This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967
William Shoobridge (1781-1836), hop-grower, was the son of Richard and Susannah Shoobridge of Tenterden, Kent, England; he came from a long line of farmers and hop-growers. He married Mary Jenkins (1784-1822) and on 20 August 1821 applied from Mottingham, Kent, for a grant of land in Van Diemen's Land. In September 1821 he received a letter of recommendation from the Colonial Office to Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell. He sailed in the Denmark Hill with his wife and eight children. Another child was born on the voyage but did not survive, and Mary Shoobridge and two other children also died on board.
Shoobridge arrived in Hobart Town on 18 May 1822 with goods and cash totalling £798. Sorell persuaded him to accept the post of superintendent of the timber yard, and he was granted twenty acres (8 ha) at Providence Valley, where he built Kent Cottage in 1823. There in 1824 he was shot at by a convict, John Logan. A metal rule in his pocket saved him from serious injury; Logan was executed in 1825 for attempted murder. Shoobridge resigned after a few years to devote himself to the production of hops at Providence Valley from sets he had brought from Kent. In this he had some success, the first marketable crop being produced in 1825, 453 lbs (205 kg) in 1826, 362 (164 kg) in 1827 and 1043 (473 kg) in 1828; all was sold locally. In 1827 he was placed in charge of a near-by government limekiln at £40 a year, to encourage his hop-growing. He held this position until 1830.
A local brewer, Henry Condell, later first mayor of Melbourne, was involved for several years in a dispute with Shoobridge over the main access to Providence Valley, which Condell had fenced. Shoobridge also acquired a farm of 700 acres (283 ha) in the Drummond district, now Tea Tree, and was half-owner of a mill at Battery Point. His fortunes fluctuated and only with the assistance of Anthony Fenn Kemp and others did he remain solvent. When he first arrived in the colony he was a Methodist, and in 1823 was on the Wesleyan Methodist Schools' Committee for Hobart and assisted with the Methodist Mission. Later he became a close associate of James Backhouse and George Washington Walker and supported the Society of Friends. He gave the society half an acre (0.2 ha) of Providence Valley as a burial ground and was the first person buried there when he died in 1836. In 1833 he had married Harriet Shaw. His son, Richard, carried on the farm at Providence Valley until 1864 and another son, Ebenezer, grew hops at Richmond and later New Norfolk.
Although Shoobridge is generally credited with being the first to grow hops in Van Diemen's Land, the claim of Richard Clarke to have done so in 1810 appears hard to dispute. The Shoobridge family continued the tradition of hop-growing and built up one of public service. Today his descendants remain leading hop-growers in Tasmania.
J. R. Morris, 'Shoobridge, William (1781–1836)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/shoobridge-william-2657/text3709, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 6 March 2015.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967