Engraving of Hobarttown, Vandiemensland in the 1830s from the Rex Nan Kivell collection held by the National Library of Australia image reference PIC Drawer 3080 #S3410

Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore (1811 – 1891) and his wife Mary Nihill (1811-1893) were my great great great grandparents. Daniel and Mary married on 15 January 1835 in County Limerick, not long before embarking on the John Denniston which left Liverpool on 11 February. They arrived in Van Diemen’s Land on 7 June, after a voyage of more than four months.

Van Diemen’s Land. (1835, June 22). The Sydney Herald (NSW : 1831 – 1842), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12852462


Daniel Michael Paul Cudmore and his wife Mary probably taken in the 1850s.  Image from the Cudmore History For the Love of the Land page 59

Besides Mary, other members of the Nihill family sailed with the newly-married couple on the John Denniston: Mary’s mother Dymphna Nihill née Gardiner (1790-1866), two of Mary’s six sisters, Rebecca (1817-1901) and Sarah (1826-1915), and Mary’s brother James Nihill later Niall (1823-1877). Mary’s father Daniel (1761-1846) and Mary’s other four sisters arrived in Hobart separately six months later.

Classified Advertising. (1835, June 12). The Hobart Town Courier (Tas. : 1827 – 1839), p. 3. Retrieved December 21, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4180594

Hobart was first settled by Europeans in 1804. By the 1830s the town had 29 Government primary schools, a Supreme Court Building, Government House, and the Botanical Gardens had been laid out. In 1835 John Lee Archer designed and oversaw the construction of the sandstone Customs House facing Sullivans Cove, with construction completed in 1840. The building was later used as Tasmania’s parliament house. The economy depended on primary industries, including wheat farming, apple growing, sheep for wool and meat, and whaling, sealing, brewing, and wattle oil extraction.

Not long after the Cudmore and Nihill families arrived, Charles Darwin visited Hobart Town arriving there on 5 February 1836 as part of the HMS Beagle expedition. He wrote about Hobart Town and the Derwent estuary in his Voyage of the Beagle:

…The lower parts of the hills which skirt the bay are cleared; and the bright yellow fields of corn, and dark green ones of potatoes, appear very luxuriant… I was chiefly struck with the comparative fewness of the large houses, either built or building. Hobart Town, from the census of 1835, contained 13,826 inhabitants, and the whole of Tasmania 36,505. If I was obliged to emigrate I certainly should prefer this place: the climate & aspect of the country almost alone would determine me.

Pages 470-1 of The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin published about 1909 retrieved through archive.org (click on image to enlarge)

On several occasions both the Cudmores and Nihills applied for government positions. Not all the applications survive, but the following letter to the rural Dean, the Reverend Philip Palmer, has been transcribed:

30 Murray St. 28th July 1835,

Revd. Sir, In respectfully applying for the appointment of Schoolmaster at Ross I beg to assure you that shall you have the goodness to recommend me my conduct shall ever be such as will give you no reason to regret your having done so.

I am married and am twenty four years of age. I was for some time receiving instruction at the Academy of the Reverend Mr. Phillips at Chelsea and others and trust my education has been such as to under me perfectly competent to the proper discharge of the duties of that situation. As to the responsibilities and moral character I can produce testimonials which I hope will induce you to feel sufficient degree of confidence in me.

My wife (who is twenty three years of age) possesses every necessary qualification for instructing children in the rudiments of English and needlework of all descriptions.

I have the honour to be Revd. Sir your most obedient humble Servant (sign) Daniel Cudmore.

On the Reverend Palmer’s recommendation William Bedford, superintendent of schools, interviewed Daniel Cudmore. Bedford wrote to Palmer:

Reverend Sir With reference to your letter of the 3rd instant recommending Mr. Cudmore for the situation of Clerk and schoolmaster at Ross, I have the honour to inform you that on proceeding to examine him in the usual way, I was surprised to find that his application which I forwarded to you on the 28th ultimo was not written by himself. I therefore requested him to write a letter on the same subject in this office, which I herewith transmit to you for your information. He appears to be sufficiently conversant with arithmetic to answer the purposes the appointment for which he is proposed, nut under such circumstances I think it advisable to communicate with you before any decisive step is taken; if you approve I will recommend his appointment on three mont probation.

After more letters, including confirmation of the appointment by the Colonial Secretary’s office, Cudmore was appointed as schoolmaster at Ross,  118 kilometres north of Hobart, at £55 per annum and clerk at £25 per annum.

