Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Thomas Daunt Lord (1783–1865)

by J. R. Morris

This article was published:

Thomas Daunt Lord (1783-1865), commandant of convicts and settler, joined the 62nd Regiment as an ensign in November 1800. Next year he transferred to the 2nd West India Regiment, and attained the rank of major in March 1820. He then became involved in the Bradley-Arthur dispute in Honduras and as a result agreed to sell his commission upon being granted six months leave to return to England. He changed sides and gave evidence on Arthur's behalf when in 1824 Bradley prosecuted Arthur for wrongful imprisonment. Later that year Lord applied for a land grant in Van Diemen's Land; he arrived at Hobart Town in the Cumberland in January 1825, accompanied by his wife Susan. In February he was made Naval Officer at £150 a year, but in July resigned to take up an appointment as commandant of the newly established Maria Island penal settlement, at 7s. 6d. a day. Lord held this position until the settlement was closed in November 1832. During this period Lord was three times accused of misappropriating government stores but each time he avoided prosecution and the accusers were punished. Under his control the settlement was firmly established and factories on the island produced tanned leather, shoes, cloth, and prisoners' clothing. About 100 yards (91 m) of cloth were woven each week from yarn spun by women at the Female Factory at the Cascades, and about 1700 pairs of shoes were made each year. Several substantial buildings were erected. A penitentiary measuring 186 feet (57 m) by 25 feet (8 m) was built in 1830 from 200,000 bricks made on the island; it was still standing in 1966.

Lord quarrelled with many of the officials who came and went during the seven years that Maria Island was a penal settlement under his command. But his bad personal record was offset to some extent by his practical achievements at this lonely outpost. If not brilliant, he was at least competent in shouldering his responsibilities.

Soon after his arrival in 1825 Lord had been granted 1000 acres (405 ha) at Point Bougainville opposite Maria Island. He later received a further 1560 acres (631 ha) because the first grant was of poor quality. He was appointed assistant police magistrate at Waterloo Point (Swansea) in December 1832, but was suspended in August 1834 for allegedly stealing and having in his possession cloth and other goods belonging to the government. He was acquitted in the Supreme Court on three charges of unlawful possession and several other charges against him were withdrawn but, when approval of his suspension was later received from London, his name was removed from the Commission of the Peace.

When he arrived in Tasmania Lord was obsequious to Arthur, but later became more confident and even arrogant. After his suspension he harboured much resentment against Arthur, whom he held responsible for all his troubles. He was not co-operative when Arthur asked him to refute further charges brought by Bradley, who was then in England, although the latter had described Lord 'as great a villain as any in Van Diemen's Land'.

Lord had one son, Wellington, and five daughters. His wife died on 7 September 1849, and in 1853 Lord tried unsuccessfully to sell his property, Okehampton, Spring Bay. He died there on 23 April 1865.

Select Bibliography

  • J. R. Morris, ‘Early Convict History of Maria Island’, Papers and Proceedings (Tasmanian Historical Research Association), vol 11, no 4, July 1964, pp 156-77
  • correspondence file under T. D. Lord (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • Arthur papers (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

J. R. Morris, 'Lord, Thomas Daunt (1783–1865)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 21 June 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]




23 April, 1865 (aged ~ 82)
Spring Bay, Tasmania, Australia

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