story of Alexander Weir
- ALEXANDER WEIR
- I first had an inkling that the Weir family may have
had a military connection when reading my great-great grandparents divorce
paper, Eleanor Weir attested that her husband John Thomas Weir had threatened
to cut her open with his sword. I thought it puzzling that John Thomas Weir
would have a sword when he was a stone mason by trade and concluded that he
may have acquired it from someone with military connections.
- I had been researching the Weir family for years
following the usual path of obtaining birth marriage and death certificates as
I followed the family line backwards from my parents. I knew that Great Great
Great Grandparents Alexander Weir and his wife Hanna nee Price had arrived in
Melbourne as assisted immigrants on the “Talbot” on 25th August, 1857. With
them were 8 of their 9 children. The record in Book 12 page 393 of the index
is as follow:
- “WEIR, Alexander: age
46, occupation bricklayer, able to read and write, Church of England, native
of England birthplace “Haddington” to be employed at Queenscliff at 10
(presumably shillings per day).”
- WEIR, Hannah age 44
- WEIR, Cecilia, age 6
- WEIR, Hannah, age 8
- WEIR, Jabez, age 10
- WEIR, Elizabeth, age 10,
occupation housemaid, born Kent England, able to read and write, gone to Mrs
Howard, Mercer Street, Geelong for 2-10-3 (presumably pounds shillings and
pence but for what pay period is not known).
- WEIR, Stephen, age 14,
occupation labourer, native of Canada, Presbyterian, able to read and write.
- WEIR, James, age 17,
occupation labourer, native of Canada, able to read and write.
- WEIR, John, age 19,
occupation labourer, native of Canada, able to read and write.
- The boys went with their father to Queenscliff”
- I cannot find a record of the arrival of their eldest
son Alexander Samuel Weir, and wonder if he came to Melbourne from West
Australia when the rest of the family went back to England.
- From the marriage and death certificates obtained, I
discovered that Alexander and Hannah had travelled extensively as their
children were almost all born in different countries. Alexander and Hannah
were married at Chatham Kent which is home to a naval station; Alexander
Samuel was born at Chatham, Kent; John Thomas was born at Nova Scotia, Canada,
James and Stephen in Canada; Elizabeth was born at Kent; Jabez and Hannah
Margaret were both born in Gibraltar; Cecelia was born in Swan River, West
Australia. I could not find any birth records for any of the children in the
BDM indexes held at the State Library and Genealogical Society Victoria.
- This all changed when on a hunch I decided to check the
regimental registers held at the above repositories and struck gold. I
discovered the following births Alexander S, 1833, Chatham, Kent; John
Thomas,1837, Halifax, Nova Scotia; James, 1840, Halifax; Stephen, 1842,
Halifax; Elizabeth,1844, Woolwich; Jabez,1847, Gibraltar; and Hannah Margaret,
1849, Gibraltar; were all recorded in these registers. From the regimental
birth certificates I found that Alexander was a stonemason in the Halifax
Regiment of the Royal Engineers. The only birth certificate that I have not
found is that of Cecelia born in Swan River WA in 1851.
- Further research on the Royal Engineers uncovered a
reference in the State Library.
- From this source I learned that in 1848/49 the West
Australian Government was seeking sources of cheap labour to help develop the
country and decided that it should become a regular penal settlement. The
Secretary of State applied to England to supply the service of an
officer of the Royal Engineers to plan and superintend the works to be
performed in Western Australia, and to control the application of convict
labour. The Choice fell on Captain Henderson, one of the officers employed on
the survey of the boundary between the British provinces in North America and
the United States, and of a proposed line of railway between Halifax and
- Captain E.Y.W. Henderson was at that time in his
twenty-ninth year, a fairly junior captain, not long married. Without any
experience of convict management he was appointed comptroller general, with a
salary of £500 a year in addition to his army pay (11s 1d a day) and forage
for one horse. His instructions were to find temporary accommodation for the
convicts and their guards, after which he was to build a permanent depot; only
then was he to deploy the convicts to roads, harbours, and the improvement of
navigation. .....It was agreed to a corporal and four privates (sappers) also
being appointed, the corporal to draw 2s. 1d a day in army pay plus 2s. In
working pay and the privates to be on 1s. 3d. Plus 2s., in each case less 5d.
a day for rations. The sappers were intended not to be disciplinary warders,
but to supervise works. In order to invest them with authority they were to
be termed ‘instructing warders’.
