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Jamieson, John (1766–1850)

by Vivienne Parsons

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

John Jamieson (1766?-1850), superintendent of stock, was a farmer who came to New South Wales with his wife and child in the Royal Admiral as one of the first free settlers. He was reputedly forced by misfortune to seek an engagement under the Crown and immediately on his arrival on 7 October 1792 was appointed superintendent of convicts on Norfolk Island in place of Andrew Hume. In October 1795 he applied for permission to settle on the mainland and next April he left for Port Jackson. There he was given the duty of receiving and issuing grain at Toongabbie under the direction of the commissary, and received his first land grant of 100 acres (40 ha). When Governor Philip Gidley King dismissed Hume for dishonesty in September 1800 he appointed Jamieson, whom he had known at Norfolk Island, as superintendent of government stock in Hume's place. To put temptation out of his way and because Jamieson had 'a large family', King raised his salary to £100. Jamieson was 'a proud, touchy but honest Scotchman' according to the governor, and therefore a valuable public servant, even though on occasions he earned a reprimand for his brusqueness; his appointment as a lieutenant in the Parramatta Loyal Association in October 1802 indicates the governor's opinion of him.

After the deposition of Governor William Bligh in 1808, Jamieson was one of those examined by order of Major George Johnston about the 'most shameful abuses' which Bligh was said to have perpetrated, and he testified to cases where Bligh had converted government stock to his own use. Soon afterwards Johnston alleged that Jamieson was incompetent and dismissed him from his position. Jamieson blamed John Macarthur for his removal from office, for he had refused to take the government herds to 'barren ground' near Broken Bay and so leave the pastures near Parramatta free for Macarthur's use. In April Jamieson signed the petition asking Colonel William Paterson to take over the government from Johnston, wrote to Bligh asserting his loyalty and that he had only remained in his position for the public good while he hoped freeholders would rise against the rebels, and complained bitterly to John Palmer of Macarthur's misuse of government stock. Next year Jamieson's 'undisputed character for honesty' induced Lieutenant-Governor Joseph Foveaux to reinstate him 'to an employment which [he] could find no other person better qualified to fill'. In 1810 Governor Lachlan Macquarie confirmed this appointment, but in May 1813 dismissed Jamieson 'for gross Neglect of Duty and Want of Capacity'; he thought Jamieson 'a very honest Man, but extremely ignorant and obstinate and is too Conceited of his own Knowledge to receive or take Advice from anyone'. Jamieson retired to farm his own land which by 1820 amounted to 1200 acres (486 ha) near Liverpool; by 1828 he had moved and held 600 acres (243 ha) at Coomsby Hill, Parramatta.

In 1820 he had been threatened with legal action by the Orphan Committee for feeding his herds on the Orphan School farm despite repeated notice to desist; thereafter his life remained quiet until he died at Parramatta on 7 October 1850, aged 84. His estate was sworn at £3500. His wife Mary had predeceased him on 30 October 1832; their two surviving sons, John and William Thomas, became landholders at Cookbundoon and Cabramatta.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of New South Wales, vol 2
  • Historical Records of Australia series 1, vols 2-7
  • manuscript catalogue under John Jamieson (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Vivienne Parsons, 'Jamieson, John (1766–1850)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/jamieson-john-2267/text2903, published in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 27 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

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