Notes on Highfield 12 Knocklofty Terrace – Irene McGuire

Built by a wealthy Hobart Merchant (I cannot find out who this is)

1803-1840 The Old Colonial Period
Page 31. However, there are others, more isolated colonial houses such as Barton
Vale, which is located along Salvator Road, Highfield which is situated on the western side of Knocklofty Terrace. (Crescent Fields A Thematic History of West Hobart, Godden Mackay Logan, West Hobart Heritage Review, Part One, Hobart City Council 2000)

The Mercury 7 and 10th November 1860:
Highfield, Knocklofty Terrace, at present occupied by F. Hudspeth, Esq. who vacates on the 1st December next. The house is a substantial building of 9 rooms,
With cellarage, coach-house, stable, servant’s cottage, wood-house, and all requisite offices for a family of respectability, with two good gardens and three paddocks, the situation healthy, and scenery beautiful. For particulars apply to K.P. Adams

Mrs. King is anxious to dispose of her property on Knocklofty Terrace known as “Highfield”, beautifully situated, commanding a view of the town, surrounding country and the River Derwent. The property was purchased by the late Captain as a residence for his family. The property is at present occupied by a family of great respectability whose term of rental will expire on 1st April next.
(The Mercury Tuesday February 6 1866 page 1)

In 1875 it passed into the hands of the Hudspeth family and for the next 37 years the family of 9 children lived there. There were cherry trees and wheatfields.
(The House on the Hill – F. Rowantreee – The Saturday Evening Mercury June 4,

Preliminary Notice: To let by tender some properties at Oatlands. Particulars can be obtained upon application to The Rev. Canon Hudspeth, Highfield, Hobart Town. (The Mercury Wednesday November 19, 1879 page 1)

Highfield, Hobart Canon Hudspeth’s Picture painted around 1883 by John Harold Graham (1858-1929) A watercolour found on the National Library of Australia’s

Marriage notice: June 7, 1899 at St. John’s Church, Hobart by Rev, Canon Finnis. Percival Howard, son of the late A. White-Parsons to Beatrice Mary, daughter of Canon Hudspeth, Highfield, Hobart.

The Rev Francis Hudspeth, M.A. formerly of St David’s Cathedral, passed away yesterday (Tuesday December 29) at his residence, Highfield, West Hobart, aged 75 years, after a protracted period of enfeebled health and mental vigor. The deceased clergyman was born in Tasmania, the son of the late Dr. Hudspeth and commenced his education at Christ College, Hobart. Later he went to England, and graduated with honours at St. John’s College, Cambridge in 1839 and in 1866 proceeded to his M.A. degree. Upon his return to Tasmania he was, for a time, assistant master of the Hutchins School, and was ordained by Mr. Nixon, the first bishop of Tasmania, after which he became assistant curate of St. David’s and subsequently incumbent of St. John’s, New Town. He was one of the first canons of St. David’s upon the formation of the Cathedral chapter and, being a very scholarly man, took an active part in educational matters in the state and was an
examination reader under the Council of Education in the days preceding the establishment of the University of Tasmania. Many interesting papers and articles emanated from his pen, including a history of the Hutchins School, and he wrote for the “Church News”. Canon Hudspeth was a very generous, warm-hearted man and made a great number of friends. Of late years he had been wholly incapacitated from ministerial work, having had to resign his incumbency and position of Canon at the Cathedral. He leaves a widow with two sons and five
daughters. The funeral takes place today. The service and internment will be at St. John’s, New Town.
(The Mercury Wednesday December 30, 1908, page 5)

A. G .Webster and Sons are instructed by the Trustees to sell by auction in their rooms on Monday March 1 next at 12.00 sharp:
Lot 1. The property known as Highfield, comprising about 5 acres, having extensive frontage on Poets Road, Knocklofty Terrace and Salvator Rosa Road.
On the property is a substantial brick and stone dwelling house, containing 12 rooms with usual offices and out buildings, including stone stable, dairy, workshop, etc.
The grounds are well stocked with flowers, shrubs and fruit and a considerable portion of the estate could be subdivided into building allotments.
The property is at present in the occupation of Mrs. S. L. Huntington, florist.
(The Mercury Wednesday February 17 1915 page 8 )

Mrs. T. H. Vincent, B.A. coaches in English and mathematical subjects for the intermediate and leaving examinations. Highfield, Knocklofty Terrace
(The Mercury Thursday January 30, 1930, page 2)

Ex-Naval Men’s Association – Their Xmas Tree Party will be held this afternoon from 3 pm-5 pm at Highfield, Knocklofty Terrace. Take the W.H. Tram to Poets Road. W H Roberts, Hon. Sec. The Mercury Saturday January 2, 1932 page 8 )

Re: Captain George King, formerly of Highfield. Transfer of Highfield from William Hugh Hudspeth to Zelda Eleanor Jones 4 December 1941.
(From the papers of Patricia Clarke)

This may not be Highfield:
Mr and Mrs A Howell who arrived in Hobart from Launceston about a fortnight ago, moved into their new home in Knocklofty Terrace, West Hobart at the weekend. Mr. Howell was transferred to Hobart from a Launceston Bank.
(The Mercury Tuesday July 11 1950 page 10) [Check with The LIST?]