- Henderson and his party of five men of the Royal
Sappers and Miners, seventy military pensioners sent as a guard, 150 convicts,
and a number of wives and children reached Fremantle on 1 June 1850, after a
rapid passage of eighty-eighty days. One of the first things he did was look
for accommodation and noted at Fremantle a large unfinished woolshed and other
buildings belonging to the harbourmaster and not yet occupied.
- He took a lease on the whole property for five years
and landed his sappers and a working party of twenty-five from the pensioner
guard, then twenty-five prisoners, and gradually larger parties, finishing the
roof of the woolshed, then flooring it with stones set in lime, and putting
all the other buildings to use. By the 25th June the whole party was ashore
and under cover.
- In February 1851 the Governor of the Colony wrote:
- .......the five non-commissioned officers of the Royal
Sappers and Miners, who have been appointed by the Secretary of State ‘the
Instructing Warders’, are for this purpose admirably adapted, and do not
involve one-half the expense that would be incurred by the same amount of
supervision by a civilian. I consider the rapidity and success of the works
we have carried on greatly indebted to these men.
- His report requested that a company of Sappers and
Miners be sent out to supervise the labour of the prisoners on the different
public works, being at the same time availabe for military duty in case of
emergency. It was decided that a company of Sappers and Miners would be sent
out. The company would consist of 100 men and be composed of, as far as
possible, of soldiers acquainted with the different trades and callings likely
to be most useful to Western Australia, and also of men who have served some
time, so as to afford a prospect of their settling in the colony on becoming
entitled to their discharge. Captain Henderson would be captain of the
company, and two subalterns of the Royal Engineers would be sent out. Seventy
men would come soon, with tents and equipment suitable for a possible
expedition to the north, and the rest of the company would depart later in the
year, serving as guards on a convict ship.
- Further research has shown that Alexander Weir was
stationed at Woolwich in July 1851 in the 20th company of the Sappers and
Miners (Royal Engineers) commanded by Lieutenat H Wray and stationed at
Woolwich July to August 1851 awaiting embarkation for Swan River. He had
joined the 20th company from 2nd company on 1st March 1851. The Musters (Pay
Lists) show that in September 1851 he was with a detachment of the 20th
company under the command of Capt. Henrie and part of a small detachment of
Corporals Newman, Flay, and Privates Murdoch, Tomkin, and Thompson headed for
Swan River. He was a stonemason ‘Instructing Warden’ whose job was to
supervise the convicts in building barracks, for prisoners, and soldiers and
helping to establish the structure for the new colony.
- There were three ships which were known to have carried
the Engineers Corp to WA: the Scindian in June 1850 which had 5 Sappers and
Miners; the Minden in October 1851 with 30 Sappers; and the Anna Robertson
- On 17 December 1851 the main body of sixty-five men of
the 20th Company, Royal Sappers and Miners, with thirty-five women and
eighty-eight children – ten of them born during the voyage reached Fremantle
in the Anna Robertson. The company was commanded by Lieutenant Henry
Wray, R.E., a subaltern with eight years service who brought his wife. There
was another officer, Second Lieutenant E.F, Du Cane, R.E., sent out for duty
with the convict establishment. There was also an assistant surgeon. Because
of whooping cough on board, the passengers were placed in quarantine on Carnac
Island, and it is recorded that they were made sick by bad water, sent across
in old beer casks by the assistant harbourmaster. The 20th Company was put
into improvised barracks at the Fremantle whaling jetty. The high proportion
of married men is noteworthy, because the authorised establishment of married
soldiers was twelve in a company of 100. I believe that this may have been
the ship that carried Alexander and his family to Swan River. I have never
been able to locate a birth certificate for Cecelia who was born in 1851 and
wonder if she was one of the 10 babies born on board.
