Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Joseph Allport (1800–1877)

by Henry Allport

This article was published:

Joseph Allport (1800-1877), solicitor, was the youngest son of William Allport, land surveyor and schoolmaster, of Aldridge, Staffordshire, England, and his wife Hannah, née Curzon. On leaving school he was articled to Sir John Fowler, a solicitor of Burton-on-Trent, and after completing his articles in London was placed on the roll of solicitors. He practised at Wolverhampton, Lichfield and West Bromwich. On 20 December 1826 he married Mary Morton Chapman, whom he had first met as a pupil at the school for young ladies kept by his parents. In 1830 he decided to emigrate to Australia with his wife and young son. They left England in the Platina in July 1831, arriving at Hobart Town next December, with two cousins and two friends and, although the policy of land grants had been discontinued, they obtained a grant at Black Brush about twenty miles (32 km) from Hobart and began farming. In less than a year they realized that their land would not support them all and it was decided that Joseph Allport should withdraw from the partnership and practise law in Hobart.

George Meredith, son of a Birmingham solicitor, negotiated a partnership for him with George Cartwright, the oldest practitioner in Hobart. The business, known as Cartwright & Allport, grew so rapidly that two years later Allport wrote: 'I was not accused of neglecting my business in England but my life was one of positive idleness compared with what it is at present'. In 1835 he was appointed a notary public. In 1841 Cartwright retired from the firm and Joseph Allport took into partnership John Roberts, to whom he had previously given his articles, the firm then becoming Allport & Roberts. Allport's son, Morton, joined the firm in 1855 when it became Allport, Roberts & Allport. In his younger days Joseph Allport practised extensively at the Bar and according to contemporary reports was considered the most successful barrister of his day. Later the growing demands of his extending business forced him to give up all court work and devote himself entirely to the conveyancing and commercial work. He was recognized as an authority on real property law not only in Tasmania but also in England, and was quoted in the Solicitors' Journal of December 1861 and January 1862. He was offered, but refused, a judgeship. He did not seek political honours, although he was active in the agitation to have transportation of convicts to Van Diemen's Land abolished.

Outside his business Joseph Allport took a keen interest in many subjects, especially nature study. In 1842 he constructed ponds for rearing imported fish and introduced freshwater perch and tench from England. He was an ardent horticulturist with extensive gardens and orchards; he brought the white and yellow water-lilies to Tasmania and took an active interest in the botanical gardens at Hobart. He was an original member of the Tasmanian Society, the forerunner of the Royal Society of Tasmania, of which he was a fellow to the time of his death; and from its formation was a trustee of the Tasmanian Public Library. He was a member of the Church of England. He died at Hobart on 30 October 1877, survived by his wife and four of their six children. His wife achieved colonial distinction for her miniatures, lithographs and studies of Tasmanian flowers, shown in Hobart exhibitions between 1845 and 1863.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Allport, Summary of Facts and Arguments in Reference to the Claim of Messrs. Degraves to Compensation (Hob, 1860)
  • Hobart Town Courier, 13 July, 5 Oct 1832
  • Mercury (Hobart), 31 Oct 1877
  • CSO 1/569/12827, GO 1/14/301 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Henry Allport, 'Allport, Joseph (1800–1877)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Aldridge, Staffordshire, England


30 October, 1877 (aged ~ 77)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death

softening of brain

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