National School, Macquarie Point

Some time during 1824 Thomas closed his school in Liverpool Street and he and Ann took up the positions of Master and Mistress of the National School at Macquarie Point. Their salaries were ₤20 and ₤15 respectively. A residence was provided and there was enough ground for Thomas to think about establishing a vegetable garden. They were also able to purchase rations of meat and flour at the Government price.

Ann would have had to fit in her teaching duties with managing the house and a growing family which now included Emma (b. 10 Feb 1820), Ann (b. 8 Dec 1822) and Thomas (b. 25 July 1824).

Thomas’s plans for a garden were frustrated by the lack of a fence. In 1825 the Rev’d William Bedford, the Superintendent of Schools wrote on his behalf to Captain John Montagu, the Secretary to Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur on his behalf, asking that the fences be repaired.

Unfortunately the reply was “Acquaint him that the Lt. Gr. is aware of the propriety of it and that if he had the means he would comply with his request at once, but the various works at present performing by the Acting Engineer will not enable it, but it will be attended to as soon as possible…”   (C.S.O. 1/1 19/3014)

At the end of 1826 an editorial in the “Colonial Times” which discussed problems in the contemporary public school system, including a shortage of teachers and the unwillingness of parents to send their children to school made one significant exception.

“The Hobart Town School, however, under the management of Mr. Stone, presents a gratifying picture, and reflects much credit on Mr. and Mrs. Stone, and also on the Rev. Mr. Bedford, under whose immediate eye it is conducted; it contains about 100 children, and proves that there are plenty of children in the Colony, if they were but sent.” (Colonial Times Friday, December 8, 1826)

In spite of this appreciation of his work, towards the end of 1826, following the birth of their fourth child Joseph (b. 9 Oct 1826), Thomas was concerned about the family’s financial position and planning to return to England he wrote to W. H. Hamilton, the Colonial Secretary offering his resignation:

“Sir, The Emoluments arising from my situation as Schoolmaster being wholly inadequate to the support of my family, I shall be greatly obliged by His Excellency’s allowing me to resign my situation at the end of the ensuing January, as it is my intention to proceed to England about that period, by the “Hugh Crawford”.

It would seem that the quality of Thomas and Ann’s work was appreciated by the Lieutenant-Governor because on the 27 Dec 1826 he directed that Thomas should be notified “that I have approved of Fifty Pounds to himself and Twenty-five Pounds to his wife, with such other emoluments or advantages as they now possess, to be their future rate of Salary from 1st October last.” However he added that this rate was not intended to be applicable to all Schoolmasters.

This was enough incentive for Thomas to cancel his plan to leave the colony but they would still be moving house as the National School was about to be moved to a new site in Liverpool Street.