Thursday, 16 September 2010

Hobartville - a bountiful life - for some


According to the Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser, in March 1834, William Cox of Hobartville was assigned two male convicts, one a farm servant and the other a labourer. All through this fertile agricultural valley, the food-bowl for the burgeoning colony, from Richmond, to Castlereagh, to Windsor to Pitt Town, the landed gentry and small stake-holders, were being assigned the scum of the old continent to work their fields, run their households, and augment their own skills and efforts.


Australia prides itself on being a classless society, of being the land of the fair-go, of treating all men equally. AFTER they had served their sentence. Governor Lachlan Macquarie had been at the forefront of this push for the redemptive power of the second chance. And that is what got him into so much strife with the landed gentry throughout his term of service (1810 - 1821). Especially with the likes of John Macarthur.

But the pages of the Sydney Gazette are testamemnt to the ongoing use of convict labour in the colony throughout the tenure of William Cox (the younger) at Hobartville, in Richmond.

15 comments:

Francisca said...

Beautiful images, Julia... But I'm not so sure about Australia being classless, even after having shed its nasty "convict" history. It's still grappling with current issues relating to the rights of Australian Aboriginal people, no? (And this is not meant as finger pointing; no nation seems to be innocent.)

paul said...

Interesting social commentary, Julie. Classless society is a fine myth, as long as we consider it more aspirational rather than a description of fact.

Back to the pictures, though: another great collection, the glowing steps of #4 stand out.

Julie said...

Oo goodie, a conversation about the text.

I guess I was comparing the society of England in the early 19thC with the society that was developing here in Australia at the same time.

I take 'classless' to mean a rank based on birth station. here in Australia there is a class system based on education. The more education, the more money. The more education, the different the politics.

J Bar said...

Thanks for the history. I didn't know anything about this place.

Ewa said...

that's a great post, a bit of history and photos!

Ann said...

Top and bottom ones are great. Love the brickwork and shadows.

Bruce Caspersonn said...

That brick work looks to be even older than me..

Peter said...

Touched a nerve on class here. There are plenty of differences in Australian society but I love its egalitarian nature, mate.

Bill said...

Great post. Are you still in Sydney, Julie, or are you blogging by 'remote control'
Cheers,

Bill

diane said...

An interesting historical place that I didn't even know existed. I reckon Australia does have diiffent social layers of people but we don't have class distinction anything like in European countries.

Julie said...

Nope, stt will remote control as from Monday probably - Rue Mouffetard on the Left Bank is my guess.

I agree with you Diane, Australia has different social layers but not class distinction. OUr social layers are based upon money and this is based upon education. Yes, our indigenous people have low education and low income. But to me they are equal to me. I just have more education and more moeny. I would that they had the same access.

Joan Elizabeth said...

I agree education is the key. There is of course old money about but the thing about Australia is I think most of us like to think of people as our equal even if they are rich.

I'm with Ann, top and bottom shots.

Francisca said...

Equal justice under the law... in practice, not just words, is what distinguishes an open society from a closed one. Since my earlier comment you gave a narrower operational definition to "class" and that is fine. The old "class by birth" (royalty and aristocracy to peasant) has, in most Western countries, been replaced by the social class one is born into, but fortunately today education and personal ambition can transcend that.

Julie said...

To begin with I was operating in the early years of the 19thC. To progress 200 years, narrowing the definition is required.

I am not sure Australia is grappling with the 'rights' of the Australian aborigine. Since 1967 the focus has been upon equal outcomes rather than rights. There is an issue with the quarantining of of government welfare in remote communities, but the current government is legislating to have that apply equally to all families who receive welfare and either don't send their children to school or who spend their welfare on alcohol.

What our society is grappling with is how to get equal outcomes for our idigenous citizens. Throwing money at the problem has not narrowed the gap of inequality since 1967, indeed it might be getting wider.

I am not convinced that personal ambition alone can transcend the social strata that one is born into. Personal ambition has a tendency to result in wealth with no great maturity of outlook, certain members of the Tea Party are testament to this. I contend that only education can transcend practical inequality.

Francisca said...

Interesting discussion, Julie. You've raised more questions of definition for me. Wealth alone, without consideration of education or wisdom, does place a person into a different social class, as I define it. I personally know a number of individuals who are functionally illiterate and come from peasant stock who through ambition, hard work, street smarts and luck elevated themselves way up the socio-economic ladder. It's hard to call someone a peasant who lives in a mansion, drives a stable of BMWs and wears the latest Gucci fashion. Are they wise or cultured? Typically not. I'd also have to say that education alone is also no guarantee of wisdom or tolerance; history gives us plenty of examples of that. Now the notion of "equal outcomes" is one I'd want to discuss in person while sipping a bottle of wine... complicated, that! :-D