Original manuscript Record in ink dated 1834 of a Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land case before the Chief Justice, signed by the solicitor and attorney Thomas Wood Rowlands acting for the Plaintiff, David Barclay, v. the defendant John Bodry, unfolded size 95 cm (height) x 54 cm (width).
Condition: Very good, without tears to the manuscript.
David Barclay (1804-1884), born in Montrose, north-east of Dundee in Scotland, trained as a jeweller and watch and instrument maker in Scotland before arriving in Van Diemen’s Land on the emigrant ship Resource in 1830. He quickly established a business in Liverpool Street, Hobart Town, as a watch and chronometer maker. A free settler, Barclay was entitled to be assigned convicts and he employed a Scottish silversmith, jeweller and watchmaker, Joseph Forrester, transported for life for housebreaking. Forrester produced substantial silver items for Barclay until he obtained his ticket of leave in 1839 and perhaps beyond. Barclay’s convict employees—especially Forrester, who drank heavily, threatened to abscond, fought with and incited other convicts, and was insolent and insubordinate—caused Barclay endless problems; but Forrester’s skills were vital to Barclay’s success. William Cole, Charles Jones and other convict assignee silversmiths were also punished for misdemeanours while in Barclay’s employ. Forrester was probably incarcerated for various offences about the time of the Barclay v. Bodry case.
Several prized examples of presentation silver salvers, silver cups and other colonial silver made by Forrester with Barclay’s hallmarks, are today in the Collections of major Australian museums. Barclay’s reputation appears, indeed, to have rested on the skills of several convict assignees who made silver items for him, while his own role in achieving fame as a manufacturing silversmith resided in his acumen as a retailer. The Tasmanian painter Thomas Bock painted a portrait of Barclay, c. 1849, which is now in the National Gallery of Australia Collection, one of few such images connected with Australian colonial crafts.
The Defendant in the 1834 Supreme Court case, John Bodry, was licensee of the Calcutta Hotel, at the corner of Argyle Street and Brisbane Street, Hobart Town, several blocks from Barclay’s business. Police Court Magistrates were kept busy in the 1830s by public drunkenness involving both men and women, with heavy fines imposed and sometimes lashings and time in the stocks. Bodry’s hotel was a large two-storey building which later operated as a boarding house. John Bodry was a defendant in another case in 1834 brought before the Hobart Town Magistrates. He was charged in October that year by Constable Peel with selling spirits from a tap detached from his licensed building. According to the Hobart Town Colonial Times of 21 October 1834, Bodry’s attorney (a Mr Gellibrand) “so bothered the witnesses (all constables) that the Magistrates, Messrs Mason and Gunn, declined deciding until they had inspected the premises, to determine whether the tap was or was not under the licensed roof”. In due course, the tap was found to be detached from the licensed building, and judgment was given against Bodry with costs.
Thomas Wood Rowlands, attorney for David Barclay as Plaintiff, was well-known as a particularly active solicitor appearing frequently before the Supreme Court of Van Diemen’s Land, who was himself involved in actions involving his own practice.