Augustus Alt: The Baron

By David Morgan

supported by a Parramatta City Council Community Grant – St. John’s First Fleeters

 

…a life chequered with vicissitudes and oppressed with unmerited calamities. 

—Augustus Alt[1]

The Ambassador’s Son

Augustus Alt’s story begins in the German state of Hesse-Kassel in the early eighteenth century. ‘Germany’ would not exist as a country until more than a century later: it was a patchwork of states making up the Holy Roman Empire, including duchies, counties, archbishoprics and bishoprics, abbeys and free cities, in which rulers elected leaders from among themselves. In this environment, ‘violence…was an international market commodity’ insofar as ‘states could…buy an army or navy from the international system.’[2] The Landgraviate of Hesse-Kassel was a major player in this particular market. Most famously, it provided ‘Hessian’ troops for Britain to fight against the rebellious colonists in the American War of Independence. And, in fiction, William Makepeace Thackeray’s antihero Barry Lyndon finds himself there as an Irish soldier of fortune during the Seven Years War (1756-1763): ‘The country was desolate beyond description. The prince in whose dominions we were was known to be the most ruthless seller of men in Germany’[3] — Landgrave Frederick II.[4] Yet, Frederick II’s mercenaries were not ‘downtrodden or reluctant warriors.’[5] As historian William Urban asserts, ‘[L]oyalty to a lord, not a nation, remained the dominant ethos…and with provinces being passed around according to the whims of war, marriage and inheritance, there was no reason for any ambitious and capable man to limit his employment to the ruler of the land of his birth.’[6] Individuals could ‘join the armed forces of the state offering the highest wage.’[7]

johann_heinrich_tischbein_-_retrato_del_landgrave_federico_ii_de_hesse-kassel

Portrait of Frederick II, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel (1720-1785) by Johann Heinrich Tischbein the Elder. Public domain image, via Wikimedia Commons

Jost Heinrich (Just Henry) Alt (1698-1768), the father of Augustus, was one of those ‘ambitious and capable’ men. He was a member of the diplomatic staff of the legation of the German state of Hesse-Kassel: having already served in Sweden, Jost Heinrich arrived in London in 1725, rising to the post of Minister for Hesse by 1741. In England he was known as ‘Baron Alt,’ although no such title was ever officially conferred, and Augustus and his elder brother Just would also adopt the title. The Baron Alt married Augustus’s mother Jeanetta Preston (1709-1772) in the 1720s, but the marriage was not officially sanctioned until 1740, given the diplomatic difficulties Jost Heinrich’s marriage to a member of an ‘attainted’ family would have caused — it is believed Jeanetta was descended from the Scottish (and strongly pro-Jacobite) Preston and Elphinstone families.[8]

Augustus himself was born to Jost Heinrich and Jeanetta in London on 26 August 1734. He had two elder brothers, Henry (1730-1768) and Just (1732-1801), a younger brother William (1736-c.1761) and sisters Maria, Henrietta and Christina. Henry went to Westminster School in 1741, and then entered the British Army. William was listed at Westminster in 1752, entered the army as an ensign in 1756, and died on service in the West Indies. Just also went to Westminster, then to Trinity College, Cambridge where he became a Fellow in 1756, and subsequently entered the Church of England. Just’s son Matthew Bowles Alt would later accompany Augustus on the First Fleet in 1788 as Midshipman on HMS Sirius. Another Westminster old boy, Warren Hastings—the controversial de facto Governor-General of India from 1773 to 1785—was godfather to Just’s second daughter Amelia (b. 1769), as well as to Amelia’s daughter and grandson. While there is no record of Augustus’s entry to Westminster, he presumably went there too; his contemporaries, then, would have included Hastings, the poet William Cowper, and the future Prime Minister William Fitzmaurice (later Earl of Shelburne and Marquess of Lansdowne). Augustus had been born into the heart of Britain’s Establishment.[9]

Soldier, Engineer…Mercenary

On 27 April 1801, Alt submitted a ‘Memorial’ to the Home Secretary (and past and future Prime Minister) the Duke of Portland. In it he claimed ‘severe misfortunes’ and cited his record of service, seeking a representation of his case to the King, ‘as may induce him to bestow on your memorialist such mark of His Majesty’s Royal favor as may render comfortable the few remaining years he can expect the Supreme Being to add to a life chequered with vicissitudes and oppressed with unmerited calamities.’[10] It contains his summary of 32 years of service:

That in the year 1755 your memorialist had the honor of being appointed ensign in the King’s or 8th Regiment of Foot.

