Tag Archives: William Gellibrand

A surprising connection, with an earlier stage of my walk, was discovered unexpectedly

On Stage 2 of my walk along the Derwent River, I hunted for and located on the South Arm peninsula the burial vault of William Gellibrand, one of Van Diemens Land’s first settlers in the early 1800s.  Readers of my blog may recall photos such as:


After William Gellibrand’s residency, the land at that northern end of the peninsula was named Gellibrand Point. The photo below looks down onto Gellibrand Point.


This evening I went to a music concert in a church with a powerful and large pipe organ.  While sitting floating in and out of absorption in the romantic organ music, I cast my eyes around the old church. My eyes passed languidly over a plaque attached high on a wall, then swivelled back in surprise. This was William Gellibrand’s white marble memorial plaque.  After the concert I took a closer look.

William Gellibrand burial plaque2

When I read that the plaque came from the Chapel, I wondered which Chapel. The internet has given me the answer.

The short story is that the Chapel was built on the Brisbane and Elizabeth St corner site of Hobart in the 1832, Gellibrand died in 1840 and a memorial plaque was installed in the Chapel. When the new church was built in 1872, the plaque was relocated. Seven years later the organ was installed and since then it has been rebuilt a couple of times. Tonight, the audience of pipe organ devotees were presented with a concert of examples of the work of Moeran, Darke, Lemmens, Delius, Manet and Andriessen.

From the website: https://fergusonandurie.wordpress.com/2012/03/02/26-07-1872-memorial-uniting-congregational-church-elizabeth-and-brisbane-streets-hobart-tasmania-2,  I learned that the current “church was to be known as the ‘Memorial Congregational Church’ in memory of the first Independent or Congregational minister, the Reverend Frederick Miller who arrived in Van Diemens Land in 1830. The very first chapel on the site was funded solely by him at a cost of £500 and opened on the 20th April 1832.”

The website also explained that “The foundation stone of the Memorial Independent Church was laid on the corner of Elizabeth and Brisbane streets in Hobart on the 16th August 1870 and was formally opened on Thursday 7th November 1872. In late July 1872 the stained glass windows for the church arrived from the Ferguson, Urie, and Lyon stained glass company of Melbourne and were promptly erected.”  You can see, on this website, photographs of the colourful glass windows.

A document located at http://www.ohta.org.au/gaz/GAZETTEER-OF-TASMANIAN-PIPE-ORGANSOctober2007.pdf provided the following information about the pipe organ: “MEMORIAL UNITING (CONGREGATIONAL) CHURCH, Brisbane Street. B. 1879 George Fincham; reb. 1936 & enl. 1939 Geo. Fincham & Sons (addition of choir organ). Reb. 1992 Gibbs & Thomson.“

It seems there have been many variations in the church’s name.  Currently this church is known as The Korean Full Gospel Church. The hospitality shown by the Korean pastor, his wife and other Koreans was exceptionally friendly and generous and so I had a rich experience with unexpected findings.

Stage 2 on 4/9/2014 William Gellibrand’s burial Vault Email 9 of 14

Shortly after his arrival, in the 1820s William Gellibrand built a home using cedar with sandstone brick foundations, on Arm End. Marshall and Townsend claim the house was built in two parts consisting of nine rooms with stables located in the trees nearby (it is worth noting that the clearing of the land in this northern end of the peninsula was so thorough and complete that the numbers of trees could probably now be counted on two hands. Currently, the rolling hills are expanses of a variety of clumpy weeds. Open. Exposed. Desolate. The photo of weeds below was taken closer to the Communications tower however it is not atypical of other parts of this peninsula. Adding to the sense of barrenness is the frequent evidence of bandicoots digging across this large reserve. It is worth noting that a regeneration program is underway and so I would expect that the landscape will change its character in the coming years.)


A visitor to William Gellibrand’s house, Miss Jane Mortimer recalled that every morning after breakfast, William went to dig his own burial vault located just below the house at the top of the dunes beneath She Oaks overlooking Mary Ann Bay. Apparently, he liked to spend sunny afternoons sitting on it and reading.

The land at Arm End remained in the Gellibrand family with the lease controlled by George Henry Blake Gellibrand who lived at ‘Terra Linna’. Young Christopher Calvert leased the land and lived in the house until he retired. There was an auction in 1914 of goods and chattels including animals. The homestead quickly fell into disrepair, was vandalised and eventually burnt down.

