Capt. Bartholomew Boyle THOMAS
- Born: 1785
- Marriage: Louisa DANSEY on 26 Sep 1811 in Stoke Damerel, Devon, England
- Died: 31 Aug 1831, Tasmania, Australia aged 46
- Buried: 23 Sep 1831, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
Bartholomew was educated at Trinity College, Dublin after prior education at Portora Royal College, Enniskillen. The history and character of Eton and T.C.D. are widely known; of Portora, less widely. Founded in 1618, Portora was one of the royal schools of the Restoration period, with lands attached '. . . for the endowment of learning and good manners in those parts where the same are so much wanting. In 1798 Dr Robert Burrowes was appointed Headmaster; under him the importance of the classics was stressed, and likewise under his successor of whom it was complained that 'the education received at Portora is chiefly, if not altogether, classical, and comparatively little or no utility to men of business'." However, Bartholomew Thomas's education was probably not the best as preparation for a colonial career.
Batholomew and his brother Jocelyn, were alike in many ways: a little under six feet tall, with brown eyes and brown hair, lean faces" and erect, athletic bodies. Both had active, imaginative brains, restless temperaments and a tendency to allow their enthusiasms to lead them into unwise decisions.
For a career, Bartholomew the army. In his army days Bartholomew used to show off his agility by vaulting over four dragoon horses lined up abreast, as his niece Louisa recorded. Bartholomew commenced his military career as cornet in the 17th Light Dragoons in 1805, later transferring as lieutenant to the 100th Regiment of Foot, the 4th Garrison Battalion and finally to the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment. During the Low countries campaign he was one of the many who contracted marsh fever. By 1811 he was aide-de-camp to his cousin, General William Thomas of Plymouth Dock - that part of the Borough of Plymouth now known as Devonport. Then, in 1814, he resigned from the army by sale of his commission. Why? Probably because he saw little prospect of active service - he was a man born to be busy. Also because of a young and attractive girl who had enough wealth for both of them to live on, or at least prospects of it. She was Louisa, daughter of Frederick Dansey of St Michael's Terrace, Plymouth Dock, a 'chemist and druggist' and a 'freeman of the City of Exeter', a title which then still probably held some material benefits. No doubt it was a love match, which would not please wealthy parents, but apparently they accepted it and were content that her home should be quite near theirs for many years.
When 'Bolivar the Liberator' called for international support, and active recruiting for his 'Foreign Legion' took place in England and Ireland, Bartholomew enlisted for service in South America. We know nothing of his exploits there apart from his own statement to Governor Arthur (Van Diemen's Land) that he was 'at the taking of Monte Video'. Since that city was taken and re-taken several times, we are not much the wiser for his record. It seems significant that he mentioned neither Boyaca nor Carabobo, two battles which the Foreign Legion helped Bolivar win decisively.
Batholomew and his brother Jocelyn left the home of their father in 1820 because of the failure of a costly scheme for reclaiming 1,200 acres of tidal marshland from the sea, and his consequent financial embarrassment. The fateful scheme began in 1813 when the Rosslare Company acquired 'the entire slobs in the harbour of Wexford'. (Slob being mud, the slobs meant the mud-flats between high and low water.) The company included the Thomas brothers and their friend Wyrley Birch and presumably James Vere in charge of operations. Its story is best told in Bartholomew's words, written later in Van Diemens Land:
'I was induced to take a share in a speculation that presented the finest hopes ... this undertaking, the embankment of a large tract of land from the sea, gave employment to about two hundred men for seven years at a time when great distress and misery prevailed among the labouring classes of Ireland, but when the work was on the eve of completion an unprecedented high tide destroyed in one hour the labour of more than seven years, demolishing the whole embankment, together with twenty-six miles of drains that had been cut and twelve hundred acres of cultivated land. This disastrous event caused the undertaking to be abandoned . . '. The Thomas brothers' scheme was not altogether hare-brained, but they risked more than was wise, for the £40,000 loss on the venture embarrassed them both.
When next B. B. Thomas's itchy feet took him out of Britain he was bound for Van Diemen's Land, there to become the first settler in Devon (the region around Devonport) with his brother Jocelyn his landlord.
Captain BB Thomas's role in the Cressy Company.
The New South Wales and V.D.L. Establishment, or the Cressy Co., also known as "The Horse Breeding Co. and Establishment," had no connection with the Van Diemen's Land Company. They were both founded in the year 1825 and both bred stud stock with money subscribed in London. Some confusion in the past has arisen on this.
