M.Johnston, Tasmanian Official Record (Hobart, I89O).

In document Hobart town society, 1855-1895 (Page 55-59)

86 third were stopped, but many others were never reported/ " Yet

R. M.Johnston, Tasmanian Official Record (Hobart, I89O).

implication that, should the inefficient labour be no longer imported, then the city would reap the benefits of a more normal labour force. There was vociferous discounting of the few

predictions of threatening labour shortage made by the cooler headed observers.

John West, in his polemical History of Tasmania, rejected such views: 'But little reliance can be placed on official statistics: they give imperfect views of moral or industrial results' He quoted a pamphlet which reassured supporters that:

That land which they tell you will become a desert when the clank of chains, the cries of torture, the noise of riot, and the groans of despair shall be heard no longer, will not become a desert, 'it will blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing,' when your sons and daughters shall go forth, the -.»j. free among the free.

It was not possible for contemporaries to realize the quirks of the population structure; they could not have

possibly foreseen the tremendous burden cessation would place upon the community. It appears, in hindsight, that only massive

and continued immigration of young families could have avoided the pitfalls of the eighteen sixties. Even without the

interlude of the gold rushes, the stopping of the importation of convicts would have left the aging emancipists followed by

^^West, op.cit., Vol.2, p.323 105Ibid, Vol.l, p .283.

much s m a l l e r a ge g r o u p s o f n a t i v e b o m c h i l d r e n . The g o l d m i g r a t i o n s m e r e l y o c c l u d e d t h e i s s u e . By n a t u r a l p r o c e s s o f t i m e 60 p e r c e n t o f t h e p o p u l a t i o n w o u l d h a v e b e e n o v e r m i d d l e a g e by 1 861, e v e n s u p p o s i n g t h e r e h a d b e e n no movement i n o r o u t . T h e r e w e r e v e r y few c h i l d r e n i n t h e c o mmu ni t y i n I8 5I , p a r t l y b e c a u s e t h e b i r t h r a t e a m o n g s t t h e c o n v i c t s was s o v e r y l o w . A c a r e f u l o b s e r v e r w r o t e ? T h e i r d o m e s t i c i n c r e a s e , c om pa re d w i t h e q u a l n u m b e r s o f f r e e p e r s o n s , i s i n s i g n i f i c a n t - p a r t l y b y t h e e f f e c t s o f v i c e , a n d i n p a r t b y t h e i m p r a c t i b i l i t y of m a r r i a g e : t h e y m e l t f r o m t h e e a r t h , a nd p a s s ^ ^ away l i k e a m o u r n f u l d r e a m . T h i s was p a r t l y du e t o t h e a g e s t r u c t u r e o f t h e b o n d e d p o p u l a t i o n ; t o p r e v i o u s m a r r i a g e s o f c o n v i c t s b e f o r e c o n v i c t i o n ; t o t h e i r u n s e t t l e d n a t u r e s a n d p h y s i c a l d e b i l i t y ; b u t m o s t l y t o t h e l a c k o f women. I n 1847 t h e r e h a d b e e n 275 men f o r e v e r y 107 100 women on t h e i s l a n d . I n t h e a b s e n c e o f h e a v y a n d p r o l o n g e d i m m i g r a t i o n , o f b o t h c h i l d r e n a n d f e c u n d a d u l t s , t h e c i t y was due f o r an e c o n o m i c r e c e s s i o n f r o m u n c o n g e n i a l a g e s t r u c t u r e d u r i n g t h e e i g h t e e n s i x t i e s a s a n a t u r a l r e s u l t o f t r a n s p o r t a t i o n . The n e c e s s a r y i m m i g r a t i o n d i d i n f a c t e v e n t u a t e d u r i n g t h e g o l d r u s h e s w i t h a s m a l l e r e m i g r a t i o n , b u t u n f o r t u n a t e l y t h e o u t w a r d movement was h e a v i l y s p e c i f i c o f y o u n g m a l e s . The n e t r e s u l t o f t h e 1C6I b i d , V o l . 2 , p . 3 3 0 . 1Q7H. o f A . J . 1 9 0 1 , P a p e r

38

, p . 2 4 0 .

gold migrations was to increase the proportion of all other 108 groups at the expense of this important masculine group, thus producing an important influence upon the community.

There was immediate adverse effect, and eventual good result. The young female migrants, the wives and children of men who moved out, or of men who had moved in and then out

109

leaving their families behind, "were desirable immigrants. Their presence quickly re-established a more propitious

population structure. But the young mothers and children were an immediate charge upon the breadwinners. The result was a slump in the size of the workforce to 22 per cent of the total population in the city, and a consequent fall in productive capacity. When the over-represented aged and inefficients were eventually to die out; when the children who formed the heavy birth cohorts of the late eighteen fifties and sixties would reach maturity; in that future, looking forward from

i860, the prospects were good. The intervening period created by the situation was Anthony Trollope's 'Sleepy Hollow' of the sixties and early seventies.110

108

°The changes in sex ratios are conclusive evidence of the rapidly altering composition of the population. (Appendix Ho.9) 109

I have found no direct confirmation of this happening, but it fits into the general character of inter-colonial and urban/ rural movements. It is difficult, otherwise, to find reasons for the massive increases in teenage girls in the city shown in Appendix Ho. 9* But see below Chapter VIII.

Contemporary observers were quite puzzled by such changes. All accounts indicate the paradox of complaints about emigration

at the same time as there were complaints about a labour glut. The emigration of some of the few efficient skilled workers was painfully obvious, leading to a state of labour scarcity in many branches of trade, but the rising generations of untrained youths and the omnipresent ex-convict lollabouts seemed to indicate a labour surplus Emigration became the rationalized reason for depression, and was before the minds of citizens as a specific problem, yet few but James Erskine

112

Calder attempted to find specific remedies, to arrest the undeniable tendency of young people to seek work over the water. On the other hand, the problem of coping for the mass of social dependants in the city was tackled energetically by city

philanthropists. (Chapter III below)

The effects of demographic change were pervasive. For example, there were 863 empty houses in Hobart Town during 1862 while three years later there were 1,020. These were

113

In document Hobart town society, 1855-1895 (Page 55-59)