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6 corrections, most recently by GBurghall - Show corrections


1829 to 1849.


[This paper, prepared by Mr. J. K. Hitch- I

cock, an authority on the history of Fre-   mantle, was read before a meeting of the   Western Australian Historical Society.]


During the year 1831 twenty-seven vessels from overseas arrived at Fre- mantle.

It is not generally, known that in 1831

a township, called Kingston, was laid open for selection at Rottnest. Lots were sold to R. M. Lyon, C. Northcotte, and D. Scott, but the town never ad- vanced beyond the paper stage. It would be interesting to know who now holds the Crown grants of the lots that were alienated.

In this year a monthly service of boats was established between Fremantle and Guildford, no roads worthy of the name being yet in existence.

A Canal Was Cut

through Point Walter spit, which short- ened the distance between city and port by about two miles. This was allowed to silt up, and consequently the wayside inn which catered for the boat crews and passengers traversing the river was abandoned, as Point Walter ceased to be a stopping place. Traces of this old half way house near the water's edge at Point Walter may still be seen a few yards west of the jetty.

In May, 1931, Western Australia's first newspaper, the "Western Australian Journal." was established. It was issued in manuscript, and sold at 3s. 6d. per copy. In December of the same, year

WA.'s First Printing Press

was landed from Van Dieman's Land, and from it was issued the "Fremantle Observer," which was printed in a hut at Hamilton Hill (Spearwood) by Charles Macfaull and W. K. Shenton. The little press and a copy of the paper may be seen to-day in the Perth Museum, with   its history concisely expressed by Ed- mund Stirling, who subsequently owned it. That little press printed the libel which was the cause of Western Aus- tralia's only duel. This was fought on the south bank of the river a little to the west of the present traffic bridge, the combatants being Mr. Clark, a Scotch lawyer, and Mr. Johnstone, a merchant. The latter was fatally wounded.


During the year 1832 thirteen vessels

arrived at Fremantle.

The first vineyard in the colony was planted at Hamilton Hill by Charles

MacFaull and Edmund Stirling. The  

vines were obtained from the Cape of Good Hope.


Twenty-one vessels arrived during the

year 1833.

A youth, named William Keating, was killed by natives at Bull's Creek. Two   brothers named Valvick, met the same fate at Preston Point.  

The first horse race in the colony was   held on the South Beach on October 2,  

1833. It is recorded in racing annals that at this race meeting Mr. Lionel Samson   ran a horse which he entered under the  

expressive if not euphonious name of "More in Sorrow than in Anger." This

little whimsicality was quite characteris- tic of the kindly old gentleman.


In 1834 mails between Fremantle and Perth were carried by a runner whose remuneration was £1 per week. The road between the two centres was then a mere bush truck through the sand, as the river afforded better and cheaper means of transit both for goods and



On January 31. 1835, Mr. J. Bateman was appointed postmaster at Fremantle. The first post office was situated in Henry-street in a little vine-clad cottage

which stood at the rear of the terrace of offices now owned by Mr. James Mews of Claremont. Some idea of the small- ness of the amount of business trans- acted may be gleaned from the fact that the address and date of receipt and de- livery of every letter was recorded in a book. Imagine that being done nowa- days!  


In May, 1836, the first locally built seagoing vessel was launched at Fre- mantle. She was named the Lady Stir- ling, but is not identical with the paddle steamer of that name which plied be- tween Perth and Fremantle from 1857 until the early 'seventies.


The excavation of the tunnel under Arthur's Head was commenced in 1837. It has often been erroneously stated that this tunnel was the work of convicts, but it was begun and completed long be- fore the first batch of convicts arrived, as was also the gaol, commonly known as the "Round House," which stands im- mediately over it. Up to 1849 the stocks still stood outside this octagonal-shaped building, but those ancient instruments of correction were then fast falling into disuse, and soon after were abolished.

In 1837 the Fremantle Whaling Com- pany began operation by capturing a whale off Carnac. Long before this American whalers were frequent visitors to these waters, and reaped a rich har- vest. The day of kerosene had not yet dawned, and the odoriferous whale oil, in the old-fashioned chimney-less and smoky lamps, was the principal illuminant available in those days whale fre- quently came into Fremantle Harbour at certain periods of the.year, and for many years whaling was a staple local in- dustry.

The rival crews were those of John Bateman aud Joshua J. Harwood, and when whales were sighted the boats of the two firms were manned immediately, whilst the townspeople congregated at various points of vantage to watch the race for the prizes to be won. The na- tives used to come to Fremantle in hordes when the whaling season was on, and feasted to satiety on the scraps after the oil had been boiled from the blubber.

1838 and 1839.

The native prison at Rottnest was es- tablished early in 1838. In September of the same year vaccine matter was  

introduced into Western Australia for the first time.  

1839 was uneventful.

1840 and 1841

The first, shipment of Western Austra- lian produce for London left Fremantle by the ship Shepherd in January, 1840.

The foundation-stone of the old Wes- ley Church in Cantonment-street was laid by Governor Hutt. This building is still standing, but has been enlarged and is now used as the church hall and Sun- day school

1841 was uneventful.


The foundation-stone of the old light- house at Rottnest was laid on January 21, 1842. At this time, and for many years after the pilot station at Rottnest was in charge of Captain Edward Back, progenitor of the Back clan of Fremantle. He came of old seafaring stock, and was related to Admiral Sir George Back, the Arctic explorer. After his retirement from the pilot service Captain Back fre- quently acted as nominal master of ves- sels whose actual masters were unable for the time being, to comply with the new conditions under which no ship could clear from the port unless her master held a certificate of competency.

On April 6, 1842. the foundation stone of the old St. John's Anglican Church was laid by Governor Hutt. This church   stood in the centre of King's Square, which comprised the block of land bound- ed on the south and west by Newman and William streets, and on the north and east by Adelaide and Queen streets, the site of the old church being that portion of the existing High- street which lies between the pre- sent church and Mr. Twinem's offices. The High-street of that day therefore, had a church at one end and a gaol at

the other.

The mystery of how the church ac- quired possession of Kings Square was a

Subject of Much Controversy

in bygone days. Both King's and Queen's   Squares were originally set apart as breathing spaces for the people, but some- how it came about that a church was built in the centre of the former. Eventually it was decided to bisect both of them and run High-street through them. The Church of England, however, claimed and established ownership over thc whole of King's Square, and had to be bought out. When the erection of a new church was in contemplation the town bought from the church all that portion of the square south of the pre-

sent church enclosure, retaining part of   it for the extension of High-steet and   as a site for the Town Hall, and selling the triangular portion east of the Town Hall on which shops are now built.

The town, through some jugglery, suf- fered a similar loss of territory in con- nection with the Park, which originally included the land on which the old Lunatic Asylum (now the Old Women's Home) is built, and thence down to Quarry-street, the land between Quarry- street and the present park area being sold to private people and built upon.

How Fremantle lost its much prized recreation ground,  

"The Green,"  

and the wharf extending from Cliff-st.,     may also be briefly stated :- In the early days the area between Phillimore-street street and Packenkam-street, was shallow water, the present irregular line of build- ings along the south side of Phillimore

marking what was once the river fore-   shore. The townspeople, by constituting themselves working bees, reclaimed the

land and planted it with couch grass,   thus creating the old recreation ground   which was known as "The Green."      

Naturally the people were very wroth           when it was proposed to resume this         land for railway purposes, but ultimately they were appeased by being granted a sum of £500 for improvements to the park, and Fremantle's first railway stat-

tion was then built on the reclaimed area. It is now the site of the Customs House, Chamber of Commerce and other build- îngs, the new railway station being lo-   cated at the foot of Market-street.

1843 and 1844.       1843 was uneventful.

