Two hundred years ago, on Friday 10 January 1823, after a voyage of almost four months, my fifth great grandparents George Taylor (1758 – 1828) and Mary Taylor née Low (1768 – 1850), accompanied by four of their eight adult children, arrived in Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land.

With forty other free emigrants they had sailed on the Princess Charlotte from Leith, the port of Edinburgh, departing in October 1822.  The Princess Charlotte, 401 tons, built in Sunderland in 1813, was named after Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796 – 1817), only child of George Prince of Wales (later George IV). Several ships of the period had this name.

George Taylor’s son Robert kept a diary of the voyage, writing mostly about the weather. A fortnight out they ran into a gale in the Bay of and the ship narrowly escaped going ashore at Cape Finisterre. A fortnight later the ship was becalmed for days near Madeira. A gale soon afterwards broke the main topgallant mast.

The diary also mentions troubles among the second class passengers; a cabin-boy being given a dozen lashes for cutting the first mate’s overcoat; a child’s death and the sea-burial, the sighting of two ships and speculation about their nationality; trouble over the distribution of spirits; shooting bottles for amusement; and betting as to when the ship would arrive in Hobart (Robert lost).

The Princess Charlotte dropped anchor in the Derwent River on 1 January.

The Taylor family landed on 10 January. 

George and Mary Taylor lived at the Macquarie Hotel, Hobart Town, for two or three months before receiving their grants of land. (The building stood at 151 Macquarie Street but has been replaced.)

View from the top of Mount Nelson with Hobart Town, and circumjacent country Van Diemen’s Land painted by Joseph Lycett about 1823. Image retrieved from Parliament of Tasmania.
North East View of Hobart-Town, Van Dieman’s Land. by J. Lycett about 1823. Retrieved through Dixson Galleries, State Library of New South Wales.

The 100th and 150th anniversaries of the arrival were celebrated by descendants of these emigrants. The 200th anniversary  will be celebrated on 28 January, at the end of this month, at Campbell Town.

It is difficult for us now to see Van Diemen’s Land—later officially known as ‘Tasmania’—through the eyes of the recently arrived immigrants. What stood out?

There were sheep, more and more of the woolly chaps, and wheat: 

In 1820 the fine-wool industry in Van Diemen’s Land had been founded with the introduction of 300 of Merino sheep bred by the Camden wool pioneer John Macarthur. In the same year Van Diemen’s Land became Australia’s major wheat producer; it remained so until 1850.

There were more and more farmer settlers: 

By 1823 pastoralists were beginning to farm the Midlands, and many had settled in the country between Launceston and Hobart. On 30 June 1823 George Taylor received an 800 acre grant of land about 30 miles south of Launceston on the Macquarie River near Campbell Town. He named his property Valley-Field. His three sons, George, David, and Robert, each received 700 acre grants of land nearby.

In a letter of about 1825 George Taylor describes his early farming results:

This has been an early harvest. I began to cut barley on the 16th, and I have threshed and delivered 53 bolts and a half to the Thomsons Newbragh, for which I have received 30 / p bolt. It weighed 19 stones 4lb clutch. I think I shall have 10 … p acre. I should have it all in today but it rained in the morning. The first shower since the 17th. It has been a very dry season. In the spring we had not a shower to lay the dust for 43 days. The Barley is excellent, the wheat nearly an average of fine quality, Oats short in straw, much under an average. Peas and Beans in some places good, Turnips good, Potatoes supposed to be a short crop. I sold old wheat @36/-, 34/9d, 33/ last week.
George Taylor Esq.
Van Diemen’s Land.

The Colonial population had increased, with a large number of transported convicts, and the Aboriginal population had declined: 

In September 1823 the Colonial population of Tasmania was enumerated as 10,009, excluding Aboriginal people, military and their families; there were 6850 men, 1379 women, 1780 children. The majority of the population were convicts. Convict immigration to Australia exceeded free immigration until the 1840s. In the 1820s there were 10, 570 convicts arriving in Van Diemen’s Land and 2,900 free immigrants. From 1801 to 1820 2,430 convicts had arrived and 700 free settlers.

In the 1820s about 3000 Scots migrated to Australia, most settled at first in Van Diemen’s Land. By the end of the decade a third of all landowners in Van Diemans’ Land and in New South Wales were Scots born.

My Taylor 5th great grandparents were the first of my ancestors to come to Australia. In the history of European colonisation this was early: Australia had been colonised by white settlers for only 35 years. It was still a wild place. The Taylors were attacked by bushrangers, and one of their sons was killed by Aborigines. They prospered, however, despite the hardships and their descendants continued on the land, breeding sheep at Valleyfield until 2005, when the property, in the Taylor family  for 182 years, was sold out of the family.

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Further reading

  • Hudson, Helen Lesley Cherry stones : adventures in genealogy of Taylor, Hutcheson, Hawkins of Scotland, Plaisted, Green, Hughes of England and Wales … who immigrated to Australia between 1822 and 1850. H.L. Hudson, [Berwick] Vic, 1985.
  • A. W. Taylor, ‘Taylor, George (1758–1828)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 12 January 2023.
  • Clark, Andrew. “Person Page 225.” BACK WE GO – My Family Research Accessed 12 January 2023
  • Vamplew, Wray, 1943- (1987). Australians, historical statistics. Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, Broadway, N.S.W., Australia
  • Fraser, Bryce & Atkinson, Ann (1997). The Macquarie encyclopedia of Australian events (Rev. ed). Macquarie Library, Macquarie University, N.S.W


I am descended from the Taylors through: