Biography of George Eagle

by Douglas Burbury (E-mail: Douglas Burbury)


George Eagle was another of the early settlers in the Ross district who came to Van Diemen's Land in 1823 on the ship Andromeda. Other settlers in the district who also came out on this vessel included his son-in-law John Gardiner, Hugh Robertson, Benjamin Horne, Louis Gilles and John Leake. He had been engaged in mercantile pursuits with Horne and Gilles prior to emigrating.

Eagle's initial grant was about five miles north of the township of Ross, fronting the Macquarie River. On one side his neighbour was his son-in-law, John Gardiner, and on the other side was the 800-acre grant of Hugh Robertson. Eagle brought 130 pounds in cash and 504 pounds in kind with him to the colony, and this was not deemed to be enough to entitle him to anything but the smallest-sized grant which was 500 acres. The grant was dominated by a small rocky hill which still bears the name Eagle Hill.

Later on, in 1828, he was granted an additional block of 1000 acres near the Sweet Lagoon, but this was separated from his original grant by the range of hills known as Black Tier, which must have made it difficult to manage both holdings together. Eventually Eagle sold his original grant to Andrew Gatenby of the Isis River, who sold it again in 1835 to Adam and Thomas Robertson, who incorporated it into their neighbouring property of Bloomfield.

In an application which Eagle made in 1828 for an additional grant of land, he mentioned that he had constructed a "substantial stone dwelling house" which apparently cost 300 to build. No trace of this dwelling house now remains. However, there is a small mound of earth on the bottom side of present-day Bloomfield near the river which shows evidence of having once been the site of a building. In his book A Short History of Ross, K.R. von Stieglitz mentions that Jorgen Jorgensen lived on Bloomfield for six months while he was serving as Divisional Constable for Ross in 1834, and tradition has it that this mound of earth was the site of Jorgensen's hut. However, I have not been able to verify this, and so it is possible that the mound might actually be all that remains of George Eagle's "substantial stone dwelling".

George Eagle was considered by his contemporaries to be an honest and reliable man. Besides his pastoral interests, he also held several other offices, including Chief District Constable for the Macquarie River district, an appointment which he received soon after his arrival in 1823. He was also poundkeeper for the district, and applied for the position of Inspector of Distilleries in the Midlands, but this latter application was unsuccessful.

In 1832 Eagle left Van Diemen's Land in the Merofie in a party headed by Major Nairn, bound for the Swan River. He later went to Victoria, where he held the Tuerong run in the Western Port Bay district from 1840 to 1846. This run was 12,000 acres in size, and had sufficient carrying capacity for 400 cattle and 4000 sheep.

The name of George Eagle's wife is not known, but he had three sons and at least two daughters. One of the daughters married John Gardiner; the other, Elizabeth Charlotte, married Charles O'Hara Booth, who was commandant at Port Arthur. Of his sons, George Junior died in April 1833 of a consumption, after being taken to Hobart for medical treatment. Another son, Solomon, married Eliza Pilkington, daughter of Surgeon Edward Pilkington of the 21st or R.N.B. Fusiliers, and appears to have gone to Victoria with his father. Of the third son, nothing is known.

(Sources: Hobart Town Courier, 10 May 1823, 5 July 1828, 12 April 1833, 25 October 1833; Australian Dictionary of Biography, article on John Gardiner [Volume 1: 1788--1850 A--H, p. 425], "Arthur" files [Archive Office of Tasmania], 3025; Pastoral Pioneers; RD 1/5627; A Short History of Ross, von Stieglitz, K. R. [Launceston, 1949], pp. 45-6; Personal knowledge)

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Updated 01-Feb-2002