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Edward Lord (1781–1859)

by Thea Rienits

This article was published:

Edward Lord (1781-1859), by Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, 1846

Edward Lord (1781-1859), by Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, 1846

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001124067679

Edward Lord (1781-1859), officer of marines, commandant, pastoralist and merchant, was born on 15 June 1781 in Pembroke, Wales, the third son of Joseph Lord and his wife Corbetta, daughter of Lieutenant-General John Owen, brother of Sir William Owen, fourth baronet, of Orielton. Edward was gazetted a second lieutenant of marines on 12 September 1798 and stationed at Portsmouth.

In 1803 he joined the expedition of Lieutenant-Colonel David Collins to Port Phillip, and was in the first contingent which sailed thence to establish a settlement on the Derwent, Van Diemen's Land, in February 1804. In the same year he built the first private house in Hobart Town. In February 1805 he was granted sick leave to return to England, but after six months in Sydney he returned to Hobart with several ewes and a ram 'near the Spanish breed', the latter a gift from Governor Philip Gidley King. He was appointed first lieutenant on 3 December 1805 and a month later received his first grant of 100 acres (40 ha). By October 1806 he was the largest stock-owner in Van Diemen's Land; and within another year he was the senior officer there, subordinate only to Collins.

He again visited Sydney in April 1808, soon after the deposition of Governor William Bligh, and from Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Foveaux he obtained, among other favours, an appointment as magistrate and a grant of 500 acres (202 ha), which he selected on the Derwent, towards New Norfolk. On 8 October 1808, soon after his return to Hobart, he married Maria Risely. He was an implacable opponent of Bligh while the deposed governor was at the Derwent from March to December 1809. Bligh complained that Lord and William Collins kept a shop, contrary to regulations, and monopolized 'the advantages of Trade to the great Injury of the Settlement'; for all that, in the same year Lord was appointed Naval Officer and inspector of public works.

When David Collins died unexpectedly on 24 March 1810 Lord took charge of the settlement and is said to have burned all the papers at Government House the same night. He applied to the secretary of state for the colonies to succeed Collins. Lachlan Macquarie, who had a poor opinion of Lord, hastily sent Captain John Murray to take charge, relieved Lord of his offices and gave him leave to return to England. There on 20 October 1812, having learned that his application to succeed Collins had failed, Lord resigned his commission in the marines; next day through the influence of his brother John Owen, M.P. (who had changed his name on inheriting the rich Orielton estates near Pembroke) he received an order for a grant of 3000 acres (1214 ha). He took 1500 acres (607 ha) near Sydney and the other 1500 (607 ha) formed the nucleus of his Orielton estate in Van Diemen's Land, which grew to 3500 acres (1416 ha).

Lord returned to Hobart in March 1813 in his own brig, the James Hay, with goods worth £30,000, and was soon on intimate terms with Lieutenant-Governor Thomas Davey, although Macquarie had warned Davey that Lord was 'a dangerous and troublesome man'. One reason for Davey's recall was that in defiance of Macquarie he gave preferential trading concessions to Lord, and bought wheat from him at an excessive price. In 1817 Lord was suspected of smuggling from the Kangaroo which Captain Charles Jeffreys had improperly brought to the Derwent and, when Lord charged Acting Commissary William Broughton with improper trading, Lord refused to go to Sydney to prosecute at the court martial that Macquarie and Broughton desired. Judge-Advocate (Sir) John Wylde criticized both Lord and those officers in Hobart who had supported his accusations, and Macquarie exonerated Broughton, describing Lord as 'vindictive and implacable'.

When William Sorell became lieutenant-governor, Macquarie named Lord first on his list of 'bad characters' at the Derwent. Despite this Lord and Sorell soon became close friends. When Lord returned to England late in 1819 he told Bathurst that he had been 'injured to an almost incalculable Amount' by Macquarie's 'harsh and unjust proceedings' and sought redress. Although his charges were refuted Bathurst gave him an order to Macquarie to grant him 3000 acres (1214 ha) and recommended him to Sorell.

