Daniel Herbert – Convict Stonemason

Daniel Herbert – Convict Stonemason

Daniel Herbert portraitDanial Herbert was born in Somerset in 1797. He lived in Leeds and worked as a signboard writer. Following his involvement in a hold-up, he was sentenced to death in 1827. Only hopeless unemployment and poverty could have driven such a talented man to desperate measures.

‘All I longed for was peace of death. But they wouldn’t grant me even that…’. He was transported for life to Van Diemans Land on the ship Asia. Following various misdemeanors, he gained a little respect as an overseer at the building of the new Customs House in Hobart (Tasmania’s Parliament House today). He was sent to Ross on the orders of architect Lee Archer to work on the new Ross Bridge with fellow convict mason James Colbeck, against the wishes of Superintendent of Convicts Josiah Spode. ‘… He spent the night out; tread wheel seven days … found in Devine’s Public House after hours; treat wheel and a month in irons … absent on the 18th … twenty five lashes’.

On 29th of May 1835, Lee Archer proposed that both Herbert and Colbeck receive emancipation on the completion of the bridge. This was later granted. Herbert and Colbeck took only 58 weeks to complete the bridge following five years of such low progress, this work included the carving of the 184 stones that form the arches of the bridge.

Herbert had married in 1835 and he and his wife, Mary Witherington remained in Ross, where he was prosperous as a stone mason until his death in 1868 at the age of seventy one. Mary lived on until her death in 1890 at the age of eighty five. Their handsome tomb, carved by Herbert is in the old cemetery at Ross.

Learn more about Daniel Herberts Grave.