Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Lovell, Esh (1796–1865)

by J. R. Skemp

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

Esh Lovell (1796-1865), Wesleyan missioner, was the second son of a tenant farmer of Helperthorpe, East Riding, Yorkshire, England. He had a good education, became a staunch Wesleyan Methodist and married Anne Ousten. He was attracted by the promise of free land grants in Australia and sailed for Van Diemen's Land in the Avon with his wife and infant, Samuel. A second son, William Esh, was born at Mauritius on the voyage but died four years after they arrived in Hobart Town in July 1823.

Lovell brought with him an order from the Colonial Office to Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell for a land grant proportionate to his capital, and was awarded 600 acres (243 ha) after showing that he had imported £135 in cash, £100 in sheep and £675 in merchandise and sundries. He did not at once take up his location order; instead he set up as a general merchant, and his wife as a milliner, in Melville Street, Hobart. Both became active members of the near-by Wesleyan Chapel and both conducted Sunday schools, Esh in Hobart and Anne at Kangaroo Point. A quarterly meeting in 1824 considered Lovell had excellent abilities for the pulpit: a deeply pious understanding, a firm attachment to Wesleyan discipline and a strong and healthy constitution. Although unordained he was appointed Methodist missioner in Launceston early in 1826, but his work was unsuccessful and next year he applied for a government post as schoolmaster and catechist. He was considered for the vacancy in Longford, but the appointment went to William Weston.

His strict sobriety and religious sincerity were qualities appreciated under Arthur's administration, and when the position of superintendent at the Female House of Correction at the Cascades became vacant in February 1828 he was appointed, with his wife as matron, at £150 a year. But he was not vigorous and systematic enough, and four years later a committee of inquiry into the factory found faults with his loose classification of women under punishment, the allocation of rations, and his wife's occasional employment of needleworkers to serve the needs of her own increasing family. Lovell objected to the committee's procedure, which gave him no chance to defend himself, and he resigned when the inquiry ended in December 1831.

For the next four years he conducted the Prospect Place Academy, a seminary for young gentlemen in Murray Street, continuing meanwhile his activities at the Melville Street Methodist Church and becoming one of the first trustees for its new building in 1835.

His wife died in 1834, leaving him with six children. In December 1835 he married Sophia Rebecca, a minor and the daughter of James Adkins of Hobart. By her he had eleven surviving children, but the marriage proved an unhappy one for the children of his first family, who, drawn closer together by the antipathy of their stepmother and the sternness of their father, all left home on reaching adulthood.

In September 1827 Surveyor John Wedge had marked off a grant of 600 acres (243 ha) for Lovell near the Ben Lomond Rivulet, but he never occupied it and presumably sold it soon afterwards. In 1842 Lovell acquired a Richmond estate that included Carrington House, the property of former lieutenant-governors, and here the two daughters of his first marriage, Anne and Margaret, married the two eldest sons, Thomas and William, of his neighbour, William Kearney of Laburnum Park. Lovell died at Carrington on 16 May 1865.

Select Bibliography

  • J. R. Skemp (ed), Letters to Anne: The Story of a Tasmanian Family Told in Letters Written to Anne Elizabeth Lovell (Mrs. Thomas Kearney) by her Brothers, Sister and Other Relatives During the Years 1846-1872 (Melb, 1956)
  • Hobart Town Gazette, 12 July, 2 Aug, 25 Oct 1823
  • Hobart Town Courier, 7 Jan 1832
  • Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), 9 Apr 1842
  • Mercury (Hobart), 17 May 1865
  • CSO 1 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

J. R. Skemp, 'Lovell, Esh (1796–1865)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lovell-esh-2374/text3121, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 26 June 2017.

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

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