The Company's first venture was in New South Wales where it was called the Horse Breeding Co. operating at Port Prederick in that State, between Sydney and Newcastle. This branch failed through bad management and was closed down. The Establishment was formed in the first place as a partnership or undertaking arranged by Stewart, Majoribanks & Son acting as agents. The deed of partnership was dated the lst of November 1825, being between Bartholomew Boyle Thomas, Col. Peter Augustus Latour, Col. Edward Gibbs (aide de camp to His Majesty), Robert Keat, William Kershaw and Lieut.-Col. J. D. B. Elphinstone. The capital of the partnership was £24,000 in shares of £1,000 each.
A notice of the dissolution of this partnership on the 27th June, 1828, appeared shortly after that date in the "Hobart Town Gazette." This was the subject of a suit in Chancery 25 years afterwards.
The Company was granted 20,000 acres in New South Wales and another 20,000 acres in Van Diemen's Land or Waterhouse Island, whichever they cared to select by the Governor General in Sydney, "For the purpose of enabling Bartholomew Boyle Thomas to establish, a Repository for the breeding and sale of English horses, cows,. sheep and other cattle and for carrying other objects into effect to which the soil and climate should be suited."
It had been the Company's intention to take up land at Waterhouse Island, but when the coastal vessel was wrecked, which was taking their animals and supplies there, the loss was so great that, the senior officers, who had been on their way overland to the coast near the Island, decided to alter their plans and to select the land in the Cressy district which had been offered to them.
The first manager was B. B. Thomas, who was in charge for one year, resigning on the 14th December, 1827. The second manager. was Lieutenant Thomas Dutton, R.N., until June, 1830. Louis Beauvais succeeded in the managership until 1834, when J. D. Toosey, who had come as the company's solicitor in 1826, was obliged to take over the dual offices of solicitor and manager. Beauvais had been retired front his position as manager in the interests of the company, being incompetent and very unpopular with the men.
A declaration of trust by B. B. Thomas recited that he should reside in New South Wales during the whole term of partnership and manage the affairs of the Establishment. He came to Van Diemen's Land, however, and carried on the business here until the partnership, was dissolved.
Jocelyn Thomas, a brother of B. B. Thomas, was Colonial Treasurer of Van Diemen's Land in 1827. While in office he caused the affairs of the Establishment to be investigated for supposed maladministration, at the same time causing the property to be surveyed and reported on by two residents in the Colony, Messrs. Peet and Savery. Their report was sent to the Secretary of State for the Colonies in London and was later an exhibit in the Chancery suit of Knight and Latour vs. Marjoribanks and Others. Possibly this exhibit, from the wilds of a distant colony, caused a faint stir in the langourous and stifling air of the Courts of Chancery in the year 1848 when it was presented. B. B. Thomas, more of a poet than a company manager, was too trusting and idealistic for this type of work in a hard world.
From: A Short History of Cressy and Bishopsbourne, with some notes on the Lake River Pioneers. Compiled by K R von Stieglitz.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The Death of Captain B. B. Thomas at the hands of the Tasmanian Aborigines
Extracts from the Coronerï¿½s Inquest, Launceston
The following particulars of a coroner's inquest, give an insight into events leading to the untimely death of Captain Bartholomew Boyle Thomas and highlight the tensions that must have existed between the European settlers and the Tasmanian aborigines. Captain Thomas was younger brother to Jocelyn Henry Connor Thomas and brother to Colonel Thomas, Member of Parliament for Kinsale. He came out to to the fledgling colony of Van Diemenï¿½s Land as agent for an investment company known as the Van Diemen's Land Establishment. Not long after arriving in Van Diemenï¿½s Land, Captain Thomas resigned from the Establishment, and took up land at North Down, Port Sorell. History records that he was sympathetic toward the aborigines and often gave them food and shelter. It was on a return trip from Port Sorell to his property that his attention was drawn to the presence of an aboriginal tribe close by. He and his overseer, Mr Parker rode off to meet with the aborigines. This was the last time he and Mr parker were seen alive. The inquest records the following details:
The bodies of Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker were brought up to Launceston from George Town on Wednesday last, having been found by means of a partly civilized aboriginal woman, who persuaded a woman of the tribe, who was taken prisoner by Captain Thomas's servants, to conduct them to the spot where they had killed them, two days previously. The next morning the bodies were removed from the boat to the Commercial Tavern, and a Coroner's Inquest was instantly convened by Mr. Lyttleton, at the Police Office. The jury, having been sworn, proceeded to view the bodies, and upon their return took the following evidence:-
