BLAXLAND, Gregory (1771-1852)


BLAXLAND, Gregory (1771-1852)
pioneer and explorer
was born in Kent, England, in 1771 (Burke's Colonial Gentry 1891). In 1805, with his brother John Blaxland (q.v.), he arranged with the government to go to Australia as a free settler. He came of farming stock, had some capital, and as the English authorities thought it advisable to encourage settlers of a good class, he was given a free passage for himself and family, a grant of land, and other privileges. He arrived at Sydney in April 1806 and in 1808 was associated with the Macarthur (q.v.) faction in the deposing of Governor Bligh (q.v.). He made his peace with Governor Macquarie but fell out of favour later on. In 1813 Blaxland, who was living at South Creek within a few miles of the mountains and had done a little exploration, arranged an expedition with William Lawson (q.v.) and W. C. Wentworth (q.v.) to cross the mountains. Starting on 11 May the three explorers, with four convicts, decided to keep to the ridges instead of endeavouring to find a way through the gullies, and on 29 May found themselves on the other side with good grass land before them. On 1 June they turned back and arrived at their homes on 6 June. An important and remarkable piece of work had been done, but at first its importance was not realized. In February 1814, after G. W. Evans (q.v.) had made his expedition, a grant of 1000 acres of the newly discovered country was made to each of the three explorers.
Blaxland did no further exploring. About 1819 he bought land near his brother at Newington on the Parramatta. He did experimental work with fodder plants and imported vine-stocks from the Cape of Good Hope. He visited England and in February 1823 was in London, as is shown by the preface to his A Journal of a Tour of Discovery across the Blue Mountains published in that year. In the same year he was awarded the silver medal of the Royal Society of Arts for some wine he had exported to London, and five years later he received its gold medal. In January 1827 Blaxland was elected by a public meeting with two others to present a petition to Governor Darling (q.v.) asking that "Trial by jury" and "Taxation by Representation" should be extended to the colony.
Blaxland was engaged during the next few years in wine-making. and other activities, but took no prominent part in the life of the colony. For the last six months of his life he was suffering a great deal with pains in his head which affected his mind, and he died by his own hand on 31 December 1852. He married in 1798 Eliza, daughter of John Spurden, and was survived by sons and daughters.
J. H. Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; A. Jose, Builders and Pioneers of Australia; Historical Records of Australia, ser. I, vols. V, VII, VIII and other volumes; The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 January 1853; J. K. S. Houison, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. XXII, pp. 1-41; W. L. Havard, ibid, vol. XXIII, pp. 28-42.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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