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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Parramore, William Thomas (1797–1854)

by Michael C. I. Levy

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

William Thomas Parramore (1797-1854), public servant, was born on 30 September 1797, the eldest son of George Parramore and Patience, née Allen, of Wetmore Hall, Derbyshire, and received a legal training at Gray's Inn, London. His father, a farm-agent and mine-manager, decided to emigrate with his family in 1822 and William accompanied him in the Woodlark, arriving in Hobart Town on 8 July 1823. Land was chosen at Ross and at once George Parramore began farming his 1000-acre (405 ha) grant, Wetmore, assisted by his sons who obtained adjoining grants.

To increase the family income, William decided to return to law in Hobart as clerk in the office of the attorney-general, who advised him to practise on his own account. He was admitted as a solicitor and proctor in the Supreme Court in May 1824 but, finding the quarrelling of Van Diemen's Land settlers both distasteful and unprofitable, returned to government employment in April 1825 as clerk of the peace and registrar of the Court of Requests at £200 a year. Two years later Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur, seeking a reliable and experienced colonist as private secretary, appointed Parramore at £300 a year. It was an arduous post and one demanding great discretion; Arthur's personal supervision of every department of the civil government involved his secretary for long hours in voluminous correspondence and in the assessment of convicts' records and settlers' claims for land and servants.

In November 1827 he married Thirza Cropper, formerly a schoolmistress at Caen, Normandy. Their only child, William, died in infancy. On the enforced resignation of James Gordon in 1832, Parramore, in poor health due to the close confinement of the previous five years, accepted the less onerous situation of police magistrate and coroner of Richmond, and went to live at Anglewood. However, in 1834, in deference to Gordon's protests at Arthur's choice of his former secretary as replacement at Richmond, it was thought advisable to send a new magistrate from England. Arthur regretted the loss of the 'competent firm and upright' assistance Parramore had given as police magistrate, and offered him the choice of the magistracy at Oatlands, reinstatement as private secretary, or the management of Arthur's Richmond estates. He chose the last, and two years later had to defend himself and his employer against charges made by Thomas Gregson that, before his resignation from Richmond, he had used government time for Arthur's private ends. He proved the falsity of the statements and forced Gregson to withdraw them publicly.

The friendship between Arthur and his former secretary continued long after the governor returned to England and greater honours, Parramore keeping him informed of developments in the system of convict discipline he had nurtured. A religious man, Parramore was one of the original subscribers to the building fund for St Luke's Church of England, Richmond, and a committee member of the Hobart Town Auxiliary Bible Society; he was also a member of the Royal Society. He spent the years after Arthur's departure consolidating his own estate at Richmond. After his wife's death in 1852, he planned to return to England, but on a farewell visit to his brother Thomas at Wetmore, Ross, he contracted pneumonia and died there on 31 July 1854.

Select Bibliography

  • E. M. Cooper, Story of the Parramore Family (Yankalilla, SA, 1953)
  • Hobart Town Courier, 6 May, 8, 22, 29 July 1846
  • Hobart Town Gazette, 7, 14 Apr 1832
  • Arthur papers, 27 Go (State Library of New South Wales)
  • GO 1, 25, 33 (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • CSO 1 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

Michael C. I. Levy, 'Parramore, William Thomas (1797–1854)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 23 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (MUP), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

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