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Rare map showing the situation of the British Colony of Port Essington by John Arrowsmith dated 27th March, 1843. Port Essington had been surveyed by Charles J. Tyers in 1839 in H.M.S. Alligator and the Hydrographic chart from this survey … Read Full Description
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Rare map showing the situation of the British Colony of Port Essington by John Arrowsmith dated 27th March, 1843.
Port Essington had been surveyed by Charles J. Tyers in 1839 in H.M.S. Alligator and the Hydrographic chart from this survey was published by the Hydrographic Office of the Admiralty in 21st September, 1840.
In August 1618, Lenaert Jacobszoon, the captain of the Dutch East India Company vessel Mauritius, marked the point on the entrance to what would become known as Port Essington on Dutch charts as Kape Schildpad (Cape Turtle). Over two hundred years later, in 1824, the British government became interested in establishing a settlement in the area in order to facilitate trade with Asia. On 23 April 1818, Phillip Parker King named the point in honour of his late friend, Vice–Admiral Sir William Essington, and Sir J.G. Bremer took possession of the mainland on 20 September 1824, founding a short–lived colony. A small station was constructed here in 1831, but it was rarely used. When Fort Dundas and Fort Wellington failed within several years, the Port Essington site was revisited, and a settlement, officially named Victoria Settlement but popularly known as Port Essington, was established by Sir J. Gordon Bremer in 1838. Despite the British government‘s intentions to make Port Essington a major trading port, the settlement suffered from a lack of resources and supplies.
Port Essington suffered a further setback when the settlement was demolished by a cyclone on 25 November 1839. The cyclone killed twelve people, drove the ship HMS Pelorus aground, and caused a 3.2 metre storm surge. The settlement was rebuilt afterwards, with some stone and brick buildings, due to the assistance of a brick maker who had been shipwrecked during the storm. Despite these setbacks, there was still widespread hope that Port Essington might be able to be succeed and establish a direct line of communication with Asia, India and the Pacific.
John Arrowsmith (1790 - 1873)
Arrowsmith was an important English cartographer who flourished at a time of rapid British colonial expansion. Arrowsmith was born at Winston, County Durham. In 1810 he moved to London and worked his uncle Aaron Arrowsmith in his mapmaking business in London. After his uncle died in 1823 he set up on his own account. A founding member of the Royal Geographical Society 4th August 1830 and became unofficial cartographer for the society for forty three years. He took over the old Arrowsmith premises at 10 Soho Square after the death of his cousin Samuel Arrowsmith in 1839, buying the old Arrowsmith plates, manuscripts and copyrights at auction.
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Charles James Tyers (1806 - 1870)
British surveyor born in London,. After an education at Christ's Hospital he entered the navy in 1828 as a schoolmaster. He served under Admiral Lord Lyons in the Blonde and Captain James Bremer in the Alligator. He made a study of marine surveying and computed longitudes in the Channel, Mediterranean, West Indies and South Africa, becoming recognized as an expert, and in 1837 he was commissioned to survey the Port Essington area. He left the navy in 1839 to join the colonial service as a surveyor. Later that year he was instructed by Governor Sir George Gipps to fix the 141st meridian east longitude, the declared boundary between Port Phillip and South Australia, to ascertain in which colony the mouth of the Glenelg River was situated. Tyers made a triangulation and a chain traverse to Portland from Melbourne, thus fixing the longitude of Portland at 141° 35' 52", and made chronometer readings from Sydney and lunar observations. Taking a mean from these three calculations he fixed the meridian, but because of differing opinions on the longitude of Sydney, Captain Lort Stokes placed it 57 chains (1147 m) west and Captain Owen Stanley and Sir Thomas Mitchell at positions farther west again. Thus Tyers's position was most favourable to South Australia. Governor Gipps wrote to the Colonial Office: 'I have to explain that I have caused Mr Tyers' report to be printed in order that by being circulated amongst the officers of the departments it might stimulate them to exertion, and serve as a model in future operations of this nature'. However, after long disputes the boundary was not finally settled until 1914 when documents had to be sought from Tyers's descendants. Tyers was appointed surveyor in charge of the Portland district in 1841. His work included the laying out of the town and a marine survey of the bay. He was in close contact with the Aboriginals and compiled a vocabulary of about a hundred of their words. He maintained that if treated as 'gentlemen' they were responsive and friendly. He was gazetted a commissioner of crown lands at Portland Bay in August 1842 and a year later became the first commissioner of crown lands for Gippsland. At Charles La Trobe's request he left Melbourne in September to open a coastal route to Gippsland and then a route over the ranges. However, the task of penetrating the thick bush was aggravated by floods and bad weather and Tyers eventually took the sea route to Port Albert, where he arrived in January 1844. Later a third attempt succeeded despite the difficulty of carrying tents and equipment through the thick scrub. La Trobe was very pleased to have the way mapped and travelled it himself on horseback, surprising Tyers by his unexpected arrival at Alberton. Tyers was responsible for inaugurating government in Gippsland and virtually became 'King' of the huge isolated area, where lawlessness had been common and the Aboriginals hostile. He made a map showing holdings and their occupants and sent it to La Trobe in July 1844 with a descriptive and statistical report. He regulated the liquor trade and on his recommendations two police stations and a Court of Petty Sessions were established and two justices of the peace appointed. He improved Port Albert to cope with the growing trade with Hobart Town. He made extensive explorations of Gippsland, always making his land valuations after trigonometrical survey and collection of geological specimens. In 1846 he investigated the suitability of Gabo Island for a light-house. He was appointed a stipendiary magistrate in 1853 and generally had a staff of two or three constables, bullock drivers and rangers. To this position was added that of warden of the Gippsland goldfields in 1861. He moved from Old Port to Eagle Point, where in 1849 he married Georgina Caroline, daughter of William Scott, a grazier at Swan Reach. Later he moved to Sale and then built a home, Seabank, at Old Port, where he retired in 1867. He died at Melbourne on 20 September 1870.
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