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The usual practice was to have soldiers from one regiment of British soldiers at a time in the colony, though there was some overlapping. More detail to follow, but for the moment here are the summary details.

The 39th Regiment of Foot were here 1826-1831.
63rd: 1829-1834
21st: 1833-1840
51st: 1840-1847
96th: 1847-1849
99th: 1849-1956
20th company of Royal Sappers and Miners/Engineers: 1850-1862
12th: 1856-1863
14th: 1868-1869

The 63rd Regiment of Foot landed with Stirling. They very soon established the alignment of their Barrack along the track which therefore came to be known as Barrack Street. The rectangular area called 'Barracks Square' took in all the land that is now bounded by Pier, Hay, and Barrack Streets and St George's Terrace. The first building, indicated below as Guard House (which it later became) was the original barrack building.

1851 map of Barracks Square - without the Guard House, but showing the Jail where the Deanery would soon be instead

Conjectural drawing thanks to Neville: 22. Note that the church shown is the north-south aligned 1841 church, not the present east-west aligned cathedral (1880).

The following photograph puts some flesh on the above drawing.


This 1868 photo shows Howick (Hay) St from Pier Street to the corner of Barrack Street, where the Town Hall is under construction. The building on the left is the Swan River Mechanics Institute, founded 1851, while the one in the middle is the Freemasons Lodge, 1867.

As an example of the way the soldiers were regarded, and also of what they were here to do, these are newspaper reports for the arrival and departure of the 51st.

Perth Gazette and WA Journal Saturday 27 June 1840 page 2

51st Regt.-The detachment to relieve the detachment of the 21st regiment, landed at Fremantle on Thursday last, and marched to Perth yesterday morning. The 21st left Perth at 8 o'clock, on the same day. This morning, the detachment of the 51st was inspected, on the barrack ground, by his Excellency the Governor [Hutt], and the Commandant, Major Irwin. His Excellency addressed the men, and referred to the duties they would be employed upon; expressing his satisfaction at the high commendations they had received from the Colonel of their regiment ; a character, he trusted, they would endeavor to support: many of them would be called upon to occupy positions for the protection of the settlers, and the control of any lawless acts on the part of the natives ; and he expected a diligent observance of the instructions' conveyed to their officers.

Perth Gazette and WA Journal Saturday 13 March 1847 page 2

Our contemporary, on Wednesday last, in announcing the ball to be given in the evening, to the officers of the 51st and 96th Regts, made the extraordinary assertion that the inhabitants of the colony "were anxious to bid farewell to the former and welcome the latter." We trust our friends of the 51st will forgive this little piece of Irishism on the part of the Editor, or, at any rate, not to suppose that he, in this case, faithfully represents the true feelings and wishes of the community, who, we are persuaded, are far from wishing or even willing to to part with those who, in their seven years residence among us, have ever shewn themselves to be, both officers and men, a generous, kind-hearted, and well-conducted body. As to the inhabitants' eagerness to welcome the 96th, who certainly may be as estimable (but of this we shall be better able to judge on a longer acquaintace), we believe this springs from an inherent feeling of good fellowship with our countrymen, rather than from any wish to get rid of our old friends.
The two companies of the 51st marched for Fremantle on Friday morning and e're [sic] their departure we witnessed many a friendly parting clasp between them and the civilians, with whom they have ever been on the best of terms, and we are certain no troops ever left a colony with more good wishes for their prosperity, on the part of the settlers, than those who leave us by the Java, which vessel is expected to sail on Sunday or Monday morning. The strength of the detachment embarked/includes 6 officers, 9 sergeants, 4 corporals, 95 rank and file, 21 women, and 31 children; those remaining, 2 sergeants, 1 corporal, 31 privates, 14 women, and 23 children, including invalids who have arranged to receive their pensions in the colony.

Whiteley: Fremantle Military Post

When headquarters removed to Perth on 9th August 1829, Lieut. Pedder and part of the detachment at Garden Island took over the post at Fremantle.
According to the monthly return, there were at Fremantle on 25th August 1829, Lieut. Pedder, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 27 privates. This probably included the men who arrived in the Marquis of Anglesea as by October 1829 the party had been reduced to 1 subaltern, 1 corporal and 14 privates.
No monthly return between October 1829 and May 1831 can be found on the C.S.O. files in the Battye Library and the nominal roll of the 63rd regiment dated 1st March 1831 does not show any troops at Fremantle at that date but on May 1831 one corporal and three privates are shown. These men were probably on duty at the gaol as a letter from the Colonial Secretary to Capt. Irwin dated 2nd April 1831 refers to items required at the Fremantle Gaol by Cpl. Fee (Phee) for use of himself and other soldiers stationed there.
[31st March 1831: Corp Robert Phee (Sulphur), Pvts George Budge (Orelia), Patrick Kelly (Isabella), John Rahill (Marquis of Anglesea) Ref. W012-7263-134/135]
In August 1831 no troops are shown as being stationed at Fremantle but in December 1831 and February 1832, 2 privates are shown at Clarence and in December 1831, 1 private at Freshwater Bay.
Lieut. Pedder had apparently left W.A. by that date but no record of the actual date of his departure has been found.
[7th June 1830 on Orelia]
We think it possible that troops were always at Fremantle but were regarded as headquarters troops and not shown separately. (CS0 4/26,CS0 1/120,25/152, 155,161, 19/107, 114,115,118).
In January 1834 some prisoners escaped from the Fremantle Gaol and Capt. Daniel ordered a sergeant, a corporal and 9 privates to proceed there under the direction of the Civil Commissioner. In a letter to Colonial Secretary Broun dated 17th January 1834 he suggested the establishment of a small military post at Fremantle. (CSO 34/149)
We can find no evidence of this suggestion having been carried out except a letter from Capt. Erskine of the 63rd to Capt. Daniel dated 1st February 1834 in which he complained of the want of a guard room at the Fremantle Gaol and of the insufficiency of the sentry box to keep out the inclemency of the weather. (CSO 30/144) [Additions in square brackets are editorial additions.]

References, Links, Acknowledgements

Blackburn, Geoff, Conquest and Settlement: the 21st Regiment in Western Australia 1833-1840.

Hasluck, Alexandra & Mollie Lukis 1977, Victorian and Edwardian Perth from Old Photographs, John Ferguson, Sydney.

Sweetman, John 1989, Military Establishment and Penal Settlement at King George Sound, 1826-1831, Hesperian Press.

Whiteley, Erskine Shackson & Clara Grace Selina Whiteley 2010, The Military Establishment in Western Australia 1829-1863, ed. Keith J. Bostock, Hesperian Press.

Neville, Simon J. 2007, Perth and Fremantle: Past and Present, privately published, WA.

Many thanks to Diane Oldman for the arrival and departure dates, and other information.

Garry Gillard | New: 4 June, 2018 | Now: 29 February, 2024