registers.

Documents found which relate to George Robinson (mostly compiled by Dan Cerchi):

23 August 1823 - There was an advertisement placed in the "Hobart Town Gazette" that William Presnell was leaving the colony and that G. W. Robinson (son-in-law) would take over his Horse Cart and Dray Establishment.

Michaelmas Day, 29 September 1823 - G. W. Robinson was granted a licence "To sell Beer only, in Hobart Town" at the "Eagle" in Argyle Street (HTG 4 October 1823, p. 1).

12 March 1824 - George advertised the wares of the Eagle Tavern in Argyle St. Among them was "Mr. W. Presnell's Colonial brewed Beer, with which he continues to supply Families, at 2s. per gallon, in quantities not less than 5 gallons; by the cask at 4 pond 4 shillings, and which G. W. will warrant to be equal in quality to English porter." (On 8 November 1823 a similar advertisement to the one above had appeared, but with no mention of the name of the brewer (HTG).)

13 October 1824 - George applied for a grant of land on which "to enter into Agricultural pursuits and the growth of Tobacco". George indicates that he had been given 50 acres by his father-in-law, William Presnell, but that this "consists of Stony and rugged Ground unfit for cultivation." He explains that he was "brought up in a part of America where Tobacco is the chief Produce" and that he has purchased 25 acres of land adjoining his 50 acres on which he has 6 acres growing tobacco. He also indicates that he has forty head of Horned Cattle and is in possession of buildings and properties with a value of 1500 pounds. He requests that he be granted about 40 or 50 acres of land which runs behind his present farms and which is "only fit for Cultivation". (1824, CSO 1/86/1929, pp. 192-185.) Dan Cerchi comments that it appears that George was granted 200 acres at New Norfolk, but does not cite the evidence for this. (This is also mentioned in Crowther's Notes, above.)

8 November 1824 - It was reported in the "Hobart Town Gazette", p. 4, that G. W. Robinson had been granted a licence to sell beer only at the "Spread Eagle" in Argyle Street. (It would seem that this is still the same establishment with a slight name change. The name "Eagle" was again used later.)

31 December 1824 - G. W. Robinson was paid 7 pound 1 shilling by the Colonial Fund for Q.E. (Engineer's Dept) for Cartage of spirits. (HTG 12 November 1825, supplement.)

1825 - Tasmanian Almanack lists G. W. Robinson, Carter/Publican, Argyle Street.

14 January 1825 - Robinson placed 3 advertisements in the "Hobart Town Gazette", p. 1, in which he: - thanks the gentlemen of Hobart for their support; - informs "the Settlers of New Norfolk and its Neighbourhood, that he intends to keep a general Assortment of Goods on SALE at his Farm, adjoining Thomas Guy's, at the End of the Rocks..."; - advertises his wares at the tavern in Argyle Street and advises that "a boat will be constantly in readiness opposite the Store, to convey customers and their Luggage across the River."

8 April 1825 - George placed an advertisement in which he informed "his Friends and the Public" that he had moved his residence from the Spread Eagle in Argyle Street to "his own Residence, the Waterloo Inn, in Harrington-street". (HTG, p. 1.)

May 1825 - Robinson purchases the colonial schooner Endeavour from Captain Dacre as agent for Mr Brooks of Sydney.

13 May 1825 - "Mr. G. W. Robinson, of the Waterloo Inn, and Family, leaving the Colony in the schooner Endeavour, request all claims to be presented, and those Persons indebted to him to immediately come forward and liquidate their respective accounts." (HTG, p. 1)

27 May 1825 - The departure of Endeavour for Port Jackson on Saturday last, under the command of Captain Brimmer, and with Passengers G. W. Robinson (owner) and family, was reported. (HTG, p. 2)

22 July 1825 - Report: "Sydney intelligence: Schooner Endeavour gone on shore!!!" (HTG, p.2, Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser)

27 August 1825 - The following notice appeared in the "Hobart Town Gazette", p. 3: Sherriff's Office, August 25, 1825. In the Supreme Court. Brooks v Robinson. To be sold by Auction, by direction of the Sherriff, at [Mr. Collicott's, on Wednesday the 31st Instant, at 12 o'clock]. That well-known Public-house called the Waterloo Inn, situate in Harrington-street, the property of the above-named Defendant, unless this execution be previously satisfied."

