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John Pascoe Fawkner

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Published : 1 Article
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Fawkner, John Pascoe I Correspondent l, 1792–1869, pioneer settler in Australia. Born in London; received a few years' schooling. His father, sentenced to transportation, permitted to take his family with him in convict expedition dispatched from England in April 1803. Until '835, young Fawkner followed numerous and varied callings, mainly in Van Diemen's Land. In 1835, arranged expedition to Port Phillip from Van Diemen's Land for purpose of settlement; the settlement ultimately became Melbourne. Brought out Melbourne Advertiser, 1838, first newspaper in Victoria; then Port PhilIip Patriot. Took active part in matters relating to governing of Victoria, both before and after separation of the colony from New South Wales. Held various official posts; for eighteen years member of Legislative Council of Victoria. Achieved prominent and respected position.

      Fawkner's pioneering work in Port Phillip received mention in H.W. in the first instalment of Howitt's "The Old and New Squatter," Dec. 8, 1855. Howitt called Fawkner the "Romulus" – "the undoubted founder" – of Melbourne, and stated that he was "to this day, a conspicuous member of the legislative council."
      It was this mention that prompted Fawkner's writing to Dickens the letter that appeared in H.W. under the title "A Colonial Patriot," referred to in the editorial comment as an "interesting scrap from Melbourne." The letter was actually a personal letter to Dickens, not a communication meant for insertion in the periodical. "I pray you to pardon this liberty," wrote Fawkner, "but I could not refrain from thanking you for the very favourable manner in which my conduct has been reported in your journal" – in "your or your contributor's article." Fawkner had, he stated, almost all of Dickens's works, as well as "your Household Words and Narratives from the very first." "... I have often wished I dared write to you; your tales and essays have beguiled many an hour of my life, and I am thus in your debt."
       In Tallangetta, 1857, Howitt reprinted "The Old and New Squatter" with other of his H.W. Australian items. Referring to these items, he wrote in the preface of the book: "... Mr. Dickens has sent me a letter from Mr. John Fawkner ... , expressing his unqualified pleasure in their perusal." The letter sent by Dickens to Howitt was obviously that published in H.W. under the title "A Colonial Patriot."
      The Office Book assigns the item to "Correspondent & Howitt"; actually Howitt had no connection with it aside from the fact that his "Old and New Squatter" motivated Fawkner's writing to Dickens. It was probably because of that motivation that Wills attached Howitt's name to the item. The Office Book records payment, presumably to Fawkner (though the payee is not named), of £1.1.0 for the 1½-col. item.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Australian Dictionary of Biography

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