Don and Doug Maclaine
... Corrie and Mavis Harvey ...

Captain Peter Maclaine and Frances Butler

Frances Butler, known as Fanny, was born about 1806 in Athy, Kildare, Ireland and died on 15 Feb 1842 in Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land aged about 36. Frances married Captain Peter Maclaine on 19 Oct 1826 in Athy, Ireland. Peter was born about 1791 in Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland, died on 16 Jul 1840 in Hobart, Tasmania aged about 49, and was buried in St David's Church, Hobart. They had three children:

According to the details in his will Peter Maclaine was born in Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Scotland in about 1791.  An extensive search of all the major repositories has failed to find any birth or baptism records for Tobermory prior to 1824.  Searching is made more complex by a number of alternate spellings of Maclaine. Thus, the will is a valuable source as it is the only known record of his birth place. Peter Maclaine's entry into the army on 28 Jan 1808 as an ensign in the 80th Regiment of Foot is reported in London Gazette of 30 Jan 1908, Issue 16114, Page 162. On 25 Apr 1810 he was gazetted as a Lieutenant in the 65th (later known as second Yorkshire North Riding) Regiment of Foot.  On 7 Apr 1825 he was promoted to a captaincy in the same regiment.

The history of the 65th regiment suggests that he served in India until about 1822 and then in Ireland where he was promoted to Captain.  It is likely that during official contact with the Sovereign of Athy, Peter met the Sovereign's daughter, Frances Butler. Indeed on 23 Oct 1826 the Dublin Evening Mail reported their marriage:

In Athy Church, on the 19 the inst. by the Rev. Frederick S. Trench,  Peter Maclaine, Esq. Captain in the 65th Regiment of Foot to Miss Butler, daughter of John Butler Esq. of Athy.

Captain Maclaine’s marriage to Frances Butler is of particular interest because her father, John Butler, was the Sovereign (similar to Mayor) of Athy in Kildare; three of his daughters married in Ireland and then emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land, all settling on the East Coast.  Anna Maria Butler married James Radcliffe who settled at Lisdillon. Susan Butler married Samuel Lapham and they arrived on the Cleopatra in 1832.  Samuel became Superintendent of Convicts at Maria Island where he was subsequently dismissed for alleged leniency towards fellow country man William Smith O'Brien.

The first child of Peter and Frances Maclaine, Frances Charlotte, was born in Ireland in 1828, less than two years after their marriage.  Army Regulations in 1827 allowed military officers to become settlers in the Australian colonies on special terms, and Peter Maclaine evidently decided to take advantage, bringing with him £1,488 and goods worth £700.  He, his wife and one child arrived at Hobart Town as cabin passengers by the barque Orelia, Captain W. Hudson, on 8 May, 1829. The Orelia sailed from London on 2 January and on her passage out had touched at Bahia, Brazil.


Arrived last night, the ship Orelia, Captain Hudson, sailed from London 13th December, and Portsmouth 2nd January. Brings passengers, among whom is Mr. Wright, who visited England in the ship Medway,   Captain Hudson put into Babia, where he left a French frigate bound to Rio. The Orelia brings besides, merchandize, sheep, and stores, for the Van Diemen's Land establishment, but we regret to add, that all the horses have died on the passage except one.

Passengers by the Orelia for this place, Captain and Mrs. McLean (sic) and child, Mr. W. T. Wright, Messrs. A. and J. Morrison, Mr. Smith, and Mr. Stubbs or Campbell, besides l8 named Best, 4 named Dean, Jas. Wilson and W. Smith, for Sydney, (if they do not change their minds,) Messrs. Burrows, Law, Davis, Sharpe, Loftus, Dickenson, and Trimlett.

Captain Maclaine had intended settling in New South Wales but on reaching Van Diemen's Land was so captivated with the climate and scenery that he determined to remain. In a despatch to Sir George Murray dated 12 Aug 1829 Lieutenant Governor George Arthur wrote about Peter Maclaine:

I shall have great pleasure in paying attention to the interest you have taken on this gentleman's behalf at the instance of Sir Keir Grant, and shall most cheerfully afford him every facility consistent with the regulations in furtherance of his views — altho’ I find he looks to same small appointment rather than following the plough.

