Royal Reels: Gambling


A series of 7 covers addressed to Edwin Nowell in Hobart from January 1850 to February 1860, from South Australia, New South Wales and Tasmania appeared in a Tasmanian stamp auction in April 2005. The covers were well described and many were of more than passing notice, but no details were given concerning the addressee, who was an early Tasmanian of considerable importance. The covers are presented here in chronological order, with descriptions largely following those provided by the vendor. All were addressed to Nowell, except for the first which was sent to his wife.

A stampless envelope was addressed to Church Street, Hobart Town, V.D. (Van Diemen’s) Land rated ‘6’ in red manuscript (plus a black manuscript, unidentified) had an unframed G.P.O./ Crown/ JA [fleuron] 9/ 1850/ SOUTH AUSTRALIA postmark, with a clear impression (not shown) of HOBART SHIP LETTER dated JA 25 in black, on the reverse (Figure 1).

Envelope was sent ‘per Tasmania’ to Commissariat, Hobart Town franked with a single imperf 3d yellow-green QV NSW Laureate (SG 87), tied by Sydney barred obliterator plus a red boxed SHIPS LETTER INWARDS FREE/ 25 AU 25/ 1855 date stamp. The next five covers all showed this same boxed postmark, which has been abbreviated to ‘S.L.I.F.’ (Figure 2).

Envelope was sent to Commissariat, Hobart Town franked with a vertical pair imperf 3d dull green QV SG 117, tied by a Sydney barred obliterator. The same S.L.I.F./ 2 SP 2/ 1857 was applied in red (Figure 3).

Envelope was sent to Government House, Hobart Town franked with a single imperf grey brown 6d QV N.S.W. Diadem SG 96 tied by a Sydney unframed duplex showing 2 upper arcs, the time code ‘C’/ MY 19/ 1859/ SYDNEY plus a small part of the S.L.I.F. in red at the lower right corner (Figure 4).

Envelope was sent to Government House, Hobart Town ‘per Steamer Tasmania’ with a single grey ‘wing copy’ imperf 6d QV N.S.W. Diadem SG 94 tied by the same Sydney duplex code ‘O’/ JU 8/ 1859/ SYDNEY and the red S.L.I.F./ 13 JU (1)3/ 1859 (Figure 5).

Envelope was sent to Government House, Hobart Town franked with the single imperf 6d fawn QV N.S.W. Diadem SG 93 with a manuscript ‘per Tasmania’ tied by a different type of Sydney duplex (where the previous 2 separated arcs are now joined to produce a half circle). The ‘plugs’ are in an inverted order of year (18)59, month/day SP 24 and time code ‘B’. A black S.L.I.F./ 29 SP 29/ 1859 was also applied. The reverse (not shown) had ‘R.E. & F. Tooth Brewery’ embossed on the flap, which may seem incongruous in view of later research (Figure 6).

Envelope was sent to Trinity Hill (Hobart), franked with the imperf 1d pale red-brown Van Diemen’s Land Chalon postmarked with BN 74 (a first obliterator which came into late use in 1859 in Hobart). There is a full strike of the scarce boxed PRE-PAID/ 1 O-CLOCK/ 24 FE 24/ 1860, in red (Figure 7).

A picture of Edwin Nowell is seen in Figure 8.

Edwin Nowell was born in Hobart on 28 January 1831 and died at the Homeopathic Hospital, Hobart on 12 February 1911. He received his education in Hobart and began his working career in the Commissariat Department, after which he was a teacher in a high school. In 1857 he was employed at Government House as personal secretary to Governor Sir Henry Young, and his employment ceased when the new Governor (Sir Thomas Gore Browne) brought his own private secretary. In 1862 he commenced a fruitful longest-serving career as the Clerk of the Tasmanian Legislative Council. His photo is taken from the Tasmanian Parliamentary records (Figure 8).

He was married twice with no issue from either marriage found. In addition to his parliamentary duties he was president of the Homeopathic Association, president and treasurer of St. John’s Friendly Society, and he took an interest in temperance matters. The latter is of interest in view of the back flap of Figure 6, which was a cover from the Tooth’s Brewery! He was also appointed Government Statistician in January 1867, a position he held until June 1882.

His most lasting influence was in his writings which covered multiple areas: parliamentary law and procedure both in Tasmania and South Australia, as well as extending to the English House of Commons; advice to emigrants intending to relocate in Tasmania; comparative statistics of the principal British possessions and foreign countries; how the changes of the moon may affect rainfall; vital statistics of Tasmania, with special reference to the mortality of children; and, political economy in the Colony.

His worth to the Legislative Council was expressed on 18 July 1911 as follows: “This Council sincerely regrets the death of the late Mr Edwin Cradock Nowell, I.S.Q., who, for a period of nearly 50 years, occupied the office of the Clerk of the Council; and desires to place upon record its appreciation of his high character and ability, and of the courtesy displayed by him in his long and faithful service”.

I acknowledge the helpful research of Peter Reardon, Parliamentary Research Service, Hobart and Margaret Harman, Heritage Collections, State Library of Tasmania, Hobart.

Categories: Political