In June, 1844 the first shipment of  

horses left for India.  

The first execution of a white person

in W.A. took place at Fremantle. The   criminal was a boy from Parkhurst Re-   formatory named John Calvin, who was employed at Pollard's farm at Dandalup. There, on February 21, 1844, he mur- dered George Pollard, aged 18, while he slept, it was a fearful crime, the vic- tim's skull being broken with an adze until it was a mass of bones, brains and hairs.

Calvin was tried on April 8, 1844, and sentenced to be hanged and suspended in chains. At the trial he confessed his guilt, and said the murder was the result of uncontrollable homicidal impulse. He was hanged three days later, the place of execution being about 10 yards to the left of the Round House looking towards the church. Heavy weights were attached to his feet, and the cart on which he stood was then moved from under him. The body hung for an hour and was then cut down and

Buried In the Sand Hills

a little south-west of the Court House, which at that time stiood near the pre- sent site of the Adelaide Steamship Com- pany's offices in Mouatt-street. The    

place of burial would therefore be some-   where to the rear where the National Bank now stands, about midway between Mouatt and Cliff streets.

Calvin had an extraordinary head, the

anterior organs being very deficiently developed, while the posterior organs were of enormous size. An excellent mask of the face and cast of the skull was taken, but it is not known what became of them.

It is said that during the first year or two of the colony's existence several

interments were made at a spot a little  

to the westward of where the Federal

Hotel now stands. Human remains  

have also been found in other parts of   the town. Nearly sixty years ago,  

A Skeleton Was Found  

when the foundations were being dug for the building in Adelaide-street, now used asthe District Registrar's office.    

Prior to this, one was found dur- ing the marking of what was known as "Lefroy's Cutting" (now Wray-avenue). This was allowed to lie about until it finally disappeared, and I remember the boys used to amuse themselves trying to piece it together.

More recently a skeleton was unearthed when the foundations of a new building were being excavated near the river side at East Fremantle. These may have been the bones of aboriginals or else, as some suggest, there was no special place set apart in the very early days of Fremantle for the burial of the dead.


On February 24, 1845, a heavy north- west gale did much damage to buildings and shipping.

The first steam vessel, H.M.S. Driver,   visited Fremantle. The novel sight caus- ed the look-out man to mistake her for

a ship on fire.  

The first shipment of sandalwood from   Fremantle was made in December of this



Three vessels built of jarrah were launched at Fremantle, the largest ca-

pable of carrying 300 tons.  


In July and August, 1847, heavy rains

and floods were experienced.  

1848.   Between the years 1842 and 1848 (which was before the convict era) about 150 boys were sent to Western Austra- lia from the Parkhurst Reformatory.

Most of them had merely been guilty of some boyish freak which to-day would have only earned them a mild lecture and a caution in the Children's Court. Hav-

ing been taught useful trades the majority of them ultimately become some of the    

best and most estimable of our pioneer   colonists. Many of them, in fact, found-   ed families, members of which have play-  

ed no inconsiderable part in the develop- ment of the colony.


In 1849 an attempt was made to re- move the bar at the mouth of the Swan, but without success. It was nearly half a century later before any but small ves-  

sels could enter the river.  

A few old buildings in Fremantle,   erected prior to 1849, may still be seen.

One of these, a two-storey structure, stands at the corner of High and Queen streets, and at that period was the only building of any pretensions east of King's

Square. Originally it had been an hotel  

(the "Rose and Crown"), but after the arrival of the convicts its licence was not  

renewed, on the grounds that it was too far our of town to be under effective   police supervision.  

This will give some idea of the extent of the settled portion of the town at that time. What is now the Park was cover- ed by a dense growth of parrot bushes and scrub, and was the favourite resort of aborigines, who in those days were to be seen in large numbers about Fremantle, or "Walyalup," as they called it.

Abandoning hope of agreement on naval disarmament, the Preparatory Committee of the League of Nations decided last   week at Geneva to adjourn to to-day.