 I almost missed seeing the vault as I strolled along the track. The saviour was an information sign installed above the bank at the northern end of Mary Ann Bay beach. The sign informed me that not only was William buried in the vault, but also interred were two of his grandsons who had been members of the Parliament – Thomas and Walter Gellibrand. William Gellibrand died ‘after an illness of acute pain and suffering which he bore with Christian submission and resignation’ on 27 September 1840 (almost exactly 174 years ago) aged 75.

The sign refers to comments by a Mrs Ruby who ‘described the vault as having three shelves of stone more likely collected from the shoreline of Ralph’s Bay’.

The vault is located close by and downhill from the sign. Visitors are urged not to walk down and further degrade the collapsing dune. Thanks to the local land care group, it was very easy to see the vault from near the sign at the top because the surrounding vegetation had been cleared over the edge.


I left this remarkable site at 10.50 am as I could hear the school children coming along the track for their own experience.

Stage 2 on 4/9/2014 William Gellibrand Email 7 of 14

With feet wet from long dewy grasses in the trek around Mary Ann Bay, I slopped along ready for new natural wonders. The track changed from dirt to dry sand and the large paw prints of a wandering dog were freshly impressed.  Soon after, it seemed the track had not been driven on for a long while and quickly it reduced to a single file.  Around 10.40 am, I had already walked up a hill, and had passed a mesh fence with the beach below to my left where I could see a small sandy bay complete with unconcerned Pied Oyster Catcher birds foraging.

From research and from information shared by a friend, I knew the original white settler, William Gellibrand, was buried somewhere along this part of coastal Derwent River. I wondered if I would be able to find the spot and whether the site would be marked.

A local group http://friendsofthearm.wordpress.com have been particularly instrumental in researching the history of the first white settlers (remember this South Arm peninsula was part of the country of the Moomairremener indigenous people). In addition, the South Arm Landcare Group has been doing its best to preserve the environmental landscape. Currently the latter group are ensuring the land around William Gellibrand’s burial site is protected.

William Gellibrand accompanied his son Joseph Tice Gellibrand (who had been appointed Attorney General for the colony) from England to Van Diemen’s Land in 1824. William was granted approximately 2000 acres of land at South Arm and assigned ten convicts.  This was later increased to 3000 acres by a grant from his son.  As other settlers arrived Gellibrand leased land to them and later they were able to purchase their lot. By 1885, many had purchased land on the peninsula: some names are  Alomes, Calvert, and Potters and people with these family names are still in the district today.

I am sorry not to have found a photo of William Gellibrand for insertion here.Below is a photograph of George and Agnes Alomes courtesy of the site at http://www. southcom. com. au/~pottermj/pagef. htm


 William Gellibrand’s claims to fame in Hobart Town include his appearance in the registrar of Magistrates Hobart Town from 1826 until 1827 and he is also remembered for setting up banking in Hobart.  In addition, William was a merchant and exporter and served as a Justice of Peace.


The destination for Stage 2 of my walk along the Derwent River will be Gellibrand Point, at the northern end of the South Arm peninsula.

The name was conferred as the result of the first European settler in this area, William Gellibrand. William arrived in Hobart Town on the Ides of March in 1824 as a companion to his son Joseph Tice Gellibrand who been asked to take up the role of local Attorney General. William became a Magistrate in Hobart from 1826-1827. In addition, he has a special place in Hobart’s history because he set up banking here.

Initially, he was granted 2220 acres of land on the South Arm peninsula, and then later this was later increased by further grants. Land grants were routinely made to free settlers who then were allowed the assistance of several convicts to help clear and work the fields.

The site http://www.  southcom.  com.  au/~pottermj/pagef.  htm tells us that “as other settlers arrived, Gellibrand leased land to them and later they were able to purchase their lots. By 1885, many had purchased land on the Peninsula – some names are Musk, Alomes, Calvert, and Potters. Members of these family names are still in the district today.”

The site http://www.ccc.tas.gov.au/webdata/resources/files/The%20Convicts%20of%20South%20Arm.pdf

provides well researched detail: “William Gellibrand was a significant figure in Colonial society; he was a merchant and exporter but also served as a Justice of the Peace. After William died, his property at Arm End then passed to his grandson George Gellibrand who after leasing out some of the land placed it on the market in 1844 describing it as being studded with the tallest trees in the colony and having the very best vinery on the island, covering two acres of fertile ground with full bearing fruit.”