BLAXLAND, John (1769-1845)


BLAXLAND, John (1769-1845)
pioneer
was born in Kent, on 4 January 1769. Educated at King's School, Canterbury, he entered the army and became a captain. He resigned his commission in 1792, settled down on an estate at Newington, and in 1805 decided to emigrate to Australia with his brother Gregory Blaxland (q.v.). He made a good bargain with the English government which agreed that if he brought £6000 to the colony he would be granted 8000 acres of land, the labour of 80 convicts who would be fed for 18 months by the government, and a free passage for himself, his wife, children and servants. He decided, however, to charter a ship and arrived at Port Jackson on 4 April 1807, with instructions to Governor Bligh (q.v.) to give him various concessions in place of the free passage. Bligh was no more helpful than he thought necessary, but Blaxland obtained cattle from the government herd, started a dairy in Sydney, and also sold meat and vegetables. He did a very useful piece of work in reducing the prices of these necessaries, but Bligh was insistent that he should go in for agriculture as well as grazing. He antagonized Blaxland, who joined in the deposition of Bligh in January 1808, but Blaxland could not get the concessions he wanted from Colonel Johnston (q.v.) and decided to go to England. Bligh, however, succeeded in getting him arrested at Cape Town and taken to London. After three years in London he obtained a letter to Macquarie directing that the original agreement should be carried out. But Macquarie was obsessed with the idea that the land grants were for the purpose of growing grain and put various obstacles in his way. However, in the eighteen-twenties, under Governor Brisbane (q.v.), Blaxland obtained good land in the Hunter valley and was successful as a stock owner. He was a member of the legislative council from 1829 to 1844 and died at Newington on 5 August 1845. Blaxland was married twice and was survived by sons and a daughter.
Blaxland was a keen man of business, anxious to drive a good bargain, and as a free settler was in a stronger position than the emancipists. But he antagonized both Bligh and Macquarie and met with much opposition. In spite of this Blaxland as a pioneer grazier became an important figure in the early development of Australia.
J. H. Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; A. Jose, Builders and Pioneers of Australia; Historical Records of Australia, ser. I, vols. V to XXIV; J. K. S. Houison, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. XXII, pp. 1-41; Burke's Colonial Gentry, 1891; Sydney Morning Herald, 6 August 1845.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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