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Luttrell, Edward (1756–1824)

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

Edward Luttrell (1756-1824), surgeon, was the son of Major Southcott Hungerford Luttrell, whose father was Edward Luttrell of Dunster, Somerset, England. His grandmother Ann, née Hungerford, was descended from the lords of Irnham and other noble families. He married a clergyman's daughter, Martha Walters, and they had six sons and four daughters. In 1803 he was in private practice in Kent, England, when like some other settlers he was given permission to go to New South Wales; because of his family and his property he was thought likely 'to cultivate his land … with greater facility than most of the settlers who have preceded him' and Governor Philip Gidley King was also instructed to give him a medical post when a vacancy occurred. In June 1804 Luttrell arrived at Port Jackson with his wife and eight children in the Experiment, Captain Withers, but soon afterwards his 'Feelings as a Father were much wounded', for one of his sons who had sailed twice with Withers deserted the ship in Sydney, and a daughter eloped with Withers when the Experiment sailed.

Luttrell was granted 400 choice acres (162 ha) near Mulgrave Place on the Hawkesbury, rations for his family and ten assigned servants, livestock, seed and tools. He soon had ten acres (4 ha) under wheat and bought some 400 sheep, but he was quickly disillusioned by the high costs, thefts, isolation and seasonal vagaries which, described at length in his letters to official friends in London, denied the fulfilment of his social ambitions and dreams. In June 1805 Luttrell was appointed assistant colonial surgeon at 5s. a day, with duties at Sydney and Parramatta. In 1807 he became friendly with Governor William Bligh, and 'although unused to a Sea life, and being upwards of Fifty' he was appointed to H.M.S. Porpoise as a naval surgeon at 10s. a day and made five voyages in her. To his dismay he was superseded in November 1808 but, after, applying to Lieutenant-Governor Paterson for reinstatement in his former position, he was appointed in February 1809 as acting assistant-surgeon in charge of the hospital for the sick of the military establishments at Parramatta, for which he was paid 5s. a day. Luttrell sought land grants for his eight children, and in August Paterson granted 125 acres (51 ha) in the Evan district to each. Governor Lachlan Macquarie confirmed these, but in June 1813 he reported that he would not recommend Luttrell for promotion or additional pay since he was 'totally undeserving … deficient … in Humanity and in Attention to his Duty … sordid and Unfeeling and will not Afford any Medical Assistance to any Person who cannot pay him well for it'.

Macquarie had received many complaints of Luttrell's negligence and had more than once severely admonished him, and would have suspended him were it not for his large family. In April 1814 Luttrell was moved from Parramatta to Sydney, to be under the eye of the principal surgeon, D'Arcy Wentworth. Next year he was given a choice of retiring to his farm on a pension or of returning to the Parramatta Hospital, but in August he was appointed acting colonial surgeon at Hobart Town at a salary of £182 10s. He moved there in January 1816. He cleared himself of some charges by proving that he suffered from a severe rheumatic affection which often crippled him, but Macquarie told the Colonial Office that Luttrell, although 'not deemed deficient in professional Skill … is … Criminally inattentive to his Patients … extremely Irritable and Violent in his Temper and Very Infirm from Dissipation', and should be retired on half-pay. This for the time the office refused and Macquarie, thinking again of his large family, was reluctant to displace him.

In Hobart Luttrell was in constant trouble with Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell for being a boon companion of Thomas Davey, for irregular attendance at the hospital and gaol and for negligence in submitting returns. He was censured for making false accusations, and repeatedly recommended for retirement. The Colonial Office in 1818 gave Macquarie permission to place Luttrell on half-pay, but not until June 1821, when James Scott was appointed, was it possible to replace him. Luttrell died at his home in Bridge Street on 10 June 1824 in his sixty-eighth year. His widow, after many appeals, was allowed a pension of £50; she died in May 1832.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of New South Wales, vols 5-7
  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 5-10, series 3, vols 2-6
  • V. Gibbs (ed), The Complete Peerage, vol 3 (Lond, 1913)
  • Critic (Hobart), 30 Feb 1922
  • LSD 1/7/514 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

'Luttrell, Edward (1756–1824)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/luttrell-edward-2381/text3135, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 24 January 2018.

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

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