Stonemason and Tasmanian convict Daniel Herbert was baptized on 17 February, 1802, in the Paul Street Independent Chapel, Taunton, Somerset, England; the son of Daniel Herbert, a Corporal in the 6th (Inniskillen) Dragoons.
In March 1827, with James Camble and John Lynch, Daniel Herbert was charged before the North Eastern circuit assizes with four counts of highway robbery. Herbert had already served part of a seven-year sentence for stealing in a dwelling house. He and his co-accused pleaded guilty; and were sentenced to death on 7 April. Reprieved on condition of transportation for life, Herbert was shipped aboard the Asia, arriving in Hobart Town, Tasmania in December 1827.
Along with co-convict James Colbeck, Herbert oversaw the building of the Ross Bridge across the Macquarie river at Ross and embellished it with interesting carvings which were completed in July, 1836. The bridge contained 186 keystones carved by Herbert, or other convicts under his supervision, in 56 weeks between May 1835 and July 1836.
Various interpretations of their curious motifs have been put forward, including claims that many of the carved heads were portraits of:
- Herbert and his wife,
- Eccentric Norwegian convict and explorer Jørgen Jørgensen, as well as
- Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur and other colonial officials and local personalities.
Herbert was granted a free pardon in February 1842 and continued to live at Ross, where he worked as an ornamental stonemason.
Daniel Herbert died of bronchitis on 28 February 1868 at Campbell Town, survived by his wife. Reputedly, he designed and carved his own tomb in the old burial ground at Ross.
His contribution to artistic endevours is not a bad effort for a convict.
“Is It Art?”