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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Platt, John Laurio (1782–1836)

by Vivienne Parsons

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

John Laurio Platt (1782?-1836), sailor and settler, was said to have been born at Basford, near Nottingham, England, the son of a Church of England clergyman, but no record of him or his father remains there. In October 1801 he joined the navy. He saw service in the Aegean Sea, the American war of 1812 and on the Gold Coast. In 1814 he retired and was appointed harbourmaster at Heligoland, where he remained until the garrison was removed. While there, he married Rosanne Dutton, daughter of the British consul at Cuxhaven, Germany.

Platt decided to settle in New South Wales, intending to erect a sawmill to be worked by horse power. He took a mill out with him in the Providence and arrived in January 1822 with a letter of introduction to Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane and one from John Macarthur junior to his father. Platt received a grant of 2000 acres (809 ha) on the Hunter River in August 1822, one of the first made in the Newcastle district. He was the first of the original grantees to settle on his estate, which he named Iron Bark Hill. There he erected a homestead and windmill. He had hoped to export sawn wood to England, having been encouraged by the dealers in fancy woods there, but no evidence survives that he succeeded in doing so. He infringed the Australian Agricultural Co.'s monopoly by mining coal and shipping it on barges.

His affairs generally did not prosper. He suffered from chronic asthma. In 1831 his homestead was burnt down and two of his sons died in the fire. He built a new homestead on the road to Maitland, and tried to sell the estate but it needed development and he could not afford to make it profitable. His financial worries and concern for his family ended when he died in 1836, aged 54. He was held in much esteem in the district and was buried on 21 May in Christ Church cemetery. His wife also died that year and was buried on 22 October; their two remaining sons and five daughters were brought up by Lieutenant Edward Close, whose son Edward Charles later married Louisa Slade Platt. William Thompson Platt married a daughter of Dr George Brooks; her dowry was the area of land later known as Plattsburg. In 1838 Iron Bark Hill was sold to the Australian Agricultural Co.

Select Bibliography

  • W. J. Goold, ‘John Laurio Platt: Newcastle's First Settler’, Journal and Proceedings (Newcastle and Hunter District Historical Society), vol 3, part 5, Feb 1949, pp 76-79
  • Sydney Gazette, 11 Jan 1822
  • J. A. Braye, History of Waratah (State Library of New South Wales)
  • manuscript catalogue under J. L. Platt (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

Vivienne Parsons, 'Platt, John Laurio (1782–1836)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 30 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

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Life Summary [details]


Basford, Nottinghamshire, England


New South Wales, Australia

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