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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hull, George (1787–1879)

by E. R. Pretyman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

George Hull (1787-1879), assistant commissary general, was born on 13 August 1787 in the parish of Iwerne, Dorset, England, son of Thomas Hull, a farmer and an officer in the county militia, and his wife Catherine, née Short. After receiving a classical education he was articled to a solicitor at Mitcham with the intention of following a legal profession, but learnt of the demand for accountants on the Commissariat Department staff in the war in Spain. Through the influence of Sir Mark Wood, he was offered and accepted a Treasury clerkship. He sailed for Lisbon in 1810. In 1814 he received from the Duke of Wellington a commission as assistant to the commissary-general. At the end of the war he returned to England, and married Anna (1800-1877), only daughter of Lieutenant Hugh Munro, formerly of the Scots Guards. For three years he served at Somerset House. In 1818 he was ordered on foreign service and was given an option of proceeding to Canada or to New South Wales. He chose the latter and with his wife and two children reached Sydney in the Tyne on 4 January 1819. He took up the administration of the Commissariat Department at Parramatta, but in September was transferred to Van Diemen's Land. Here, in the opinion of Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell, Hull assumed unwarranted powers, just as Commissary Frederick Drennan was trying to do in Sydney and the matter was referred to Macquarie. The governor, whose own position in the dispute had been supported in London, now backed up Sorell in his turn, although Commissioner John Thomas Bigge agreed that the lieutenant-governor should not refuse Hull the usual indulgences if he decided to settle in the colony.

In 1824 Hull applied for a land grant under conditions offered to army officers on half-pay in New South Wales. For his military and other services he received 2560 acres (1036 ha) near Glenorchy. Here he built his home Tolosa, traditionally named because a workman's remark that the house was 'too low, sir' reminded Hull of the name of the Spanish town in which he had served. In 1828, in addition to other official duties, he was called upon to act as collector of internal revenue at Launceston and to unravel confusion in the accounts of a defaulting Naval Officer in Hobart Town. Next year he applied for the position of postmaster at Launceston but was refused. In 1831 he was obliged to retire from the Commissariat Department, as he was becoming too deaf, but in July 1832 was appointed a justice of the peace, and in 1837 held the position of assistant to the director-general of roads. In 1839 he was fulfilling the duties of sitting magistrate and in 1841 suggested that he might be appointed visiting magistrate as well. He then spent many years seeing to the cultivation of his large property but when his health began to fail he moved to live with his daughter at Battery Point and died there on 23 June 1879. He was survived by 10 children, 75 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren. He was buried with his wife in the grounds of St John's Church, New Town.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vol 10, series 3, vols 2-5
  • Hobart Town Gazette, 3 Aug 1832
  • Hobart Town Courier, 13 Oct 1837
  • E. R. Pretyman, Notes on the Life of H. M. Hull (privately held)
  • OD 27/670, 67/147 (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • CSO 1/155/2275, 1/442/9846, 1/839/17775, 5/56/1239, 5/289/772 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

E. R. Pretyman, 'Hull, George (1787–1879)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 23 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

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