Suitable appointments to a government position may not have been available because he instead applied for and received the maximum grant of 2,560 acres, free of quit rent, which he located at Spring Bay. It joined the town of Triabunna and had a five mile frontage on Spring Bay and Prosser Bay. He named his grant Woodstock after the native place of his wife and moved there in July 1829.

land grant map
Published courtesy Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office: Series AF396, County MapsMap - Pembroke 30 - parish of Triabunna, Spring Bay, Prosser's Bay, Triabunna, One Tree Point and various landholders (Field Book 701) landholder MACLAINE P.

Hobart Town Courier Saturday 12 December 1829 page 1

ALL persons are hereby cautioned against trespassing in any manner by grazing stock or otherwise on my grant of land of 2560 acres, situated in the district of Prosser's river, on the west side of Spring bay, fronting the sea, at a place commonly called the " Duck holes," the centre being on or about the spot where the stockyard formerly erected by Mr. Gatehouse stands.

PETER MACLAINE. Hobart town, Dec. 8, 1829.

He lived in a tent on his property while his house was under construction but Frances, being fifteen years younger and loving fashion and company stayed in Hobart Town, declining to share his tent at Spring Bay. It was two years before she and young Frances left Hobart Town  for the two rooms of the house that were then completed. To her surprise, she found herself content in her new surroundings. Her departure was reported:

Launceston Advertiser Monday 27 December 1830 page 2
SAILED FROM HOBART TOWN. On the 21st,— The Govt. brig Derwent and cutter Charlotte, for Maria Island, with stores. Passengers per Charlotte,— Major Lord and 3 children, Capt and Mrs. Maclaine, and servant, and 4 privates of the 63rd Regt. The brig Caroline is cleared out for whaling voyage and is expected to sail on Sunday. 

In April 1830 Peter Maclaine gained a new neighbour,  Major Thomas Daunt Lord, Commandant of Maria Island. who had come to know the coast opposite the island very well and chose for the 1,560 acre grant due to him, land lying on the northern side of the entrance to Spring Bay. This area contained mineral springs that were reputed to have healing powers equal to any in Europe.  He named his property Oakhampton.

In 1831 Maclaine gave shelter to George Robinson, who was travelling south with a group of Aborigines.

Peter Maclaine was appointed a Justice of the Peace on 25 Feb 1830 and on 14 Dec 1837 he was made Assistant Police Magistrate for the district of Spring Bay and he was then also appointed as a coroner. In that year he was required to coordinate part of the infamous Black Line assault on the aboriginal people.  A copy of the government orders pertaining to his role is available here.

Hobart Town Courier Friday 15 Dec 1837
The Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to appoint Arthur Gardener, Esquire, to be Assistant Police Magistrate at Avoca, and Peter Maclaine, Esquire, Assistant Police Magistrate at Spring Bay. These appointments to take effect from the 1st proximo.

Hobart Town Courier Friday 12 January 1838 Page 2
The Lieutenant Governor has been pleased to appoint Peter Maclaine Esq. to be a coroner for the territory. 

Commentaries from the time provide insights into his character:

G. T. W. B. (George Thomas William Blamey) Boyes was appointed auditor of Van Diemen’s Land in 1826.  His diaries were published by Peter Chapman, The Diaries and letters of  GTWB Boyes Volume 1 1820-132 1985 ISBNN 0 19 554454 4.  He was a pithy and sometimes acerbic writer and in in a letter to his wife from Hobart on 13 May 1830 he wrote, in part, about his spaniel dog which he named Flirt .

My lively friend Mrs. Maclaine who, I sometimes remark is guilty of the indecorum of dancing two Quadrilles with the same Officer on the same evening and during the absence of her husband—by far the ugliest man in the colony—always excepting the present Company—well Mrs. Machine thinks I might have found some other name for the little brute and does not see anything in the animal to be fond of.