Aged twenty-one, Alt was appointed on 1 October 1755 and was based in Liverpool. Then, in 1756, the Seven Years War with France broke out.[11]

That in the following year your memorialist was appointed Assistant Q[uarte]r-Master General to conduct the Hanoverian troops from Chatham port to their quarters in Canterbury, and from thence to their encampment on Barham Downs, in Kent.

The House of Hanover had ruled Britain since 1714. Along with the British subsidy to Hesse-Kassel, there was one to Hanover of £50,000 annually to increase its army by 8,000 troops. This was part of the ‘system’ by which the Prime Minister, the Duke of Newcastle, hoped to maintain peace in Europe by making it difficult for France to respond militarily.[12]

That in the year 1758 [sic – 1757] your memorialist departed with the 8th Regiment to the coast of France on the expedition under the command of Admiral Hawke and General Sir John Mordaunt.

The 8th Foot was encamped during the summer of 1757 along with twenty other regiments near Dorchester, under Mordaunt’s command. It was then removed to the Isle of Wight to join the land force to attack the French port of Rochefort on the Bay of Biscay. (Other future First Fleeters on this expedition included John Hunter, William Dawes and Robert Ross).[13] The raid was intended to divert French forces from fighting Prussia, but it proved impossible to find a landing site where cannon could be offloaded, so the attack was aborted and the expeditionary force returned without engaging the enemy. Mordaunt was court martialled and acquitted, but King George II dismissed him from his personal staff.[14]

That in the year 1760 the 8th Regiment was ordered to join the allied army in Germany under the command of Prince Ferdinand where your Grace’s memorialist remained as aide-de-camp to several generals, latterly to General Conway, till the conclusion of peace.

The 8th Foot embarked for Germany in May 1760, landing at Bremen in June and joining Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel’s camp in Lower Hesse. It then went into action against the French for more than two years, finally capturing Kassel in 1762. In January 1763, with the war virtually over, the 8th Foot began its march home through Holland to the port of Willemstadt, and returned to England.[15]

That in the year 1763 your memorialist was ordered to the Highlands of Scotland to make roads.

These were military roads, built in the wake of the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745 to subdue the Scottish Highlands. In addition to repair work, a party of the 8th Foot made 6370 yards of new road from Kingussie to Etteridge in the Cairngorms. Another party of ten non-commissioned officers and sixty men made over 5000 yards of new road between Contin and Poolewe in Ross-shire. The Scottish politician and judge Duncan Forbes, Lord Culloden, commented that the new roads ‘must produce a Great Change upon the face as well as on the Politicks of this Country.’[16]

That in the year 1764 your memorialist went to Montross [sic – Montrose] to be instructed by Major Hume in the Russian [sic – presumably ‘Prussian’] exercise for the benefit of the regiments then quartered in the north.

Alt continued with the 8th Foot when it returned to England in 1765, but appears not to have been with the regiment when it was transferred to North America in 1768. That year also saw the death of his brother Henry, and of their father. His mother died in 1772, leaving him £100. In this period he also appears to have married Sophia (surname unknown) and had two daughters, Caroline and Augusta. Whether Sophia had died by the time he left for New South Wales is not known.[17]

That in the year 1777 your Grace’s memorialist assisted in the raising [of] the Manchester Volunteers and marched with them to the siege of Gibraltar, where the honor of being an assistant engineer was conferred on him by Governor ElIiott.

