AUGUSTUS THEODORE HENRY ALT
While Alt is commonly regarded as a German settler with
the Fleet, he was only as German as Governor
and indeed was more British than his King.
Possibly born in 1731 in London, his parents were
Alt, at one stage an Ambassador for one of the German
and his Scottish wife
He is first recorded as an ensign in the 8th Regiment of
the British Army in 1755 and then filled various
military positions including being an aide-de-camp to a
number of generals in the allied army in Germany
commanded by Prince Ferdinand. During the ensuing peace,
in 1763, he was engaged in building roads in the
Scottish Highlands in between ancillary military work.
He was then engaged, from 1777, in raising the
Manchester Volunteers with whom he served in the siege
of Gibraltar in 1779, at which time he was also
appointed an assistant engineer. In 1781 he went to
Switzerland as an agent for one Colonel James
with a view to raising troops for the East India
Company. Upon his return he resumed engineering
activities until his appointment in
as the first surveyor to the Colony — as well as attending
to certain judicial functions arising from Admirality
law. At some stage Alt had married, one Sophia, who had
borne him two children, Caroline Sophia and Augusta.
Alt sailed to the Colony on Prince of Wales and
upon his arrival supervised the convicts in clearing the
ground. His judicial functions were expanded by being
appointed a Justice of the Peace and as such he sat on a
considerable number of boards of magistrates.
As surveyor, Alt was engaged in these early years
supervising the building of a wharf for Sydney, choosing
the site (with the Governor) for
and clearing and deepening the Tank Stream. However, by
December 1791 he was officially requesting a recall
because his age (he was now 60 years) and the state of
his health prevented him from executing the duties of
This request was supported by Governor
who employed Lieutenant
to perform surveying work.
During the interregnum following
return to England, Lieutenant-Governor Francis
recalled Charles Grimes from Norfolk Island to act as
deputy-surveyor. Accordingly, while Alt continued to
draw up the surveyor's returns and draw full pay, it is
unclear how much surveying work he was actually engaged
considerable local opinion was apparently expressed, Alt
made over half his pay to Grimes in 1797 and this
situation then continued until Alt was officially
retired on half-pay in 1801.
From 1792 it is therefore not at all clear what role Alt
had in the building or planning of the Colony.
During this year a brick house was erected for Alt on
the east side of Sydney Cove. In 1794 he was granted 100
acres at what is now Petersham, which land he called
Hermitage Farm. In 1802 this land was sold to John
Palmer and a further 100 acres granted at
Some seven years later he obtained a grant of 280 acres
adjoining his initial grant of Hermitage Farm.
This grant was in the vicinity of present-day
His land does not appear to have been extensively
In August 1798, while absent from his farm on judicial
business, aborigines burnt his house and its contents to
the ground. No specific reason for this act is known.
In the Colony he formed a liaison with First Fleet
convict Ann George who arrived on Lady
From this relationship, which lasted until George died
in 1814, two children were born, Lucy (who was baptised
on 13 November, 1791, and died in March, 1806) and Henry
George (who was born in 1799). George is also buried in
St John's Cemetery, Parramatta.
Alt died at Parramatta on 9 January, 1815 (apparently
insolvent). His son left the Colony shortly after his
father's death aboard Northampton, bound for