Research & Updates May 2023

Convict ships and the Redcoats who first arrived in NSW and VDL were added to the website in May. Mangles arrived with a 21st Regiment Sergeant and four privates who served and settled in the Swan River Colony. The page on the ship Circassian, also arriving in 1833, includes an interesting section about the surgeon superintendent, his treatment of cholera on board, and his missing journal. The next soldiers of the 21st to be profiled will be Privates David Earnshaw and John Gill who settled in WA.

Private James Hertnan‘s profile has now been completed with a firm date of death, but his burial place remains elusive (Bunbury or Dardanup?)  Private Lawrence Mooney also of the 21st Regiment who became Albany’s long serving policeman, is under a review relating to his second marriage (to the same bride) in Sedgley, Staffordshire in 1832.  It seems a number of 21st soldiers were stationed there just prior to leaving for Australia and appeared in the parish register of St. Chad and All Saints R.C. Church, including Mooney. Thank you Craig Byrne for uncovering this information.

I spent a bit of time seeking a soldier who may have worked at the Geraldine Mine, Champion Bay – a result of a query from Christine Fletcher of Outback Graves. We came to no definite conclusion because of the variety of surnames offered in newspaper reports about the man’s activities in the area.

I promised an update following an enquiry about 39th Regiment soldier Private William Hill.  He was not a settler in Western Australia but did serve in Albany at its first settlement and has an interesting story which I have added to the ‘anecdotes’ on this website.

FHWA Military Special Interest Group
The next meeting of the Military Interest Group is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, 19th August 2023 at the Family History WA Meeting Room, 48 May Street, Bayswater.  Please contact Angela Heymans at military.sig@fhwa.org.au to find out more about this meeting and the group.

This Website was launched 10th June 2019.

Minor design changes occurred on 13th April 2022.
It currently comprises 226 pages and 1066 images.

Redcoat Settlers in Western Australia 1826-1869

God and the soldier we both adore
When at the brink of ruin, not before
The danger over, both are alike requited,
God is forgiven, and the soldier slighted.

[A rhyme popular in the days of Marlborough]

A Private in the Marines Corps

The first British Redcoats to garrison in Australia wore red tunics and white trousers, but these were not the Army but the Marines who arrived with the First Fleet in 1788. The first red-coated soldiers to arrive, in 1790, were in the New South Wales Corps, formed in Britain, very soon after to be known as the Rum Corps. The first line regiment to arrive in Australia was the 73rd Regiment of Foot (1810) and, of course, its soldiers wore redcoats. However, this website is dedicated to Redcoats in Western Australia and the first of these came not from Britain, but from New South Wales.

The French are coming, the French are coming!

Due to the presence of French survey ships in the seas around the Colony of New South Wales, it was feared France may lay claim and settle the deserted West Coast of New Holland, motivating the British Government to consider establishing a settlement there to protect its interests. In a letter dated 11th March 1826 Earl Bathurst instructed Governor Darling that if found suitable, a settlement should be established at King George’s Sound as it was located on the shipping route between Britain and Port Jackson. Despite his reluctance Darling complied with Britain’s wishes and ordered an expedition to be dispatched.

The King George’s Sound Penal Settlement

Major Edmund Lockyer

Major Edmund Lockyer, 57th Regiment of Foot arrived in King George’s Sound on Christmas Day 1826 on the brig Amity. The original military post comprised Captain Joseph Wakefield, one sergeant, two corporals and 16 privates of the 39th (Dorsetshire) Regiment; Ensign Edmund Morris Lockyer, 57th Regiment on detachment to 39th (Storekeeper); William and Thomas Wood, Royal Veterans Corps (Convict Overseers). A surgeon, a gardener and 23 convicts made up the balance of that first settlement. Major Lockyer was appointed Commandant. Over the next four years or so, there would be three other Commandants, all of the 39th Regiment: Captain Joseph Wakefield, Lieutenant George Sleeman and Captain Collet Barker. During their term in ‘Frederickstown’ (the name of the settlement declared by Lockyer on 21st January 1827), other Redcoats and civilians came and went; more convicts arrived from NSW and some escaped.

The Swan River Free Settlement

Captain James Stirling

Meanwhile Captain James Stirling had arrived on Parmelia to proclaim the Swan River settlement a free Colony (free of convicts, that is). On 8th June 1829 Sulphur arrived in Fremantle with the 63rd (West Suffolk) Regiment of Foot comprising five officers, two sergeants, three corporals, one drummer and 46 privates. By the end of 1829 more ships, carrying Swan River settlers, further 63rd Regiment troops, and some 39th Regiment relieving troops bound for King George’s Sound, arrived in Fremantle.

Not only did the settlers of Swan River object to the presence of convicts within the Colony, but Captain James Stirling was unhappy about having a military outpost in the West under the command of the Governor of New South Wales. It is likely that even had the KGS settlement been successful, Stirling would have intervened.

The Redcoats are coming, the Redcoats are coming!

Memorial to Private William Banks permanently on Frederickstown soil

A new detachment of Redcoats of the 63rd Regiment had arrived in Frederickstown on Isabella on 19th March 1831. It was this ship that took the 39th Regiment detachment back to Sydney, along with the civilians and convicts who had settled there over the previous four years. The region was now declared to be under the control of the Swan River Colony. One convict was officially allowed to remain at his own request; others had escaped and not been captured; none of the 39th Regiment of soldiers took a discharge from the Army in the new Colony. But at least one of the original complement was left permanently on Frederickstown soil: Private William Banks who had died and was buried on 8th March 1827. On 1st January 1832, Frederickstown was renamed Albany.


Thus we begin the story of the Redcoats whom, after serving in many parts of Western
Australia, discharged from their various regiments and settled in this Colony/State.

For further information about the scope of the Project and how the website works,
click this link to About.


Diane Oldman
Website Author and Administrator
1st June 2023