Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Alfred Harrap (1820–1893)

by John Reynolds

This article was published:

Alfred Harrap (1820-1893), merchant, shipowner and leader of volunteers, was born in England. He first saw Van Diemen's Land as a junior officer of the Children in September 1837 and was so impressed by the colony that he later migrated. With Charles Groom of Carrick as partner he bought a farm in the foothills of the Western Tiers. Though menaced at first by bushrangers and escaped convicts, the venture prospered. He became honorary secretary of the local ploughing association in 1848. In 1853 he look charge of a produce store in Westbury and on 26 November at Windermere married Amelia, the daughter of Edward Tobin, R.N. By 1857 Harrap had accumulated some capital and experience and set up as a grain merchant in Launceston. With his integrity and resource the business prospered. He added fine wool to his other produce and won repute for shipping his consignments in good order and condition. Later he became an importer of farm machinery and supplies, bought his own ships for coastal trade and held regular auctions. His premises became an exchange, described as 'a friendly, informal meeting place for producers and buyers'.

Active in public affairs, Harrap served for years on the Launceston Municipal Council and was mayor for six terms; a member of the Marine Board, he was master warden for six years. He was also a church-warden of St John's Anglican Church, a director of the Commercial Bank of Tasmania for twenty years and in 1877-91 vice-consul for Sweden and Norway. Most notable was his record in the Launceston Volunteer Artillery. He first joined it on 29 June 1860 and became a captain within six months. By 1870 the artillery had a force of 22 with 100 rifles and accoutrements, estimated to be adequate 'for the proper defence of Launceston'. In March 1877 the volunteer artillery in Hobart was disbanded and the guns and gear were returned to the military stores, but Harrap protested. Praising his zeal, the government permitted the Launceston corps to continue but with no 'pecuniary assistance' except for ball ammunition used in practice. When the town clock stopped in 1878 Harrap organized the firing of a noon gun with a daily parade. With government approval, he enrolled fifty new volunteers and twenty bandsmen. He was allowed no cash for uniforms but was promoted major in January 1879 and, by calling a public meeting at the Town Hall, raised the money and also persuaded the cabinet to provide a new parade ground. He served as aide-de-camp to several governors on their visits to Launceston and retired in 1886 as a lieutenant-colonel. He died aged 73 at his home in St John Street on 26 January 1893, predeceased by his wife in 1890 and survived by four daughters and one son, George Edward (1856-1937), who continued the business and held high office in the volunteers.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Harrap & Son Pty Ltd, A Century of Service (Launceston, 1957)
  • J. Reynolds, Launceston: History of an Australian City (Melb, 1969)
  • Daily Telegraph (Launceston), 27 Jan 1893
  • Examiner (Launceston), 27 Jan 1893
  • CSD 10/33/544, 60/1430, 63/145, 13/36/476 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

John Reynolds, 'Harrap, Alfred (1820–1893)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




26 January, 1893 (aged ~ 73)
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

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