Somercotes History

Somercotes was settled in 1823 by Captain Samuel Horton and is one of a select number of Australian properties that have remained in continual family ownership.

Having been a Captain in the Merchant Navy and trading in the China Seas for some years, Horton arrived in Van Diemens Land from Calcutta in 1823 aboard the brig Governor Phillip. He was persuaded to come to Tasmania by his cousin Rev William Horton, the first resident Wesleyan minister in Hobart Town. Lieutenant Governor Sorell granted Horton 1000 acres of land ‘near the Ross Bridge’ in consideration of the £1640 in goods and cash that he brought with him to the colony. He lived alone for 10 years in what is now part of Rose Cottage. Importance was placed on buildings such as stables, barns, etc, fencing, and quarters for workers. It was not until all the other dwellings and outbuildings had been finished that Somercotes Homestead was completed, and the property was named after the Lincolnshire area where Horton had spent much of his early life.

By 1828 an additional 800 acres were granted and on April 26, 1833, Captain Horton married Miss Elizabeth Pridden Hudson at Park Farm, Jericho, Tasmania. In later years Mrs. Horton laid the foundation stone at the Uniting (Methodist) Church in Ross, circa 1885.

In 1850 Horton offered 20 acres and £1350 to the Wesleyan Church for the establishment of a boy’s college. In 1852 the foundation stone of Horton College was laid.  Horton College, built of red brick with trimmings of carved sandstone closed in 1855. Some 770 students attended the College in its time; the names of those who were granted a scholarship are on display in the Tasmanian Wool Centre Museum.

Student numbers eventually declined as more conveniently located schools in Hobart and Launceston were erected. Finally, Horton College closed in 1893. The portico, some foundations, and a water well are all that remain today.

Somercotes is an estate of significant Australian historic and cultural heritage. Today, it is a family-owned and operated business, having been in the same family for six generations, producing quality cherries and offering niche accommodation.

For more information, visit our museum, open 7 days a week.