Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Daniel Herbert (1802–1868)

by Hamish Maxwell-Stewart

This article was published:

Daniel Herbert (1802–1868), convict and stonemason, was baptized on 17 February 1802 in the Paul Street Independent Chapel, Taunton, Somerset, England, son of Daniel Herbert, a corporal in the 6th (Inniskillen) Dragoons, and his wife Mary. Daniel later moved with his mother to Leeds, where he worked as a signboard writer and stonemason. Later he lived in his parents' native town of Manchester. In March 1827, with James Camble and John Lynch, he was charged before the North Eastern circuit assizes with four counts of highway robbery and with putting 'in bodily fear and danger'. Herbert had already served part of a seven-year sentence for stealing in a dwelling house; he and his co-accused pleaded guilty, and were sentenced to death on 7 April. Reprieved on condition of transportation for life, Herbert was shipped aboard the Asia, arriving in Hobart Town in December 1827.

As a stonemason, he was placed in the Engineer's Department and for the next seven years was employed on government projects in Hobart, including the new female factory at Cascade. In the late 1820s and early 1830s Herbert made a number of appearances before the magistrates' bench, charged with being absent from the works and drinking. By 1835 he was employed as overseer of stonemasons on the construction of the new customs house, a service for which he was paid one shilling a day. When Josiah Spode, principal superintendent of convicts, was asked to recommend two stonemasons to be transferred to Ross to oversee the completion of a replacement bridge across the Macquarie River, Herbert was one.

Despite being promised a conditional pardon for successfully completing the task, Herbert asked to be allowed to remain three weeks longer in Hobart to marry Mary Witherington. In the event, they married at Ross on 1 July 1835. The bridge was completed in July 1836. It contained 186 keystones or voussoirs carved by Herbert, or completed under his supervision, in fifty-six weeks between May 1835 and July 1836. Various interpretations of their curious motifs have been put forward, including claims that the many carved heads were portraits of Herbert and his wife, Jorgen Jorgenson, Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur and other colonial officials and local personalities.

Herbert was granted a free pardon in February 1842 and continued to live at Ross, where he worked as an ornamental stonemason. He was credited with carving a number of motifs for other buildings in Tasmania, including St Luke's Presbyterian Church, Bothwell. Daniel Herbert died of bronchitis on 28 February 1868 at Campbell Town, survived by his wife; they had three children. Reputedly, he designed and carved his own tomb in the old burial ground at Ross. In 2005 his bridge there was still in use.

Select Bibliography

  • L. Greener and N. Laird, Ross Bridge and the Sculpture of Daniel Herbert (Hob, 1971)
  • offence registers, Con 31/19, Colonial Secretaries’ correspondence, CSO1/311/7501, and Herbert correspondence file (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

Hamish Maxwell-Stewart, 'Herbert, Daniel (1802–1868)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 21 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




28 February, 1868 (aged ~ 66)
Campbell Town, 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.

Passenger Ship
Convict Record

Crime: theft
Sentence: life