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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Bisdee, Edward (1802–1870)

by Ida McAulay

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Edward Bisdee (1802-1870), farmer and politician, was born on 16 August 1802 at Oldmixon near Hutton, Somerset, England, the brother of John Bisdee.

He arrived in Van Diemen's Land on 29 April 1827 when his ship Hope was wrecked at the entrance to the River Derwent. At first he managed his brother John's property, Hutton Park, at White Hills near Jericho. In 1827, on the strength of capital amounting to £712 in money and goods and his brother's recommendation and promise of help, he was granted 700 acres (283 ha) in the parish of Methven, which he called Kewstoke after a village in Somerset. Later he added to this with various grants and purchases. By 1829 he had established at White Hills one of the largest hop gardens in the island. In 1839 he bought Lovely Banks, Spring Hill, and went to live there. In that year and in 1840 he topped the London market with his highest grade merino lambs' wool. In 1843 he was made a justice of the peace, and about this time acquired the well-known property of Sandhill near Jericho.

On 23 October 1844 at Bothwell he married Rose, third daughter of Thomas Axford of Bothwell; they had no children.

In December 1845 he was appointed by Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Eardley-Wilmot to replace one of the Patriotic Six who resigned from the Legislative Council after a clash with the governor over the appropriation bill. The governor had difficulty in filling their places and his nominees were treated badly by the press. One paper announced the list of new members within a mourning border. After the original six were reinstated Bisdee lost his seat, but in April 1851 he was nominated to the vacancy caused by John Kerr's death. In 1856 he won the Jordan seat in the first all-elected Legislative Council, and held it for two years. Though three times a council member in the turbulent years of struggle between council and governor, Bisdee did not play a prominent part in politics. Only demands for the cessation of transportation disturbed him; in February 1854, as owner and occupier of 44,123 acres (17,856 ha), he joined other leading landholders in petitioning Downing Street to continue transportation 'for the present' because the rural districts needed labour.

Soon after retiring from the Legislative Council he returned to England where he became the owner of Hutton Court, and lived there as squire. He left his brother Isaac in charge of Lovely Banks and his youngest brother, Alfred Henry, bought Sandhill. On Bisdee's death on 2 April 1870 he left Hutton Court to his brother Alfred Henry, and Lovely Banks to Isaac's son, Edward Oldmixon Bisdee. Like the rest of his family he was a member of the Church of England, and was a conscientious and upright citizen. Busts of him and his wife are in the possession of a great-niece, Mrs H. L. Blackmore, of Weston-super-Mare, England.

Select Bibliography

  • C. I. Clark, The Parliament of Tasmania: An Historical Sketch (Hob, 1947)
  • Colonial Times (Hobart), 4 May 1827
  • Hobart Town Courier, 28 Mar 1829
  • True Colonist (Hobart), 23 Oct 1840
  • Examiner (Launceston), 25 Feb 1854.

Citation details

Ida McAulay, 'Bisdee, Edward (1802–1870)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 24 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

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