Gilbert Robertson

Gilbert Robertson (17941851), black colonist and newspaper editor, was the son of a West Indies planter and his slave mistress, raised and educated by his well-connected grandfather in Scotland. Robertson arrived in Van Diemen's Land in 1822 as a free settler. In 1828 he led the first 'roving party' to bring in Aborigines who had been waging attacks on white settlers. He was remarkable in that he saw the Aborigines as patriots engaged in a war of resistance against the invaders.

By 1832 Robertson's relationship with Lt-Governor Arthur was very shaky. As the editor of the Colonist newspaper he bitterly criticised Arthur and his circle. He was several times imprisoned for libel before he quit Van Diemen's Land to become the agricultural superintendent at the Norfolk Island penal station. He was a newspaper editor in the Western District of Victoria when he died of a sudden heart attack in the middle of a heated political campaign.

Further reading: C Pybus, ' Robinson and Robertson ', in R Manne (ed), Whitewash, Melbourne, 2003; ADB 2.

Cassandra Pybus