Fremantle Stuff > Early Days: Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society

Early Days: Volume 1, 1927-1931

The diary of Joseph Hardey

Canon Alfred Burton

(Read before the Society, November 29, 1929.)

Canon Alfred Burton, 'The diary of Joseph Hardey', Early Days, vol. 1, part 6: 17-28.


“The story of the group of settlers who came out with Mr. Joseph Hardey would provide one of the most interesting chapters in our history. Probably some amongst the descendants of these pioneers have the material.”

This passage appears in an article published some months ago in The West Australian, on the “Tranby people,” and I was moved to write it, by the publication of a picture of Tranby House and some details of its buildings, etc.

I little thought that it would be my good fortune to have placed in my hands the very material of whose existence I had ventured thus to prophesy. It came about through the publication of another article on Joseph Hardey’s Experiences, only a few weeks ago. The material for which article had been drawn from his diary in the possession of his grandson, Mr. H. R. L. Hardey. The article gave an extract from the diary describing the events of a memorable Sunday, 28th February, 1830, at Fremantle. My article had given an account of the same event from the pen of Jane Roberts—a passenger on the Wanstead, a vessel that had reached Fremantle only a day or two before the Tranby. She tells how a clergyman bound for Van Diemen’s Land, per the Wanstead, held service each Sunday during the seven weeks’ stay of that vessel at Fremantle. The Rev. J. B. Wittenoom, who also came on the Wanstead, was fully occupied at Perth. The other cleric, whose name she does not mention, made overtures to the Tranby folk as soon as they had erected a home at the Port, with a view to conducting worship there. The kindly Methodists readily agreed, and on the Sunday morning the service was held. Jane Roberts tells us: “The Tranby people formed part of the congregation by joining us and opened the service of the day by the morning hymn. Several of us were only passing visitors and could not know the deep ?md powerful feelings of many present, whose whole prosperity and hopes of happiness were risked on the success or failure of their exertions in the new Colony; but we all truly felt for others that interest which our own immediate concerns did not call forth.


Before we separated, the apparent leader of the Tranby people rose and gave notice that divine service would be performed by them according to the rules of their establishment, at six o’clock in the evening. They invited all of us to attend.” Jane Roberts accepted. Here is her account:—“The room was crowded even to standing, but as the entrance had nq door and the windows were without sashes, we had as free a circulation of air as possible. The service consisted of singing and two long prayers, besides the sermon. One woman of the party had a very fine voice, and had not the singing been too loud, it would, on the whole, have been tolerably good. I was much pleased with the sermon, in spite of the broad Yorkshire dialect in which it was delivered. It was extemporaneous, and quite without hesitation. After it was over we returned home, and enjoyed a cool walk.” I have lately heard that the Tranby people are doing very well, that they are settled on a good grant beyond the mountains, and that they have written to England for several of their friends to join them.”

This was written more than two years after she had left Fremantle, probably in 1833, and Joseph Hardey’s diary indicates that they had taken up land near York, at latest by September, 1831, following upon the historic venture to explore the country in October of the previous year, which ;s thus recorded under date 23rd October:—“The Governor and a large party set out to cross the hills. Brother John and the Clarksons are of the party. I should have gone, but owing to my wife being unwell, I stayed at home.”

Fifteen days later is the entry: “Brother John returned from the mountains. Left Mr. Clarkson.” Two days later still: “Mr. Clarkson returned from the mountains with the loss of two horses.” In September of the following year Joseph spent three weeks on a journey to and from Mt. Bakewell. His next entry concerning the country “over the hills” is in November, 1835,- when eight days are' occupied in a journey “into Yorkshire.” And it is not till the end of January, 1837, that he speaks as if York were his headquarters. On 28th of that month he writes: “Arrived at York with family.” And two years later, on 6th February, 1839, he says: “Left Yorkshire”; and on 25th April following he makes this entry: “Began to build the new house”; and surrounding entries seem to indicate that he was again in residence at the Peninsula. As, for in-


stance, on 1st June, 1839: “Mr. Lazenby and J. Lockyer finished putting up the roof of new house.” The next day, Sunday: “Spoke at Perth—from the Barren Fig Tree—the tree being his text, not his pulpit.

