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Mocatta, George Gershon (1815–1893)

by G. F. J. Bergman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

George Gershon Mocatta (1815-1893), pastoralist and merchant, was born on 21 March 1815 in London, youngest child of Daniel Mocatta, a broker who helped to found the West London Synagogue, and his wife Nancy, née Goldsmid. Equipped with an adequate education, he arrived on 22 February 1829 at Sydney in the Jupiter with the family of his brother-in-law, J. B. Montefiore. In 1835 he served on the Mudgee committee of the Patriotic Fund and was sent to help in managing Montefiore's large holdings near Wellington. After a visit to Van Diemen's Land Mocatta returned to Wellington and asked the government for protection by mounted police. In 1839 he was a proprietor of the Australian Subscription Library. When Montefiore's empire began to decline, Mocatta branched out on his own. In 1839 he held leases of nearly 18,000 acres (7284 ha) in the Counties of Bathurst, Westmorland and Georgiana. About 1840 he settled briefly at Blackdown near Bathurst but next year decided to dispose of the lease.

Unable in the depressed times to sell his stock profitably, he overlanded 1600 head of cattle belonging to himself, Suttor and Lee to the Moreton Bay District where he arrived on 17 September 1842 after a 'fortunate' journey of twelve weeks. He took up Grantham station and refused to accompany H. S. Russell on an expedition up the coast in a whale boat. By 1848 Mocatta had moved into the Burnett District where he was one of the earliest squatters. His first lease, Wigton station, was followed by Aranbanga, Johnboon, Malmaison and Mount Debatable, giving him a total of 96,000 acres (38,850 ha), but reluctant shepherds and depredations by Aboriginals, scab and catarrh decided him to sell Wigton in 1851. In 1855 he sold his other stations to Montefiore, Graham & Co.

Mocatta returned to Sydney where on 4 March 1858 he married a rich widow, Lydia Harries Hankin, née Voss. In July he established George Mocatta & Co., produce merchants. The firm opened a store on Circular Quay where it sold agricultural products in connexion with its branch at Liverpool. He was treasurer of the Cumberland Agricultural Society and a member of the Liverpool Turf Club. In the early 1860s he took his family to Europe and reputedly spent many years in France. In Sydney by 1875 he set up as a ship-broker with B. P. Campbell. By 1883 he had acquired Tauranga station near Auckland in New Zealand but in 1888 returned with his family to Sydney. He died on 21 March 1893 and was buried in the Congregational section of the Gore Hill cemetery without the presence of clergy. He was survived by his wife, three sons and a daughter. His estate was valued for probate at £143.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Campbell, The Early Settlement of Queensland (Ipswich, 1875)
  • H. S. Russell, The Genesis of Queensland (Syd, 1888)
  • J. E. Murphy and E. W. Easton, Wilderness to Wealth (Nanango, 1950)
  • New South Wales Government Gazette, 1840
  • Australian, 12 June 1835, 2 Nov 1841
  • H. S. Bloxome, The Discovery, Exploration … of the Burnett River District in Queensland (State Library of Queensland)
  • H S. Bloxome, The Early Settlement of the Burnett River District … (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Colonial Secretary's papers, petition A1278 (State Library of New South Wales)
  • run registers (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

G. F. J. Bergman, 'Mocatta, George Gershon (1815–1893)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/mocatta-george-gershon-4215/text6791, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 21 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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