Discussions on the history and historiography of Australia's New England

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A note on Commissioner Robert George Massie

I have been trying to find out a little about Crown Lands Commissioner Robert George Massie. I first came in contact with the name in the context of his reports on the Aborigines. However, now I find him a mystery.

He was Crown Land Commissioner on the Macleay. Then I find references to him from at least 1851 as Crown Land Commissioner in a New England context. So who was he and what happened to him?

There is no Australian Dictionary of Biography entry on him, so either no one was interested or he was not considered important enough. I think the first a pity, the second plain wrong.

Searching around, he emerges in the entry for Annie Maria Baxter in the Dictionary of Australian Artists Online. There he apparently had an affair with her from July 1841 to July 1843. The story of Mrs Baxter is an interesting one in its own right, and I will come back to it in a later post.

Then we find that from 1 May 1855 to 31 Jul 1855 he was an elected member the first Legislative Council for the Pastoral Districts of New England and Macleay. The election was declared void for unspecified reasons.

The NSW Parliament suggests that he was born in 1815, died 1883. It says in terms of biographical detail:

Exact dates of birth and death are not known (1 January is used for database purposes). Nineteenth child (of 22) of Richard Massie of Coddington, England, and his wife Hester Lee Townshend, daughter of Edward Townshend of Wincham Hall. He married Annette Browne, daughter of Thomas Browne (who wrote under the name of Rolf Boldrewood); Browne's sister was married to F. M. Darley, a Member of the Legislative Council. He was a Commissioner of Crown Lands around 1844 - 1847.

The Crown Land dates are clearly wrong. Well, that's as much as I know!


I have now found more material that I must write up in Marie Neil's history of the Macleay Valley.


Debbie Popp said...

Robert George Massie 1830 - 1883. Married Annette Browne 1832 - 1913 in 1854. She was the sister of Thomas Alexander Browne aka R Boulderwood.
Massie was appointed to the Queensland Legislative Council on the 1 May 1860 and served until his resignation on the 14 May 1862.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thanks, Debbie. Appreciated. I should update this post with at least a postscript.