Degraves’ honours now history
HEROES AND VILLAINS
The Amazing Untold Story of the Founders of the Cascade Brewery By Greg Jefferys Published by J. A. G. Publications
IN 1824, two men sailed from England to Hobart. They were Major Hugh Macintosh, a soldier of fortune, and his brother- in- law Peter Degraves, an ambitious businessman and the founder of the Cascade Brewery.
The book tries to disperse the many misunderstandings and myths, particularly with the muchacclaimed Degraves. It seems he was a scoundrel, unprincipled and quite prepared to take the glory from Macintosh, who has been virtually forgotten to history.
This is the first book by Greg Jefferys, who has a masters in history from the University of Tasmania and other major qualifications from the University of Queensland.
In his foreword, Jefferys makes the provocative statement: “As I began to examine Degraves’ preColonial life, I found that the reason for the historic vagueness was that most of the accepted history of Degraves’ life was completely false.”
According to Jefferys, it wasn’t just the recollections about Degraves’ early life that were false, but all of it. The author puts a compelling case to prove his findings are credible. He is very particular with his research and sources.
In contrast to Degraves, Jefferys writes, Macintosh was an upstanding former East India Company officer and gentleman.
One of the misunderstandings Jefferys disperses is that the vessel
Hope, on which Degraves and his family arrived along with many passengers, was not jointly owned by Macintosh and Degraves, but solely owned by Macintosh.
Degraves, it seems, constantly used his brother- in- law’s capital for his own purposes.
Jefferys reveals when Degraves recruited paying passengers to sail with him to Van Diemens Land, he did so by alluring a large number of Wesleyans ( Methodists) to settle in Sydney and Hobart.
Degraves told them elaborate lies about the safety and the high standard of accommodation of the vessel, when in actual fact it was deplorable.
Macintosh was equally appalled at the lies and was “duped by the unscrupulous Degraves”.
Because of the weather, the leaking vessel just out from England was forced to return and take shelter at Ramsgate, where Degraves and Macintosh were arrested for breach of the Passengers Act.
Hope was, of course, the vessel involved with the famous case of buried gold at Bruny Island, and that is briefly discussed.
Degraves and Macintosh eventually arrived in Hobart and took up a business partnership, but “Degraves’ past caught up with him”.
“Those people to whom he owned money in London had tracked him to Hobart”, for which he was imprisoned,” Jefferys writes.
After the sale of Hope in 1826, Macintosh journeyed to England, only to return to become one of Tasmania’s largest landowners.
Degraves, meanwhile, had a flour mill at the Cascade and met the growing demands of his milling and brewing operations by damming the Hobart Rivulet to guarantee a reliable water supply.
This antagonised the rest of the population, which suddenly found themselves without water as the rivulet’s flow decreased to a trickle.
The book is a good read and I found the history of the early life of, Macintosh and Degraves fascinating.
It is a revealing book that provides a very different view of Degraves.
Well- written and sourced with many good photographs.