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WILLIAM DAWSON GRUBB & MORTON ALLPORT, EARLY TASMANIAN LEGAL PRACTITIONERS

This Tasmanian cover has an outer made from stiff paper which is inscribed with a manuscript 'Law papers only from/ Allport Roberts & Allport/ Hob Town 3 Sept 1862', was addressed to 'W.D. Grubb Esq/ Solicitor/ Launceston'. It has the 2d green and 4d blue Chalons tied by two impressions of the Hobart barred obliterator plus another impression of PRE-PAID/ 3 SEP 3/ 1862 cancel in red. The total of 6d postage was the rate for Book Packet Post article not exceeding 4 ounces. The reverse (not seen) was said to have a rectangular reception postmark of Launceston PRE-PAID/ 4 SP 4/ 1862 (Figure 1).

 

 

William Dawson Grubb (1817-1879) was an attorney, politician and entrepreneur who was born in London. In March 1832 he arrived in Van Diemen's Land in the Sovereign with his sister Maria Susanna and her husband Henry Reed. He worked briefly in his brother-in-law's business, but then returned to England to complete his studies and read law. While there, he married Marianne, daughter of Joseph Beaumont, and when he returned to Launceston in 1842, he was admitted as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court.  A photo of William Dawson Grubb is seen in  Figure 2.

 

 

With Henry Jennings he set up a law partnership which continued until the Jennings moved to Melbourne. Apart from his successful practice, Grubb's main business ventures were in timber and mining. He built a sawmill at Piper's River but the timber market failed. Similarly, his investments in mining often were unfortunate, and he was reputed to have lost over £50,000 in timber, gold, coal and railway investments. However the 'New Native Youth' and 'Tasmania' gold mines were profitable and they compensated largely for his losses. Grubb represented Tamar in the Tasmanian Legislative Council from 1869 until he died aged 62 on 8 February 1879. He was survived by 3 sons and 2 daughters.

His eldest son, Frederick William Grubb (1844-1723) was born in Launceston and educated at Horton College, Ross. He was articled to his father and to the Hobart firm of Allport, Roberts & Allport. In 1867 he went into partnership with his father and carried on the practice alone from 1874 when his father retired. In the Legislative Council, he succeeded his father as member for Tamar in 1879, and in 1881-1911 he represented Meander. He also carried on his father's interests in investments - in mining he was a director of the Western Silver Mine in Zeehan; and in the pastoral industry, he managed a merino stud farm.

Morton Allport (1830-1878) was born on 4 December 1830 in Staffordshire, England, the eldest child of Joseph Allport and his wife Mary Morton, née Chapman. When 12 months old he arrived in Hobart Town on the Platina. He was educated at the Queen's School and was articled to his father in the firm of Allport & Roberts. In 1855 he became a partner of the firm Allport, Roberts & Allport (as on the cover in 1862). Except for an overseas tour in 1852-55, he lived in Tasmania where he was regarded as one of the most successful of those educated in the colony.  A photo of Morton Allport is seen in Figure 3.

 

 

From childhood, Morton Allport and his brothers and sister were encouraged to take an interest in natural history and art. He was a most devoted student of the former and he became a great bush walker, and an authority on Tasmanian botany and zoology, to the neglect of his legal practice. He also had a wide correspondence with scientific men of authority in Europe and was a leading figure in bringing salmon to Tasmania. In 1866 he became one of the first salmon commissioners in Tasmania.

Morton became a fellow of the Linnæan and Zoological Societies and of the Royal Colonial Institute in London. In 1870–78 he was vice-president of the Royal Society of Tasmania, which he had joined in 1849. As an artist he did not succeed, but he maintained a lifelong interest in art. After his return from Europe, he turned more successfully to photography. He helped to organize Tasmanian exhibits for the 1862 Great Exhibition in London and was a commissioner appointed to arrange Tasmanian entries for the Intercolonial Exhibition of Australia in Melbourne in 1866-67.

On 3 January 1856 Morton Allport married Elizabeth Ritchie and one of their sons, Cecil (1858-1926) became a well-known solicitor in Hobart as well as a collector of books and colonial paintings. These collections formed the nucleus of the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts which was bequeathed by Cecil's son, Henry (1890-1965) to the people of Tasmania. Morton Allport died in "Lebrena", Hobart on 10 September 1878, and was buried in the Queensborough cemetery.

The origin of the initial law firm, Allport, Roberts was found in a biography of Morton's father, Joseph Allport (1800-1877). His legal career started in England as a solicitor, but when he arrived in Hobart Town in December 1831 he started farming. Within a year he realised that the land would not support his family and he joined the law practice of George Cartwright, the oldest practitioner in Hobart. Their firm Cartwright & Allport grew rapidly, Cartwright retired in 1841, and Allport went into partnership John Roberts, creating Allport & Roberts. Joseph was considered the most successful barrister of his day with a reputation of authority on real property law, not only in Tasmania but also in England.

The firm of Allport, Roberts & Allport had 3 generations of the Allport family as members, as well as the son (Frederick William) of William Dawson Grubb, who articled with the firm for a short period, early in his career.

Acknowledgments: I am indebted to Margaret Harman, Heritage Collections, State Library of Tasmania, Hobart who provided the information on the barristers and solicitors covered in this paper. The information used was derived from the Australian Dictionary of Biography: Vol. 1, 1788-1850 (Joseph Allport); Vol. 3, 1851-1890 (Morton & Cecil Allport); and, Vol. 4, 1851-1890 (William Dawson Grubb & his son Frederick William Grubb). Figures 2 - 3 are reproduced from the website http://images.statelibrary.tas.gov.au.

 
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