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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Gunn, Robert Campbell

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Gunn, Robert Campbell, F.R.S., F.L.S., son of William Gunn, of Caithness, Scotland, lieutenant in the 93rd Highlanders, and Margaret his wife (nee Wilson), was born at the Cape of Good Hope April 4th, 1808. In 1829 he emigrated to Tasmania. He arrived at Hobart in Feb. 1830, and was at once appointed by Governor Arthur to a post in the Convict Department. He was appointed Superintendent of Convicts for the Northern Division in 1830, magistrate for the Territory in 1833, police magistrate at Circular Head in 1836, assistant police magistrate at Hobart Town in 1838, private secretary to Governor Sir John Franklin and clerk to the Executive and Legislative Councils in 1839, and retired from the public service in 1841. In 1855 he was elected a member of the old Legislative Council for Launceston, and on the introduction of free institutions in 1856 he entered the House of Assembly, and sat for some years as member for the district of Selby. In 1860 he received the appointment of Deputy Commissioner of Crown Lands and Clerk of the Peace at Launceston, and in 1865 that of Deputy Recorder of Titles at Launceston under the Real Property Act, holding the office until 1876, when he retired on a pension. In 1868 he was one of three commissioners appointed at the request of the New Zealand Government by the Governments of New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, to decide on the most suitable site on Cook Straits for the capital, the commissioners unanimously making choice of Wellington. It was by his work as a naturalist that Mr. Gunn was best known. He was an able and enthusiastic botanist, and in his botanical excursions, beginning in 1831, he rambled over nearly every part of the island, discovering many new species of plants, and adding largely to the knowledge of the flora of the colony. The results of his labours are recorded in Hooker's "Flora of Tasmania," and in many articles contributed by him to scientific journals. He was editor of the Tasmanian Journal of Natural Science (Hobart Town, 1842-9). He died at Newstead, Launceston, on March 13th, 1881. Mr. Gunn married first at Antigua, West Indies, in 1826, Eliza, daughter of James Ireland, lieutenant 93rd Highlanders; secondly, at Glen Leith, near New Norfolk, Tasmania, Margaret Legrand, only daughter of David Jamieson, of Glen Leith.