John : Hannah Beresford

The Berefords and Undine
In December 2004, my husband Peter and I were very fortunate to be able to travel to Tasmania and stay in a bed and breakfast accommodation called Undine Colonial Accommodation.  This is just out of Hobart in the suburb of Glenorchy.

'Undine' Tasmania - to former home of John and Hannah Beresford

‘Undine’ Tasmania – to former home of John and Hannah Beresford










The right side of Undine, which appears to be the single storey, had been built about 1817 by my ancestors John and Hannah Beresford.  The property was originally known as Rosetta Cottage but was converted by the Golding family into Undine Hotel in the late 1880’s or early 1890’s.  It was around this time that the multi-story left side of the building was added.

John Beresford (Barrisford) was a Marine Private 41st (Portsmouth) Company and a breeches maker by original trade.  He travelled with his wife Hannah to NSW on the First Fleet, on board the Prince of Wales.  Both John and Hannah (nee Ritcliff) had been born in England and had married in Stafford England in 1776.

When the Beresfords arrived at Port Jackson, John was aged about 35 and Hannah about 26.  John and Hannah eventually had five children and I am descended from their daughter Dorothy, who was their third child, born on Norfolk Island in 1793.

John Beresford was discharged from the Marines in October 1791 and the family decided to settle, leaving for Norfolk Island by the Atlantic in October 1791.  John received a grant of 60 acres (Lot No.4) at Cascade Stream, Phillipsburg.  By October 1793 he had cultivated 11 of the 59 ploughable acres and had been selling meat and grain to stores.  By June 1799 all their five children had been born.  By 1805 Beresford was a prosperous first class settler, holding 110 acres.  He was one the largest and most successful landowners on the island.

It was then decided to abandon Norfolk Island and attempt to transfer the settlers to Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania).  In 1804 Governor King recommended that the Berefords be allowed to remain on the Island on account of the large family and successful farming business.  But by 1807, tempted by the attractive terms of settlement, the family decided to embark for the Derwent.  The Beresford family arrived by the City of Edinburgh in Hobart on 2 October 1808.

Within only five months, in April 1809 John was holding 121 acres at Glenorchy.  He was one of the few from the area who signed the address of support from the settlers at the Derwent to Governor William Bligh in that year.

It was a difficult start for many of the settlers, and not all government promises were kept.  Those that took up the land promised were not all happy with how the transition from Norfolk Island to the Derwent was organized.  John Beresford was one of the many settlers who made an impassioned plea to Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1811 to right the perceived wrongs.  The letters give the indication that John Beresford was unable to write himself, which would explain the variable spellings of his name. (In some early records their name is given as Barrisford, Berrisford or Berisford, but the later records specify Beresford).

By 1813 things must have improved as in that year John, his son Joseph and other family members were granted adjoining land in the Glenorchy district by Governor Macquarie.  This is the land on which John built the large house that would become Undine.

John Beresford died on 28 September 1821; his burial was registered at St David’s Hobart on the 30th, age given as 68, leaving his widow, five children and 16 grandchildren.  It is assumed he is buried in the grounds of St David’s church, which now forms St David’s park in Hobart.  Hannah lived on until 4 December 1842, when she died in Hobart at 80 years of age, with cause of death ‘old age’.

It was an amazing experience to walk through the old house.  From the front it appears single storey but was in fact built over three levels, with the land at the back sloping to the Derwent River.  We were fortunate that the current owners allowed us to have a good look around the older section, including the hidden staircase to the upper floor.  We also saw their own private apartment in the oldest part of the house, with the stone walls and large fireplace with the cooking irons still in place.  The building is still extremely solid and in beautiful condition, so we can expect and hope that it will remain standing for many more years to come.

Maureen Robinson – March 2005
Article featured in First Fleet Folio December 2011


The Derwent, 21st May, 1809.

May it please your Excellency,
We, a part of the unfortunate settlers late of Norfolk Island, imprest with a due sence of our duty and earnest to step forward at this momentious period, big with danger and difficulty, whilst the wavering mind fluctuates between hope and fear, we most humbly beg leave to express those sentiments of loyalty which are inherent in our bosoms by firmly declaring our adherence to your Excell’y as the true and only representative of our august Sovereign in these his colonys, and our determined abhorence of those measures which have been taken by a set of disloyal and unprincipled men, who in the most daring manner have subverted your Government, prevented those salutary effects which are convinced would have resulted there from, involving the innocent with the guilty, and by specious illegal acts, drawing aside the ignorant and unwary, and, that the enormity of their crimes may be obscured, introducing anarchy and confusion.

These disloyal, base, and unwarrantable proceedings we most solemnly deprecate, sincerely lamenting from our hearts that men whom His majesty had so highly honour’d should go so far forget their duty in overturning that Government they were bound to support, and we beg leave to assure your Excell’y of our resolution to adhere to our loyalty and duty (in any and every pretext to mislead us whatever) to our most gracious Sovereign, and to your Excell’y as his worthy representative, not doubting but that you will utlimately triumph over all your enemies of every description, and will be received on your return to your native land with that honour and distinction with which His Majesty is always pleased to reward the brave and the meritorious. May your Excellency enjoy every blessing that the Almighty is pleased to bestow, and may your amiable daughter find that consolation in her present afflictions which must evidently result from parently kindness and filial duty, – which is the sincere and earnest wish of your obedient and devoted servants to command.

For what they, the men in high places, the governors of the colonies, the civil and the military officers, the chaplains, the magestrates, all those charged with the high responsibility of truly and impartially administering justice for the punishment of wickedness and vice, and for the maintenance of tru religion and virtue, had to contend with was that here in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, human depravity had been alarmingly increased by the presence of convicts, ex-convicts and their descendants.

JAMES BELBIN                                         GEORGE BROWN
JAMES DODDING                                     W’M SHARDLEY
JOHN BERRESFORD                               RICH’D PHILLIMORE
THO’S O’BRIEN                                         THOMAS PRIEST
W’M HALEY                                                W’M BELLAMY
THOMAS FRANCIS                                   JNO. MAUL
JOSEPH HALL                                           THO’S GUY
WILLIAM MITCHELL                              MICH’L LEE

A news item in the Hobart Town Gazette of April 1823 reported an attack on Joseph Barrisford with his wife and mother, when their bullock cart was upset and Joseph’s leg broken.  A man came out of the bush, and after beating the poor old woman in a most inhuman manner, robbed her of some dollars.  Hannah was probably living with her son at this time.  She died on 4 December 1842 at Hobart, age given as 80.

Sydney Gazette, 22 May 1823 which took the episode from the Hobart Town Gazette

One day in April of 1823, when a Mr and Mrs Berrisford were riding in a bullock cart from Hobart Town to their home, one of the bullocks took fright, upset the cart, and threw them on to the road.  While Mr Berrisford was lying unconscious an absconder rushed out of the bush, beat Mrs Berrisford most cruelly, robbed her, and disappeared again into the bush.  To the reading public in Sydney and Hobart Town that was not just another example of human depravity, or the hardness of men’s hearts.  This was a fair example of human baseness in a convict-dominated society.

© First Fleet Fellowship Victoria Inc, 2013