The brick house, which cost £500, was completed shortly before the visit of Sir John and Lady Franklin in 1838. In January 1838 Lady Jane Franklin and her husband Lieutenant Governor Sir John Franklin went on an expedition to Port Arthur, then Spring Bay on the East Coast and then Launceston.  She described her journey in her diary:

Wednesday 3rd January Page 11
We landed at the settlement about ½ 4 o'clock, after first sending off a boat with a note to Captain McClaine at Spring Bay where we were expected in the evening to say we were going to Maria Island, and should not be able to land at Spring Bay till the following morning, that we should anchor there during the night...

She then wrote several pages about their visit to Maria Island.

Thursday 4th Jan page 16
...Embarking again at dusk on board the Schooner, we made sail for Spring Bay, and in about 2 hours, anchored abrest of One Tree Point in 7 fathoms water as the log-book states. It rained hard accompanied by thunder and lightning. During the night and the following morning Thursday 4th., was too wet to enable us all to keep our appointment to breakfast at 9 o'clock at Captain Maclaines. PM. The gentlemen went alone, and the weather holding up a little between 2 and 3 o'clock, Mary and I accompanied Mr. Elliott who had returned for us, went on ashore also. The bay is a fine and serviceable inlet and the planned township of Tenby (a township at Spring Bay, County of Pembroke West) as it is laid down in the map see Ms very advantageous placed at its head by the side of a small creek, or fresh water inlet. The township land was the original grant of Captain Maclaine, the sole settler at present on the spot, who exchanged it for land on both sides of the creek by which he can at any time stop the water.

Spring Bay has been made by Sir John in consequence of representations made to him as Assistant Police Magistracy; but his own house, and a constable's house on the other side of the creek are the only buildings yet erected. A watchhouse or lockup house will be the first construction undertaken.

Captain McLain is a Scotchman from Argyllshire. His wife is Irish, a merry good-natured sort of person. He has three children who were sent to the house of a neighbour, Mr. Walpole to be out of the way. Mr. and Mrs. Lapham were with them, the latter being the sister of Mrs. M's.

Captain M. was an officer of the 65th in which regiment he served 18 years. He has in his possession a handsome gold snuff box presented to him by his brother officers on 1st October, 1828 on his leaving. He came out here to settle with his wife and 1 child, got a maximum grant and fixed himself here with little delay or knowledge of the rest of the colony, being determined to be on the coast and undeterred by the natives who were here, both numerous and ferocious. Mr. Jones of the 63rd was stationed here with 12 men to keep them in order. The remains of their mud barracks are standing on the township.

Captain M's location as it is now seen is the work of about 7 years. Mrs. M. has lived here about 6, having previously resided 2 years at Hobart Town, where she was very fond of gaiety and fashion and thought of living in the hush with abhorrence, tho' having entered in it, she seems to bear it with much contentment and lightness of heart. While she was in Hobart Town, he resided here in a tent superintending operations.

The house which is built of brick has cost him about £500, the bricks being made on the spot. They began to inhabit it when 2 rooms only were finished, and it has not been long completed. They have a good sized garden and about 60 or 70 acres in cultivation, yielding on an average from 30 to 35 bushels per acre. There are about 120 or 30 acres in addition of cultivable soil, or rather of equally good land; and more that is available but the rest is of a worse description.

The, township consists of 400 acres. Captain M. calls his place Woodstock from a place in Ireland near which his wife and her sister come from. Their neighbours consist of Captain Vickery, formerly of the 63rd. at 1½ mile, Major Lord with a large family at 5 miles, Mr. Walpole, and Mr. Lapham at 14 to 15.

Mrs. L. has three little girls. She and Mrs. M. have each a governess who are two sisters of the name of Lang. Mrs. M. described hers as a delightful young woman whom she liked better and better every day. They came out with Dr. Brock, and lived at Mr. Yeland’s till they found situations.

Mrs. M. has not been for 3 years in Hobart Town. She told us that the day before our arrival, the convict cook went off determined to spite her by not dressing the dinner. He returned, he said, to see the Governor, and declared that he had done the same thing before with another Master and ran away just at the time when he knew he was most wanted.