As I am searching for material relating to the work of the Anglican Church in the earliest days, I wrote to Tasmania to find out who the passing visitor was who conducted the service on the Sunday morning. Archdeacon Whiting-ton, who wrote the life of Bishop Short, lives there; and I presumed upon an acquaintance of more than forty years, and his well-known interest in historical matters, to enquire of him if he could discover the name of the clergyman who arrived in Van Dieman’s Land on the Wanstead. Meanwhile the account of Joseph Hardey’s experiences appeared in the West Australian with this entry from his diary under date 28th February, 1830: “Mr. Davis, Church Minister, preached in our house this morning, and I spoke in the evening to upwards of 50 people—I believe the first time they have been addressed by the Methodists at Fremantle.” The two accounts dove-tailed as it were perfectly, and gave me the name I was wanting.

Soon after, I heard that Archdeacon Whitington had lost his wife, and that he had journeyed to Adelaide, where the burial was performed, and I gave up hope of ariy reply. But only last Saturday I received a letter explaining the delay, and then proceeding as follows:—

“About a week ago I set to work to get the information you seek, and am glad I've been successful. In the Archive’s office here in Hobart (which is in the Chief Secretary’s Department) there is a daughter of one of our deceased clergy. She has found the passenger list of the Wanstead, and among them the name ‘Rev. R. Davis.’ This evidently was the Rev. R. R. Davies, B.A. (the “e” must have been dropped in error) who became incumbent of Longford, Northern Tasmania, as a Government Chaplain, and also Rural Dean, being appointed to the latter office upon the recommendation of Archdeacon Broughton, the notable second Archdeacon of New South Wales, and subsequently first Bishop of Australia. Bishop Broughton also appointed Mr. Davies the first Archdeacon of Launceston in 1850, and four years later became the third Archdeacon of Hobart, holding his appointment until his death in a


green old age in 1880. A grand-daughter of his, a deaconess, only retired a few years ago from the post of honorary Matron of our House of Mercy, of which I am Warden. That, I expect, will be as much as you want to know.”

The Archdeacon has but a faint idea of the voracity of my appetite for historical morsels, hut nevertheless his research reveals that our infant Colony in a time of crisis had the ministrations—though only for seven weeks—of one who, for half a century, took a leading part in the religious life of Australia.

The production of this diary of Joseph Hardey is a signal instance of the value of that research which we may hope our Society will stimulate with results more and more fruitful. Important facts appear in the most unlikely places. Who would have expected that the diary of a devout Methodist would yield most valuable information concerning the work of the Anglican Church.

Ecclesiastical Titbits

Ecclesiastical titbits with an Anglican flavour, are what I am after chiefly; although no fact of history comes amiss, be it sacred or profane, that throws a light on the life of the State in days gone by.

Here, then, may I refer to some of my “finds” in this diary that help me in my objective. The Sunday after Mr. Davies had conducted service in the house of the Tranby people in Fremantle, we have this record: “Mr. Sharp, Church Minister, preached in our House.” Who was he— whence came he to W.A.? I have not been able to find any record of him save the solitary fact that the Rev. J. Sharp baptised a child in Fremantle early in 1830, this being recorded in the Church Registers. Hardey not only tells us of his preaching but enables us to trace him; for although at present we know not whence he came, this entry tells us whither he went: “17th March. Mr. Sharp has sailed this day in the Gilmore for Sydney. Thos. Peel, with 180 settlers, came in the Gilmore; they landed on 15th December, 1829. Did Sharp come with them? His departure in the Gilmore after the Peel bubble had burst, suggests that he had come by that boat. Was he Chaplain for the embryo Colony whose capital city, “Peel Town,” was strangled at


birth? Unfortunately Mr. Bray, of the Chief Secretary’s Department (which serves in some respect as our Archives), laments the fact that the records of the Gilmore are missing. But I am not without hope that some trace of this clerical star that flashes across the sky of West Australia’s early dawn, will be picked up, and if it proves to be a fact that Peel provided a Chaplain for his company, then one thing will be recorded to his credit, to balance the many things that are told against him.

Another most valuable discovery consists of two words in a brief entry on 9th July, 1830: “The Governor, the Archdeacon, Mr. Peel, Mr. Coles, and others have been to see us this day.” At present we know next to nothing of the Rev. J. Sharp; but fortunately a good deal is known of “the Archdeacon” here referred to, and this entry clinches the matter as to the length of his stay in W.A. He came in H.M.S. Success, which left Sydney in May, 1829, and we may presume that by about July, 1829, she reached our coast. The vessel stranded on Success Bank, and the damage sustained caused a stay of twelve months, before she could resume her voyage to England. The Archdeacon was the Ven. Thomas Hobbes Scott, who had come out to Australia in 1825 as first Archdeacon of the whole continent.