George Warren, sworn.- Started from George Town on Sunday last, by order of Mr. Clark, in search of Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker; got to Port Sorell on Monday morning, the 12th instant, when I saw Dr. Smith and Ensign Dunbar; two women offered to take us (that is, Thomas M'Kay and me) to the bodies. They took us into the bush about two miles, when they stopped and cried, and would not go any further, but pointed to the place where the bodies were to be found; we went, and found the body of Mr. Parker on his back, the head towards the root of a tree; he had on no hat, neckerchief, coat, or waistcoat; saw blood under the head; saw ten spear wounds in his body; I found a spear at about ten yards distant from the body; we then asked the women to shew us where the other body was; on my way, I found the tail of a coat; found Captain Thomas's body about one hundred yards off, among some long grass; saw some wounds about the body, and a black stake under the head; there were twelve wounds by spears, three in the right thigh, two or three in the right side, one in the back, &c.; the head was not bruised so much as Mr. Parker's, but a quantity of blood was under him; from the appearance of the bodies, thought they had been dead a fortnight; part of the neck of Captain Thomas was destroyed by vermin; some notes were lying about him; (one produced;) we left the bodies, and returned with the women to Dr. Smith, at Port Sorell; on the way, the women appeared sulky; Dr. Smith then accompanied us to the bodies, together with several others; this time, the women thought the soldiers had come to kill them; one of the women said, (through the other who interpreted,) that Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker came to one of their tribes - that one of the black men took a gun, which the stout man, meaning Mr. Parker, had under his arm, and ran away with it - that one of her tribe speared Mr. Parker in the back - that Captain Thomas then ran away, but was overtaken and knocked down; the bodies were removed to George Town; the women told us 'Tum' assisted in spearing them; Tum is now in jail at George Town. This woman exactly described the position the bodies lay in before reaching the place. (Here the skirt of a coat was produced, and certified as being part of that worn by Captain Thomas.)
Thomas Carter, sworn.- Assigned servant to Captain Thomas; I was at Port Sorell on the 31st ult.; I was at Port Sorell with Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker; I was in charge of the boat with three others of the crew; before Captain Thomas came down, two natives came into our tent: we were eating some damper; they called out for 'breadly'; we told them to come in; they did come in; we gave them some damper and some cheese; at this period, or within a quarter of an hour, Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker arrived on horseback, and then Captain Thomas said, "have you seen the natives?" I replied, "I have two in the tent;" he then got off his horse; he asked the blacks if there were any more; when they held up all their fingers, and said, "good many more;" Captain Thomas asked them to take him to them; which they readily agreed to do; Mr. Parker, however, fearful of trusting Captain Thomas amongst the natives by himself, walked behind at some little distance, with a double-barrelled gun under him arm; this is all I saw of Captain Thomas or Mr. Parker; about two hours after, the two native men who went with the Captain, returned with three others, besides two women and a man; M'Kay shook hands with them; in a few minutes we saw another woman, who we enticed to us, and gave her some bread; before we left (which was about two hours) we cooeed, but were not answered; after having started, taking with us the horses belonging to Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker, about three hundred yards hoinewards, another native came up, whom we enticed, but he ran away before we reached Northtown Beach, where Captain Thomis resided; we then asked what had become of the white men? they said "they had 'tabbity'," meaning ran away; we did not ask them before we started; the next morning Mrs. Parker sent out four men in search of Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker; after being absent two days and one night, they returned, but without success.
Dr. Smith, sworn.-On the return to George Town of Chief Constable Freestone and Mr. Haims, (who had been in search of the bodies of Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker), on Thursday last, I was requested to see Mrs. Parker, who was very ill; I left George Town on Friday last, with Ensign Dunbar, and arrived at Port Sorell about 2 o'clock, where we found Mr. J. Thomas, Junr., and Captain Moriarty on the beach, who had not found the bodies, but were waiting for a man (M'Kay) and a partly civilized native woman; next morning they arrived, when we proceeded to Port Sorell in search of the bodies, but did not succeed in finding them; we then returned to Northtown Beach, with the exception of M'Kay and the native woman, who were sent on to George Town, for one of the native women, who had been taken there. He returned with the two women, and upon his firing a gun, we sent a boat over for them; M'Kay said one of the women had told them where the bodies were to be found; and then went with Warren and the two native women by my order; they returned in about an hour, and said they had seen the bodies; I then proceeded with them and a man of the name of Jones, to look at the bodies, about a mile up from the Creek, in the direction of the Northtown Beach, but to the left of the road; this was about four miles from Northtown Beach; the women conducted me straight to a body, which I recognized to be that of Mr. Parker; I called one of the constables to remove the dress, so as to enable me to examine the body; I found on the breast five or six spear wounds, on the left side near the heart; every wound would have caused death; I found six wounds on the back, and an extensive contusion on the side of the head; we then proceeded with the woman eastward about fifty or sixty yards, and found another body lying dead, which I recognized to be that of Captain Thomas; upon removing his dress, I found one wound very near the heart, and three others on the right side, one of which had bled profusely; one wound by the clavicle; I then had the body turned, and found five spear wounds on the back; the upper part of the throat was eaten by crows or native cats; on the following morning the bodies were conveyed by my orders to George Town.