3 September 1925 - A similar notice appeared, dated Sept. 1, 1825, relating to the auction on 10 September of "A Weatherboard HOUSE, and 270 Acres of Land, situate at New Norfolk; bounded on the N. E. by the Derwent River, S. W. by the same River and Appleton's Farm, and the remaining sides by the Rocks". (HTG, p. 1)

11 March 1826 - In HTG supplement: Statement of the Colonial Fund for Y.E. 31/12/1825. (Commissariat Dept.) Paid for Expenses incurred by Cartage and Conveyance of provisions &c. viz. G. W. Robinson for potatoes: 86 pounds 11 shillings 10 pence.

9 March 1827 - George wrote the following letter from Hobart Town to the Colonial Secretary, John Burnett Esqr.: "Sir, In the month of may 1825 I purchased...the Schooner Endeavour and on applying to the Secretary's office for a new certificate of Registry I was informed that I might change her name if I wished it, I therefore called her the Hunter being now desirous of reselling her I find that the change of name is contrary to a late act in Parliment, and the purchaser requires an indemnity from me against the risk of Seizure for this breach of the act; now as the name was altered entirely from suggestion at the Secretary's office I humbly request that some measure may be adopted by which I may be relieved from the difficulty I am likely to experience and the loss I shall sustain in disposing of the vessel under the circumstances. I beg to request that you will lay this statement before his Excellency the Lieut Governor who I have no doubt will afford me every relief in his power...P.S. If government are in want of a vessel of this description I should be glad to tender her to them at the price I was to have from the Van Diemen's Land Company Viz 1000 pounds Stg." (CSO 1/65/1311, pp. 123-4.)

6 October 1827 - It was reported that Geo Wm Robinson had been given a licence to operate the Spread Eagle in Argyle Street. (HTG, p. 7)

12 October 1827 - George Robinson placed an advertisement for the "Tasmanian Inn" (Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser). Other similar ads also appeared later.

11 March 1828 - George applied for a grant of land. In his submission he indicated that he was born in State of Massachusetts, America in 1800. Attached to it he itemises his 1936 pounds of capital, which he claims will be devoted to "Agricultural Pursuits in this Colony" should his application be successful. His capital consisted of: Horned Cattle, 90, 540 pounds; Sheep, 250, 138 pounds; Horses, 3, 150 pounds; Bullock Cart, 20 pounds; Horse Cart, 16 pounds; Dray, 27 pounds; Bullock Chains, 4, 3 pounds; Saddles, 2, 12 pounds; English Gig Harnesses, 55 pounds; Stock on Hand in Store, 500 pounds; Eight ton of Hay, 80 pounds; Bush (?) on Hand, 290 pounds; Iron Mongery for Agriculture, 25 pounds; Timber for Building, 2000 feet, 80 Pounds. Total: 1936 pounds. Wm Presnell and John Wade vouched for George's character. A note has been added on 18 April that "200 acres were ordered to him in 1824 which it appears were sold by Messrs Kemp & co, having been mortgaged to themselves. Mr Robinson now keeps the Tasmanian Inn and a shop at the Eagle of Collins & Argyle Streets." (CSO 1/86/1929, pp. 179-181. See also pp. 186-90)

5 April 1828 - Tasmanian Inn advertised "To Be Sold by Private Bargain".

17 April 1828 - George wrote: "In answer to your letter inquiring what became of the 200 Acres of Land granted to me before I took the Land at New Norfolk & erected a store and fenced in parts of it afterwards in the Month of June 1825 I purchased a Schooner by the name of Hunter and left the Colony in her to go on a sealing voyage I was away for 18 months and in consequence of my not being able to fit out the vessel I gave a mortgage on the Waterloo Inn which house I erected and likewise a mortgage on my property at New Norfolk with a power of attorney and in consequence of my being wrecked at Jarvis Bay and being out so long Mr Kemp sold my property in my absence for one sixth of the value, and became the purchaser..." (CSO 1/86/1929, pp. 186-187)

3 October 1828 - It was reported in The Tasmanian, that G. W. Robinson had been granted a licence for The Tasmanian Inn in Argyle Street.