His diocesan was the Bishop of Calcutta, but the supervision was so nominal that there is no single record of the Bishop of Calcutta ever having performed an official act in respect of Australia.

He had a troublous stay of four years in Sydney, and after many trials, through which, however, the Church steadily made progress, he left a sadder, and no doubt a wiser man for his unique experiences. Coming here literally by accident, and compelled to stay here, much against his will, there fell to him the unexpected honour of being the real founder of the Church of England in this great State, and the first Minister of the Gospel to set foot on our shores. Popular opinion gives these distinctions to the Rev. J. B. Wittenoom. Both Dr. Battye’s and Kimberley’s histories specifically refer to Mr. Wittenoom as ‘the actual builder of the first church in Perth, and it is assumed that he arrived in 1829—a natural inference from the fact that on 5th September, 1829, the second block in Perth was allotted to him. The first block Capt. Irwin secured for himself, and the second block also—but for the Church, and had it


put in the name of Wittenoom, whom he knew to be on his way out, and who, that very morning was sailing away from Funchal Roads, Madeira, in the good ship Wanstead, with his brother cleric Davies, and Miss Jane Roberts, keeping careful record of their travels.

Irwin himself leaves beyond doubt the fact that Scott was the prime mover in building the first Church, and speaks of his services “for several months prior to the arrival of Mr. Wittenoom.”

Now we have this entry in July, 1830, several months after the arrival of Mr. Wittenoom, which proves that the Archdeacon's stay here lasted about twelve months, and one is not surprised to read in Stirling’s despatches grateful reference to his help, not merely in procuring the erection of what Stirling calls a decent church, but for the benefit of his experience in educational matters and in all things ncidental to pioneering.

Christian Harmony

These and several other entries of a like nature shed a gratifying light in other directions. They show a delightful harmony among Christian people—the appreciation of the Governor for a body of colonists whose integrity and uprightness proved a moral force of value incalculable—the respect of the cleric for citizens whose religious zeal was clearly an asset in spiritual values; the interest of leading citizens in the methods of a band of settlers whose skill and energy, combined with expert knowledge, had speedily aroused attention. On 6th June, 1830, Hardey records: “Went to Perth and received permission of the Governor to preach. Spoke under a tree.” This was on a Sunday. Thus he came in the public eye. On the 17th June—11 days later—we read: “The Governor has been looking at us this day. On 20th June (a Sunday) went to Perth and spoke to soldiers and others.”

The next day he “felled a gum tree with 150 feet in the bole”; and the next day he was “sawing and leading wood to pit.” Sunday, 4th July: “Went to Perth, spoke under a tree, the Governor’s lady and another came and stood awhile.” Then followed, five days later, the visit of the imposing party, led by the Governor and the Archdeacon. This visit fell on a Friday. The entry on the following Sunday is surely not unconnected; “Went to Perth Church.” As


one reads one sees curiosity, interest, respect and esteem developing in those whose fortunes were intimately associated with the splendid venture made by these Tranby folk.

The attendance at Perth Church was interrupted for seven weeks by heavy rains, which caused a flooded river and seriously affected the health of the diarist. All through July entries like these occur: “Very rainy”; “heavy showers” ; “heavy rain”; and then, naturally, on the following Sunday: “The river very high and rising.” Clearly this river wanted watching. On the Monday: “The river is overflowing and coming near the house.” Next day it took possession. “This morning the water is one foot deep in the house, and we are obliged to leave and go to Mr. Hurry’s on the hill. On the Wednesday he says: “The water is higher than yesterday.” By the following Sunday he has to record: “The water is risen again and Ellises have left and come on the hill.” On Wednesday following he notes: “The river is going down”; next day, “I came back to my old come back to-day.” Ten days under a neighbour’s narrow habitation,” and the day following: “My wife and child have roof in wintry weather and bleak conditions, prompts him to give the endearing term “old” to a habitation put up only three months before.

His entry for the last day of that month is a pictorial gem:—

“Drying wet clothes; fine day. I have for the last fortnight been much troubled with a very severe pain in my feet, which has nearly laid me aside from business, but, bless the Lord. I find it good to be afflicted. May I come out of the fire as gold purified seven times.” (This communing with his soul is a feature of the diary, meant for no eye but his own.)

