Dunbar House “Zandoliet”

Campbell, Pieter Laurentz (1809–1848)

by Hazel King

This article was published:

Pieter Laurentz Campbell (1809-1848), public servant, son of Ronald Campbell and his wife Charlotte, née Cloeté, as a young man became private secretary to Major-General (Sir) Richard Bourke, acting-governor of the Cape of Good Hope in 1826-28. He remained at the Cape after Bourke left, as assistant clerk to the council. In June 1830 he became an ensign in the 55th Regiment, transferred to the 89th in November, and thence as a second lieutenant in 1832 to the 21st Regiment, which had been ordered to New South Wales, so that he might once again serve under Bourke, now governor of that colony.

On arrival in New South Wales, Campbell became extra aide-de-camp to the governor and also assisted in the private secretary’s office. On 1 October 1834 Bourke appointed him police magistrate at Maitland, where he was the government’s principal agent in the district. Among many duties he was responsible for receiving and distributing stores to the upper districts of the Hunter, for adjudicating under the Licensing, Slaughtering, Road and Impounding Acts, and for various matters relating to crown lands. He also had to take the preliminary steps in dealing with felonies and misdemeanours, to preside over the bench of magistrates, and to superintend the constabulary in the Maitland and Paterson districts.

Bourke had become unpopular with many large landholders in the Hunter River district chiefly because they believed that their authority over their convict servants was dangerously weakened by the Act, amended on his initiative, for the punishment of offenders (3 Wm IV, no 3 NSW). Campbell had to reconcile the settlers to the new Act by firm and impartial administration of its provisions. He also reported confidentially to the governor on the state of public opinion in the district, and on the activities of those who were working for his recall. Campbell appears to have discharged his varied duties with zeal and ability and, in spite of his known allegiance to Bourke, to have given satisfaction to the magistrates and the local propertied classes. He was presented with a flattering address and a piece of plate when he left in 1836 to take up duty as police magistrate at Parramatta; in 1837 he also became visiting magistrate at the Female Factory. In 1838 he prepared the draft upon which the Country Towns Police Act (2 Vic. no 2 NSW) was based.

Campbell was an important witness before select committees of the Legislative Council on police and gaols in 1835 and 1839. The latter committee commended him for his efficiency as a police magistrate, and he placed before it a detailed plan for reorganizing the police of New South Wales on similar lines to those of the Royal Irish Constabulary with a commissioner in central control of all its activities. The proposal was adopted in principle by the committee, but Governor Sir George Gipps thought it too costly. Campbell had recommended a salary of £1000 for the proposed commissioner, and had ‘jumped the gun’ by applying for the post, claiming that, as the colony’s senior police magistrate, he would lose all self-respect by accepting any lesser police office. In forwarding this application to London, Gipps gave Campbell credit only for being an active magistrate and a competent businessman.

On 1 March 1839 Campbell took over the duties of the colonial treasurer. Campbell Riddell who had nominated him before going on leave, had been one of Bourke’s chief antagonists, whereas Campbell as his protégé seemed able to make the best of both worlds. When securities of £30,000 were given, Campbell was permitted to act for Riddell, but Gipps made it clear that he was not to take Riddell’s seat in the Executive Council, as he was ‘acting for the Colonial Treasurer’, not ‘Acting Colonial Treasurer’. In spite of this stipulation, Campbell twice asserted his right to occupy Riddell’s seat, and further angered Gipps by publishing official correspondence without permission. The secretary of state, to whom the matter was referred, agreed with Gipps and instructed him to rebuke Campbell. On 8 May 1841 Campbell gave up his work at the Treasury on medical advice, and sailed for Cape Colony, and thence to London. He applied to the Colonial Office for half-salary as police magistrate at Parramatta while on sick leave, but Gipps denied his claim to an office which he had given up in order to act for the colonial treasurer. He did not obtain another post in the public service in New South Wales. He died in London on 4 October 1848.

Campbell acquired much land in the colony, was a shareholder and director of the Bank of Australia, and an early member of the Australian Club, Sydney. He married Barbara Isabella, daughter of Alexander McLeay, on 10 September 1834.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 17-25
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Apr, 28 Aug 1834, 16 Apr, 1, 2 May 1844
  • Bourke papers (State Library of New South Wales).

 Monday 23 December 1839 At Zandoliet, Watson’s bay, Mrs. Laurentz Campbell, of a daughter.

Friday 25 June 1841


WATSON’S BAY. The beautiful Estate of P. L. Campbell, Esq., comprising the Mansion, Grounds, etc, known as ‘ ZANDOLIET,’ divided Into Seventeen Allotments, admirably adapted for Marine Villa Residences, MR. SAMUEL LYONS. will sell by Auction, at his Mart, George-street mid Charlotte- place, on MONDAY, the 5th, of July, at Eleven o’clock precisely.

This property is situated at Watsons Bay, and occupies the most central spot in that far-famed picturesque, part of Port Jackson Harbour. The romantic house and grounds of the Hon. H. H. Macarthur, M C. bound it on the north, and to the south Is the beautiful Demesne of ‘ Vaucluse,’ the seat of W. C. Wentworth, Esq.