13 December 1828 - It was reported that George W. Robinson, lic. victualler, had been declared insolvent in the Supreme Court. (HTC, P. 3)

25 May 1832 - G. W. Robinson was the Postmaster at Lovely Banks (CSO 50/7). He also had the "Mail Coach Inn" at Lovely Banks.

25 January 1833 - In a Notice dated Ja. 17, 1833, George offered a reward for the return of "a silver Grey young Cow, branded Ed, [which] was either stolen or strayed from my farm at Lovely banks" on 23rd December. The reward was 10 pounds if any person discovered the thief, or 1 pound if the cow had strayed. (HTC, p. 1., also 1/2/1833, p. 1 and 8/2/1833, p.1)

8 February 1833 - The following appeared in the "Hobart Town Courier": NOTICE.- The undersigned cautions all persons against harbouring or employing John Hill, free by servitude, and lately in the employment of Mr. Govett, Stoney point ferry, as the said John Hill absconded from my employ, and any persons employing him after this notice will be dealt with according to law. G. W. Robinson. Black Snake, Feb. 5, 1833. (HTC, p. 3, also 15/2/1833, p. 1, 22/2/1833, p. 1, 1/3/1833, p. 1)

24 May 1833 - George placed a notice cautioning people against trespassing "... upon 100 acres of land lately granted to Thomas Kaine and recently let by me, situated at the Black Snake, immediately behind my other land ..." (HTC, p. 1, also 31/5/1833, p. 1, 7/6/1833, p. 1)

24 May 1833 - The following notice appeared: TRADE & SHIPPING. The "Mail Coach Inn" at the Lovely Banks is about to be transferred to Mr. John Martin; and the "Black Snake," Glenarchy to Mr. G. W. Robinson. (HTC, p. 1) Apparently Martin did not go ahead with the transfer.

23 August 1833 - The following advertisement appeared in HTC, p. 1: TO BE LET For a Term of Years, THAT well known house at the Mail Coach Inn, Lovely Banks, with a large and well cultivated garden, and all the fixtures, furniture, stock in trade, &c., together with a quantity of forage and corn, sufficient for the consumption of the ensuing season, and 8 working bullocks, carts, harrows, bows, yokes, chains, and brewing utensils. The Mail hoses are situated at the above Inn, and from its central situation possesses conveniences to travellers which a respectable and industrious tenant could easily improve to his advantage. There is a tannery and shoemakers shop attached to the premises, from which the neighbouring families are extensively supplied with shoes, boots, &tc., and which will be let with the premises. For particulars apply to: G. W. ROBINSON. Black Snake, August 7, 1833.

23 August 1833 - The following advertisement also appeared in HTC, p. 1:TO BE LET With Immediate Possession, THE OLD BLACK SNAKE HOUSE. THIS house occupies one of the best situations in the Island and well worth the attention of any person with a moderate capital who wishes to commence business as a general storekeeper, the neighbourhood being populous and much in want of such an establishment. There is a well conducted and safe ferry from the door, and the premises my be fitted up to answer any purpose, at but a trifling expense. G. W. ROBINSON, New House, Black Snake, August 7, 1833. (Also HTC 9/8/1833, p. 3, 16/8/1833, p. 1)

25 October 1833 - Robinson placed a notice dated 9 October 1833, advising that "... In consequence of the New Norfolk coaches having changed their time of leaving Hobart Town, MR. G. W. Robinson has this day started a Van with two splendid horses for the immediate accommodation of persons travelling up and down from the Ferries. The Van will leave the Black Snake at half past nine every morning, and leave Hobart Town at 2 o'clock every afternoon..." (HTC, p. 1, also 11/10/1833, p. 3, HTC 18/10/1833, p. 1)