The Archer Heritage

The Archer Heritage

By By Neil Chick


Book, 568 pages, hard-bound in cloth with dust-jacket.
Proudly printed and bound by Foot & Playsted.

ISBN 978-0-9945386-4-2

Some parts of our planet have plunged into barbarism and contempt for the past so profound as to result in the wanton destruction of priceless heritage. Elsewhere, enormous efforts by the more enlightened now preserve, interpret and publish the past, propagating an appreciation not only of natural ecosystems, but of the products of labour and human heritage. The Archers of Van Diemens Land — a History of Pioneer Pastoral Families has been out of print for fifteen years, and demand for copies from antiquarian booksellers has thrust prices into the stratosphere. Since 1991, much sought-for but previously unavailable data have emerged into the public domain. The technology for maintaining family trees has advanced enormously, and the digital revolution in publishing continues apace. Unstated aims of that book have been achieved, and need public expression.

Tasmania’s early convicts were assigned to both Government service and to free settlers to help develop the colony’s economy. After the colonial government and the Van Diemen’s Land Company on Tasmania’s far northwest coast, the Archers were by far the biggest private employers of convict labour. Both ‘Brickendon’ and ‘Woolmers’ estates have maintained a remarkable collection of convict farm buildings, houses, farm infrastructure, artifacts, and family documents.

‘Brickendon’ and ‘Woolmers’ thus exemplify the assignment of prisoners of the Crown to free settlers to build up the farming infrastructure. They represent Tasmania’s ascent from depository for the dregs of British society to a part of a vibrant Commonwealth, and demonstrate the heritage of a significant stage of human history: forced migration. The Archers’ management of their convict staff, the quality of their capital works, the continuity of family ownership and their commitment to the preservation of family and estate history resulted in the inscription in 2010 of ‘Brickendon’ and ‘Woolmers’ on UNESCO’s World Heritage Register as significant places in the world.

Heritage is too often considered in the public mind as just being about places. The personal sacrifices of those convicts transported to Van Diemens Land, their practical skills and their contribution to the State of Tasmania as recognized by the Archer Family and the World Heritage listing affirm that Heritage is very much about people and not just the structures they created in the early 1800’s. Too many of the fifth and sixth generation of the extended family have passed on to their rewards, and a significant number of seventh and eighth generation Archers have arrived. Many properties have changed hands. Other publications on the convict heritage will follow, but this volume is about the Archers themselves.