Research and Updates in March and April 2024

The Parallel Lives of Convict Overseers Thomas and William Wood

During March I completed Chapter One of the story of the Overseers at King George’s Sound – the settlement that became Albany, Western Australia. In Chapter One, the army service profiles of these men were complemented by a little more detail of their service in the Napoleonic Wars, the formation of Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals for out-patients and the role of the Royal Veteran units within the British Army. It tells of the journey of these soldiers from England to Australia and their detachment from Sydney to the southern tip of Western Australia on Amity in 1826.

Chapter Two of the Overseers is now complete – and tells of the Overseers’ final discharge from army service and something of their land grants and lives in Bong Bong, New South Wales. Please read both chapters and understand how they relate to their parallel lives in Army service which are profiled on a separate page.

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I had email conversations during the March with Harry Pennings, a descendant of Edmund Ashworth, a 96th Regiment Redcoat settler in WA. Harry contributed additional information about family and occupations of this soldier.

Diane Wiggins was seeking information about the 96th Regiment New Zealand Medal recipients. I forwarded what I could to assist in the research of her family history.

I attended a ‘high tea’ at the Esplanade Hotel’s Harbourmaster’s Restaurant, an appropriate location for a talk about Fremantle’s first harbourmaster, Daniel Scott. The Swan River Pioneers group invited Allen Graham to speak about Scott and the early port of Fremantle. I purchased Allen’s book published last year: Inns and Outs of Fremantle – a signed copy, of course.

FHWA Military Special Interest Group

The MSIG group thoroughly enjoyed the tour of the World War Two tunnels at Leighton Battery, Buckland Hill, Fremantle. For those interested in a tour of this heritage site, the entry is from the car park on Boundary Road, Mosman Park. The site is open every Sunday of the month from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, with guided tours every 20 minutes. For further information visit   www.artillerywa.org.au.

The next meeting of the group will be on Saturday 18th May at the Family History WA Meeting Room, 48 May Street, Bayswater. Do you have a photo of a person in uniform and want to know how to identify key details to help with your research? The MSIG has three experts from the Army Museum of WA coming along to give you some insights and tips. Please contact Angela Heymans  military.sig@fhwa.org.au   to find out more about this group and its meetings, speakers and excursions in 2024.

Minor design changes occurred on 13th April 2022.
It currently comprises 231 pages and 1148 images.

My ARCHIVED websites can be found as follows:

Crimean War Veterans in Western Australia archived 02 August 2023

Royal Sappers and Miners in Western Australia 23 February 2023

Please do not attempt to ‘view the live webpage’ as suggested. This will produce errors that occurred during the archiving process. There are no longer ‘live’ pages – only the archived pages shown in the links above.

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); Thomas and William Wood, NSW Royal Veterans Company (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.

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Diane Oldman
Website Author and Administrator
21st April 2024