De­graves’ honours now his­tory

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - REG A. WAT­SON


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.

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