1805 Land Grants

The free settlers who arrived with Lieutenant Governor, Col. David Collins, in 1804 were granted 100-acre lots (there were 10 of these grants made) on the banks of the New Town Rivulet near Stainforth Cove. The authorities considered it desirable to separate the free settlers from the convicts.

Within a week of tents being pitched in Hobart, white occupation in the environs of New Town was underway. These ‘granted’ lots were located on both the north and south side of the New Town Rivulet. The decision to settle this area was due to its ‘anticipated fertility’ and the existence of a reliable source of water in the form of the New Town Rivulet’.

The land where Lebrina stands was part of one of these first 100 acre grants, originally granted to Thomas Hayes. The property became known as Prospect Farm.

Captain Charles Swanston, New Town ‘aristocrat’ & his links with Thomas White and Lebrina

On his voyage of emigration to Van Diemen’s Land in 1832, Thomas White, his wife Sarah, their first 2 children, Thomas and William, together with Thomas’ sister, also a Sarah, and her husband, Henry William Seabrook, Thomas and his family met and got to know, fellow passenger, Georgiana Swanston and her children; there was ample opportunity to do so, during the 6 month voyage.

He spent his first year in VDL free of family distractions, until wife Georgiana and his children joined him on 12th November 1832, when she and her new friends, the Whites and Seabrooks, arrived on the ‘Thomas Laurie.’ They were all optimistically seeking a new life in VDL and men of money like Captain Charles Swanston offered skilled builders like Henry Seabrook and Thomas White on the ‘20 pounds Migration Advance Scheme,’ a great opportunity to practise their skills on a grand scale.

Existing free settlers and merchants in the penal colony of VDL had agitated for a new wave of emigration since administrative separation of VDL from NSW in 1825, to capitalise on Hobart Town’s strategic position and economic opportunities. Swanston, looking for a new outlet for his many talents, in surveying, engineering, classical scholarship and horticulture, took leave from the Madras Establishment in 1829, to travel to Hobart Town. Like many of his fellow officers in India, he was lured by the ‘entrepreneurial’ opportunities for those with capital and influence.

‘The young colony embraced connected men of enterprise and flamboyance as capitalism began challenging autocratic penal regimes. ‘Can-do’ men, like Swanston, epitomized the type of settler that Governor Arthur wanted to encourage. Following his initial fact finding trip in 1829, Swanston returned to VDL in October 1831, determined to leave the East India Company, and to pursue a post in VDL.

He spent his first year in VDL free of family distractions, until wife Georgiana and his children joined him on 12th November 1832, when she and her new friends, the Whites and Seabrooks, arrived on the ‘Thomas Laurie.’ They were all optimistically seeking a new life in VDL and men of money like Captain Charles Swanston offered skilled builders like Henry Seabrook and Thomas White on the ‘20 pounds Migration Advance Scheme,’ a great opportunity to practise their skills on a grand scale.

Charles Swanston was lured by the prettiness, proximity and productivity of New Town as the perfect place for an estate and residence. Swanston wanted Bartholomew Broughton’s ‘Prospect Farm,’ made up of 2 of the 1805 land grants made to Thomas Hayes and Thomas Issell; after his death in 1828, Broughton’s house and land was leased to Swanston and eventually, given his capacity to enter into financial deals, he was able to buy the property.

1872 photo from Rout’s Tower on the corner of Tower Rd looking down New Town Rd towards the Risdon Rd intersection and up New Town Road Hill where Lebrina can clearly be seen (top right above the vacant land) on the corner of New Town Rd & Cross St