- The Anna Robertson was ill-fated and was lost at see
with all lives after leaving Melbourne for London on 5 April 1852.
- By the end of 1852 the Royal Engineer establishment was
shown as Captain Henderson, 1st Lt. Henry Wray, 2nd Lt F Du Cane and W
Crossman, and 20th coy. Royal Sappers and Miners consisting of a
colour-seargeant, four seargeants, five second corporals and eighty five
privates. Instructors were stationed at the convict depots at North
Fremantle, Mount Eliza, Guildford, York, Toodyay, Bunbury and Albany.
- A good description of life on board one of the ships to
bring a convict contingency to West Australia is contained in a transcript of
the Surgeon Superintendent of the ship Minden 1851.Appendix
- Alexander Weir served for nearly 4 years. A dictionary
of Western Australian Prison Officers 1829-1879 has two references to
- “WEIR Alexander Bricklayer, RSM (Royal Sappers &
Miners) CE (Convict Establishment) 25.10.1853 Asleep on duty 27.10.1853.
Working pay at Alby (Albany) increased to 2s pd. (2 shillings per day) GD340.
14.10.1853 To CE. (GD1084.28.1.1856)”.
- “WEIR Alexander NW.CE. [night warder convict
establishment] 2.9.1853. To Overseer Tooodyay GMT Guildford 25.10.1853. To
convict establishment 26.1.1854. Late 2.2.1854. Fined 6d (6 pence) Assaulted
by prisoner 9.2.1854. Awarded 100 lashes. Gossiping with prisoners on public
works 20.2.1854. Severely admonished. Reported for allowing party to march
off the works in a very irregular manner 11.3.1854; and allowing them to use
improper language without noticing their conduct. Fines. Late. 13.3.1854
(6d). 15.4.1854 (1s 6d). 19.4.1854 late on several occasions; now cautioned.
To duties No 6 Outside Labourer’s Party 1.5.1854. Late 28.6.1854. Fined 6d.
- I believed these two entries were for the same person
my Alexander Weir and emailed the Author who confirmed that they were indeed
both the same Alexander Weir and was interested to receive any further
information that I had on Alexander.
- These entries show that Alexander worked as an
instructing warder in charge of a party of convict labourers in Albany,
Toodyay, Guildford, as well as presumably Fremantle on his arrival. I have no
records to show whether he worked in other areas of WA including York.
- We have no idea what Alexander was involved in from the
time he resigned on 31 August 1854 until he left West Australia in March
1855. I can only assume that he remained a soldier in the British Army as he
continued to draw his pay until he received his ultimate discharge from the
- By March 1855 Alexander was on his way back to England
having embarked on 5th March with Lt Sergt. Philip Clark, Seargeant Henry
George, and Private Emanauel Unwin. He received his discharge from the Army
on 17 August 1855.
- Alexander Weir was born at North Berwick, Scotland on
25 November 1810 and baptised on the 9th January 1811. His father was
Alexander Weir, Gunner 9th Battalion Royal Artillery, Woolwich and mother
Margaret Innes. He was described as natural son, i.e. illegitimate.
- There is a further record of a marriage of Alexander
Weir, slater and Margaret McInnes in Glasgow, but the record appears to be
unfinished appearing as:-
- Alexander Weir Slater of Glasgow and Margaret McInnes resident there”
- Unfortunately I am not sure whether or not the marriage
ever took place.
- Alexander married Hannah Price born January 1813
daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth price on 5th April 1833 at Gillingham, Kent,
- From the muster rolls (time-sheets) obtained from the
War Office records at the Public Records Office in England, as well as his
discharge papers from the Army, I have been able to obtain further details
about Alexander’s life on military service.
