Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Richard Lewis (1789–1867)

by Hubert C. Lewis

This article was published:

Richard Lewis (1789-1867), auctioneer and merchant, was born on 21 April 1789 at Oswestry, Shropshire, England, fourth son of Rev. David Lewis, vicar of Abernant and Conwil, Carmarthenshire, South Wales, and his wife Mary, née Lloyd, of Llandissilio in the same county. After some years with a firm of merchants in London he went to Hobart Town in 1815 and founded the business later known as R. Lewis & Sons which engaged in commercial and shipping pursuits. In December 1816 he was appointed government auctioneer, and by the time of Commissioner John Thomas Bigge's inquiry he was a substantial merchant in the town. In 1823 he was one of the foundation proprietors of the Bank of Van Diemen's Land. His original land grant was at Plas y Dolan, Clarence Plains. In addition to his property at the corner of Collins and Argyle Streets where he carried on his businesses from the late 1820s until 1845, he acquired several others, including twelve acres (4.8 ha) at New Town, later known as Springvale Tea Gardens, and nine acres (3.6 ha) at Bellerive described in his will as 'an Inn formerly called the Highlander since known as the Devonshire Hotel and now known as the Retreat'; it is now owned by the Education Department. He acquired farms in the Cambridge district, including Milford (still occupied by his great-granddaughter Miss Margaret Louise Lewis), Llanherne (Hobart Airport), the Neck, the Bluff, Abernant and Cilwen.

On 23 October 1816 he married Isabella, fourth child of Captain Neil MacKellar. They had six sons and five daughters. In the 1840s he made his eldest two sons, David, later mayor of Hobart and colonial treasurer, and Neil, partners in his business. Apart from being made a justice of the peace, he did not take any active part in the political life of Tasmania, but apparently exercised much indirect influence on the community. He made three trips to England before he died at Hobart on 8 November 1867.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 3, vols 2-4, 6
  • A. McKay (ed), Journals of the Land Commissioners for Van Diemen's Land, 1826-28 (Hob, 1962)
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Hubert C. Lewis, 'Lewis, Richard (1789–1867)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 27 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


21 April, 1789
Oswestry, Shropshire, England


8 November, 1867 (aged 78)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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