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David Lord (1785–1847)

by Susan Allen

This article was published:

David Lord (1785-1847), landowner, was born probably at Halifax, Yorkshire, England, the son of James Lord (1757?-1824), a fustian maker at Bolton, and his wife Grace, née Haley. On 16 July 1801 his father was sentenced at Bradford to transportation for seven years. He sailed in H.M.S. Calcutta for Port Phillip, was removed to Van Diemen's Land, and after his emancipation accumulated a large fortune by unremitting industry, skilful farming, and shrewd trading, partly in spirits with and without licence, helped, according to the lands commissioners, 'by setting at defiance the Laws'.

David Lord and his family arrived at Hobart Town in the Harriet in March 1817. He engaged in business with his father and in 1819 he was appointed a member of the Lieutenant-Governor's Court. In 1817 he had been granted 100 acres (40 ha) and, after an application based on his possession of considerable property, he received a further grant of 700 acres (283 ha) in 1819.

When his father died on 4 August 1824, David inherited the estate, which Robert Knopwood said was worth £50,000. He continued to increase his holdings which soon included Blue Hills at Oatlands, Richmond Park, and land in the Sorell district, Kangaroo Point, Clarence Plains, Hobart and Sandy Bay. By February 1829 he claimed to hold 2000 acres (809 ha) by grants, at least one of which had been recorded as smaller than it was by the surveyor, 11,560 (4678 ha) by purchase and 4150 (1679 ha) by lease. In April 1827 the land commissioners recorded that Lord, 'the richest Man in the Island … knows not the extent of his Riches', and that his case exemplified the defects of the land system, under which 'those who have improved their farms the least, and who have set the regulations at defiance, are the only rich and … the only respectable Men in the Island. Riches, no matter by whom possessed or how acquired ensure Respect and Honors'. They reported that Lord's cattle roamed over eighteen (29 km) or twenty miles (32 km), receiving attention only when they were to be marked or sold. In 1828 after Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur ordered an investigation of the grants occupied by Lord, so that the government might interpose some check where the regulations had been violated, the surveyor-general reported in September that Lord had obtained control of large tracts of land in the Eastern Marshes by securing the waterholes in the area and that he had made practically no improvements on any of his holdings. One of his more notable land deals was his exchange in 1824 of ninety acres (36 ha), which he had acquired as payment for a debt and which the government needed for Richmond township, for 1400 acres (567 ha) near Oatlands.

Lord was one of the foundation subscribers to the Van Diemen's Land Bank in 1823 and a director until his death. In March 1827 he was a member of a committee appointed to wait upon the lieutenant-governor with the first Tasmanian petition seeking 'Trial by Jury and Legislation by Representation' in order to secure an improved government which would ensure sound and secure conditions for landowners. In November a number of colonists, including Lord, wrote to Arthur protesting against the promulgation of the recent Press Licensing Act and urging its repeal as an unconstitutional, unnecessary, degrading and oppressive ordinance.

Lord took an active interest in church affairs. Though he professed to be an Anglican, his interests appear to have been non-sectarian: in 1820 he was allocated a pew in St David's Church, Hobart; in 1822 he gave the land in Melville Street, Hobart, for a new Methodist chapel; and in 1823 he was a member of the committee appointed to seek the establishment of a Presbyterian Church.

After a protracted illness he died at his home in Macquarie Street, Hobart, on 12 April 1847. He was survived by his wife Hannah, née Morley, who died on 25 June 1867. They left two sons, James (1808-1881) and John (1814-1890), both of whom became members of the Legislative Council, and three daughters.

Portraits of David Lord are in the possession of the Misses Carr Lord of Sandy Bay, and of Mr John Lord of Launceston.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 3, vols 2-6
  • A. McKay (ed), Journals of the Land Commissioners for Van Diemen's Land, 1826-28 (Hob, 1962)
  • Hobart Town Gazette, 22 Mar 1817, 23 June 1821, 5 Apr 1823, 2 June 1827
  • Colonial Times (Hobart), 14 Dec 1827
  • Hobart Town Courier, 26 Oct 1832, 14 Apr 1847
  • correspondence file under David Lord (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

Susan Allen, 'Lord, David (1785–1847)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 15 July 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]


Halifax, Yorkshire, England


12 April, 1847 (aged ~ 62)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

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