- “The discharge papers of no.1393 Private Alexander Weir
in proceedings of a Regimental Board held before the General The Rt Hon Henry
Viscount Harding Corporal of the Royal Sappers and Miners at Woolwich on 28th
July 1855 having examined and compared the Regimental Records, the Soldiers
book show that Private Alexander Weir by trade a Slater (bricklayer) was born
in the parish of North Berwick in the County of Haddington and was attested
for the Royal Regiment of Sappers and Miners at Edinburgh in the County of
Edinburgh on 31 January 1831 at the age of 20 years and 2 months, that his
service up to 14th August 1855 amounted to 24 years 127 days during which
period he served aboard fifteen and seven-twelvth years:
- Gibraltar 6 years;
- Halifax N. S. 6 years 1 month;
- Western Australia 3 years and 6 months
- And that his discharge is a consequence of Chronic
- With regard to the character and conduct of Private
Alexander Weir, it appears that he has been fourt times tried by Courts
1st at Brompton Barracks on the 29th September 1832 for being absent
without leave of which he was convicted and sentenced to 14 days imprisonment,
which was completed.
2nd at Woolwich on the 23rd January 1836, for refusing to do his
work and making his escape of which he was convicted and sentenced to 12 days
solitary confinement of which 1 day and 20 hours were remitted.
3rd at Halifax Nova Scotia on the 11th October 1836, for using
threatening language to a non commissioned officer of which he was convicted
and sentenced to 30 days imprisonment which was inflicted.
4th at Gibraltar on the 4th April 1848 for habitual drunkenness of
which he was convicted and sentenced to forfeit his wine for 6 months and up
to 8 days solitary confinement which was inflicted.
- That he became in possession thereafter of good conduct
pay of one distinguishing mark for good conduct on 15th October 1840 of 2d.
per day and 2 distinguishing marks on the 28 March 1855 of the first of which
he was deprived by entry in the defaulter book from the 11 September 1847to
the 12th April 1850; and of the second from the 9th January 1848 to the 12th
April 1852. That he became entitled to 3d per day of three distinguishing
marks for good conduct from the 12th April 1854 and that his general character
- His Medical Report taken on 20th July 1855 at Woolwich
shows that Private Alexander Weir was suffering from Chronic Rheumatism which
was incurred while employed in Western Australia two years ago; he was much
exposed to wet weather anf performed his working duties in a swamp from which
he became infected with Rheumatism in his loin and lower limbs which still
continued. Disability caused by his militery service.
- In the opinion of the Principal Medical Officer
‘after careful examination I am of the opinion that Alexander Weir is unfit
for service and likely to be permanently disqualified for military duty, but
able to contribute to some living towards his livelihood.’
- Alexander was discharged from the Army on 14th August,
1855 he was 44 years and 8 months of age. His height was 5 feet 8½ inches,
hair grey, eyes light grey, complexion dark, Trade Slater and Bricklayer. He
became an out-pensioner of the Chelsea Hospital, which was fortunate as it
meant that the records of his service have survived.
- I have no information on Alexander until he arrived in
Victoria with his family on the Talbot in 1857. The shipping register notes
that he was proceeding to Queenscliff with his family. Queenscliff at that
time was not a major port and was sparsely populated. Its main importance was
being a strategic defence to foreign warships mainly Russian as that country
was considered a threat following the Crimean War.
- Alexander and his family moved to Melbourne a few years
later. Further research found that by 1863 Alexander Weir is recorded in the
Sands & McDougall Directory as a contractor off 39 Victoria Street, Hotham,
the same record appears again in 1864. However, in 1865 and 1866 he is shown
as living at 227 Bourke Street East occupation grocer. The next directory
entry for Alexander Weir is in 1870 and 1872 where he is shown as living at
Errol Street in North Melbourne. In 1875 his address is Curzon Street North
Melbourne. Whether this is Alexander or his son Alexander Samuel is uncertain
because, later entries for Errol Street have the name as Alexander Samuel
Weir. In 1876 Hannah Weir is recorded living in Market Street Fitzroy.
