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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Appel, George (1823–1910)

by H. J. Gibbney

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

George Appel (1823-1910), businessman, consul and public servant, was born at Hesse-Kassel, Germany, son of John George Appel, a major of Hussars who had fought in the Napoleonic wars, and his wife Victoria Johanna Marie, née Bauer. The family was descended from a Huguenot emigré who had fled from Nancy in Lorraine after the edict of Nantes was revoked. At 15 George went to London to enter the Goldsmiths Bank. His commercial experience widened when he later became manager for Gruning & Co., indigo merchants. In London he was also employed by the Horse Guards in abortive negotiations with the Prussian inventor of the needle gun.

In 1852 Appel decided to try his luck on the Australian goldfields and arrived at Melbourne in the steamship Chusan. For some time he prospected unsuccessfully near Bendigo and then moved to Sydney where he became a member of the gold escort to the Ovens field. In 1854 he was induced by John Challis of Flower, Salting & Co. to represent the firm in Moreton Bay. He sailed in the schooner Bella Vista, bought land and settled in South Brisbane and, having had some experience with sheep in Germany, set up in private business as a wool-buyer and stock importer. The New South Wales government then appointed him the first inspector of stock for Moreton Bay, an office which he held until 1859. He was also official German interpreter.

On 2 November 1855 Appel was appointed by the senate of Hamburg its vice-consul in South Brisbane, the appointment being confirmed by exequatur on 2 September 1856. He thus became virtually German consul in Queensland since Hamburg was the only German State having commercial relations with the colony. He was prominent in the German community and a foundation member of South Brisbane's first Lutheran Church, the Nazareth Congregation. On 9 February 1858 he married Maria Jane, daughter of J. G. Haussmann, Lutheran pastor. He continued as consul for Hamburg until 1871 when the office was abolished.

When Queensland was separated from New South Wales, Appel's official appointments as interpreter and stock inspector were confirmed by the new government. In June 1869 he gave up private business and was appointed a clerk in the Real Property Transfer Office. In 1876 he moved to the General Registry Office and remained there until he resigned in 1887. After a year in England he settled down to a quiet retirement. In 1905 he broke his knee and became bedridden. Aged 86 he died on 25 May 1910 at South Brisbane, leaving a son John George Appel, sometime minister for mines, and a daughter who married James Gill, crown solicitor.

Appel was an enthusiastic yachtsman and a keen athlete with a well-equipped gymnasium in his home. He took no part in either municipal or colonial politics but was always keenly interested in them.

Select Bibliography

  • J. C. H. Gill, ‘Queensland's Earliest Consular Appointment?’, Queensland Heritage, vol 1, no 3, Nov 1965, pp 17-21
  • Brisbane Courier, 26 May 1910
  • Appel papers (State Library of Queensland).

Citation details

H. J. Gibbney, 'Appel, George (1823–1910)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 26 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

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