Thomas Carter, sworn- Should know the two natives again that took Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker away: two of these (pointing to two of the three in custody) are them.
Thomas M'Kay, sworn.- I am attached to Mr. Robinson's party; I left Port Sorell on Saturday week, by order of Captain Moriarty and Mr. J. Thomas, jun.; on the following day I went to the jail of George Town, where I saw the natives who were in custody; I was informed by the women that the white men were killed; they told me they were lying near the water; one of the bodies was lying under a tree, the other in an open place; this was told me by 'Black Sal'; I left George Town on Sunday, the 11th instant, accompanied by Constable Warren, 'Black Sal', and one of the native women from the jail, and got to Port Sorell next morning; we then went into the bush and found the bodies about two miles off, when we got within about one hundred yards from the bodies, the woman (whose name I do not know) stopped and pointed to where they were; I found the body of one man partly on his back, with his arm stretched out; I went about one hundred yards further, and saw part of a coat; a little farther, pointed out by a native woman, I found another body on its back; I did not examine it, but found a spear not far distant from it; I afterwards found another spear and a waddy near the body, which I was told was that of Captain Thomas; I then returned to Port Sorell, told Dr. Smith, and returned with him and others to examine the bodies. On the road in search of the bodies, the native woman before-mentioned described the situation in which the bodies lay; she told me that two of the natives came down to the boat; that the two men that were killed went into the bush with the two natives; that when they got into the bush, that one man had a gun that would shoot twice (meaning a double-barrelled gun), that one of the native men (Wowee) seized the gun by the lock, and twisted him round at the same time, and another man hit him with a waddie on the head, and he fell down, that the other, the smallest white man, ran away, when some of the natives pursued and speared him, while others killed the one who was knocked down, that the woman attempted to stop them from killing him, but could not, and in consequence three women left the tribe, and went to the cart with four of the men, natives who had assisted in the murder by throwing spears, &c., and that the man who first struck the white man had run away, making an appointment with the other natives, where to meet, should they have the opportunity of escaping, but they were secured and sent to George Town in a boat. The names of the men who accompanied Captain Thomas and Mr. Parker from the boat, were Wowee and Mackamee; he (M'Kay) had seen them this morning. The same woman also informed me that the gun had since been thrown into the water.
Thomas M'Kay was then sworn for interpretation of the native woman named "Mongareepitta", from whom he had obtained the information contained in his evidence, and who discovered to him the situation of the bodies; but she had passed the preceding night in company with the three men who were brought up from George Town, and it appeared evident that a plan was laid to get them off by contradicting her former evidence; upon a repetition of the questions, she either confirmed her first statement to M'Kay, or gave a third, but more frequently the former. She was present (she said) when the white men were killed - one of the white men had a gun under his arm. [Here she identified the two men who accompanied the two white men into the bush.] Her tribe consisted of seven men and six women: Wowee and Mackamee were present when the first white man was killed, and the other ran away; the waddies and spears were produced, but she would not allow that any of the men present had anything to do with the murder, but that they were sitting down.
This concluded the evidence, and after a short consultation, the jury returned the following verdict - "We find that Bartholomew Boyle Thomas, and James Parker, have been treacherously murdered by the three native men, now in custody, called 'Wowee,' 'Mackamee,' and 'Calamaroweyne', aided and assisted by the residue of the tribe of Aborigines to which they belong, known by the name of the 'Big River Tribe'. - Independent, Sept.
From: The History of Van Diemen's Land: From the Year 1824 to 1835, inclusive during the Adminstration of Lieutenant Governor George Arthur. By Henry Melville, Editor of The Colonial Times. Edited, With an Introduction, Notes and Commentary by George Mackaness O.B.E., M.A., Litt.D.(Melb.), M.A., D.Litt., D.Sc.(Syd.), F.R.A.H.S. Horwitz-Grahame, Sydney, Melbourne, London
Bartholomew married Louisa DANSEY on 26 Sep 1811 in Stoke Damerel, Devon, England. (Louisa DANSEY was born on 25 Feb 1791 in Stoke Damerel, Devon, England.)