War had broken out again, this time against the American rebels. Between 1779 and 1783 Spain and France, intervening on the American side, attempted to capture Gibraltar. Now a Lieutenant with the 72nd Foot, or Royal Manchester Volunteers, Alt embarked from Portsmouth for Gibraltar in 1778. The regiment served there until 1783, but Alt was no longer on the 72nd Foot’s muster roll by 1782.[18]

That in the year 1781 your memorialist went with Colonel J. F. Erskine to assist in raising three battalions of Swiss Chasseurs for the East India Service.

Alt was now dabbling in the mercenary business.[19] Erskine’s plan was based on his belief that Switzerland ‘swarms with a hardy race of inhabitants, who, from time immemorial, have bore the character of making remarkable good soldiers.’[20] He also said they were less expensive than the ‘much worse’ troops provided by German princes: ‘The whole country is perfectly persuaded every Englishman is made of gold, and whoever can get to that land of riches, makes his fortune; but more particularly so if they can reach our settlements in the East Indies, from whence about a dozen Swiss officers have returned with fortunes of from ten to twenty thousand pounds.’[21] Erskine arrived in Schaffhausen in 1781 then went to Frankfurt, leaving Alt in charge of mustering the men. On his return to Schaffhausen Erskine found that the cantons of Bern and Zürich were sending an armed force to take away any recruits who were their subjects and that Alt had, therefore, sent them into hiding in neighbouring towns, but they were found and taken prisoner. Alt, too, was arrested but eventually returned to England.[22]

That in the year 1785 your memorialist was about to embark to the island of Madagascar, as engineer, with Colonel Erskine to join Count Bonisky, but unfortunately news arriving a few days before the ship was to sail put a stop to the expedition.

Count Bonisky, or Benyovszky, was a Polish-Slovak adventurer who had set himself up as ‘king’ of Madagascar and hoped to get French backing to establish it as a major colony. After a ‘long and violent altercation’ with the French government, he tried and failed in 1783 to get support in London for his scheme. He then went to America, finally sailing to Madagascar with a commercial cargo and arriving in 1785. He was killed in a fight with the French in 1786.[23] Alt’s role as an ‘engineer’ implies that he was going to do what would later be his job in New South Wales: overseeing the surveying and building of the new colony. Just what the ‘news’ was is not clear—possibly he made an error with the year and was referring to Benyovszky’s death—but Alt’s latest adventure with Erskine had again come to naught.

That in the year 1787 your Grace’s memorialist had the honor of being appointed Land Surveyor-General to His Majesty’s colony of New South Wales, under command of Governor Arthur Phillip to whom as to several subsequent Commanders-in-Chief, he flatters himself he has given satisfaction in the discharge of his official duty.

Alt was now 53 years old, with ‘a formidable record of military service in several countries.’[24] As well as being appointed Surveyor of Lands for New South Wales, on 20 April 1787 he was, along with other senior military and civil officers of the First Fleet, appointed to the Commission for the Trial of Pirates on the coast of New South Wales,[25] and on 5 May was made a member of the Vice-Admiralty Court for New South Wales.[26] The Fleet sailed from Portsmouth on 13 May with Alt on the Prince of Wales.[27] He was one of the oldest people in the First Fleet, and his age and impaired health would be against him when he reached New South Wales.

Surveyor-General of New South Wales

In February 1788, shortly after the First Fleet’s arrival in New South Wales, Alt was appointed Justice of the Peace.[28] In March, he supervised the erection of a wharf ‘for the convenience of landing stores’ on the western side of Sydney Cove.[29] He was living under canvas, not having a brick house built for him until 1791.[30] William Dawes produced the first plan of Sydney Cove in July, but it has been argued that Alt was the true ‘author,’ while Dawes simply drew it then implemented it.[31] On 2 November Alt accompanied Phillip, two officers and a party of marines to ‘the Crescent’ at Parramatta where land suitable for farming had been found. They selected a site, and marked out the ground for a military redoubt and ‘other necessary buildings.’[32]

