90 eighteen eighties, when trained nurses became less uncommon.

In document Hobart town society, 1855-1895 (Page 111-125)

In such ways the administration of official institutions within the city was passed over from imperial to local control. But tue cizy had never been solely a military camp for the control of convicts. The increasing civil element had for many years required more comprehensive and diverse institutions than

‘''^Register of Admissions to Lying-in Home Cascades, SWL 32/2/3. '^J.B.W., Reminiscences, A II 5 (i).

Nurse training began at the General Hospital from 1877» Rules and Regulations of the General Hospital, Hobart Town, April 1877* Six trained staff sisters were chosen in Scotland

by the brother of Dr T.C.Smart, the Chairman of the Hospital Board.

See ’Report of Select Committee into Claim for Testimonial by the Lady Superintendant of the General Hospital’, H. of A.J.

the penal authorities had been willing to conduct. Individual iniuiative from the citizens had provided further services but these became most common during the years after self-government. The numerous omissions in the institutional structure were

exposed by the change of conditions and a widespread growth of communiuy pride brought about considerable innovation. Most of this came from private charitable sources during the

eighteen sixties. There was an acute reversal from a

government-dominated community towards one wherein the guiding principle was voluntary initiative. This change produced a city institutional structure more nearly i^presentative of British urban societies of mid-century.

ORGANIZATION WITHIN THE COMMUNITY TO ACCOMMODATE SOCIAL DEFICIENCY C o n t e m p o r a r y c o m m e n t a t o r s o c c a s i o n a l l y s h o w e d a w a r e n e s s o f t h e h i s t o r i c a l s i t u a t i o n ; As a c o l o n y we a r e p u t u p o n a g r e a t a n d m o me n t ou s t r i a l , L i b e r t y t o s h a p e o u r own i n s t i t u t i o n s h a s b e e n c o n f e r r e d u p o n u s w i t h h a r d l y a s h a d o w o f r e s t r a i n t . We s h a l l make o u r own c h a r a c t e r a n d ^ m o u l d o u r own d e s t i n i e s . By i 8 6 0 t h e y e a r s o f i l l u s i o n s w e r e p a s t a n d many p e o p l e o f H o b a r t Town r e a l i z e d t h e n a t u r e o f t h e t a s k i n w h i c h t h e y w e r e e n g a g e d . No l o n g e r c o u l d t h e y b l a m e e x t e r n a l e v e n t s f o r t h e i r own s h o r t c o m i n g s , n o r w a i t i n h o p e s t h a t d i s a b i l i t i e s w e r e t r a n s i e n t ; no l o n g e r c o u l d i l l u s i o n s b e f e d o n go o d f o r t u n e a n d t h e g o o d n a t u r e o f e v e n t s . T h e r e a p p e a r e d more s t r o n g l y a f e e l i n g o f c o m m u n i t y , o f g r o u p r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r c r e a t i n g t h e i r own s t y l e o f l i f e . The m a i n d i f f i c u l t y t h e y f a c e d i n a c h i e v i n g t h e i d e a l c o m m u n i t y was t h e p r e s e n c e o f s o many p e o p l e who c o u l d n o t , o r w o u l d n o t , l i v e a c c o r d i n g t o d e c e n t s t a n d a r d s . The c o n v i c t

A n n u a l R e p o r t H . T . R . S . A . i 8 6 0 .

settlers were a group pre-selected by the British judicial system on the basis of social deficiencies. So often such deficiencies were merely the result of other weaknesses, whether physical, emotional or educational. The problem of catering for the emancipist core was not only a moral or disciplinary one, it was practical, requiring all the

charitable and remedial skill that the community could produce. Organizations to cater for this predominant need were formed in the period up to 1870, and by 1875 were being modified and improved as the social situation developed into a different phase.

Although the political decisions which led to self- government were largely independent of social and demographic factors, the organizational crisis in Hobart Town was not independent of the flow of ideas in western communities. Many societies faced similar problems as they became significant for the first time. In Victoria the need for readjustments occurred in the wake of the gold immigration; in Britain and America as a result of urbanization and industrialization.

The same factors were involved indirectly in Hobart Town. This community inherited some of the problem population from

the wider world; it was different in the extraordinary magnitude of the problem in the city, the suddenness with which it confronted responsible people, and the isolation of

t h e d e f i c i e n t g r o u p s away f r om t h e i n d u s t r i a l u r b a n m i l i e u w h i c h h a d p r o d u c e d t h e m . C o l o n i a l s o c i e t y , a n d p a r t i c u l a r l y t h e T a s m a n i a n o n e , s e t t l e d down i n so few y e a r s i n t o a c o m p a r a t i v e l y c o n t r o l l e d a nd o r d e r e d c ommu ni t y t h a t w h a t r e m a i n e d l e s s o b v i o u s i n more d i f f u s e a n d h e t e r o g e n e o u s s o c i e t i e s , s u c h a s t h o s e o f E n g l a n d a n d e v e n o f t h e m a i n l a n d c o l o n i e s , s howed up o n l y t o o c l e a r l y . The S o c i a l P r o b l e m s