- On 11 October 1877 an application was made by S G King
to have Alexander admitted into the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum because of his
increasing debility and paralysis in his arm.
This application was refused on the grounds that there was no room for him.
- Another application for his admission to the Asylum was
made on 30th January 1878 by W Rigg because of Alexander’s increasing fraility
and debility due to old age, he was 70 years of age. This application was
also refused on the grounds of no room.
- The Melbourne Benevolent Asylum was a private charity, set up in 1849
with a government grant of ten acres of land near the old cattle yards (North
Melbourne). It was part of the benevolent asylum network which was the
mechanism for caring for the destitute aged in the second half of the
nineteenth century. The objects of the Society were ".... to relieve the aged,
infirm, disabled or destitute poor of all creeds and nations; and to minister
them the comforts of religion...".
The asylum continually faced problems of overcrowding - funding was a problem.
The government provided 50% of the operating funds, however over the years,
the amount received decreased, despite increasing numbers of people requiring
care. The asylum also faced continual complaints of being cold, dirty,
insufficient water, no water and absence of medical comforts.
- One can only presume that Alexander was being cared for
by his wife Hannah and family at this time and his care was becoming more
difficult for them to manage. I am also assuming that the applicants may have
been doctors, but there was no Dr prefix to their names in the register.
- A final application for his admission to the Asylum was
made ten years later on 23 February 1888. This application was approved by
the Medical Officer on the basis that Alexander was suffering from Senile
Debility, Rheumatics and paralysis.
- Alexander Weir died 0n 28 June 1888 a few months after
he was finally admitted to the Asylum. He is buried in the Melbourne General
Cemetery with his wife Hannah who died on 11 August 1890.
VPRS 14 Register of Assisted British Immigrants 1839-1871
Its interesting to speculate whether Alexander worked on the construction
of the fort at Queenscliff that was built in 1858.
“Ubique: The Royal Australian Engineers 1834 to 1902.
The Colonial Engineers”, written by Major General RR McNicoll, and
published by the Corpt. Committee of the Royal Australian Engineers in
1977. pps 104-108
“Warders and Gaolers: A Dictionary of Western Australian Prison Officers
1829-1879”; compiled by David J Barker published on CD in 2000.
- 2 OPR Births 713/0040 0222 North Berwick downloaded from
08/12/1816 Weir, Alexander [OPR Marriages 644/0010280 8334 Glasgow]
downloaded from Scotlandspeople website
IGI Website extracted 8 Jan 2009, Film Number I029071.
WO/97 1364 accessed at the National Archives of Britain, Kew, Richmond, UK
State Library of Victoria - Australian Manuscripts
Benevolent Asylum - MS 8366
Register of applicants and inmates, male and female,
May 1873 - August 1890 (Box 626/4, Folio 50)
Register of applicants and inmates, male and female,
May 1873-August 1890 (Box 626/4 Folio 64)
Register of applicants and inmates, male and female,
May 1873-August 1890 (Box 626/4 Fol 142)
After a favourable passage of 85 days from Plymouth, the anchor was
cast in Gages Roads, Fremantle on the 14th October. Amid so
vast a concourse of convicts, Pensioners and families and ship’s company
(total 459) it is satisfactory to be able to state that good health
generally pervaded the ship throughout the voyage. 4 cases of death
occurred, viz 2 children aged from 3 months to 1 and half years from
Scropula and Colicky attacks, 1 sailor boy from a sever attack of
dysentery, terminating in inflammation of the brain and one convict from
fever of a low lingering type. Diarrhoeal cases were the most numerous in
the forgoing journal, but were of mild nature occurring chiefly on a
change from fresh to salt diet and on approaching the cool Southern
Latitudes. The symptoms were readily checked by 10 to 20 grain doses of
Chloride Hydrara, followed by Gregorys Powder or oleum resin two hours
afterwards and the mister critea co, cum zinc cinnam co for a few days in
the convalescent stage. The other cases narrated, were of no serious
nature with the exception of the phthisical case which seemed deeply
- A pensioner’s wife was confined on the passage of twins – labour
natural, with a slow but favourable recovery. To preserve and secure good
health, a rigid adherence to cleanliness in the prison Barracks and crews
Berth was practised with attention to dryness, ventilation and occasional
fumigation by the swinging stoves. The families were encouraged as much
as possible on the upper deck, weather permitting, and within the tropics
the bath filled with salt water was in use morning and evening by the
Parents and Children, the latter improving wonderfully from its effects.
… I personally enforced to the day of disembarkation and found it of the
greatest benefit. Cleanliness and exercise were here aimed at and
procured. I may here digress for a little and state that having obtained
upon a representation to the Directors of Prisons a tolerably liberal
supply of Marine Soap, I found it a valuable help in preserving health
serving it out in proportions that enabled the prisoners to have a person
ablution daily with the salt water – the soap supplied as a medical
comfort being very inadequate and of no use in salt water bathing. I
would respectfully suggest that the Convict of Prison establishment
Directors attention should be called to the contribution of an allowance
of Marine Soap to all convict ships. After inspection and breakfast the
Prison was dry holy stoned, daily with an occasional washing out in a
drying wind. Windstacks down and the fumigating stoves used frequently –
bedding and blankets of convicts and Pensioners were also shaken out and
often aired. One half of the prisoners were employed at School in the
Prison in the forenoon, the other half on the upper deck making up cut
garments, shoemaking and etc. In the afternoon these duties were reversed
so that the whole had the benefit of fresh air one half of the day and
immediately after supper their beds being all made the whole of the
Prisoners were allowed on deck and encouraged in the diversions such as
Dancing, Music, leap frog and the Boxing Gloves until the roll was called
which I firmly believe, materially contributed to their health. No
symptom of Scorbatus was observed during the voyage. The lime juice and
wine mixed together with a due proportion of water and sugar was regularly
served out half an hour after dinner and every man and made to drink it in
my own presence. The victualling on preserved meats and potatoes is
certainly also a great boon and antidote to disease. An allowance of
medical comforts was also carefully and sometimes liberally supplied to
the women and children to counteract the effects of Salt Beef. Due
attention was paid to the cleaning of the water closets 3 or 4 times a day
and the Chloride of Tinc freely thrown into them. The excellent effects
of this valuable fluid were very evident at the commencement of the voyage
and for some time thereafter. A most offensive Bilge water odour escaped
fore and aft on lower deck from sides of ship and particularly before the
ship was pumped out. A plentiful supply of the solution, after pumping
dry was poured down the pumps and the airholes in the sides of Prison
Barracks for some days when the offensive and sickening effluvia
disappeared, much to the satisfaction and comfort of the families and
- The voyage throughout was a fine weather one. Heat within the
tropics was moderate with very little rain. Temperature in South
Latitude, mild. The highest range of thermometer was 84º Fahrenheit – the
lowest 48º Fahrenheit – winds varied in the courses steered.
- The anchorage at Fremantle is an open roadstead with numerous
adjacent reefs, shoals and islands. Mainland low and of a very sandy
nature along the coast, capable of little cultivation until you reach the
eastern and southern districts, about 60 or 100 miles inland where rich
and fertile farms, sheep and cattle runs are met with. The colony since
the founding of the penal establishment in 1850 (I having had charge of
the first draft of convicts) has made a rapid and wonderful rise to
prosperity after slumbering for 20 years. The men who have been sent out
have generally conducted themselves very satisfactorily and obtained their
ticket of leave early. The settlers have rapidly hired them at very
reduced wages to what they were accustomed to give to free labourers, and
the work done by them, and their behaviour has met with great approbation
from their employers and they are materially aiding in pioneering and
opening up the resources of the colony. The settlers have rapidly hired
them at very reduced wages to what they were accustomed to give to free
labourers, and the work done by them, and their behaviour has met with
great approbation from their employers and they are materially aiding in
pioneering and opening up the resources of the colony. The government
expenditure in improvements of roads, buildings, etc. has been most
beneficial and already altered the face of the port of Fremantle from that
of a dead, deserted looking fishing haven to a busy, bustling nucleus of
commerce. The colony was healthy when I left, but the freezing winter
months had brought along with them a severe influenza attacking the
families in towns and country – it suddenly disappeared on spring
- The weather was delightful in October and November with
refreshing showers. The news of the gold discoveries in the sister
colonies had just reached on my leaving the colony, and had created a
mania in search of the metal, but up to 1st December no
discovery had been made in Western Australia. Vast quantities of lead was
being worked up to the northward and copper in considerable veins was
found. Extensive fields of coal were also discovered of excellent quality
it was said, and as exploring parties were gradually finding resources in
the Northern locality I have no doubt but Western Australia will ere long
become as flourishing as her sister colonies.
- John Gibson, Surgeon RN
- Her Majesty’s Hired Convict Ship”Minden”, Fremantle, October 24
- The INDEPENDENT JOURNAL as reported in the
Perth Gazette 17 October 1851
- The convict ship Minden arrived on Tuesday with 301 ticket of
leave men and a pensioner guard with women and children numbering 111
souls; one convict died on the passage. She has made a quick voyage of 86
days, having sailed on 21st July. We believe this vessel will be quickly
followed by other government ships as the local authorities have received
intelligence that two companies of Royal Sappers and Miners numbering 200
men and 2 officers of the Royal Engineers were to be sent here, the first
detachment of 70 Sappers and Lieut. Wray Engineer .Officer being expected
to arrive within a month. This we believe is according to the report of
Colonel Jebb, the inspector of prisons; but we understand that his
excellency’s despatches from Earl Grey represent that one company of 100
men with three subaltern officers are to be sent, a detachment of 50 by
the first ship. A nephew of Sir J Burgoyne late an officer in the East
India Company’s service has been appointed assistant oversee under Mr
Dixon and will with his wife and family arrive in an early ship.
- Perth Gazette Friday 24th
- Testimonial to Dr Gibson RN., Surgeon Superintendent of the Ship
Minden, by the ticket of leave holders who arrived in that vessel under
his charge Minden October 1851.
- TO THE SURGEON SUPERINTENDENT DR GIBSON RN
- Sir, we the undersigned, the adult convicts under your charge,
do give you our thanks for the fatherly interest you have taken in our
comfort and health; for the general excellent arrangement of the system of
order and cleanliness, maintained throughout the happy and comfortable
voyage; for the mild and gentlemanly behaviour shown to us, the excellent
moral and scriptural advice, and the kind interest you have taken in our
welfare; and for the lenient punishments to which you have resorted to
maintain discipline in which you have by the mildest means so happily
succeeded. Also for your interest and exertions in our schools, and your
kind interest in our external welfare; for the amusements you have
provided for our health, and for your general kindness and attention to
everything that added to our comfort; and lastly we thank you for your
encouragement in the spiritual exercises that have been observed in this
ship – we trust to the salvation of many souls. And we also thank the
kind Government that have provided for us such a fine and comfortable
ship, and most kind yet firm Surgeon Superintendent, and we, your charge,
will endeavour to show our gratitude to you, sir, by our good conduct, and
conclude by wishing you a safe passage home and every blessing.
- Here followed by 261 signatures
- With regard the intention to send here a large corps of Sappers
and Miners, as one of the greatest boons conferred on us by the Home
Government. The men are all tradesmen and mechanics and though not
available for private service, they will render it unnecessary to employ
civilian mechanics and tradesmen at the convict depot, and thus place a
greater number of artisans at the disposal of the public and obviate the
present inconvenience of the great scarcity of such labour.
- Perth Gazette Friday 19th
- Shipping Intelligence
- On the 17th inst., the barque Anna Robertson, from
London 10th September. Passengers – Sandford esq. Colonial
Secretary, Right Rev. Bishop Brady; Mr John Conroy; Convict Establishment;
2 Engineer Officers, and Dr Coyle Surgeon Superintendent. 65 Sappers and
Miners, 50 women and 84 children.
- The Anna Robertson cast anchor in Gages Road late on Wednesday
evening, and on being visited early yesterday morning by the health
officer, it was found that whooping cough was prevalent on board and all
communication with the shore consequently interdicted. On this account
great delay took place before the arrival of the mail in Perth, as even
after it was landed every letter had to undergo the process of
fumigation. We understand the Champion is to be brought over today and
anchored near her, and the actually sick removed into her, and if in the
course of a few days no fresh cases occur, the Anna Robertson will be free
- Perth Gazette Friday 26 December 1851
- The Independent Journal
- In our last publication we announced the arrival of the troop
ship Anna Robertson, with a party of Sappers and Miners, and that whooping
cough being prevalent on board, the vessel would be placed in quarantine.
His Excellency appointed a board of health to determine what steps should
be taken and on Monday last these gentlemen upon landing the actually
infected upon Carnac, and all the families on Woodmans Point to undergo
quarantine, but strange to say, allowed all unmarried passengers to land
free of restraint.
- Few of our fellow colonists who were here in 1848, but will
recollect the dreadful effects caused by this epidemic at that time; many
families will recall with anguish, its fatal issue in their own circles,
and will view with dismay the slightest chance of another visitation.
During the first three or four months of that year no less than twenty
five children under the age of three years died from it, besides several
others of a more advanced age. The disease was introduced by parties who
had so far recovered from it to escape detection, yet the poison spread
itself over the colony with a quickness and fatal effect which leads us to
suppose that the season of the year was unfortunately too favourable for
its dissemination. Since then four years have passed away and again in
the very same season is this virulent epidemic brought to our shores and
with the experience of its former visit fresh in our in our recollection
we have a committee sanctioning the landing and mixing with the population
of individuals from the infected ship. Whether the disease be contagious
or infectious does not appear to be very distinctly determined; but from
many cases in 1848, it would most certainly seem to be the latter; however
this may be, we cannot think the members of the board of health have done
wisely in allowing even a chance of its obtaining a footing amongst our
population; we must say we do not think they have done their duty to the
public, in not taking every precaution, and should the disease break out,
they will be well deserving of the reprobation of every man in the colony
for their culpable and extraordinary conduct.
- The passengers by the Anna Robertson were somewhat incorrectly
reported in our last, they are – W.A Sandford Esq., Colonial Secretary,
Lieut. Wray and lady, 2nd Lieut. Ducane, Royal Engineers, Rt.
Rev. Dr. Brady, Rev. Dr. Coyle, Mr and Mrs Conroy and family, Assistant
Surgeon Elliot, Ordnance Medical Department. Mr Perry, 65 Sappers and
Miners, 55 women and 88 children, 10 of the latter having been born during
VPRS 14 Register of Assisted British Immigrants 1839-1871
Its interesting to speculate whether Alexander worked on the construction
of the fort at Queenscliff that was built in 1858.
- “Ubique: The Royal
Australian Engineers 1834 to 1902. The Colonial Engineers”, written by
Major General RR McNicoll, and published by the Corpt. Committee of the
Royal Australian Engineers in 1977. pps 104-108
Members, Military records ,Pay rolls, Pay Musters, Cemetery Records,
Church Records & General Muster Records, Mitchell
Library ,Sydney Australia
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- Last revised: August 01, 2009.