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Blandford's Tom Rose - First Aussie Free Settler

When Thomas Rose and his family arrived in New South Wales, Australia, in January 1793 with their four children, they were the first free and independent British settlers in the new colony. They had arrived from England on the sailing vessel, Bellona.

Thomas Rose was born in Blandford in 1754 and baptized later that year in Sturminster Newton. In 1779, he had married Jane Topp also in Sturminster Newton. According to the Sydney Gazette, she would later become the Australian colony’s first great grandmother.

Australian Governor, Arthur Phillip had made repeated requests to London for intelligent and experienced farmers. Rose fitted this description and it was noted that he was the most respectable of these people and apparently the best calculated for a bona fide settler.’ Previously, Britain had sent out convicts, accompanied by soldiers. The First Fleet brought out 730 convicts in eleven vessels arriving in January 1788.

The Rose family eventually put down their roots in the settlement of Wilberforce where they spent the rest of their lives. It was there that Thomas Rose became a highly respected member of the community surrounded by his ever growing family. The family home, Rose Cottage (1811) is the oldest, timber-slab dwelling in Australia still in its original place. Thomas Rose died in November 1833 and is buried in Wilberforce Cemetery. Last comment on Thomas Rose comes appropriately from the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

‘Quiet, homely, unassuming and industrious, Thomas Rose belonged to that humble band of men who, in a rough and licentious age, helped to lay the foundations of ordered social life in a new country.’

(Illustration: Thomas Rose remembered in Wilberforce Cemetery)


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