Joan Goodrick cites James Alfred Huybers as having lived at Highfield in the late 1850s and 1860s. I cannot find any other reference to this. It also seems as if his daughter Jesse, who became a well-known novelist, must have lived there at some point but I cannot verify this. There are many references to her in the biographical data bases.

Jesse Catherine Couveur (1848-1897)
Novelist and short story writer (under the pseudonym Tasma) was born 28th October 1848 at Southward Lodge, Highgate, London, the second child and eldest daughter of James Alfred Huybers and Charlotte Sophia, nee Ogleby. The family emigrated to Hobart Town in the early 1850’s where he established a prosperous business.
Salvator Road (Tasma)
Wiggle your way due north now, via Molle Street to Salvator Road, an
extension of Goulburn Road which was once a red-light district and where
respectable but poor mothers were much visited by Dorcas members (p133).
Right at the very end, when you think you can go no further, is no. 41, a
private house, Barton Vale; in Tasma’s day, it was called Highfield in Salvator
Rosa Glen. You don’t need to intrude on the owners to get an impression of
what inspired Tasma to write about her childhood home.
Tasma (Jessie Couvreur, 1848–1897) was born Jessie Catherine Huybers in
England, the eldest of seven children, to parents of mixed European heritage.
The family arrived in Hobart in 1852, and her father set up as a general
merchant and wine and spirit seller. He prospered and, in 1866, the family
moved to Highfield. Jessie married Charles Forbes Fraser at St David’s Church
in 1867 but the marriage soon faltered and eventually ended. Her husband
had accompanied his parents to various penal postings, including the Cascades
Female Factory, which Tasma’s biographer suggests may have caused him to
view women ‘as people without rights’. Tasma was to use that background
in her writing (pp68, 284).
Settled in Europe, Tasma married the Belgian politician and London Times
correspondent Auguste Couvreur and began to concentrate more seriously
on her writing. Patricia Clarke tells the full story in Tasma: The Life of Jessie
Couvreur (1994), and her work is discussed by Margaret Harris in ‘The
Writing of Tasma: The Work of Jessie Couvreur’ in A Bright and Fiery Troop
(edited by Debra Adelaide, 1988). (It includes chapters on Caroline Leakey
and Marie Pitt.)
Tasma wrote about Highfield from memory years later and her heroine,
Eila, and the rest of the Clare family in Not Counting the Cost emigrate to
Europe, as she did. In doing so, Eila leaves behind a husband who has made
her life a misery and is confined to the New Norfolk Mental Asylum (p305).
The unsatisfactory husbands in Tasma’s writing tended to be based on her ex.
Though the novel is only partly set in Tasmania, the first 150 pages convey an
intense nostalgia for her childhood home. We are, happily, acquainted with the
current owners of Barton Vale, and so can say that today’s house and garden
are not exactly as they were in Tasma’s day – rather more up-to-date and
kempt – and the setting has been modified by development, but Tasma is still
there. Writing of visitors arriving in search of the Clare family, she continues:
They came upon them in the flower-garden – a mere longitudinal strip taken
from the hill that sloped upwards from the house. The flower-garden it was
called by courtesy, for in the tangle of blooms and weeds that encumbered
the soil, there was nothing to recall the trim parterres we have learned to
associate with the name. Such as it was, thanks to the Tasmanian air and
soil, wherein flowers seem to grow, … for no assignable cause, there was
always to be found in the wherewithal to provide a bouquet of fuchsias
and geraniums, bordered by springs of fragrant lemon-thyme … The hardy
shrubs and gaily-painted weeds and flowers wove a garland of colour and
perfume round the assembled party, and across the city, lying at their feet,
the sea glittered and sparkled beneath the afternoon sun.

Behind them rose Mount Wellington, described by Tasma earlier in this
itinerary. Not Counting the Cost is available on the internet, but at a price;
one which I felt was worth paying; it may be your only way of reading it.
Uncle Piper of Piper’s Hill (1889; 1987), perhaps a better-known novel, and
more easily obtainable in paperback, is set in Australia but has nothing to
do with Tasmania.

From The West Hobart Story – Joan Goodrick
…stately white residence named Highfield, which was built in the 1830’s. In the late 1850’s and 1860’s a leading merchant of the city, James Alfred Huybers lived there.

1 Response to “Highfield”

  1. F MacFarlane says:

    Thanks for this. I have proof that Jessie Huybers was living at Highfield in the 1860s. I have transcribed the diary of one of Jessie’s friends (Fanny Davenport) and in the dairies she often mentions spending time with Jessie at that house.

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