For nearly 30 years three generations of Sorells shocked respectable Tasmanians with their scandalous misbehaviour.
Lieutenant-Governor William Sorell arrived in Tasmania in 1817 with his mistress, pretending she was his wife. He had already acquired seven illegitimate children before marrying their mother Harriet but he left all of them behind when he began an adulterous liaison with Mrs Louisa Kent.
Governor Sorell’s grandson, also William, known as Quacker
Louisa and William set up house in Hobart, living in “a state of open concubinage” according to his political enemy Anthony Kemp who promptly arranged for his recall to England. Before he left however, William Junior, one of his sons by Harriet, followed his father to Australia and took up with Kemp’s 17 year old daughter Julia.
Julia set fractals found here
Julia was described by one Hobart diarist as “the most beautiful woman you ever saw but also the very devil incarnate”. Julia bore William Junior a daughter before marrying him in 1925, then a second daughter a few years later. Not long afterwards she ran off to England with another officer and the family never saw her again.
“Nurse Julia” found here
The elder of these two girls was also named Julia. In August 1843 she shocked society by sleeping with the new governor of Tasmania as well as every officer in the garrison. Shortly after spending a wanton weekend with the 60 year old governor she became briefly engaged to his son.
Nevertheless she declined to marry until 1850 when she made a very surprising choice of husband, the deeply religious Thomas Arnold. Thomas had constant crises of faith and alternated between Catholicism and Anglican doctrines. Julia was frustrated with her husband’s indecision and once broke all the windows in a local Catholic church to teach him a lesson.
Tasmanian cemetery found here
Together they had 8 children, the four boys were brought up strictly in the faith while the four girls were free to choose. One daughter, Mary, grew up to be the most widely read English author of the 1890s. Another daughter, named Julia for her mother and grandmother, married scientist Leonard Huxley and bore him two sons, biologist Sir Julian Sorell Huxley and author Aldous Huxley.
Aldous Huxley, celebrity writer and LSD proponent, taught French to George Orwell when he attended Eton. Orwell went on to write cult classic 1984, with a sexually promiscuous protagonist named Julia……