The history of Rathmore

Learn about our property and the story behind it

“The old stone homestead was built soon after Torlesse was granted the property”

After the Napoleonic Wars Lieutenant Henry Boden Torlesse joined the Merchant Marine on the India route and then emigrated to Hobart arriving 20 May 1828 on the Barque “Wanstead”. With assets of L1985 he took up 2560 acre sheep property Rathmore in the parish of Hamilton under Governor Arthur’s administration with assistance from free overseer R Crocker he had brought out with him. Torlesse managed Montacute for General William Langdon till 1834. Since 1819 land grants had been issued and sheep flocks grew with the arrival of new settlers who brought their families out, receiving assigned convicts to work as domestic servants or labourers. Sheep stealing was rampant along with cattle duffing and false branding. It was dangerous work for the shepherds with the land past New Norfolk the hiding place for various convicts turned rogue, then known as “banditti”. The Black War or the Vandemonic War, a frightful untold tragic story of how the British occupied Van Diemen’s Land deploying regimental soldiers and special forces, armed convicts and mercenaries, as part of a ruthless policy in the 1820s and 1830s, pushed the Big River People, as the indigenous first peoples of the Derwent Valley and Central Highlands were known, out of these lands.

In 1823 John Sherwin & his family had taken up Sherwood on the River Clyde about 6 km north of Rathmore. Sherwood was recently one of the sets for “The Nightingale” which premiered in late 2018 featuring an Irish convict woman seeking revenge for the murder of her family, taking an Aboriginal male tracker with her through the Tasmanian interior.

In 1834 Montacute was the setting for a grand dinner for the Bothwell Literary Society with the governor & his entourage riding out from Hobart. According to Torlesse’s grandson Professor Edward H Liveing, Rathmore was “an extensive country house, verandah, stables etc in English fashion where he entertained on a scale rather beyond his means with a result that he had to mortgage the property and ultimately sell it.” Inside the cover of Henry’s family bible was written “Rathmore 1831 Hamilton 1840”

Henry Torlesse married Francis Hawthorne whose family came from Tipperary, Ireland. Her mother Miss Jane Cramer married Mr Hawthorne a clerk from Dublin against her father’s wishes & was “cut off without a shilling”. Francis came to Van Diemen’s Land with her brother George probably on 22 May 1827 and was sent up country as a governess. “Lieutenant Torlesse saw her, fell in love and married her, their union proving most happy”. They married on 28 June 1829 in Elizabeth Town (now New Norfolk). Prof Living describes his grandfather as a “most genial man… fond of social life and entertaining friends”. We continue this tradition at Rathmore today!

In 1841 Torlesse had been appointed Police Magistrate in Hamilton where his sister-in-law was married to surgeon Dr G F Huston. Hamilton has a Torlesse St. He was later a Police magistrate at Campbell Town. His wife died of consumption aged 32 on 20 August, 1843 and Henry Bowden Torlesse died of cancer two months later aged 50 on 24 October 1843. They are buried at Kingston, Brown River Churchyard. Torlesse was a friend of Gov Franklin for 30 years from their Navy days as fellow midshipmen. Knowing that he was dying, he had arranged for his wife and daughter to return to England with Gov Franklin. After her mother died on 1 December 1843, their 12 year old orphaned daughter Fanny was sent back to England with a Governess Miss Williamson, to her uncle Rev C M Torlesse on the “Rajah” accompanied by Sir John & Lady Franklin.

Hollow Tree was a staging-post for drovers taking stock to Bothwell and Gretna. Local lore has it that mail for drovers used to be left in an old hollow tree. The property went to a Hobart solicitor Mr Cartwright in 1832 & bought by Richard Allwright in 1839.

On the property there was a small 4 roomed sandstone house recorded for posterity by Mary Morton Allport in a drawing housed at the Allport Museum of Fine Arts in Hobart noted: “Rathmore 1836 My first sketch.” Rathmore remained in the Allwright family for over 150 years. The Georgian style house was built employing convict labour using sandstone and lime quarried on the property, extensively using beautiful timbers, leadlighting on the front door and multiple fireplaces. In 1962 the Allwrights extended the house using matching stone from a Macquarie Plains fire damaged house. There were two other owners before Richard and Cally became the proud custodians of the 92 acre portion including homestead and Shearing Shed with a dovecote, Shearers Quarters, Shearers Cook’s Cottage, sheep and cattle yards, Stables, Old Barn and Big Shed in February 2016.

Mary Morton Allport: Rathmore, my first etching. SD_ILS90697
Listen to Cally and Rathmore’s story
Cally was recently interviewed by radio host Faye Waterman as part of her “A conversation with Faye” series on Southern FM. During their chat, they talk about the history of the Rathmore property, as well as Cally and Richard’s own story and how they became the custodians of Rathmore.
Faye Waterman interview with Cally
by A conversation with Faye | 88.3 Southern FM
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