Lot1,. Comprises the house and grounds, with frontage to the beach of Watson’s Bay of one hundred and fourteen feet, by an average depth of three hundred and ten feet. From the house there is a delightful view of the Harbour of Port Jackson, with the North Shore, and picturesque little promontory of Langs Point, with Camp Cove, and the Sydney Heads. It is most substantially built of stone, and contains on the ground floor one drawing room, thirty feet eight inches by sixteen feet four inches ; one dining room twenty three feet five inches by sixteen feet three inches, one store room, sixteen feet four inches by six feet; and good servants’ room and butler’s pantry. : .The first floor consists of four good bedrooms, each seventeen feet- four inches by fifteen feet six inches; and one dressing closet. There are three attics over all, and commodious cellars are provided- under the ground floor. Attached to the home ia a force pump for supplying water, erected at an expense of nearly two hundred pound’, which supplies a water closet, and other parts of the building. A flagged verandah extends round three sides of the house. The offices comprise — A well built larder. protected by juloiule skreen ; excellent kitchen, admirably fitted with range, etc. laundry ; four stall stable, coach house etc. ; in fact, everything requisite for a family of first-rate respectability. The garden is most tastefully arranged, and contains a great variety of fruit and flowering trees with a lawn in fine order, sloping down to the beach from which it is separated by a light ornamental fence of wrought battens, painted N. B.— The house is furnished, and the purchaser will have the option of taking the furniture at a valuation { if not agreed to be taken on those terms at time of safe, possession of the premises will not be given for fourteen days, to allow for its removal. Also, may be taken at a valuation by the purchaser of this lot. Two boats, oars, and sails Three cows (not at present in milk), and one heller, accustomed to the place, which, If not agreed to be taken on those terms at the time of sale, by the purchaser of this lot, will be forthwith disposed of to the highest bidder.

Lots 2 and 3, Are situate between Lot 1 and the Government road, by the obelisk by which Lot 3 is bounded, and have a front of fifty-three feet six inches to the beach of Watsons Bay.

Lots 4 and 5, Are vacant allotments abutting on Lot 1, fronting the road, with a frontage thereto of seventy. five and seventy feet respectively, and divided from Lots 2 and 3 by a reserved road sixteen feet wide.

Lot 6, Has one hundred feet front on the Government road. Upon this allotment is built A NEAT COTTAGE, containing four rooms on the ground floor, the two front rooms being sixteen feet five inches by thirteen feet the two back ones sixteen feet five inches by ten feet six inches. Underneath are a kitchen, servant’s room, and cellar to correspond. An excellent well of water is upon this lot, and it is of sufficient capacity for the erection of stables, gardens, etc. N B. — -In the cellars are a quantity of doors and window frames, sufficient for offices to the house, which may be taken at a valuation by the purchaser of the lot; but if not agreed to be taken at time of sale, possession of the premises will not be given for fourteen days, to allow for their removal. The same conditions apply to the carpets now fitted to the apartments in the cottage.

Lots 7, 8, and 9, Abut on the Government road, and possess frontages on it of seventy five feet each running back to Lots 17 and 16, by which they arc bounded — depth one hundred and four feet. A pump and well on Lot 7.

Lot 10, is the end Allotment, adjoining the Government reserve ; specially retained for public purposes. It has a frontage of fifty feet to the road.

Lot 11, A bijou of an Allotment, abutting on a road reserved, separating it from Lot 1 and the beach, along which it fronts. sixty feet.  Mr. Macarthur’s property bounds, this on the north. It extends one hundred and sixty-four feet six inches along the reserved roads twenty feet wide.

Lots 12, 13, and 14, are situate between the reserved road and Mr Macarthur’s property, and are one hundred feet square.

 Lot 15, Abuts upon Mr Macarthur’s land, the chapel land, and the road, to which it has a frontage of one hundred and twenty nine feet, depth ninety nine feet ten inches.

Lot 16 and 17, Are situated in the center of the property, sloping down from the Government reserve to Lot I. Lot -16 extending along the reserved road communicating with the beach and Government reserve two hundred and six feet. Lot 17 has one hundred and sixty eight feet frontage on the road, and backs up  Lot 1. There Is an excellent well and pump on, this lot (17) ) also,

A NEAT STONE COTTAGE, twenty-nine feet by sixteen, containing two rooms, and which might easily be converted into a small comfortable family residence, All the Waterside Allotments are entitled, by the deed of Grant, to be carried out to deep water.

The high estimation in which this beautiful part of our noble harbour is held by the public, is so amply testified by the numerous improvements and splendid mansions In its vicinity, that any commendations  from the Auctioneer would be superfluous. Terms— Twenty per cent, cash deposit, the residue by approved endorsed bills at three, six, nine, and twelve months, from day of sale the two latter bearing ten per cent, interest. A Plan may be seen at the Auction

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