About the same time, James Nihill was confirmed as the post master at George Town128 kilometres north from Ross, at £25 per annum, and Mr and Mrs Nihill were Master and Mistress of the public school at George Town at salaries of £50 and £25 per annum.

In 1836, Daniel Cudmore left his position at Ross and moved back to Hobart, where he became Assistant Brewer at De Graves Brewery, now known as the Cascade Brewery. Daniel Cudmore was a Quaker and attended monthly meetings of the Friends at Hobart. Although many Quakers abstain from drinking alcohol, he seems to have had no objection to working in a brewery.

The first Quaker Meeting House in Hobart. A cottage at 39 Murray Street which was bought by James Backhouse in 1837 with a loan from Meeting for Sufferings, London. Image retrieved from Quaker life in Tasmania webpage by the University of Tasmania

In 1837, shortly after the colony of South Australia was founded, Daniel Cudmore moved to Adelaide, South Australia, where he became a house builder (many of these he built in pise). He also established several breweries, and later became a pastoralist. Mary joined Daniel in Adelaide six months after his arrival; her son James Francis Cudmore was born on the voyage from Tasmania to Adelaide.

Daniel Cudmore’s obituary in the Adelaide Observer of 7 November 1891:

Cudmore, Daniel Michael (1811–1891)

We regret to have to record the death of Mr. Daniel Cudmore, of Claremont, Glen Osmond, who passed away at the ripe old age of eighty years. Mr. Cudmore was one of South Australia’s pioneers. He arrived with his wife at Hobart in the merchant ship John Denison, Captain Mackie, in 1835, en route to Sydney, but was persuaded by his cousin, Surgeon Russell, of the 63rd Regiment, to try his fortune in Tasmania. When the province of South Australia was proclaimed Mr. Cudmore left for the new country early in 1837. Possessed of indomitable energy and pluck, and gifted with physical strength above the average, Mr. Cudmore was enabled to endure the many rough experiences which were the lot of the first settlers. Soon after coming to the colony he engaged in the pursuit of sheep-farming in the North, being the first to take up the now valuable Yongala Estate. He afterwards acquired large squatting properties in Queensland and New South Wales. He took an active interest in exploring works. About the year 1863 he made a five months’ trip into the interior of Northern Queensland, afterwards publishing a narrative of his experiences, and on other occassions he did no inconsiderable service to the cause of setttlement. In 1864 he went to live at Claremont. He leaves a widow, four sons, and three daughters. The remains of the late Mr. Cudmore were buried on Wednesday afternoon in the Anglican Church Cemetery at Mitcham. Service was first conducted in St. Michael’s Church by the Revs. W. H. Mudie, of Glen Osmond, and F. W. Samwell, of Mitcham, the organist playing the “Dead March in Saul” and other appropriate music. The chief mourners were:– Messrs. Milo and Arthur Cudmore (sons), Dr. Sprod (son-in-law), and Messrs. A. M. Cudmore, H. C. Cudmore, and John Sprod (grandsons of the deceased). At the grave amongst many others who had come to pay their last tribute of respect were Messrs. R. Barr Smith, P. B. Coglin, A. S. Chapman, Peter Waite, George Boothby, J. S. Lloyd, J. Howard, C. Smedley, B. Moulden, J. J. Watson, H. H. Mudie, and R. J. Rigaud. The funeral arrangements were in the hands of Mr. P.Gay.

‘Cudmore, Daniel Michael (1811–1891)’, Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/cudmore-daniel-michael-6335/text28381.
  • In the 1990s James Kenneth Cudmore (1926 – 2013), my second cousin once removed, of Quirindi New South Wales, commissioned Elsie Ritchie to write the Cudmore family history. The work built on the family history efforts of many family members. It was published in 2000. It is a very large and comprehensive work and includes many many Cudmore family stories. (Ritchie, Elsie B. (Elsie Barbara) For the love of the land: the history of the Cudmore family. E. Ritchie, [Ermington, N.S.W.], 2000.) Chapter 4, written by Peter A. Cudmore (1929-1996) my second cousin twice removed, contains an account of the voyage and arrival of the Cudmore and Nihill family.
  • P. A. Howell, ‘Cudmore, Daniel Michael (1811–1891)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/cudmore-daniel-michael-6335/text9913, published first in hardcopy 1981.

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