Item 3 - Fire Insurance policy on "Westwood"

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Fire Insurance policy on "Westwood"


  • 1876 (Creation)

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Insurance policy

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James Smith (1827-1897) was born in George Town, son of John and Mary Ann (Grant) Smith. His father was shot when he was aged 5 and he was taken under the guardianship of John Guillan, a Launceston merchant and mill owner. After working in the mill, and then exploring the country west of the Tamar and prospecting for gold in Victoria, James Smith settled on land at the River Forth, and planted orchards. He discovered silver ore on Mt. Claud near Sheffield and, in December 1871, tin at Mount Bischoff and began mining in 1872 and in 1873 the Mt. Bischoff Tin Mining Company was formed. He then then returned to farming at "Westwood", Forth, and extended his property but continued to take an interest in mining and prospecting, having a laboratory built at his his home. He also took part in public affairs. He married Mary Jane (Pleas) in 1874 and had 6 chidren. He was widely known by the nickname "Philosopher" but the origin is not known. He read a lot and was a strict Christian and member of the Congregational Church, resigning from the Town Hall Committee over a proposal that a museum should be open on Sundays. For more information see

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Insurance policy on Smiths property "Westwood", River Forth, with Mutual Fire Insurance Company (parchment paper) dated 14 December 1876.
Insuring furniture and household goods, chemicals and library contained in a detached building erected of wood and shingles situated at Westwood, Forth River and occupied by the insured. Insured 200 pounds for goods and chattels and 100 pounds for the library. In 1853 Smith took up one square mile (2.6 km²) of forested land at Westwood between the Forth River and Leven River, making this his headquarters for exploring and prospecting.

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Open for research

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This material is made available for personal research and study purposes under the University of Tasmania Standard Copyright Licence. For any further use permission should be obtained from the copyright owners. For assistance please contact

When reusing this material, please cite the reference number and provide the following acknowledgement:
“Courtesy of the UTAS Library Special & Rare Collections”

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CE October 2018




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