Having bought the Caroline, he returned to Van Diemen's Land in November 1820 with a large cargo of merchandise, and was at once appointed a magistrate. Soon afterwards he exchanged fourteen acres (5.6 ha) in Hobart for 7000 (2833 ha) in the interior; these and his 3000 granted acres (1214 ha) formed the nucleus of his noted estate, Lawrenny, on the River Clyde. At this time he was said to be the richest man in Van Diemen's Land, the owner of three ships, warehouses in Hobart and Port Dalrymple, 6000 cattle, 7000 sheep and 35,000 acres (14,164 ha). When the Van Diemen's Land Agricultural Society was founded on 1 January 1822 Lord became its first president and he was also an original proprietor of the Bank of Van Diemen's Land. During 1822 he was accused of trying to bribe the head of the commissariat, but Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane was prevented from investigating the matter by Lord's departure in the Royal George which he had chartered to carry wool to England. The ship was almost wrecked at Cape Town, which caused Lord 'serious Losses'. At this time he claimed assets in Van Diemen's Land of £200,000, and debts owing to him of £70,000. When in England, he asked Bathurst in 1823 to grant Van Diemen's Land independence from New South Wales, partly because of the difficulties in prosecuting in Sydney suits for the payment of debts; he also asked for a legislative council and the right of trial by jury in the colony. He returned to Hobart briefly in 1824, and again in 1827 when he signed a petition to parliament for 'Trial by Jury and Legislation by Representation'. His relations were far from cordial with Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur. Governor Brisbane spoke of his sordid interests and proposed to remove him from the magistracy. In 1828, leaving a manager in charge of his estates, Lord returned to England and settled at Downe, Kent. He visited Van Diemen's Land in 1838-39 and the tenacity of his character was revealed in 1846-47 when at the age of 65 he made his seventh voyage to the colony to press a claim for land in further compensation for a deficiency in the original survey of his Lawrenny estate twenty-five years earlier. Lieutenant-Governors Arthur and Sir William Denison had both rejected this, but despite opposition Lord ultimately won his claim in 1854.

He died at 12 Westbourne Terrace North, London, on 14 September 1859. His estate in England was valued at £2000, and he still held considerable property in Van Diemen's Land, though much of it was encumbered. In December 1824 Lord won a case against Charles Rowcroft, settler, for criminal conversation with his wife, who had remained in Van Diemen's Land and died there two months before him. Lord was survived by one son and two daughters of this marriage, and by three sons and one daughter of an alliance in England.

While in Van Diemen's Land in 1846-47 two portraits of Lord were painted by Thomas Wainewright. A third portrait by an unknown artist is in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 7-11, series 3, vols 1-6
  • J. West, The History of Tasmania, vols 1-2 (Launceston, 1852)
  • R. W. Giblin, The Early History of Tasmania, vol 2 (Melb, 1939)
  • M. C. I. Levy, Governor George Arthur (Melb, 1953)
  • R. Crossland, Wainewright in Tasmania (Melb, 1954)
  • R. and T. Rienits, ‘Bligh at the Derwent’, Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), vol 11, no 3, 1964, pp 110-26
  • Hobart Town Gazette, 17, 24 Dec 1824
  • R. Knopwood diaries (Royal Society of Tasmania, Hobart, & State Library of New South Wales)
  • Liverpool papers (British Library).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Thea Rienits, 'Lord, Edward (1781–1859)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 22 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

Edward Lord (1781-1859), by Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, 1846

Edward Lord (1781-1859), by Thomas Griffiths Wainewright, 1846

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001124067679

Life Summary [details]


15 June, 1781
Pembroke, Pembrokeshire, Wales


14 September, 1859 (aged 78)
London, Middlesex, England

Cultural Heritage

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