Alt’s hand is apparent in the initial designs of ‘Albion’ (Sydney), Parramatta and ‘Tongabby’ (Toongabbie); designs which appear to have made use of Isopsephia. Isopsephia is the Greek name for the practice of adding up the number values of the letters in a word to form a single number. Rendering these names in Greek and then adding up the numbers, architect Paul-Alan Johnson finds the numbers (in feet) reflected in the town plans. For example ‘Parramatta’ [Παρραματτα] = 80 + 1 + 100 + 100 + 1 + 40 + 1 + 300 + 300 + 1 = 924. While the Aboriginal name ‘Burramedi’ could have been anglicised and spelt in a number of ways, only this spelling gives a distance of 1848 feet (2 x 924) along High Street (now George St, Parramatta) from the face of Government House to the centre of Church St. The number 924 was also then believed to be the square root of the sun’s diameter in miles. This use of isopsephy, writes Johnson, could have been ‘an attempt to ensure fecundity and prosperity for their new but alien abode by uniting place, aspiration, indigenes and settlers using symbolism,’ possibly inspired by the Swedish mystic Emmanuel Swedenborg, whose writings were on Phillip’s flagship Sirius.[33]

‘I directly cried out watch! murder!’

By 1790 Alt was in a relationship with Ann George, a First Fleet convict who had arrived on the Lady Penrhyn. She had been indicted with Eleanor McCabe at the Old Bailey on 11 May 1785 ‘for feloniously assaulting John Harris, in the dwelling-house of William Calloway, on the 1st of May, and putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person, and against his will six copper half-pence, value 3d. and three shillings, in monies numbered, his property.’[34] Harris testified that,

…when they came into the door, [McCabe] pushed me down on the bed; I called out directly to the watch; I was in great fear, and she clapped both her hands upon my mouth, I strove to get her hand from my pockets, and the other hand that she had at my mouth, I could not get her hand away, she bit my cheek; one of the others took my money, while M’Cabe held me down; as soon as she let go my mouth, I directly cried out watch! murder! accordingly the watchman came, and I gave him charge of the prisoner M’Cabe, and I never left hold of her; my calling watch so violently, somebody else called watch, which I think to be the prisoner GeorgeM’Cabe was taken into custody; I know nothing of my own knowledge against Ann George; I was much in liquor, but I lost three shillings and some half-pence.[35]

The watchman, John Daly, testified that George had told him ‘they were used ill by a man that was in the room, and begged of me to come to their assistance.’[36]

McCabe appears to have taken the leading role in the attack, with George as her accomplice; George had nothing to say in her own defence at the trial.[37] Her trade was listed as ‘shoe binder.’[38] In the colony she had a child named William with Archibald Lodwick, a seaman on the Charlotte, who was baptised on 10 December 1788 but died on 22 December.[39] Alt would have two children with Ann George: Lucy, born on 30 October 1790 (died 1806) and Henry George, born on 18 April 1799.[40] There is no evidence of Alt and George ever marrying. Indeed, the 1807 muster shows him living with a ‘Concubine’ and one male ‘Illegitimate’ child.[41] Two things could have prevented their marriage: the difference in their social stations, and the possibility that Alt’s first wife Sophia was still alive.

‘…various bodily infirmities…’

In October 1791, after the arrival of the Third Fleet, Alt sat on the board of magistrates examining the master of the convict ship Queen about abuses which had taken place on the voyage: convicts had accused the master of withholding their provisions.[42] But on 14 November he wrote to Phillip that he wanted to retire:

I beg leave to represent to your Excellency that my present state of health is such that through various bodily infirmities I find myself left without any speedy hopes of relief at so advanced a period of life as mine, and feel that I can no longer carry on the duties of a surveyor with that satisfaction to myself which I could desire.[43]

Lieutenant William Dawes and David Burton took over the surveying of settlers’ farms, while Alt continued to hold the office of Surveyor-General and draw up the surveyor’s returns.[44] In 1794 Lieutenant-Governor Francis Grose recalled Charles Grimes from Norfolk Island to Sydney to act as deputy-surveyor, at a salary of £91/5/0 — half of Alt’s. After his arrival in April, Grimes would do most of the surveys, with Alt continuing to do the reports.[45] In one of those reports to Grose on 26 April, Alt noted that 2,962 acres (1,199 ha) had been put into cultivation in the sixteen months since Phillip left for England.[46]

alt-hawkesbury-hrnsw

Alt’s plan of the first farms on the Hawkesbury River (enclosure to Lieutenant-Governor Grose’s dispatch of 29 April 1794) Photo: David Morgan (September 2016)

