Freotopia > people > Charles Howe Fremantle (1800-1869)

ch fremantleCharles Howe Fremantle

Fremantle was a naval officer. He was sent by the government to claim the western third of Australia for the British Empire, which he did in May 1829 (before leaving in August). In consequence whereof James Stirling named the port after him. He returned only once, for a week in 1832.

As is generally known, Fremantle derived its name from Captain Charles H. Fremantle, of H.M.S. Challenger, which anchored off Garden Island on April 25, 1829, three years after Major Lockyer had founded the settlement at Albany. Captain Fremantle landed on Arthur’s Head, and on May 2 took formal possession in the name of His Majesty King George IV. The exact spot where he landed was indicated in a despatch to the Admiralty dated October 8, 1829, wherein he said that:
"The landing took place in a little bay close to the mouth of the river, to the southward of it, being the only landing in that neighbourhood where boats could go with security, the bar at the entrance of the river generally being impassable."
No doubt that little bay would have been the indentation in the shore between Arthur's Head and the little promontory (Anglesea Point) from which the Long jetty was later constructed. The landing would have been made somewhere near the western end where later a tunnel was made through the rocky head, and it was there that the first jetty was situated. Hitchcock: 9-10.

On 2 May 1829 Captain Charles H. Fremantle hoisted the Union Jack on the south head of the Swan River. On that day, to quote his own report to the Admiralty, ‘formal possession was taken of the whole of the west coast of New Holland in the name of His Britannic Majesty’. Captain Fremantle had been sent for that express purpose in H.M.S. Challenger, a unit of the Indian squadron under the command of Commodore Schomberg. (Ewers, page 1, opening paragraph)

The bay where Fremantle landed was called Manjaree by the Whadjuk. After the ship the Marquis of Anglesea was wrecked there 23 August 1829, one of the points (the one at Arthur Head) was called Point Marquis and the other (where the Long Jetty was, at the beginning of what is now the Fishing Boat Harbour) was called Anglesea Point. At some point the bay began to be called Bathers Bay (or Beach). Stirling had named the townsite Fremantle (after the Captain, later Admiral) before September 1829 (Statham-Drew: 140), probably in August, when Fremantle departed. The place already had a name: Walyalup.

The port city is not the only place named for a member of the Fremantle family. The suburb Cottesloe was so named by Governor Broome in 1886 after Sir Thomas Fremantle, first Baron Cottesloe of Swanbourne, Bucks. Edmund Street is named for Sir Charles Fremantle's nephew Sir Edmund Robert Fremantle (1836-1929). The next street is Swanbourne Street, which is named for the Fremantle family estate.

References and Links

Amalfi, Carmelo, 'Boy Fremantle a war veteran at 11', Fremantle Herald, 15 March 2013.

Ewers, John K. 1971, The Western Gateway: A History of Fremantle, Fremantle City Council, with UWAP, rev. ed. [1st ed. 1948].

Fremantle, Charles Howe, Diary & Letters of Admiral Sir C.H. Fremantle, G.C.B., relating to the founding of the colony of Western Australia, 1829, edited by Lord Cottesloe.

Hitchcock, J.K. 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

O'Byrne, William Richard 1849, Entry in A Naval Biographical Dictionary.

Bio at Swanbourne History.

Nyungar Wardan Katitjin Bidi-Derbal Nara (People's Ocean Knowledge Trail of Cockburn Sound and Districts).

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Garry Gillard | New: 23 November, 2014 | Now: 5 October, 2023