GORE, William (1765–1845)

William Gore (1765-1845), provost-marshal, lived in Ireland, where he had property interests, before coming to Australia. In 1798 he and his wife were among those imprisoned by Irish rebels but were well treated and soon released. Gore was appointed provost-marshal of New South Wales on 1 August 1805. The duties of his office were regarded as comparable to those of a sheriff in England.

Gore travelled to Sydney with Governor William Bligh and took up his duties in August 1806, but his support for the Governor earned him notoriety among many of the colony’s establishment figures. In his official capacity Gore was inevitably involved in the arrest and imprisonment of John Macarthur in 1808. When the New South Wales Corps released Macarthur and deposed Bligh, they arrested Gore and on 21 March charged him with perjury for having sworn that Macarthur had been out of custody after 4 p.m. on 25 January. Gore denied the authority of the rebel court, would not give bail and refused to plead; he was kept in gaol without trial for more than two months. On 30 May Gore was again brought before a rebel court and was sentenced to transportation for seven years and was sent to Coal River (Newcastle) where he laboured side by side with ordinary convicts. His wife and four children, meanwhile, were dependent upon the charity of friends.

In 1810, after Governor Lachlan Macquarie had arrived, all trials held by the revolutionary government were declared invalid and Gore was restored to his former office. A land grant of 150 acres on the North Shore was made to Gore at this time. The Gore family’s ancestral home was at Ardthelmon (pronounced Art-e-mon) Castle near the fishing village of Raghley on the northern point of Sligo Bay in Ireland, so he named his land Artarmon. The land was between today’s Mowbray Road and Artarmon Reserve and stretched east towards Sydney Street.

Gore returned to England to give evidence at the trials arising from the 1808 rebellion. The period immediately following his return to Sydney in October 1812 was a prosperous time for William Gore and he was able to buy up most of the early land grants in the area (which dated from 1794), including Polmont Farm (144 acres) on the western side of today’s Pacific Highway, that had been developed by James Williamson on land granted by Governor Hunter in 1796.

The year 1815 marked the high point in Gore’s fortunes. On 2 January 1815 he mortgaged most of his land to D’Arcy Wentworth, but within three years he had defaulted on most of his mortgages and lost all but a small southern portion of his land.

Gore had seven children, but his salary was still only £91 5s, and his financial embarrassments became more and more acute. He was imprisoned for debt in 1818, escaped and made his way to Van Diemen’s Land, was arrested and brought back to Sydney. On 8 March 1819 Macquarie suspended him from office and he lived in retirement upon land previously granted him on the northern shore of Sydney Harbour.

There he built a cottage, Artarmon House, and he lived there permanently from 1820. In January 1824 Gore was charged before the Criminal Court in Sydney with wilfully shooting at and wounding a soldier of the 48th Regiment. His defence was that he had shot at the soldier to prevent him from stealing grass from one of his paddocks, but he was found guilty and sentenced to transportation to the penal settlement at Newcastle for life. Upon representations from Earl Bathurst and Palmerston, to whom Gore was personally known, Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane pardoned him in June 1825.

Thereafter Gore lived on his property at Artarmon and Gore was declared insolvent in April 1843. He died in August 1845 at the age of 80. For some years his body, together with those of his wife and daughter, remained unburied; their coffins lay under palings on his Artarmon property. Gore Cave and Gore Hill, near North Sydney, were named after him.


1 King, Hazel, ‘Gore, William (1765–1845)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.

2 Warner, Grace, Artarmon: Past, Present and Future, Chatswood, Willoughby Municipal Council, 1988, pp 5-9