Alt appears to have been the subject of a comment by the newly-arrived Judge-Advocate Richard Atkins in his diary on 14 April 1792, indicating he was known in the colony as ‘Baron’ or ‘Lord Alt.’ Having such a title mattered greatly in the hierarchical society the colonists had brought with them from England:

The ration served for this week, indiscriminately to every person in the colony, consists of 3 ld Flower, 2 ld Indian Corn in grain, and 4 ld Pork. God help the poor wretches that work hard and have nothing but their allowance to feed on. The time has been that I have murmured because I had not so handsome a carriage as Lord A. I am now thankfull that I have some comforts which others have not. how time and place alter the state of things. Let us allways estimate our happiness by a comparison from those below and not from those above us.  But after all are we not equal? are we not from one common stock?  Yes, in a state of nature, but society requires subordination, consequently different situations in life, which ought all to depend on each other, and it should be the wish of each individual to give all the comfort and assistance in his power to the rest of his fellow creatures.[47]

From July until late August 1797 Alt and Grimes were jointly in charge of the construction of the main road from Sydney to the Hawkesbury via Parramatta; Alt was in charge of the section from Sydney to Duck River, and Grimes in charge of the section from Duck River to the Hawkesbury.[48] Alt was finally invalided from the service and given a pension of half-pay for life in 1803, with Grimes appointed his successor.[49]

In February 1794 Alt was granted 100 acres (40 ha), ‘Hermitage Farm,’ at the Petersham Hill district; he built a house on the land and resided there.[50] It extended from Iron Cove Creek south-west nearly to Liverpool Road, including what is now Croydon railway station. In August 1798, while he was away in Sydney for a sitting of the Vice-Admiralty Court, his house was ransacked and burnt down by some Aboriginal people.[51] Though a new brick house had been built for him in Sydney on what would later be the site of the Department of Lands in Bridge Street,[52] more troubles would follow.

In March 1802, Alt assigned Hermitage Farm ‘by indorsement’ to John Palmer for £300. Alt had incurred debts in the form of promissory notes between 1796 and 1800, after having offered Grimes half his salary to act in his stead.[53] By 1801 he had also purchased another 30 acres (it is unclear where) and by the middle of 1802 he had 100 acres at Bulnaming, an ill-defined area which seems to have run from the Petersham Hill district south along the Newtown ridge to Cooks River. An 1807 return shows him holding 270 acres. He may have held these as tenant rather than owner, but in September 1809 he was granted 280 acres at Petersham Hill, south of Parramatta Road in what is now Ashfield; Alt Street now runs through the middle of it. Although there was a five-year limitation on selling the grant, Alt appears to have sold it to Robert Campbell junior in December 1813 for £200.[54]

alt-st-sign-haberfield

Sign for Alt Street, Haberfield. Photo: David Morgan (August 2016)

At the end of May 1804, Alt was the victim in an incident recorded in the Sydney Gazette: ‘…he was accosted by two men near Long Cove Bridge, one of whom snatched a bag from the chaise; but not finding its contents valuable, returned it. They then shook his pockets, which contained a small sum of copper coin, but went off without taking any thing.’[55] He was then sixty-nine years old.

He would receive an even greater blow with the death of his daughter Lucy on 17 March 1806 at the age of fifteen. His death notice for her in the Sydney Gazette records:

family-notice-lucy-alt-sydney-gazette-and-new-south-wales-advertiser-sunday-23-march-1806-p-4

“DIED,” Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 – 1842), Sunday 23 March 1806, p.4

“Denn Er Was Unser!”

