William Sorell in Van Diemen's Land
A Golden Age?
by Leonie Mickleborough.
Most accounts of the history of Van Diemen's Land have skipped rather lightly over the years in which Colonel William Sorell was Lieutenant-Governor, preferring to concentrate on the eventful and controversial twelve-year reign of his successor, Colonel George Arthur. But the years 1817 to 1824 were the time when the colony began its growth spurt and it was Sorell, not Arthur, who was the first to deal with the rapid increase in the numbers of free settlers and convicts.
Sorell has often been portrayed as a charming but easy-going fellow, incapable of denying the greedy free settlers what they desired. That he was popular in the colony is certain, yet he also pleased his superiors in Sydney and London, who had a high regard for his administrative abilities. Even so, he was recalled mid-term; not for poor performance but as a consequence of his personal life. The woman who accompanied him to Hobart Town as ‘Mrs Sorell’ was in fact the wife of a fellow officer. His own wife, and their children, had been abandoned in London.
Leonie Mickleborough’s study provides the first in-depth examination of the Sorell administration. She tests the claim of Sorell's contemporary supporters that he presided over the ‘Golden Age’ of Van Diemen's Land and assesses his character, both public and private.
215x137mm. viii, 168pp, 8pp illus. Soft covers. ISBN 0 908528 31 0 ..... $10.00 (AUD)
***The special limited issue of 25 numbered copies, signed by the author
and bound in quarter blue leather and grey buckram, has sold out
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