Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history.


On this day in history in 1873, died Alexander Berry.

Berry was a surgeon turned explorer who established the first settlement in New South Wales in Australia.  

Berry was born in 1781 at Cupar, Fife, on St Andrew’s Day in the middle of a snowstorm. He attended Cupar Grammer School, together with the artist, David Wilkie and later St Andrew’s University where he studied medicine.

Berry took a position as a ship’s surgeon with the East India Company where he became attracted to the idea of exploring unknown regions. Berry soon gave up the practice of medicine and chartered a ship, travelling to South America, Southern Australia and New Zealand. On one occasion, in New Zealand, he heard reports of a British ship, Boyd, being seized by Maori tribesmen. He followed the course of the Boyd and, after a pitch battle with the natives, rescued four of the Boyd’s crew.  

Seeing the fertile land on the southern coast of Australia, Berry thought he could set up a colony there. He obtained a land grant of 10,000 acres and 100 convicts and set up a dairy farm on the Coolangata Estate, now known as the town of Berry. The Coolangata prospered enough for Berry to become a colonial gentleman of leisure. He became a member of the New South Wales Legislature and a member of the Australian Philosophical Society.  

When he died, Berry left £1.25 million, Sterling, about 100 times that much in today’s money.  He left much of his estate to St Andrews University, which endowed the Berry Chair in English Literature.

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