Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Loane, Roland Walpole (?–1844)

by F. C. Green

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

Roland Walpole Loane (d.1844), merchant and settler, was descended from a family of English landlords residing in the south of Ireland. He claimed to have been a naval officer, but his name does not appear in the Navy Lists, among lieutenants' passing certificates or any other naval record. He arrived in Hobart Town in 1809 in his own ship Union, with a cargo of goods valued at £20,000. On her passage up the Derwent she was intercepted by H.M.S. Porpoise, under command of the deposed Governor William Bligh. Loane sold Bligh 3½ tons of rice, 8 casks of meat, 3 hundredweight (152 kg) of sugar and 200 gallons (909 litres) of spirits before proceeding to Hobart. There he sold his ship and began business as a general merchant, using some of his capital for land speculation.

In 1813 the 133-ton brig Campbell Macquarie was built in Hobart to his order and taken to Sydney whence he operated as a merchant-trader. In 1819 he returned to Hobart with a cargo from India. Before departing for Sydney in 1813 he had bought a fifty-acre (20 ha) farm near Hobart, and leased it to the original owner. On his return in 1818 he found that the tenant had died, the land had been fenced for government purposes and the public was using a quarry on the property. He protested to the administration and was called upon to produce proof of his title. He was never able to recover the documents proving his ownership, and after long argument with the authorities, he lost his case, an experience which probably led to his subsequent retaliation against government and individuals. The loss or destruction of his account books during his absence from Hobart prevented the collection of large debts due to him. Altogether he believed that he had been robbed by unscrupulous persons and officials and that to progress in such a community he had to use weapons similar to those which had been used against him. According to Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell, Loane was 'a person who always asserts that he is ill-used by the world collectively and individually. His hand is against everyone and everyone against him. Not a man in the colony would, I believe, rely upon his word or engagement for the most trifling thing'. He was an active and successful merchant in Hobart, but he seems to have been willing to let his cattle damage his neighbours' crops on the assumption that they would not be able to drive the beasts to the pound.

Loane had a land grant at Pittwater, and after 1818 purchased several areas in the country, including one at Eastern Marshes in the Oatlands district, and a number of small areas in Hobart, on which he built houses and let them to government officers. In 1825 he completed a stone residence in Davey Street, named it Belle Vue and lived in it briefly before leaving for Sydney late in the year. He left in another house, also named Belle Vue, a caretaker, Madame D'Hotman, a 'Woman of Color', whom he had found with several children in extreme poverty in Calcutta in 1823 and who was said to have been his mistress. Eager to extricate himself from this alliance he tried to persuade her to return to her husband in Mauritius, but she claimed that he had given her Belle Vue and would take nothing less. When she died in 1831 her daughter claimed the property. In his fight to regain the house, Loane was said to have consulted and quarrelled with every lawyer in Hobart. He finally took his case on appeal to England, but without success.

While in Sydney in 1827 he built a residence and acquired land in the town area. He then went abroad and was married in Ireland in 1828 to Mary Lee, daughter of a colonel of the Royal Marines. In 1830 he sailed for Tasmania with his wife and made his home on his property at Eastern Marshes, which he named Lee Mount. In 1834 he sold this property after an argument with the colonial government, during which he claimed, without a shred of evidence, that Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur had a personal grievance against him and encouraged the pound-keepers and police to take his cattle. In 1839 he took his wife to England and there prosecuted his complaints in person, displaying a rancour, power of exaggeration and disregard of evidence that seem normal in his case but which did not impress the Colonial Office. In 1841 he returned to Hobart, where he died on 8 October 1844. Next year his widow married Major Oliver Dixon Ainsworth, promoted in 1848 to the senior military office in the colony; she died in 1853.

Completely absorbed with the promotion of his fortune from mercantile, distilling and shipping enterprises and the increase of his herds and landed estates, Loane became a byword in the colony for his unscrupulous and unceasing litigation. He took no part in the benevolent, religious and cultural societies that flourished in the community, nor was his name associated with the popular movements of the 1820s for increased civil freedom.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 3, vols 2-3
  • correspondence file under Loane (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • Arthur papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • CO 280/138.

Citation details

F. C. Green, 'Loane, Roland Walpole (?–1844)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/loane-roland-walpole-2364/text3099, published in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 24 October 2014.

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

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2014

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Loane, Rowland Walpole
Death

8 October 1844
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Occupation