Australian Dictionary of Biography

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David Gibson (1778–1858)

by M. Gibson

This article was published:

David Gibson (1778?-1858), convict and pastoralist, was born at Aberuthven, Perthshire, Scotland, and baptized on 26 April 1778, son of John Gibson and his wife Giles, née Binning. He appears to have received a fair education, but his success as a farmer in Van Diemen's Land suggests that he worked on the land in his youth. In March 1802 at the York Gaol Delivery he was sentenced to transportation for life. He was a convict in the Calcutta in David Collins's expedition to found a settlement at Port Phillip. After absconding there and again after Collins had moved to the Derwent, Gibson appears to have resolved to redeem himself within the framework of the colonial community. He is said soon to have become an inspector of stock. In 1813 he was pardoned and by 1815 was living at Port Dalrymple, where his house was robbed by bushrangers. He managed sheep for Robert Campbell and owned a flock jointly with Edward Lord, arrangements which testify to his ability. By October 1818 he had moved to the site of his later estate, Pleasant Banks, at Evandale on the South Esk River, then sometimes known as Gibson's River, and became the first settler in that locality. In 1819 he married Elizabeth Nichols. In 1821 Governor Lachlan Macquarie stayed at his house, 'a most comfortable one indeed', on his way to Port Dalrymple and again coming back, and when he fixed on the site for a township on the Esk, fourteen miles from Launceston, he named it Perth, after Gibson's birthplace.

By 1828 Gibson held 7300 acres (2954 ha) of land, of which he had purchased 6500 (2630 ha) , and had 400 (162 ha) under tillage. He had spent £2200 on buildings, and owned 1500 head of cattle and 4000 sheep. He became notable for his success as a pastoralist, a livestock breeder and a horticulturist, but at this time both Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur and the land commissioners spoke somewhat slightingly of his character. Slowly he lived down official prejudices and won approval by his success as a farmer, his benevolence and his piety. He was one of the founders of the Presbyterian Church at Evandale in the 1840s, and put up the minister at Pleasant Banks until a manse was built. He died at Pleasant Banks on 15 April 1858, leaving seven sons and three daughters, of whom John, the eldest, succeeded to Pleasant Banks.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 3, vols 1-4
  • P. L. Brown (ed), Clyde Company Papers, vols 2-3 (Lond, 1952-58)
  • L. Macquarie, Journals of His Tours in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, 1810-1822 (Syd, 1956)
  • ‘Pleasant Banks’, Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), vol 12, no 1, Oct 1964, pp 33-35
  • manuscript catalogue under D. Gibson (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

M. Gibson, 'Gibson, David (1778–1858)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 23 July 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]


Perthshire, Scotland


15 April, 1858 (aged ~ 80)
Evandale, Tasmania, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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Passenger Ship
Convict Record

Crime: unknown
Sentence: life