Posts Tagged ‘Robert Campbell’

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

William Tucker (Settler)
16 May 1784 – December 1817

William Tucker was baptised on 16 May 1784 at Portsea, Portsmouth, England, the son of Timothy and Elizabeth Tucker, people of humble rank. In 1798 Tucker and Thomas Butler shoplifted goods worth more than five shillings from a ‘Taylor’ William Wilday or Wildey, and were convicted and sentenced to death. They were then reprieved and sentenced to seven years’ transportation to New South Wales. They left Portsmouth on the Hillsborough on 20 December 1798.

The voyage was one of the worst in the history of transportation. ‘Jail Fever’ (typhus) raged through the ship, which lost 95 convicts before arriving at Sydney on 26 July 1799. It is not known where Tucker was assigned.

In January 1803, he and Anthony Rawson stowed away on the Atlas, visiting China before reaching Deal in England on 13 December 1803. The stowaways were sent under escort to Portsmouth to return to New South Wales on the Experiment — many other returnees were hanged. They arrived back in Sydney on 24 June 1804.

In March 1805, shortly after his term expired, Tucker was advertised as shipping out on the Governor King for the coast of New Zealand. She was one of the ships of Lord, Kable and Underwood, a group formed by Simeon Lord, Henry Kable and James Underwood to exploit the sealing grounds at the Antipodes Islands to the south and east of New Zealand’s South Island. She probably landed men at Dusky Sound on the South Island’s south west coast. Tucker was probably later at the Antipodes Islands.

In New Zealand, there were virtually no Europeans living ashore and Māori still lived much as they had for centuries. Maori society was tribal and based on the maintenance of honour, war being recurrent and often fought to get revenge, or ‘utu’, for an insult. The Māori had developed tattooing and moko to a greater extent than any other society and high born males wore full facial adornment unique to the individual. Some Māori preserved the heads of enemies and loved ones. These relics had interested the first European visitors, as had their carved jade ornaments.

Tucker may have left Sydney for England in 1807 in the Sydney Cove whose command was taken over by Daniel Cooper en route. If so, he would have returned to New South Wales either in her, or the Unity, Cooper’s next command.

In April 1809, he was advertised to leave Sydney in the Pegasus. Instead, he left on the Brothers, a ship chartered by Robert Campbell and probably intended for the Solander Islands in Foveaux Strait, between New Zealand’s South Island and Stewart Island. In early November, he was one of eleven men landed at the ‘Isle of Wight’ and ‘Ragged Rock’ on what is now the Dunedin coast on the South Island’s southeast coast. When Captain Mason returned to Port Daniel, now called Otago Harbour, on 3 May 1810, he found only Tucker and Daniel Wilson.

Tucker was sent to look for the missing men first on the Isle of Wight and then to ‘Ragged Point’, apparently the headland on Stewart Island at the western entrance to Foveaux Strait. It was probably then he stole a preserved Māori head, whose owners, discovering the loss, pursued the departing sealers. When they failed to find the missing men, Tucker rejoined the Brothers at Otago Harbour and returned with her to Sydney on 14 July 1810.

Later that year, at Otago Harbour, a Māori chief’s theft of a red shirt and knife from a man who disembarked from the Sydney Cove started a rolling feud which soon took the lives of some of the Brothers’ missing men and soured Māori/Pākehā relations in the south. It was called The Sealers’ War, also ‘The War of the Shirt’, and continued until 1823.

Tucker left Sydney again on the Aurora, on 19 September 1810 for the newly discovered Macquarie Island far to the south of New Zealand. At Campbell Island in early November, the location of Macquarie was obtained by bribing one of Campbell and Co’s men. The Aurora landed a gang at Macquarie which would have included Tucker. She left, returned and brought her gang back to Sydney on 19 May 1811. It was presumably shortly after this that Tucker offered the Māori head for sale, inaugurating their retail trade and earning him the condemnation of ‘Candor’ in the Sydney Gazette, which called him ‘a wild fellow’ and a ‘villain’.