In 1814 Alt faced the last of his ‘calamities’: Ann George died in January at the age of 50. He himself died a year later on 9 January 1815, aged 81.[56] By this time he was legally insolvent and the Government paid his funeral expenses of £26/9/7 from the Police Fund.[57] His tombstone in St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta reads:

tribute-to-uncle-alt

A plaque paying tribute to the Baron at his final resting place, from his nephew Lieutenant Matthew Bowles Alt. Photo: Michaela Ann Cameron (February 2013)

Two plaques have since been added: one in 1978 by the Fellowship of First Fleeters, and one in 1983 commemorating Augustus Alt as the first immigrant of German origin, which proclaims,

‘Denn Er Was Unser!’

‘Because He Was Ours!’[58]

alts-grave

The grave of Augustus Alt, Section 1, Row J, No. 1, St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. Photo: Michaela Ann Cameron (July, 2016)

CITE THIS

David Morgan, “Augustus Alt: The Baron,” St. John’s Cemetery Project, (2016) https://stjohnscemeteryparramatta.org/bio/augustus-alt/, accessed [insert current date]

References

Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000)

David Atkins, The New South Wales Journal of Richard Atkins, Macquarie University Library, accessed online 2 October 2016

F. M. Bladen, Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol.1, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1889)

F. M. Bladen, Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol.4¸ (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1896)

Cathy Dunn, “First Fleeters Deaths 1788 Sydney and Norfolk Island,” Australian History Research (www.australianhistoryresearch.info, 2 October 2016), accessed online 2 October 2016.

David Collins, An Account of the English Colony of New South Wales, Vol. 1 (London: The Strand, 1798), accessed online 2 October 2016

B. T. Dowd, “Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol.48, pt.5, (1962)

B. T. Dowd, “Alt, Augustus Theodore (1731–1815),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1966), accessed online 2 October 2016

Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St John’s, (Parramatta, Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991)

James Francis Erskine, Narrative and memorial of Colonel Erskine, relative to a regiment raised on the borders of Switzerland for the service of the East-India-Company of England, (n.p. 1782)

B. H. Fletcher, “Phillip, Arthur (1738–1814),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1967), accessed online 2 October 2016

Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney, Library of Australian History, 1989)

Charles W. Ingrao, The Hessian Mercenary State: Ideas, Institutions, and Reform Under Frederick II, 1760-1785, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987)

Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol.74, pt.1, (June, 1988).

Paul-Alan Johnson, “The Planning, Properties and Patriarchy of Surveyor-General Augustus Alt,” Journeys: Journal of the Ashfield and District Historical Society, No.17, (Ashfield, NSW, 2008).

Terry Kass, Sails to Satellites: The Surveyors General of NSW (1786-2007), (Bathurst: NSW Department of Lands, 2008)

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 2 October 2016), 11 May 1785, trial of ELEANOR M’CABE, ANN GEORGE, (t17850511-32), accessed online 2 October 2016.

William Taylor, The Military Roads in Scotland (Colonsay: House of Lochar, 1996)

William Makepeace Thackeray, The Luck of Barry Lyndon, (Auckland: Floating Press, 2011, first published 1844)

Andrew C. Thompson, George II: King and Elector, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011)

Janice E. Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994)

William Urban, Bayonets for Hire: Mercenaries at War, 1550-1789, (London: Greenhill Books, 2007).

Frederick Watson, Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Vol.6: Governors’ Despatches to and from England, (Sydney: William Applegate Gullick, Government Printer, 1914)

NOTES

[1] “Memorial to the Duke of Portland,” 27 April 1801, Historical Records of New South Wales¸ Vol. 4, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1896), pp.347-8.

[2] Janice E. Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), p.19. This situation would not change until the nineteenth century; but by then it had been the norm for three or four centuries.

[3] William Makepeace Thackeray, The Luck of Barry Lyndon, (Auckland: Floating Press, 2011, first published 1844), p.128.

[4] Landgrave Frederick II ruled from 1760-1785

[5] Charles W. Ingrao, The Hessian Mercenary State: Ideas, Institutions, and Reform Under Frederick II, 1760-1785, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), p.2.

[6] William Urban, Bayonets for Hire: Mercenaries at War, 1550-1789, (London: Greenhill Books, 2007), pp.30-31. The British subsidy allowed Hesse to reverse the upward spiral of its poor rolls while cutting its taxes by 50 per cent in 1776; although despatching perhaps 12 per cent of its able-bodied adult males overseas ‘denuded the countryside of too many workers.’ See Charles W. Ingrao, The Hessian Mercenary State: Ideas, Institutions, and Reform Under Frederick II, 1760-1785, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp.147-8.

