Edward Lord (1781-1859) – <em>an ignoble nobleman</em>

No. 87 Edward Lord (1781-1859) – an ignoble nobleman

What you see is not always what you get – and this rather noble-looking man has a distinctly ignoble tale to tell… if you look beneath the surface. It’s a portrait that also reflects an interesting intersection between two early colonialists – artist, Thomas Bock, and subject, Edward Lord – men whose lives in Van Diemen’s Land were shaped by both their misdemeanours and their ambitions. more...

Edward Lord was one of the first British settlers in Van Diemen’s Land, arriving with David Collins’ expedition in February 1804. He was an officer of the marines, a commandant, magistrate, pastoralist and merchant. He temporarily took charge of the Hobart Town settlement following the sudden death of David Collins in March 1810 (and reportedly burnt all the papers in Government House). By 1820, Lord was said to be the richest man in Van Diemen’s Land; the owner of three ships, 6000 cattle, 7000 sheep and 35,000 acres – most notably the Lawrenny estate between Hamilton and Ouse in Tasmania’s south. His combined interests saw Lord become founding president of the Van Diemen’s Land Agricultural Society in 1822, and an original proprietor of the Bank of Van Diemen’s Land.

Despite his successes, Lord had a dark side: many of his land holdings were acquired via government connections and favours, and he was suspected of smuggling, keeping a shop against regulations and monopolising trade in the colony. He also had poor relations with governors Macquarie, Bligh, Arthur and Brisbane, and his ruthless dealings with people led him to be described by Governor Macquarie as “a dangerous and troublesome man” – one of the ‘bad characters’ of the Derwent.

Bock, an artist, was transported from England in 1823 for administering drugs to a young woman he had seduced for the purposes of miscarriage. Despite this dubious start, he went on to establish a good career in Van Diemen’s Land and was the first professional painter in the colony. Today, his portraits are celebrated for their depth of character and sensitivity.

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  • Object maker: Thomas Bock
  • Object date: 1846
  • Object size: 76.6 x 62.1 cm
  • Object location: Hobart
  • Object display location: Off Display
  • Object source: Presented by Miss Vera Durant, 1963.
  • Accession number: AG528