~ writing niche history


david coombe


writing niche history 



David Coombe – writing niche history – characters and connections – using digital resources to recover stories from 19th century Australia. A special interest in colonial art.

(Photo credit: My portrait by Phillip England,, 2017.)


Now researching Australia’s most recognisable colonial artist – Samuel Thomas Gill. Researching S.T. Gill’s life and work from his arrival in South Australia in 1839 to his leaving for the Victorian gold rush in 1852. Presently spending a lot of time in 1840s South Australia.


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See my Research Journal for articles on some of my discoveries.





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Trove / Colonial News / Twitter: 


Correcting mischiefs of the printers’ devils in Trove digitised newspapers.

Tweeting trifles of unintended wit and humour using #TroveAuTextCorrection.
Colonial news tweeted from david's colonial news.



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Blog: S.T. Gill | 10 episodes in 100 days (in 2016)


History Controversy adds Intrigue to Colonial Art Exhibition


Fresh Original Research into the Colonial Artist S. T. Gill.


Detail packed, so maybe not a bedtime read. Better to read an episode on the train. Researched and written under pressure exerted by effluxion of time, an art exhibition and an historical controversy. (It got me started on S.T. Gill – subject to my ongoing research.)


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e-Book: Three Rabbits Alibi – A True Story of Murder, Madness & the News in Colonial Melbourne.


It's 1850s Australia
A double murder
A locked room
The murderer is dying from a gunshot
But the reporter says the scene is near impossible


Featuring (arguably) colonial Melbourne’s best journalist, Edmund Finn, also known as Garryowen, author of The Chronicles of Early Melbourne. There are also bushrangers. And yes, it is all factual.



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Family history research:


Mostly Coombe (family history) in Australia & Coumbe in North Hill, Cornwall
Family History & Genealogy




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e-Book: Deaths at Josephine’s Gasworks Hotel.


This is the true story of Josephine. From 1863 to 1874 she was the publican at the Gasworks Hotel in Brompton, an inner suburb of Adelaide, South Australia. Was she also a serial killer?




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#TroveGenie: A Social Media Experiment To Crowd Solve a #HistoryMystery using NLA’s Trove

TROVE tips

Bowden, Brompton and Hindmarsh

Charles SMITH of Colonial Victoria as a one name study of sorts.


Copyright © David Coombe, 2000-18, except where noted otherwise.

Reading newspaper: IMAGE DETAIL FROM: Captain John Finnis. A drawing from S.T.Gill's "Heads of the People". Artist's caption: “True Blue”

Looking over left shoulder: IMAGE DETAIL FROM: S.T. Gill, artist, Hamel & Ferguson, printer, Title page: The Australian Sketchbook by S.T.G 1864, colour lithograph, State Library Victoria, Accession no(s) H17158.