[7] Janice E. Thomson, Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial Violence in Early Modern Europe, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), p.19. This was not just the case in Germany. Arthur Phillip, the future Governor of New South Wales, served (with Admiralty permission) as a captain in the Portuguese fleet in South American waters in 1774-78 after the outbreak of the Spanish-Portuguese war. B. H. Fletcher, “Phillip, Arthur (1738–1814),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1967), accessed online 2 October 2016

[8] Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June, 1988): 12-3.

[9] Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June, 1988): 14.

[10] “Memorial to the Duke of Portland,” 27 April 1801, Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 4, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1896), pp.347-8; quotes which follow are from the Memorial.

[11] Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June 1988): 14.

[12] Fred Anderson, Crucible of War: The Seven Years’ War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000), pp.67, 126-7.

[13] Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June 1988): 14-5.

[14] Andrew C. Thompson, George II: King and Elector, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011), p.276.

[15] Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June 1988): 15.

[16] William Taylor, The Military Roads in Scotland (Colonsay: House of Lochar, 1996), pp.48, 83.

[17] Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June 1988): 15.

[18] Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June 1988): 15-6.

[19] ‘Colonel J. F. Erskine’ appears to have been James Francis Erskine (1743-1806), brother of the 7th Earl of Mar. Their grandfather had been one of the leaders of the Jacobite rebellion of 1715, his family (like the family of Alt’s mother) being ‘attainted’ as a result. This shared family history could have brought them together, along with the fact that Erskine’s uncle Thomas was Commissary of Stores for Gibraltar. Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June 1988): 16.

[20] James Francis Erskine, Narrative and memorial of Colonel Erskine, relative to a regiment raised on the borders of Switzerland for the service of the East-India-Company of England, (n.p. 1782), pp.1-2.

[21] James Francis Erskine, Narrative and memorial of Colonel Erskine, relative to a regiment raised on the borders of Switzerland for the service of the East-India-Company of England, (n.p. 1782), pp.1-2.

[22] James Francis Erskine, Narrative and memorial of Colonel Erskine, relative to a regiment raised on the borders of Switzerland for the service of the East-India-Company of England, (n.p. 1782), pp.27-32

[23] Paul-Alan Johnson, “Augustus Alt: The Life of Australia’s First Surveyor-General to 1788,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 74, pt.1, (June 1988): 18.

[24] B. T. Dowd, “Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 48, pt.5, (1962): 361.

[25] “Trial of Pirates,” Historical Records of New South Wales¸ Vol. 1, Part 2, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1889), p. 81.

[26] “Letters Patent Constituting the Vice-Admiralty Court,” Historical Records of New South Wales¸ Vol. 1, Part 2, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1889), p. 98.

[27] Mollie Gillen, The Founders of Australia: A Biographical Dictionary of the First Fleet, (Sydney: Library of Australian History, 1989), p.7.

[28] B. T. Dowd, “Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 48, pt.5, (1962): 362.

[29] David Collins, “Chapter II,” An Account of the English Colony of New South Wales, Vol. 1 (London: The Strand, 1798), accessed online 2 October 2016

[30] B. T. Dowd, “Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 48, pt.5, (1962): 363.

[31] Terry Kass, Sails to Satellites: The Surveyors General of NSW (1786-2007), (Bathurst: NSW Department of Lands, 2008), p.52.

[32] David Collins, “Chapter V,” An Account of the English Colony of New South Wales, Vol. 1 (London: The Strand, 1798), accessed online 2 October 2016

[33] Paul-Alan Johnson, “The Planning, Properties and Patriarchy of Surveyor-General Augustus Alt,” Journeys: Journal of the Ashfield and District Historical Society, No. 17, (Ashfield, NSW, 2008): 33-5

[34] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 2 October 2016), 11 May 1785, trial of ELEANOR M’CABE, ANN GEORGE, (t17850511-32), accessed online 2 October 2016.

