Rowland Skipsey Waterhouse was born on 29 January 1818, he was the third child of Rev John and Mrs Jane Waterhouse. Rowland arrived in Hobart on the James with his parents and siblings (six brothers and three sisters) on 1 February 1839. Rev John was the first Superintendent of Wesleyan Methodist Missions in Australasia and Polynesia.
Rowland, together with his younger brothers William and Jabez, commenced as drapers on 6 March 1839 operating from Manchester House, 67 (now 139) Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town as R.S. Waterhouse & Brothers. In October 1839 the firm of R.S. Waterhouse expanded into printing as both William and Jabez had experince in England. Marketing themselves as General Printers and Bookbinders at Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, at what was formerly Andrew Bent's printing office. In 1841 they formed a partnership in the printing business with fellow Wesleyan William Pratt as Waterhouse & Pratt. Jabez left the partnership in May 1843 to train as a Wesleyan minister.
The firms prospered well for a time, with the drapery business as the mainstay. In 1847 Rowland expanded into shipping and also had an interest in ironmongery, through his brother John Thomas, an ironmonger in Hobart, who moved to Honolulu in 1851. In 1852 Rowland had to assign his estate to creditors, but continued in business and recovered.
Waterhouse took out a half-page advertisement in Hull's Royal Calendar for 1858, advertising his business address as '115 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town,' and states that the business was established in 1839. The advertisement gives his line of business as 'Wholesale and Retail General Draper, Outfitter, Haberdasher, Hosier and Laceman'. The tokens were issued for the drappery business about 1858. Waterhouse advertised in a number of Tasmanian publications during the 1850s and 1860s. As mentioned above, his business featured in Hull's Royal Kalendar in 1858, as well as in a number of Almanacs from the 1860s. He took out a large advertisement in the Hobart Mercury for 8 January, 1858, announcing his range of Men's clothing, including 'Gent's superfine clothing in great variety and very low prices' and 'Gents French soft felt hats of all colours.'In 1871 Rowland was adjudicated bankrupt, though this was annulled in 1873. However by this time Rowland had retired to Sandy Bay. Waterhouse passed away on 17 October 1900 in Sandy Bay, aged 83.
In addition to these records, there are additional possible sources about Waterhouse in Tasmania. The Tasmanian Colonial Index includes a reference to him as an employer of convict labour between 1839 and 1841, and includes his name on Jury lists between 1840 and 1858. The Archives Office of Tasmania also lists two men whose names are close to that of this issuer, but neither of them are sufficiently detailed to be positively identified. He issued penny and halfpenny trade tokens circa 1858.
Archives Office of Tasmania, Index to Pioneer's Database website.
McNeice, R., Coins and Tokens of Tasmania, 1803-1910, p.90.
Hull, H.M. (1858). Royal Kalendar and Guide to Tasmania, advertisements p. 5.