This site is set up as a tribute to those men
and their families who either stayed or retuned to settle
- 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.
- "NOTE "Information given on any person
listed will be passed on to Cherie and to Gwenda,to allow
completion of this Project
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
- 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
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
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.
- 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
were all placed thus; the case of Ann White aged two
years, next-of-kin of her widowed father, being
- 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
- 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
- The men gave their rank and name and stated
whether they wished to settle in town or country, giving
- 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
- 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,
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
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
Benjamin Shires on one side of
- On the other side were housed Matthew Howard (a shoemaker),
Alexander Fullerton, BURNS William
- 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
- Farming grants originally estimated to be of
fifty acres, but later measured by Government Surveyor
- Thomas Scott to be rather larger, were taken up
Holliday, Pat Cunningham, Jas.Rowley, Jas.
Kelly, Jas. Boskell and James Kerrigan.
- A series of misfortunes befell the East Arm
Cunningham's wife, Jane, was
- 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
Bilson, . Charles
Bennett, , .
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- 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.
enlistees who arrived in the "John Barry" in
- Captain John D'Arcy
Lieutenants Robert Travers and Stephen Collins
Sergeants James Burnip, Samuel Johnson(Johnston) and
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
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
- 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