He then spent time ashore, where, by August 1812, he was a labourer living with old shipmates in poor lodgings in Phillips Street. On 21 August he and Edward Williams stole a woman’s fancy silk cloak for which they were convicted in November, sentenced to a year’s hard labour and sent to Newcastle along the coast. By October–November 1814, he had left New South Wales, perhaps for Tasmania.

In 1815, he returned to Otago, perhaps in the Governor Bligh and took up residence at Whareakeake, later called Murdering Beach, a little to the north of Otago Heads. There he built a house and lived for a time with a Māori woman, keeping goats and sheep. There were no children. The site has long been known for its large quantities of worked greenstone, called pounamu in Māori, a variety of Nephrite jade. This took the form of adzes made over with iron tools into pendants, or hei-tiki. Archaeologists have identified these as being produced for a European export trade. An 1819 editorial in the Sydney Gazette described the trade, saying it was carried on by ‘groupes of sealers’. It seems clear this was part of Tucker’s enterprise. Māori called him ‘Taka’ adapting his surname, also ‘Wioree’, perhaps from the diminutive of his first name ‘Willy’. More formally and inaccurately, he was also styled ‘Captain Tucker’.

He left, went to Hobart and returned on the Sophia with Captain James Kelly, bringing other European settlers, according to Māori sources. The Sophia anchored in Otago Harbour on 11 December 1817.
‘Taka’ was welcomed by Māori of the harbourside settlement, but unknown to the visitors, the chief Korako, father of Te Matenga Taiaroa, refused to ferry across Māori from the north, Whareakeake, who had come to see Tucker and receive presents.

When Kelly, Tucker and five others took a longboat to Whareakeake a few days later, they were at first welcomed. But while Tucker was absent in his house, the others were set upon by Māori. Veto Viole and John Griffiths were killed, but Kelly escaped back to the longboat as did Tucker. He lingered in the surf, calling on Māori not to hurt Wioree, but was speared and knocked down. He called ‘Captain Kelly for God’s sake don’t leave me,’ before being killed. Kelly saw him ‘cut limb from limb and carried away by the savages!’ Tucker’s killer was Riri, acting on chief Te Matahaere’s orders. Taiaroa allegedly killed the others. All the dead were eaten. A Māori source gave the immediate cause as dissatisfaction at not having the first opportunity to receive Tucker’s gifts, but it was also said it was an unhappy consequence of the theft of the shirt in 1810 and its owner’s savage reaction. This dramatic death was reported in Australian newspapers.

Returning to his ship in the harbour, Kelly took revenge, by his account killing some Māori, destroying canoes and firing ‘the beautiful City of Otago’, a harbourside settlement, probably on Te Rauone beach near modern Otakou.

Tucker has been remembered for stealing the head and inaugurating their controversial trade.

However, the Creed manuscript, written by the Reverend Charles Creed in the 1840s recording the information of two Maori informants and discovered in 2003, shows Tucker in a new light. His theft was not responsible for the war in the south; he was generally liked by Māori and welcomed as a settler. In fact, he was the first European to settle in what is now the city of Dunedin, as distinct from sojourning, jumping ship or being held as a captive. While his inauguration of the trade in heads has been condemned even by his own countrymen, since that time his fostering of the trade in tiki has revealed him as an enterprising art dealer, in fact New Zealand’s first.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Robert Campbell
28 April 1769 – 15 April 1846


Robert Campbell

Robert Campbell was born at Greenock, Inverclyde, Scotland and at the age of 27 moved to India to join his older brother John. In India he and his brother John were partners in Campbell Clark & Co., merchants of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), which in July 1799 became Campbell & Co when the Clarkes gave up their interest in the firm. In 1798 Robert Campbell with a cargo from Kolkata visited Sydney to develop a trading connexion there, and he also purchased some land at Dawes Point near the Western entrance of Sydney Cove. In February 1800 he returned to Sydney with another cargo to both settle in Sydney, and to establish a branch of Campbell & Co. there. In 1801 he married the Commissary John Palmer’s sister Sophia Palmer (1777–1833). After settling in Sydney he subsequently built the private Campbell’s wharf and warehouses on his land at Dawes Point, and developed a large business as a general merchant.

