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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Gatenby, Andrew (1771–1848)

by A. W. Taylor

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Andrew Gatenby (1771-1848), farmer, was born at Scarborough, Yorkshire, England. He married Hannah, née Maw, of Whitby, and leased Barton farm, near Whenby in the North Riding of Yorkshire, for some time before 1812 when he moved to Wales and occupied a farm, Talymaes Park, in Grwyne Fechan, Breconshire. Depressed farming conditions and a high rental caused him to emigrate to Van Diemen's Land, and he sailed with his family in the Berwick, arriving in Hobart Town in June 1823.

Gatenby brought with him a letter of recommendation from the Colonial Office stressing his excellent testimonials, capital of £1214 and family of four sons and three daughters. He was granted 1500 acres (607 ha) which he selected on the Pennyroyal Creek (Isis River) and named Barton. By 1825 the Gatenbys had erected a substantial flour-mill, using millstones they had brought with them to the colony, and cut a canal and banked a reservoir to supply the mill with water from the Isis River. This mill served the surrounding district for fifty years. With their own hands the family had by 1828 cut the stone and sawn the timber and built the Barton homestead. In recognition of their enterprise additional land was given the family in 1825, 1826 and 1828. The spirited repulse in June 1826 of bushrangers who had plundered two neighbouring homesteads, and the shooting of the leader, McGillivray, by George Gatenby won them further land. Early visitors to the district included the missionaries James Backhouse and George Washington Walker and Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur. All were impressed by the skill, vision and energy of the Gatenbys. Arthur gazetted his approval and rewarded the good old English yeoman with a further 1000 acres (405 ha). Throughout the 1830s Andrew Gatenby's turnip-fed mutton won praise in the local press for its quality. Self-sufficiency reduced their expenses, and as their prosperity increased they were able to buy the neighbouring properties Coburg, Woodburn, Skelton Castle, and Pisa from less successful settlers.

Always willing to serve the community, Andrew Gatenby became chief district constable and pound keeper in 1826 and later postal agent. His son Christopher also acted as constable. In 1832 Gatenby helped towards the building of a church at Lincoln. Next year he offered to build a Presbyterian church at Launceston at his own expense and to support a minister, but the offer embarrassed the Presbyterian community there and finally St Andrew's was built by public subscription. When he died at Barton on 18 August 1848, his sons owned seven estates. Three of his sons married daughters of their neighbour, Robert Corney of Lake House; the daughters also married locally. His son, Andrew, became chairman of the Midland Agricultural Association in 1845 and was a prize-winning exhibitor at the association's shows.

A portrait of Andrew and Hannah Gatenby is in the possession of Mrs A. Gatenby, Longford, Tasmania.

Select Bibliography

  • K. R. von Stieglitz, A Short History of Cressy and Bishopsbourne (Cressy, 1947)
  • A. McKay (ed), Journals of the Land Commissioners for Van Diemen's Land, 1826-28 (Hob, 1962)
  • Independent (Launceston), 3 Aug, 12 Oct 1833
  • Hobart Town Courier, 5 Sept, 17 Oct 1846
  • CSO 1/156/3766, 2/4/14048 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

A. W. Taylor, 'Gatenby, Andrew (1771–1848)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 29 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

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