John and Elizabeth Faulkner 1804

John and Elizabeth Faulkner


                                                                                                                                       © Irene Schaffer 2004


John Faulkner was born in London on 20th October 1792. He often stayed with his grandmother Mrs Pascoe until he went away to Mr Edward’s Boarding School in Chelsea in 1800.  Elizabeth was three years younger than her brother and would have stayed at home with her mother.  In 1802 their father John Faulkner was tried in court and sent to prison for receiving a gold snuff-box with diamonds, a diamond necklace, a pair of buckles and silver spoons, that had been stolen. He was sentenced to 14 years transportation to the Colony (Australia)


In 1803 the family left England on two ships, the Calcutta for the convicts and the Ocean for the free settlers.  John’s father had some money with him and when he found that he and his family had to sleep below decks with everyone else he offered the boatswain twenty pounds for his cabin.  It was a long and rough trip to Port Phillip (Melbourne) where they stayed for a short time.    


They later transferred to the ship Ocean and with the help of the Lady Nelson arrived at the River Derwent in February 1804.


It was a long time for two children to be on a ship, nearly twelve months.  They would have been very pleased to arrive at Risdon Cove.


The ships did not stay at Risdon Cove because there was not enough fresh water running in the creek. They sailed across the River Derwent and set up camp at Sullivan’s Cove where Hobart is today.

 Hobart Town


There were no white people living in Hobart when the ships arrived and the Faulkner family had to live in tents along the Rivulet, until they were given land  along the River Derwent.  John’s father built their hut, it was made of straw at Faulkner’s Creek (later called Faulkner’s Rivulet). The hut burnt down shortly after it was built and was replaced with a wooden one with a shingle roof.


Ship Ocean, off Hunter Island 1804

There was a small island near where the Ocean and the Lady Nelson anchored at Sullivan Cove, (later Hobart Town) called Hunter Island.  The stores from the ships were kept on the island until the convicts  could build a bigger building on land. 


There were other children who came with John and Elizabeth on the ships and they must have had fun playing along the shore while their parents were busy. 

John’s father was also called John and he brought some pigs with him on the ship, only one survived. Other people on the ship brought animals too, mostly fowls and ducks.


There were more than 500 people to feed so when they saw how plentiful the animals and birds were, kangaroos, emus, ducks, swans, pigeons, quails, and wattlebirds, the Governor sent the soldiers into the bush with their guns and to bring back food for the people.  Very big gum trees grew along the rivulet in 1804 and some were cut down when the tents were pitched.  After a while Governor Collins became worried that too many trees were being cut and birds being killed. He made a law that no more trees were to be removed or birds shot without his permission.


The settlement at Hobart Town became very short of food. Some of the seed they brought with them got wet from the rough seas and eaten by rats. They had very few animals and it was a long time before another ship arrived with more supplies.


Each week food was given from the stores to the free people, soldiers and convicts by the government. If they eat it all before the week was up, they were not given any more.


Free people were given 6 lb wheat (to make bread) and 2lb of pork meat each.

Soldiers were given 4 lb of flour, 6lb of maize, 2 lb of pork, 6 oz of sugar each.

Convicts were given 2lb 10 oz of pork and 4 lb of bread each.


The free people caught fish from the only two small boats available and when there were big catches some were given to the soldiers and convicts.  Crayfish and eels were also caught in the River Derwent.


There were not many aborigines seen around Hobart Town when the settlement was first started. The white men took what kangaroos, emus and birds they wanted thinking there was plenty for everybody.  In the winter time aborigines were seen hunting kangaroos but as there were not as many as in previous winters the aborigines had to go further into the bush looking for food. One day some aborigines came into the town and were given food. They liked the white man’s food especially the sugar.


           Farming at Faulkner’s Rivulet


After he moved up the river to Faulkner’s Rivulet, John’s father brought more animals for his farm. There was only a track from Hobart and they often had to go by boat. John had to look after the sheep. He had no shoes so he cut pieces of kangaroo skins and made them into moccasins to keep his feet warm. They were better than nothing but were soft and too thin for the winter and in the summer dried out and pinched his toes.


