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William Beresford

J.K. Hitchcock:
Another compulsory passenger by the Edwin Fox who achieved something more than local notoriety, was the Rev. William Beresford, one time Anglican Dean of Cork. He was an uncle of the late Lord Charles Beresford, and being convicted of forging the endorsement to a bill of exchange, was sentenced to transportation for life. When Lord Charles visited Fremantle in 1869, as a midshipman under H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh, in H.M.S. Galatea, he was not too proud to look up his erring relative, and afford him financial assistance. How the young midshipman's kindness to the old ex-cleric was requitted will be known to those who have read Lord Charles' book of reminiscences. Released on ticket-of-leave Beresford was for some years editor of the Fremantle Herald, a position for which his ripe scholarship and personal prediticions [predilections?] eminently fitted him. He was well posted up in European and colonial politics, and as a writer on general topics he was unsurpassed. Being so thoroughly equipped for the journalistic arena it is not surprising that his contributions to the Press met with much acceptance. As editor of the Herald he always advocated a progressive policy, and strenuously urged the need of harbour works in Fremantle, the construction of railways, and the introduction of responsible government. In journalism the ex-clergyman found surcease from remembrance of the past. His had been a blighted career, but with all his failings he laboured incessantly to advance the best interests of the colony, and of Fremantle in particular. Unfortunately his declining years were spent in penury and want, and as he advanced in age his cynicism became quite pronounced. He regarded the world with bitterness, and, breaking away from all conventionalities, he ended his days a confirmed misanthrope, alienated from his few remaining friends who, in other circumstances, would gladly have helped him in his extremity. He lived to a very old age, and died in the Old Men's Home in 1881. As the end approached, remorse for a misspent life must have been his portion:
For of all sad words of tongue and pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"
Alas! how different it might have been in this case.

F. I. Bray:
Here and there among the prisoners there were some most interesting personalities, and even though one must frown on their misdeeds, they exhibited at times qualities which must, by their very audacity, have caused George Clifton many a quiet chuckle when he thought of them, or met them in the course of his duties. In particular, the names of three men stand out. Their names and misdeeds have been published by various historians of Western Australia. Kimberley among others. Two notable men arrived by the Edwin Fox (or Edward Fox) on November 20, 1858. They were the Honourable the Reverend Beresford, and a man named Redpath. Beresford, a man of noble lineage, pursued a quiet and not unpopular career in Western Australia. After treading the degradations of the convict system he became a journalist, and also a tutor to a publican’s family at York. With the remittance he was understood to receive from his aristocratic relations he was liberal, and many were the hungry natives who obtained plenty from his simple charity. For some years he was a constant contributor to a Fremantle newspaper, but it is regrettable to say that the last years of this once promising but now sullied career were spent as an enfeebled, battered old man in an invalid depot.

References and Links

Bolton, Professor G. C. 1984, 'The strange career of William Beresford', Early Days, vol. 9, part 2: 5-16.

Bray, F. I. 1936, 'George Clifton, 1829-1913', Early Days, Vol. 2, Part 20: 1-25.

Hitchcock, J.K. 1921d, 'Some notable convicts', Fremantle Times, Friday 18 February 1921: 2.


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