Wrapped in this document is a typical story of colonial Tasmania, involving the appropriation of land, hardship and ‘making ends meet’. It is one of the earliest surviving original land deeds in the TMAG collection, for land granted to James Hannaway in 1813 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie.
Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales (which at that time included Van Diemen’s Land), implemented a system of land grants after visiting the colony in 1811. He had been appalled at the ramshackle arrangements of Hobart Town and surrounds; subsequently, grants of land were given to colonists who had relocated from Norfolk Island – land being the principal resource of the young colony and a major incentive for migrants.
James Hannaway had arrived in the colony in 1808 from Norfolk Island with his pardoned convict mother, Anne Hannaway, and her husband Robert Nash – also a pardoned convict and possibly James’ father. Nash built a flour mill, supplied with wheat grown in the rich grasslands of the Pittwater–Sorell area and, by 1817, he was one of the largest contractors supplying wheat to the Commissariat.
This 1813 grant to James Hannaway was for 70 acres of rich soil land in the Sorell area. It was one of 365 made that year. James is earlier listed as having been granted 50 acres of land in the Hobart to Browns River area (now Kingston), and was a small-scale farmer of wheat, sheep, and goats. By 1830, however, he had been convicted of stealing cattle and received a commuted life sentence. He received a conditional pardon in 1843. This was not unusual; a life in and out of penal servitude was a pathway that many early colonists trod.