Peter Maclaine died of stomach cancer, aged about 49, on 16 Jul 1840 and was buried in what is now St David’s Park.  His headstone has not survived but, according to Richard Lord's Inscriptions in Stone- St Davids Burial Ground 1804-1872, it said:

CAPTAIN PETER MACLAINE, formerly of Her majesty's 65th Regt and late Assistant Police Magistrate, also Spring Bay District of the colony. He died at Hobart Town on the 16th July, 1840, aged 49.  He left the Army with the marked esteem of all his comrades.  He left the world his regards of many friends who knew and appreciated his worth - also Fanny, his wife who departed this life 14th February, 1842, aged 36.

The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen’s Land Gazette Friday 17 July 1840
Yesterday evening, after a lingering illness, Captain PETER MACLAINE, of Spring Bay, Assistant Police Magistrate of that district, and formerly of Her Majesty's 65th regiment. This gentleman, during a long and acute service, possessed in an eminent degree the respect and esteem of his companions in arms, and on his retirement from the service, he was presented by his brother Officers with a piece of plate, inscribed with the warmest expression of their regard. During his residence in this colony, his life has been passed in the unobtrusive exercise of every social and domestic virtue, and if in his intercourse with the world he may have offended any, yet of him we believe it may be truly said, that few men have lived more generally respected, or have died more universally lamented. His remains will be interred in the cemetery of St. David's Parish, on Monday next, at noon.

The Cornwall Chronicle Saturday 18 July 1840 page 2
At his residence in Davey-street, Hobart Town, on Thursday evening last, Captain Peter Maclaine, Assistant Police Magistrate of Spring Bay, and late or H. M. 66th regiment of Foot — universally respected.

His land and property are described when they were advertised for lease and sale after his death and demonstrate his success in a little over ten years. His house, Woodstock, is still standing near Maclaine Creek on the outskirts of Triabunna.

The Hobart Town Courier and Van Diemen’s Land Gazette Friday 14 August 1840
To be Let.   The farm of WOODSTOCK, at Spring Bay, as formerly occupied by the late Captain Maclaine. It contains 2560 acres, of which 60 acres, principally of the richest marsh land, are under cultivation and in excellent heart. There is a comfortable brick dwelling-house on the farm, with men's but, stable, &c., and the whole property is well watered. It has also the advantage of water-carriage.

Apply to Mr. Pitcairn, Solicitor, Davey-street.  August 6.

COLONIAL TIMES Tuesday 22 September 1840  Page 3
To sell by auction without reserve, All the choice cattle and horses of the late Captain Maclaine, comprising about one hundred head of superior cows, with calves at their feet or on the point of calving

Nine pairs of very strong young Working bullocks
One fine Bull
A number of Heifers and Steers,

One powerful grey Horse
One Chesnut Mare
One 4-year old Gelding (an excellent saddle horse)
One very strong 3-year old mare
One filly and one colt

The whole of the above are in excellent condition, and, on inspection, will be found equal to any in the Colony.

TERMS-Under £30, cash; above that sum, approved acceptances, endorsed if required, at 3 months.

 His wife Frances died of dysentery eighteen months later, aged just 36 and leaving three orphaned children.

Hobart Courier Friday 18 February 1842
DIED-On the 15th instant, at her residence, Davey-street, Frances Maclain, aged 36, widow of the late Captain Maclain, of Her Majesty's 65th Regt.

The Cornwall Chronicle  Saturday 19 February 1842
On Tuesday evening, aged 36, of dysentery, Mrs. Maclaine, widow of the late Captain Maclaine, of the 79th Regiment, and sister to J. Lapham, Esq., of Norfolk Plains.

Launceston Courier Monday 21 February 1842 page 2
DIED—On the 15th instant, at her residence, Davey street, Frances Maclain, aged 36, widow of the late Captain Maclain, of her Majesty's 65th Regt.

She was buried with her husband in St David's cemetery and the children were cared for by family.

The story of the family of Captain Peter Maclaine and Frances Butler is told expertly and in great detail in the book The Butler sisters: the life and times of Maclaine, Lapham & Radcliff families of Scotland, Ireland and New Zealand. Vol. 1, Maclaine / Peter. Sims Creator: Sims, Peter C. (Peter Charles), 1938-.  Copies are available within the State Library of Tasmania.  Rich records including an extensive collection of family papers, letters and photographs are archived in the Peter Sims Special Collection CHS37 at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston.