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Joseph James

Captain Joseph James (c 1786–1844), pioneer merchant-shipowner of the Tamar region, arrived at Sydney as master of the brig Daphne from Calcutta in 1811, and experienced a legally and financially turbulent career as a merchant there until 1818, when he resettled at George Town in anticipation of Governor Macquarie's intention to move the northern headquarters from Launceston.

When this did not eventuate, James' land grants and purchases became almost worthless. Further misfortune came with the disappearance of his schooner Little Mary between Hobart and Launceston in 1822, and the wreck of his schooner Speedwell in 1828, neither vessel being insured. James died at George Town in relative poverty. The eldest of his ten children, William Henry James (c 1816–1900), became a modestly successful Melbourne-based master mariner and sometime shipowner.

Further reading: G Broxam (ed), The James of George Town, Canberra, 2002.

Graeme Broxam