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Granville William Chetwynd Stapylton (1800–1840)

by Louis R. Cranfield

This article was published:

Granville William Chetwynd Stapylton (1800-1840), surveyor and explorer, was the youngest son of Major-General Granville Anson Chetwynd Stapylton and his wife Martha, only daughter of Henry Stapylton of Wighill Yorkshire, England. His paternal grandfather was the fourth Viscount Chetwynd.

Stapylton married Catherine Bulteel of Fleet, Hampshire, in 1825, and in November 1828 was appointed an assistant surveyor in New South Wales. He carried out a number of difficult surveys near Sydney and in 1831 was with a party which traced the Abercrombie River from Bathurst towards the Lake George area. In 1833 his work found favour with the surveyor-general, (Sir) Thomas Mitchell. In 1834 he was praised by the Colonial Office and recommended to Governor (Sir) Richard Bourke for promotion. In 1836 Stapylton was appointed second-in-command of Mitchell's overland expedition to Australia Felix. In this he did a valuable job, but was very critical of his leader and irked by having to take frequent charge of the base camp and thus prevented from sharing the excitement of making new discoveries. A copy of Stapylton's journal of this expedition is in the La Trobe Library, Melbourne.

Stapylton was sent to Port Phillip to work under the direction of Robert Hoddle; he travelled to Melbourne overland, arriving in April 1838. About this time he appears to have fallen a victim of intemperance, for the administrator at Port Phillip, Captain William Lonsdale, wrote to the colonial secretary on 5 October 1838, that Stapylton had been so drunk that the chief constable had been forced to confine him, and on another occasion he had found him drunk under his dray.

He was suspended from duty by Lonsdale but later reinstated by Governor Sir George Gipps and sent to work under Robert Dixon at Moreton Bay. He was engaged in surveying the coast south from Brisbane on 31 May 1840 when Aboriginals attacked his camp. Stapylton and an assistant, William Tuck, were killed, and another member of the party was severely injured. Tuck's body was buried on the spot but Stapylton's was taken to Brisbane.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 14, 15, 17
  • J. H. L. Cumpston, Thomas Mitchell (Melb, 1954)
  • T. O'Callaghan, 'Further Scraps of Early Melbourne History', Victorian Historical Magazine, vol 7, no 1, Jan 1919, pp 12-13
  • Australian, 15 Apr 1829, 30 Dec 1831, 1 Apr 1836, 25 Aug 1840, 15 May, 15 June 1841
  • Parliamentary Papers (Great Britain), 1841 (85), appendix B.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Louis R. Cranfield, 'Stapylton, Granville William Chetwynd (1800–1840)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 13 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]




31 May, 1840 (aged ~ 40)
Queensland, Australia

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