In the early years his Campbell & Co.’s business dealings involved importing goods and spirits from Calcutta for sale in Sydney, but not all voyages were successful. For example in 1802 the Campbell & Co. brig the Fly, captained by John Black, and “laden with piece and other valuable goods” was lost at sea on its return voyage from Kolkata to Sydney. Despite losses such as this Campbell & Co. was heavily involved in the Australian trade, having £50,000 worth of goods in its Sydney warehouses in 1804. As part of its import business the firm also engaged to fulfil government contracts for supplies from India, mainly livestock for the Sydney and Derwent settlements, which Governor Philip Gidley King calculated had brought the Campbell’s firm £16,000 from the government alone between 1800 and 1804.

In 1805 and 1806 Campbell and his family travelled to England. During this time his brother-in-law John Palmer acted as his agent.

After the arrival of Governor William Bligh in August 1806, Campbell’s high character led to his being appointed treasurer to the public funds, naval officer, and collector of taxes, and, there being no bank at Sydney in 1807, the gaol and orphan funds were deposited with Campbell on its undertaking to pay interest at five per cent.

Campbell built Australia’s first shipbuilding yards in 1807, at the site that is now the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Kirribilli.

In 1809 Campbell chartered a ship the Brothers and sent it on a sealing expedition to New Zealand under Captain Robert Mason. He probably intended it to go to Solander Island in Foveaux Strait but instead, in November, it landed a gang on two islets on what is now the coast of the city of Dunedin on the south east coast of the South Island. These are the first identifiable Europeans explicitly recorded as landing in the area although others probably preceded them. The gang included the ex-convict William Tucker. When the Brothers returned to relieve its men it found only him and Daniel Wilson at Otago Harbour where it anchored on May the 3rd 1810. Again this is the first explicit and specific reference to a European ship entering the harbour although others had probably preceded it. Tucker would later return and become the first European to settle in the area. While it was no part of his intention Campbell was thus instrumental in bringing the territory which is now Dunedin into the European sphere.

With food supplies of the colony being threatened following the Hawkesbury floods in 1806, Campbell’s ship, the “Sydney”, was chartered by Governor King, and on 14 April 1806, proceeded to Calcutta to return with 400 tons of rice or wheat. Unfortunately the ship was wrecked on a reef off the coast of New Guinea, but no lives wore lost. In compensation he was granted £3,000, 4,000 acres (16 km2) of land and 710 sheep. In 1825 James Ainslie established a sheep station called Pialligo for Campbell in the area where Canberra is now situated. In 1846 Robert renamed the property Duntroon after his ancestral Duntrune Castle, Argyll and Bute, Scotland. In later years Campbell provided half the cost of the church of St John the Baptist in its original form.


In December 1825 Campbell was appointed a member of the first New South Wales Legislative Council. In January 1830 he was a member of the committee which recommended that King’s schools should be founded at Sydney and Parramatta, and as evidence of his continued high standing in the community, when the Savings Bank of New South Wales was founded in 1832 it was found that Campbell had deposited with him £8000 belonging to convicts, and £2000 belonging to free people. He was allowing seven and a half per cent interest on these deposits. Campbell retired from the legislative council and from public life in 1843, and in 1844 his name was included in a list of those considered eligible for a proposed local order of merit.

Campbell had seven children, John, Robert, Sophia, Charles, Sarah, George and Frederick. John, Robert and Charles became politicians like their father, all being on the Legislative Council, and John and Robert also being on the Legislative Assembly.

In 1910 with the creation of the Australian Capital Territory the government acquired Duntroon for the creation of the Royal Military College. The original Duntroon homestead (though later extended) is now the officers mess in the Royal Military College.

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