Colonel David Collins

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Collins, David, Colonel, Governor of Van Diemen's Land, son of General Collins, of Pack, in the King's County, was born 3rd March 1756. When but fourteen he received an appointment as lieutenant in the Marines; he fought at Bunker's Hill and elsewhere abroad, and on the proclamation of peace in 1782, settled in Kent on half-pay, with an American wife. In May 1787 he sailed with Governor Phillip as Secretary and Judge-Advocate on the expedition to establish a convict settlement at Botany Bay, New South Wales, recently discovered by Captain Cook. The proposed locality was found unsuitable; Port Jackson was preferred, and there Sydney was founded. Collins remained in Australia for ten years, and after his return wrote an Account of the English Colony in New South Wales, with some Particulars of New Zealand from Governor King's MSS.,2 vols. quarto. (London, 1798-1802.) The book is embellished with many plates, and as the first published account of the infant colony, has a permanent interest. The Quarterly Review styles it "a singularly curious and painfully interesting journal, which may be considered as a sort of Botany Bay calendar." Shortly after the publication of this work he was commissioned to establish another convict settlement in Australia. He made an abortive attempt to found one on the south-eastern shore of Port Phillip, and then crossed to Van Dienien's Land (now Tasmania), where, on 19th February 1804, he laid the foundations of the present city of Hobart Town. Collins was the first governor of the island, and died at his post, 24th March 1810, aged 54. "His person was remarkably handsome, and his manners extremely prepossessing; while to a cultivated understanding, and an early fondness for belles lettres, he joined the most cheerful and social disposition," says the Gentleman's Magazine, in noticing his death; but it must be evident to the readers of his book that the management of a convict settlement in accordance with the ideas of his time was little calculated to develop such characteristics.


16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

124. Encyclopaedia Britannica. London, 1860.

146. Gentleman's Magazine. London, 1731-1868.
Gilbert, John T., see Nos. 110, 335.

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