D u r in g th e 1853 boom a H o b a r t Town C i t y M i s s i o n was i n a u g u r a t e d , w i t h w id e s u p p o r t f r o m t h e c i t y ’ s p r o m i n e n t P r o t e s t a n t s . I t was a c o p y o f an E n g l i s h i d e a a p p l i e d h o l u s b o l u s t o t h e l o c a l s i t u a t i o n . A m o t i o n p a s s e d i n one o f t h e e a r l y m e e t i n g s s t a t e d t h a t t h e n e c e s s i t y f o r t h e c r e a t i o n o f a C i t y M i s s i o n was o b v i o u s b e c a u s e o f t h e r e l i g i o u s c o n d i t i o n 2 o f ’ many o f o u r f e l l o w t o w n s m e n ' . The c i t y m i s s i o n a r i e s s a i d t h e y s e t o u t t o u n c o v e r t h e f a c t s a b o u t a ' h e a t h e n i s m a s r e a l a n d n o t l e s s o p p r e s s i v e ' ^ 1 > a s t h a t o f p r i m i t i v e l a n d s , b u t i n t h e i r e a r l y z e a l t h e y u n c o v e r e d more t h a n r e l i g i o u s d e f e c t s . T hey v i s i t e d a l l t h e d w e l l i n g s i n t h e l o w e r c l a s s a r e a s o f town a n d d e c i d e d t h a t t h e s o c i a l a nd m o r a l c o n d i t i o n o f 3>807 i n d i v i d u a l s c o u l d be ^ l s t A n n u a l R e p o r t H . T . C . M . 1854« ^ I b i d .

judged unsatisfactory. In these homes drunkenness was prevalent, children were poor school-attenders and over half had made no attempt even to enrol in any school. Many couples lived together in loose liasons quite shocking to the missionaries,

Hobart Town was a busy seaport and crew men, with their occasional large wages, enlivened the small city with a boisterousness which was temporarily increased by the

celebrations of successful diggers. There were taverns and other haunts around the docks, and lodging houses were scattered through the town. The City Missionaries found these to be most ungodly places, holding a dozen or so single men of all ages,

from young seamen to old, embittered, conditional-pardon convicts. The missionaries thought that the despair and aimlessness of men without families left them available for all possible vices. The names of some of the houses suggest an interesting depth which hardly emerges in the accounts of city life given by middle class philanthropists. Many seamen put up at Black Jemmy’s in Argyle Street or at John Johnson’s, Joe the Barber’s, in the public houses, like Mrs Jackson's Whalers' Return, or on barges such as the Oddfellow lying at

the wharf.^

^Register of the Shore Addresses of the Crews of Various Ships 1863-1867, NP 29/ H .

Calder, op.cit., p.70. Caldet* refers to the prevalence of ' crimping’ practised by landlords upon sailors.

The City Mission investigation was carried out during one of the most opulent periods of the century. The gold years had their own problems; there was, comparatively speaking, no

shortage of funds, but the nature of distress altered. Many wives and families were deserted. There were no vacant houses. Rents and prices rose very high and any person on a fixed

income, or who could not command ready payment at the new

inflated levels of wages and prices, felt a sharp pinch. Large wages and shortage of labourers led to an abandonment of much

responsibility; workers quickly left uncongenial jobs, and

no-one could be found to carry out all of the small but essential chores.

The descriptions of city life made by the missionaries promised to be most interesting. But they did not report in such detail in the years after 1855 when economic conditions were beginning to pinch a little more. However, it does not seem that the details of Hobart Town low life altered much through the years till the mid-eighteen-seventies.

There are other impressionistic accounts of the wayward habits of the city's 'submerged fifth'.

The editor of the Colonial Times deplored the fact that Hobart Town had as much 'moral and physical misery and

wretchedness [as did] older, more populous and competitive communities' and mentioned, at a public meeting, the miseries

of the boys who slept in the wharf sheds. The first annual report of the institution which was formed to combat such problems refers to the mendicant groups as if describing well known facts,' and not exceptional conditions. The Committee of the Benevolent Society reported:

We have found ourselves wholly unable to afford any prompt relief to those unfortunates who, homeless and penniless, are nightly wandering about, sleeping either in the streets, or creeping for shelter in some unoccupied building...

A further insight into the detritus of the convict system appeared in a pamphlet of I858, Words to Women, which set out to describe the progress being made in the city against the very common evil of prostitution; the’marriage tie is habitually

Q

disregarded by wide classes of our female community’. The author claimed that one in every 16 women in Hobart Town was a prostitute. They were mostly drawn from the lower classes but the most vicious, he thought, had been bred to expect the enjoyment of a higher standard of living. Husbands and parents acted as goads and pimps and the whole city was ridden with the evil. The pamphlet then went on to argue that a raising of

9C.T., 8 January 1857*

£

There was a form of benevolent society existing for a short while till I84O. See J. Ginswick, ’The Tasmanian Trade Cycle: The Turning Point of the Forties’, T.H.R.A.P.P., Vol.5> No.3> August 1956, PP*55>56.

? lst Annual Report H.T.B.S. i860, p.15* ^Words to Women,(H.T., 1858).

general education standards, and a cleanness and tidyness about the city, were the solutions to reducing the problem.

It is not surprising that such conditions should be so in the cess-pit of the Empire such a comparatively few years after the confusion of the early settlement when, as even the mild mannered widow of George Washington Walker confided to her son, nobody knew who was living with whom, from the Governor

Q

downwards.

Prostitution was a well represented profession in Hobart Town from the convict period until the end of the century. The tradition was begun on board the sea transports and

continued little abated in shore settlement. The free females brought out by the Strathfieldsay in l834> in an attempt to right the balance of the sexes, landed amidst an unofficial ceremony with the convict men making amorous suggestions to girls they fancied as they passed ashore in a single line. Some ‘even took still further insulting liberties and stopped the women by force, and addressed them, pointedly in the most

, , 10

obscene manner’.

Though there was little direct comment on prostitution in the city during the colonial period, and little evidence from

^J.B.W., notes of his mother's dictation, Walker A (iii) I. 10CPT., 19 August 1834? quoted by H. Melville, History of

In document Hobart town society, 1855-1895 (Page 111-125)