Friday, April 1, 2016

BH 3.5 Landowners 1854 - 1855 William Hobbs

When buying a property it is a natural instinct to try to find out a bit of history about the previous owners, or the area.  Sometimes that is readily available, sometimes not, but as a family historian, that instinct becomes the focal point with any research, and often the results provide answers to the many questions that are raised when unravelling the family jigsaws, or in this case, the "suburb" jigsaw.

By now it was becoming clear to me that there were some very strong connections between all the original owners of land, and to satisfy my theory about what that connection was, I decided to follow the lives of several more landholders, both in Sandgate and Brackenridge location.

Hobbs, William (1822–1890)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972
William Hobbs (1822-1890), medical practitioner, was born in London, son of James Hobbs and his wife Anne, née Phillips. He was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London on 15 May 1843.

Accompanied by his aged mother, he arrived at Moreton Bay on 1 May 1849 as surgeon of the Chaseley, the second of John Dunmore Lang's migrant ships. After a brief period at Drayton on the Darling Downs, he commenced practice in Brisbane in September. Apart from a few months in 1850 when he relieved as resident surgeon of the Brisbane Hospital on the death of David Ballow, he remained in private practice in Brisbane throughout his professional life.

At various times he held appointments on the honorary staffs of the Brisbane Hospital, the Lying-in Hospital and the Hospital for Sick Children. He was for many years medical officer to the immigration depot and the gaol. He was health officer for Brisbane in 1854-88 and a member of the Medical Board of Queensland in 1860-88. Professionally he was well regarded and is credited with having administered in 1854 the first chloroform anaesthetic in Brisbane.
Hobbs had many nonprofessional interests and appears to have been active in various local cultural organizations and in the Aborigines' Friends Society. He was prominent in local agitation against Earl Grey's proposed resumption of transportation in the 1850s.

Like some other colonial medicos he had an inquiring mind and an interest in experiment. He became a protagonist of the medicinal use of dugong oil, a form of therapy for which he coined the name 'Elaiopathy'; samples of his oil were sent to the Paris Exhibition in 1855 but he failed in an attempt to produce and market it commercially. At his property at Humpybong (Redcliffe) he discovered a spring with alleged anti-anaemic virtues. He grew cotton and is said to have sent samples to the editor of the Economist but again lost money through backing the Caboolture Cotton Co.
In 1861 Hobbs was nominated to the Legislative Council and, in fact if not in name, as minister without portfolio and leader of the government in that chamber was appointed to the Executive Council. Early in 1862 he resigned from the executive but remained a member of the Legislative Council until October 1880. Politically his most fertile period was in the early years; he played a major part in the passage of the Contagious Diseases Prevention Act, 1868, and the first Health Act, 1872. Apart from the medical area, he was especially active in questions of land tenure. He was a member of the Immigration Board, the Board of Education and the Central Board of Health.

His later years were clouded by the findings of the 1876 royal commission on lunatic asylums which reported evidence of neglect in the reception house at Petrie Terrace where he was visiting surgeon. T

Dr William Hobbs (1822 – 8 December 1890) was a doctor and politician in colonial Queensland.
Hobbs was born in London, England and was one of the earliest colonists of Queensland, practised as a doctor in Brisbane, and was for a considerable period the Government medical officer. 
He was nominated to the Queensland Legislative Council and was a member of the first responsible government, without portfolio, under the premiership of Robert Herbert, the permanent

Under-Secretary for the Colonies, from April 1861 to January 1862. Mr. Hobbs married Anna Louisa Barton, sister of Edmund Barton, of Sydney. He died in Brisbane on 8 December 1890 and was buried in Toowong Cemetery.

William Hobbs

William and Elizabeth Hobbs between them owned 9 parcels of land.

Elizabeth Hobbs      Lot 116   94.3 acres    1 June 1854
Elizabeth Hobbs      Lot 120   94.3 acres    1 June 1854

William Hobbs       Lot  59    104.5 acres    15 March 1855
William Hobbs       Lot 60     104.5 acres    15 March 1855
William Hobbs       Lot 61     104.5 acres    15 March 1855
William Hobbs       Lot 99     199 acres       2nd April 1855
William Hobbs       Lot 100   199 acres      2nd April 1855
William Hobbs       Lot 101   199 acres      2nd April 1855
William Hobbs       Lot 102   199 acres      2nd April 1855

Well Dr Hobbs was a rather important figure in the life of early Queensland.  What would have been his interest in the lands?

Fancy experimenting with the "dugong oil", I am glad that idea wasn't popular.

He was a cotton grower at Humpybong,

This extract is from an old document from the Queensland Museum.

As early as the Paris event of 1855, Queensland's dugong (or sea Cow) was featured at exhibitions.  Prized for its oil ("a superior" medicine to cod liver oil), its flesh (for bacon and lard), its skin (for glue and "tough leather") and even its bones and tusks (for "good second-rate ivory), colonists soon found that "every part" of the dugong could be turned to profit.

So intensively was the dugong "fished" off southern Queensland that by the early 1860's its fate was already "sealed".  Queensland's pioneer exhibitor of dugong oil was the Brisbane medical practitioner Dr William Hobbs, proprietor of the St Helena dugong oil factory and a commissioner for the exhibitions of 1862 and 1867.

At the succeeding Philadelphia and Paris events John Lionel Ching of the Hervey Bay fishery showed not only dozens of bottles of dugong oil, but also dugong skeletons, tusks, teeth, and even a dugong calf in spirits.

Thankfully times have changed, and Hervey Bay is the "home" of many dugongs, who come to feed on the sea grass.  One day when walking the dogs on Scarness beach, a group of us were intrigued by the dorsal fin swimming close to the shore.  "it's a shark, no it's a porpoise"  said some, but until it raised its head, none of us knew that it was in fact a baby dugong!

Not the prettiest of sea creatures, but certainly very cute!  

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