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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Sharland, William Stanley (1801–1877)

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

William Stanley Sharland (1801-1877), surveyor, was the son of John Sharland, and his wife Jane. John Sharland made a 'moderate fortune' in India, where he was on the staff of the governor-general, Sir John Shore, later Baron Teignmouth (1751-1834). On his return to England he bought land at high post-war prices and began farming. In the 1820s he fell on difficult times and, with a recommendation from Teignmouth, emigrated to Van Diemen's Land where he arrived with his two sons William and John Frederic (1797?-1870) in the Elizabeth in July 1823. He settled on some 1800 acres (728 ha) near Hamilton. His wife, Jane, and daughter, Anne Jane, joined him in April 1825. In 1835 he was gazetted a justice of the peace for the territory. In 1836 his wife died. In 1853 he retired and he died at Hamilton on 6 November 1855, aged 93.

Soon after his arrival William Sharland joined the Survey Department under George Evans as a copying clerk. He soon became an acting assistant surveyor at a salary of £100. When Edward Dumaresq took charge of the Survey Office he gave Sharland more responsible work and in February 1827, supporting a recommendation by the Executive Council that Sharland's salary be raised from £100 to £200, praised his zeal and perseverance and commended his survey and plan of Launceston, his line of road across the island, and his plan of streets and areas of Hobart Town; he did as much work as any two assistants. The Colonial Office approved the increase in August 1828. Sharland explored the sources of the Derwent River and claimed to have discovered Lake St Clair in 1827. He laid out New Norfolk, Hamilton, Oatlands, Bothwell and Brighton. Despite his protests he was retrenched from the Survey Department in 1839 and employed as a contract surveyor.

Meanwhile Sharland had become a large landholder. When he arrived he was granted 400 acres (162 ha) adjoining his father's land. By June 1828 he had 1000 acres (405 ha) and 1250 sheep, and employed a free overseer at £40 a year and two assigned servants. In June 1828 he was granted an additional 1000 acres (405 ha) and by 1831 had leased 2200 acres (890 ha) at New Norfolk and been granted 560 (227 ha) more. By 1828 he was also a pioneer hop-grower and in 1847 imported 50,000 sets from a nursery in Kent.

In 1832 he was engaged in a dispute with Edward Abbott about the ownership of 460 acres (164 ha) which Sharland claimed but which a tribunal granted to Abbott. In July Abbott averred that Sharland had dealt in land while in the Survey Department and was occupying 3000 acres (1214 ha) adjoining his own grant without paying rent, to the exclusion of other settlers. Sharland replied that he had never bought or sold a grant; his land was all granted by the government and improved under his father's expert direction; the 3000 acres (1214 ha) referred to was in fact 1800 acres (728 ha) rented by his father until the government put them up for sale.

Sharland was a constant visitor at Government House in the days of Sir John Franklin, Sir William Denison and Sir John Young, and in September 1848 he was appointed to the Legislative Council. After responsible government he represented New Norfolk in the House of Assembly in 1861-72. In 1835 he had married Frances Sarah, daughter of Major Charles Schaw; they had six sons and eight daughters. After her death in March 1859 he married Margaret Fyfe, of Mount Nod, Surrey. He was a devoted member of the Church of England and for many years a member of synod. He died on 23 October 1877 and was buried at New Norfolk.

John Frederic, the elder brother, returned to England where he qualified as a surgeon. Back in Van Diemen's Land in 1828 he again received a grant and was appointed a district surgeon at 3s. a day. He practised at Bothwell until 1838 and then at Hamilton, winning great respect and affection. In April 1835 he was a foundation member of the Bothwell Literary Society, and in June married Mary Jane, the youngest daughter of Major James Culley. Later he sat in the House of Assembly from 1861 to 1865. Anne Sharland opened a school at Woodlands, Hobart, in 1825, moved it to Roxburgh House, Liverpool Street, in 1827, and in July 1830 married William Barnes. After his death in 1848 she married in 1856 Captain Edwin Whiting, of Kelso, Tasmania.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 3, vols 4-6
  • P. L. Brown (ed), Clyde Company Papers, vols 1-5 (Lond, 1941-63)
  • correspondence file under Sharland (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

'Sharland, William Stanley (1801–1877)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 24 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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