Theophilus Parsons Pugh (1831-1896)

Born on Turk’s Island, British West Indies in 1831 Theophilus Pugh migrated to Australia in 1855.  A journalist, he took over as Brisbane editor of The Moreton Bay Free Press, a journal renowned as the mouthpiece of the squatting interests. In 1859 – 61 Pugh was editor of The Moreton Bay CourierThe Australian Dictionary of Biography Online describes him as “a capable and fearless journalist”.

Initially The Moreton Bay Courier was published 3 days a week but by June 1861 it had become a daily and he changed the name to The Courier.  When the Brisbane Telegraph  was started in 1872, Mr. Pugh was its first editor, a position he retained for slightly over a year.  Pugh was closely identified with the movement for obtaining the separation of Queensland from New South Wales, and from 1857 to 1859 acted as secretary of the committee.

Pugh was described as “in every sense, a literary pioneer” (Brisbane Courier 26/8/ 1933 p 14).  Pugh’s lesser known publication but of equal significance and of enduring research value is Pugh’s Moreton Bay Almanac which first appeared in 1858 and was initially published as a single sheet.  By 1859 there was enough content to publish it as a book.  In 1866 it was enlarged again and issued as Pugh’s Queensland Almanac and continued annually under various publishers until 1927.

Portrait of T. P. Pugh - John Oxley Library image number 79175 Advertisement for A. Nielson’s Locomobile car, 1904 - John Oxley Library image number 54988 Operators at the telephone exchange in the post office, Pittsworth, ca. 1910. First mention of a telephone exchange found in Pugh’s Almanac 1908.  John Oxley Library image number 42335

Pugh’s Almanac can be viewed on level 3 in the microform area.  It can also be seen via the database Findmypast (Australia) currently available onsite for slq users.  The publication contains information including legal directory; directories of surveyors, architects, medical practitioners, chemists, dentists, banks, newspapers, Masonic lodges, friendly societies, Brisbane trades, local authorities; ecclesiastical directories; and country directories which list Queensland towns, their locations and business people.  However, one of the most useful sections of the almanac is the calendar, which has a comprehensive guide to the events of the previous year.  It includes details as specific as the names of traffic accident and fire victims.

Pugh later became Queensland’s first unofficial government printer and issued the first Government Gazette from the jobbing office of the Courier and continued to print the Gazette until W. C. Bellbridge was officially appointed in 1863.  Pugh occupied a prominent place in public life and went on to hold various other public offices including the Legislative Assembly, Chairman of Committees, and Queensland Public Service.  He died in Toowoomba in 1896 whilst serving as Police magistrate in Nanango.

(Information from the ADB online)

Karen Hind

Librarian,  John Oxley Library

Posted in Brisbane, Collections, People Jo Browse John Oxley Library
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