A unique collection of material reflecting early life on the Darling Downs has just arrived at State Library from the United Kingdom.
The collection is from Sir Arthur Hodgson, who was one of the first squatters to settle on the Darling Downs. In 1840, he took up 67,200 acres in the district which he named “Eton Vale” after the school where he was educated.
In 1842, he married his wife, Eliza, the daughter of Sir James Dowling, Chief Justice of New South Wales, a talented artist and a former student of Conrad Martens. They went on to have 11 children and to establish Eton Vale as one of the finest producers of premium wool.
Hodgson was a strong advocate for separation of the northern district from New South Wales and a prime mover in the formation of the Northern Districts Association. In 1868, he won the seat of Warrego and became a member of the Queensland Assembly. In 1869, he became Colonial Secretary in the Lilley Ministry.
Having made his fortune, he and his wife left Queensland in 1868 to settle permanently in England, but he continued to maintain a personal and financial interest in Eton Vale up until his death.
At auction in Somerset, England, State Library recently secured a collection of artworks, photograph albums, daguerreotypes, certificates, medals and records relating to the life of Hodgson. Of particular interest are artworks from his wife Eliza, depicting scenes of early European settlement. A selection of material from this collection will feature in the upcoming State Library exhibition Grass Dukes and Shepherd Kings in the Philip Bacon Heritage Gallery from 8 December 2012 – 21 April 2013.
Below are some photographs and a short video documenting the arrival of the collection to State Library and the work that Original Materials Curator Dianne Byrne had done to bring this outstanding collection back to Queensland.