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James Erskine Calder

James Erskine Calder (1808–82), surveyor and historian. Born in England, Calder arrived in Van Diemen's Land in 1829 to take up a position as Assistant Surveyor. For the next three decades he explored and surveyed vast tracts of the colony. In 1841 his skill and strength were required when he led the Lt-Governor, Sir John Franklin, and Lady Jane Franklin, on the arduous journey from Lake St Clair to Macquarie Harbour. In 1859 he was appointed Surveyor-General and in 1870 he became the sergeant-at-arms for the Tasmanian parliament.

After his retirement Calder wrote copiously about early Tasmanian history, contributing many articles to newspapers and publishing four monographs. Calder wrote knowledgeably about Aboriginal culture and pleaded for the use of Aboriginal place names.

Further reading: ADB 1; J Williamson 'James Erskine Calder', THRAPP 40/3, 1993.

John Williamson