Pubs and Publicans – The Jolly Farmer Inn

The Hobart Town Courier of 3 October 1829 provides a list of persons to whom certificates for Public House Licenses for Cornwall were granted by the bench of Magistrates.  This list included Mr J Collins for the Jolly Farmer, South Esk River.   However the Colonial Times of 20 November 1829 states that a Public House Licence in the County of Cornwall was granted to George Collins, for the Jolly Farmer, South Esk River.

George Collins lived on Collin’s Hill it what is now Briar Lane Cottage.

This makes the Jolly Farmer the first licensed premises in the town.  It was not to last however.  The Hobart Town Courier of 9 January 1830 tells a story of  “a regular pitched battle” that was fought on 30 December 1829, “near the public house kept by Mr. Collins between James Glew, a man well known by the lovers of pugilism in New South Wales and John Williams, the champion of this place”.  By this report, “upwards of 700 persons, a greater concourse of people perhaps than was ever assembled before on such an occasion in this island”, witnessed the event.  Even the constables from Launceston did not try to have the pugilists desist, the prisoners to return to their masters’ deserted farms, and the rest of the mob to disperse”  Indeed, “that guardian of the public peace, it appears, was busily employed making bets much against appearances, and it is said (that being in the secret) he made a good job of it, for it is the public opinion that it was a sold battle or what is called by the fancy a cross fight, but so artfully had the plan been laid, and so successfully executed, that not only several hundred pounds but thousands are said to have been won and lost, and that cattle and horses have also changed owners upon the occasion”.

The article goes on to state “We trust the ringleaders of this disgraceful occurrence will be punished as they deserve, and if any man clothed with authority, has forgot himself so far as the constable alluded to seems to have done, that justice will be awarded him for the sake of example to others”.  Such justice may have been afforded to George Collins as the Launceston Advertiser of 20 September 1830 states “the Magistrates have granted licenses to three new applicants, and have refused only one license, viz.. Mr. George Collins, near Gibson’s ford, which license they refused to renew.”

                                Summary of Licensees of Jolly Farmer

1829 – 1830 George Collins