The next day, 1st August (Sunday): “I have felt the Lord present and precious.” On Monday: “I am much pained in my feet this day.” Tuesday: “The weather is very fine, and I am, rather better.” On the following Sunday he writes: “Though confined at home, it has been a good day to my soul. Mr. Clarkson dined with the Governor.”

The Governor’s sympathy and kindliness is clearly evinced, for on the 17th August appears the record: “Went to Fremantle by land”; and next day: “Returned to Perth,


went and dined at the Governor’s, took tea and stopped all night. They were remarkably kind. The Lord bless them for their kindness.” The next day: “Returned to the Peninsula. Found all well.” On the 29th he went again to Perth Church, and his closing entry for the month is: “Thank God I am much better at the conclusion of this month than the beginning.”

In reading a diary of this character we have to bear in mind that it was written purely for private use. without any idea of it being published; that consequently its revelation of the character of the writer is the more vivid. One could wish that revelation might be made to every one of the thousands of settlers who have come and to the thousands who we hope will come—to show them the calibre of which the real pioneers should be made, the conditions with which they were confronted, and the spirit in which they overcame them.

It would not be doing justice to the diarist and the whole community of which he is so worthy a representative, if it were not made clear that his allegiance to Methodism is made abundantly evident throughout the diary, while his most friendly relations with the Anglican Church seem to have been maintained.

From other sources it is found that the Methodists (even after the Perth Chapel was opened, as he records, on 22nd June, 1834), used to hold their class meeting at 9.30 a.m., and then proceed to the Church of England service at 11 a.m. There are frequent entries of his speaking at Perth, throughout the diary, and; his brother John, who was a year or two older, also preached, but less often. Regularly on Sunday evenings service was held in the home of one or other on the Peninsula.

Before the first year ended Joseph began, on the first Sunday in December, to preach at Guildford each month; but his services were much more frequent, and continued longer in Perth.

Towards the close of the diary he almost always notes, the text or subject upon which he based his discourse. The first Psalm was expounded more than once—“The Barren Fig Tree,” and “One thing is needful.” They made light of it, and other familiar texts were chosen.


Up to the close of the diary there are records which show the birth of six daughters in unbroken succession. One of them died when only a month old. The baptism of another (Susannah), by Mr. Wittenoom when she was nearly three years old, is recorded in the diary; while tht baptism of another by Mr. Wittenoom I found in the Cathedral records. A son was born later.

Disastrous Chances

There are many sad entries. It is not alone the soldier, like Othello, who can tell

“Of most disastrous chances,
Of moving accidents by flood and field;
Of hair-breadth ’scapes—the imminent deadly breach.”

The very first entry in the diary is of a “disastrous chance.” It reads: “21st January, 1830. Dear Brother William departed this life in the seventeenth year of his age.” They were still at sea, with 12 days’ sailing before they sighted land. A month after he died, they buried him at Fremantle. Just a month later We read: “Capt. Clinton’s boat upset this day in crossing the bar. Capt. C. died in the night.” Two months later still: “Five vessels on shore at Fremantle,” and “the Rockingham is on shore in Cockburn Sound.” Four months later: “Dr. Watley and Capt. Stones were drowned in crossing the ferry at Fremantle; they foolishly put a beast into the boat and it brought it over, and it is supposed they were both disabled, as they were excellent swimmers.”

In April, 1832, we have a “hair-breadth ’scape,” literally from “the imminent deadly breach,” for he writes: “My wife providentially preserved from being shot by a gun falling. Praise the Lord for all His mercies.”

The only duel (it is said) that stains our record is thus referred to: “Mr. Geo. Johnson, of Fremantle, and Mr. Clark, of Perth, fought a duel this morning at the Cantonment, Fremantle, when Mr. Johnson was mortally wounded and died the following morning. Wretched murderers.” A loose sheet at the end of the diary contains a scathing indictment of duelling, brief but powerful, ending with the hope that “such disgraceful inhuman butchery curse our Colony no more.” It appears to have been written for publication, and is signed “Well-Wisher to the Colony.”


In 1832 we have a series of fires. February: Mr. Brockman’s house burnt. March: Mr. Wells’ house burnt. Next year (in October): Mr. Drummond’s house burned down.