John and Elizabeth worked with their father and lived in the hut while their mother went back England in 1805 to get her inheritance.  She didn’t return for nearly three years.

By 1807 the farm at Faulkner’s Rivulet had 22 sheep and 18 goats. They also had a garden where they grew vegetables.  The sheep were not like those of today they mostly had long hair and not much wool.

One day while the two Faulkner children were at home on their own, some bushrangers came to the hut demanding money. John could not tell the bushrangers where the money was, because there wasn’t any. The bushrangers threatened to hold John and Elizabeth over a fire until they did.  John grabbed his duck gun and he and Elizabeth ran out of the hut and hid in the bush until the bushrangers left. When they returned to the hut they found that the bushrangers had taken most of their clothes and all their food.


In 1809 John’s father planted 5 acres of wheat on his farm. He now had 6 cattle and 53 sheep, he had also added 72 goats. The cattle were much smaller than they are today and gave very little milk.


Elizabeth married George Brown in 1809, he later died.  In 1822 Elizabeth now Mrs Richard Lucas had two children at school in Hobart. She went on to have another seven children. Elizabeth and Richard later lived on a farm at Black Brush.  Elizabeth died at Kingston on 23 April 1851 aged 61.


In 1814 John went into Hobart to work, he was now 18 years old.  During this time while working as a sawyer in the bush he helped some convicts build a cutter in which they hoped to escape from the colony.  When the convicts were caught they told the constables that John had helped them.  John was taken to his father’s home were he was flogged outside the front door. In 1814 he was  sent to Sydney, from where he was transported to New Castle for three years as a convict. He sailed for New Castle on the Lady Nelson on the 10 February 1815.    The Lady Nelson was known to John when she assisted the Ocean in with the free settlers and supplies to the River Derwent in 1804.


When John returned to Hobart in 1817 he first went back to the farm at Faulkner’s Rivulet, where he continued to farm his land. He grew wheat, beans, and potatoes. He also had 14 cattle, 104 sheep and two servants.  But he soon realized that farming was not what he wanted to do.


The farm continued to prosper and by 1819 their combined land covered 190 acres. Governor Macquarie had given John and Elizabeth 50 acres of land each in 1808. (see map) They now had 58 acres in wheat, 4 acres in maize, 2 acres in barley, 4 acres in beans and 10 acres in potatoes. They also had 42 cattle, 924 sheep and 10 bushells of grain in their shed.  The farm was for sale in November 1819.


John later went to Launceston where he became a book seller and hotel keeper. He married Eliza Cobb in 1822, a convict who had arrived in Hobart in 1818.   John was a small man only a little over 5 feet tall. He did not drink or gamble. He was known to have a fiery temper and was not very tactful.  John established the Launceston Advertiser, Launceston’s first newspaper in 1829. His mother Hannah died on 17 January 1825 in Hobart.  His father married again on two occasions and continued for a while to live in Hobart.


Within a few years John had lost his hotel and closed the newspaper. It was then that he decided to buy the schooner Enterprise and sail to Port Phillip in the hope of establishing a new settlement there.


After John moved to Port Phillip (Melbourne) his father and step-mother went to live with him. John’s father was described as being a very small slender man with only one eye, who wore a pair of black silk stockings under black tights and a tall beaver hat, he died in Melbourne on 24th September 1854. His wife died on 15th May 1858. They are both buried with John (Pascoe) Faulkner (now called Fawkner).


John Pascoe Fawkner went on to become an important man in Melbourne, he and his wife lived at Pascoe Vale (named for his mother) five miles from Melbourne, on the banks of Saltwater River.  The property had a long winding avenue leading up to the house, with lots of trees and shrubs and grape vines. He was a member of the council.  John Pascoe Fawkner died on 4 September 1869 aged 77 years old.  He had a big funeral as everyone had come to respect this man who had begun his life in a new country as the son of a convict and rose to become known as one of the founders and builders of Melbourne. 

(Written for the children at the Mt Faulkner School for the play they performed at the end of the year 2004)