[35] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 2 October 2016), 11 May 1785, trial of ELEANOR M’CABE, ANN GEORGE, (t17850511-32), accessed online 2 October 2016.

[36] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 2 October 2016), 11 May 1785, trial of ELEANOR M’CABE, ANN GEORGE, (t17850511-32), accessed online 2 October 2016.

[37] Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 7.2, 2 October 2016), 11 May 1785, trial of ELEANOR M’CABE, ANN GEORGE, (t17850511-32), accessed online 2 October 2016.

[38] First Fleet Fellowship Victoria Inc, ‘Trades of the First Fleet Convicts’, accessed online 2 October 2016.

[39] Cathy Dunn, ‘First Fleeters Deaths 1788 Sydney and Norfolk Island’, Australian History Research http://www.australianhistoryresearch.info, (2016), accessed online 2 October 2016.

[40] B. T. Dowd, “Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 48, pt.5, (1962): 363.

[41] Governor Bligh to the Right Hon. William Windham, 31 October 1807, Historical Records of Australia, Vol. 6: Governors’ Despatches to and from England, (Sydney: William Applegate Gullick, Government Printer, 1914), p.167.

[42] B. T. Dowd, “Alt, Augustus Theodore (1731–1815),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1966), accessed online 2 October 2016

[43] Surveyor-General Alt to Governor Phillip, 15 November 1791, Historical Records of New South Wales, Vol. 1, Part 2¸ (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1889), p.552.

[44] B. T. Dowd, “Alt, Augustus Theodore (1731–1815),” Australian Dictionary of Biography, (Canberra: National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1966), accessed online 2 October 2016

[45] B. T. Dowd, “Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 48, pt.5, (1962): 365.

[46] Surveyor Alt to Lieutenant-Governor Grose, Historical Records of New South Wales¸ Vol. 2, (Sydney: Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1893), p.210.

[47] David Atkins, 14 April 1792, The New South Wales Journal of Richard Atkins, Macquarie University Library, accessed online 2 October 2016.

[48] Terry Kass, Sails to Satellites: The Surveyors General of NSW (1786-2007), (Bathurst: NSW Department of Lands, 2008), p.64.

[49] “Government and General Order,” 14 March 1803, Historical Records of New South Wales¸ Vol. 5, (Sydney, Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1897), p.72; “General Order,” Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, (NSW: 1803-1842), Saturday 26 March 1803, p.1

[50] Terry Kass, Sails to Satellites: The Surveyors General of NSW (1786-2007), (Bathurst: NSW Department of Lands, 2008), p.54.

[51] B. T. Dowd, “Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales,” Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. 48, pt.5, (1962): 365.

[52] Terry Kass, Sails to Satellites: The Surveyors General of NSW (1786-2007), (Bathurst: NSW Department of Lands, 2008), p.55.

[53] “Classified Advertising,” Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803 – 1842), Sunday 19 February 1804, p.4

[54] Paul-Alan Johnson, “The Planning, Properties and Patriarchy of Surveyor-General Augustus Alt,” Journeys: Journal of the Ashfield and District Historical Society, No. 17, (Ashfield, NSW, 2008), pp. 40-50.

[55] “Sydney,” Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW: 1803-1842), Sunday 10 June 1804, p.3

[56] Augustus’s son Henry George Alt was finally baptised on 15 May 1815, and left Sydney on the Northampton on 8 November. He was then sixteen years old. Nothing further is known of his life, nor of the half-siblings his father left behind in England. B. T. Dowd, ‘Augustus Alt, First Surveyor-General of New South Wales,’ Journal of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol.48, pt.5, (1962), p.363.

[57] Terry Kass, Sails to Satellites: The Surveyors General of NSW (1786-2007), (Bathurst: NSW Department of Lands, 2008), p.58.

[58] There is also an inscription commemorating the grave’s restoration in 1971 by the Institute of Surveyors Australia, New South Wales Division. See Judith Dunn, The Parramatta Cemeteries: St John’s, (Parramatta, Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991), pp.63-4.

© Copyright 2016 David Morgan