Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover has a green 1d ‘Sideface’ stamp of Tasmania and it is postmarked with a duplex HOBART/ S/ OC 24/ (—) with the obliterator TASMANIA over the stamp. It is addressed to Wm. Sharland Esq, New Norfolk (Figure 1).

The reverse has an arrival cancel of NEW NORFOLK/ OC 25/ 85/ TASMANIA and there is a double oval printed DOBSON MITCHELL & ALLPORT/ SOLICITORS/ HOBART on the flap (Figure 2).

William Stanley Sharland, surveyor, was the son of John Sharland, and his wife Jane. John Sharland made a ‘moderate fortune’ in India, where he was on the staff of the governor-general, Sir John Shore, later Baron Teignmouth (1751-1834). On his return to England he bought land at high post-war prices and began farming. In the 1820s he fell on difficult times and, with a recommendation from Teignmouth, emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land where he arrived with his two sons William and John Frederic in the Elizabeth in July 1823. He settled on some 1800 acres (728 ha) near Hamilton. His wife, Jane, and daughter, Anne Jane, joined him in April 1825. In 1835 he was gazetted as a justice of the peace for the territory and in 1836 his wife died. In 1853 he retired, and he died at Hamilton, Tasmania on 6 November 1855, aged 93.

Soon after his arrival William Sharland joined the Survey Department as a copying clerk. He soon became an acting assistant surveyor and when Edward Dumaresque took charge of the Survey Office he gave Sharland more responsible work and in February 1827, supporting a recommendation by the Executive Council that Sharland’s salary be raised from £100 to £200, praised his zeal and perseverance and commended his survey and plan of Launceston, his line of road across the island, and his plan of streets and areas of Hobart Town; he did as much work as any two assistants. The Colonial Office approved the increase in August 1828. Sharland explored the sources of the Derwent River and claimed to have discovered Lake St Clair in 1827. He laid out New Norfolk, Hamilton, Oatlands, Bothwell and Brighton. Despite his protests he was retrenched from the Survey Department in 1839 and employed as a contract surveyor.

Meanwhile Sharland had become a large landholder. When he arrived he was granted 400 acres (162 ha) adjoining his father’s land. By June 1828 he had 1000 acres (405 ha) and 1250 sheep, and employed a free overseer at £40 a year and two assigned servants. In June 1828 he was granted an additional 1000 acres (405 ha) and by 1831 had leased 2200 acres (890 ha) at New Norfolk and been granted 560 (227 ha) more. By 1828 he was also a pioneer hop-grower and in 1847 imported 50,000 sets from a nursery in Kent.

In 1832 he was engaged in a dispute with Edward Abbott about the ownership of 460 acres (164 ha) which Sharland claimed but which a tribunal granted to Abbott. In July Abbott averred that Sharland had dealt in land while in the Survey Department and was occupying 3000 acres (1214 ha) adjoining his own grant without paying rent, to the exclusion of other settlers. Sharland replied that he had never bought or sold a grant; his land was all granted by the government and improved under his father’s expert direction; the 3000 acres (1214 ha) referred to was in fact 1800 acres (728 ha) rented by his father until the government put them up for sale.

Sharland was a constant visitor at Government House in the days of Sir John Franklin, Sir William Denison and Sir John Young and in September 1848 he was appointed to the Legislative Council. After responsible government he represented New Norfolk in the House of Assembly in 1861-72. In 1835 he had married Frances Sarah Schaw, and they had six sons and eight daughters. After her death in March 1859 he married Margaret Fyfe, of Mount Nod, Surrey. He was a devoted member of the Church of England and for many years a member of synod. He died on 23 October 1877 and was buried at New Norfolk. A picture of William Sharland is seen in Figure 3.

In 1834 John Dobson (of the cover’s reverse) emigrated from England and was admitted to practice in Hobart. In 1864 he was joined by William Giblin and the name of the firm of solicitors was changed to Dobson & Giblin. In 1865 John Dobson dies and his sons continue the firm. The eldest son William Lambert Dobson is appointed judge of the Supreme Court and the second son, Henry Dobson continues in practice with William Giblin. In 1870 William Giblin is appointed as a judge and enters politics. In 1873 the firm of Dobson & Giblin moves to 111 Macquarie Street in Hobart and the firm becomes Dobson & Mitchell when John Mitchell joins the firm. In 1878 William Giblin becomes Premier of Tasmania until 1884 and Cecil Allport joins the firm in 1886, the firm becoming Dobson, Mitchell & Allport (as listed on the cover). The firm became one of the largest law businesses in Tasmania, and the firm exists by that name to-day, having moved to the corner of Davey and Harrington Street, Hobart.

The text and the picture of William Sharland were taken from the Australian Dictionary of Biography. The information about the law firm of Dobson, Mitchell, Allport was abridged from their website

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