In 1834 (15th January): “John Green killed by a well caving in and burying him alive.” In May: “A soldier speared at the Barracks, Upper Swan. The soldier has died.”

The Battle of Pinjarra is thus recorded: “28th October. 1834: Encounter with the natives down at the Murray River, when about 25 or 30 of them were killed, one woman and several children. It has been a shocking slaughter; I fear more so than was needed.” A fortnight after is the entry: “Capt. Ellis died this morning of a wound received by a spear by the natives”—the only casualty on the settlers’ side. On 24th May, 1837: “Soldier Isaac Green speared.” Three days later: “Isaac Green died.” On 16th July. 1839: “Boy killed at Mr. Phillips’ by the natives. Sheep driven away.” One casualty amongst the stock has a quaint touch: “Early this morning Mr. Clarkson’s mule killed me a fine colt foal.”

There are copious entries of dealings in stock and of their breeding and increase. When Governor Stirling went to England on urgent colonial business he had a stock sale; and Joseph writes: “The Governor’s sale. I bought a filly foal that came of Capt. Byrne’s mare, for 17.” He doesn’t say pounds or shillings; I hope it was the latter, for he adds: “She is in the bush,” and like a bird, “a foal in hand is worth two in the bush.”

But prior to this he had more extensive dealings with the Governor, Sir James Stirling. On 21st March. 1832. he records: “Bought of Governor Stirling, three English cows for £115. Paid the Governor £105 in part.” One can easily read between the lines that His Excellency asked £40 a-piece for the three, and that the canny Yorkshire farmer made him bate a £5 note; while the £10 remainder, which he paid a few weeks later, looks like a cautious safeguard, in case the animals proved not equal to description.

When I read this entry it reminded me of a like transaction between myself and a much more modern Governer but in this case His Excellency was the buyer, and, like


his predecessor, he scored, for my price was less than a quarter of that asked of Hardey.

Tranby House

In view of the historic value of Tranby House at the Peninsula, Maylands, the records of the diary are of great importance, for they reveal that no less than three houses were built in succession there.

The partners seem to have brought out the framework at least, of more than one habitation. So we read of a shelter being quickly erected at Fremantle arid of the party being in occupation before the first month on land had passed. They seem to have built a home on the Peninsula before moving there; for on 1st May, 1830, the entry reads: “Left Fremantle this evening.” They camped the next night under Mt. Eliza, and the next day arrived at the Penisula. Exactly a fortnight later he writes: “Ploughing behind the house,” from which we may infer that the house was built before arrival; and ten days later his first daughter was born. So clearly the building was occupied. It was, however, flooded, as I have stated, two months later, and in August they began a new home on higher ground. On October 11th he says: “Begun to thatch new house.” On the 14th: “Left old house and went to brother John’s.” On the 19th: “Came to new house”; and on 23rd: “Finished thatching new house.” Nine years later, on 25th April, 1839, he says: “Begun to build the new house.”

So it seems clear that the abode now standing is about 90 years old, and the third Tranby house. It is a monument bearing witness to a venture of faith, a patient enduring of toil and hardship, a grand example of brotherly co-operation; a business fellowship, the results of which it is not too much to say are potent still. The influence of a group of settlers, such as these Tranby people, must have been great in many directions. Their expert knowledge of agriculture, so wide and so varied; their example of industry and patience must have influenced, more or less, all who came in touch with them. Their moral influence was as a leaver leavening the whole lump, and from every point of view, it may be said with confidence, that this experiment in group settlement claims precedence over any other, not excepting that of the Bussells, begun at the Augusta and continued at the Vasse; for the venture of the Hardeys claims priority, and embraced a wider circle of members,


being not of one, but of several families; was more extensive; in its scope, and met with greater success; possibly because the company commanded more capital, and certainly because they were more experienced and capable farmers. It may also be that being beforehand furnished with wives they had an advantage over the Bussell brothers, all of whom at the start were bachelors.

In this State, where agriculture is destined to be the chief source of wealth, there could hardly be a more fitting memorial secured than this homestead, Tranby House, on the Peninsula, that it might perpetuate the memory of a concerted enterprise fraught with many benefits for this State, that proved a powerful factor in the work of laying the foundations of our wealth, and enabling the infant colony to emerge successfully from the trials and troubles that inevitably beset every attempt to establish a community and set up a social order in a new land.

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