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Richard Goldsmith Meares (1780-1862) was an early landholder and public official in the Swan River Colony in Western Australia. As a soldier, he served in the Peninsula War and at the Battle of Waterloo. He arrived on the Gilmore in December 1829 as one of Thomas Peel's colonists. Failing to make a go of it at Clarence, he went to Guildford, where he was much more successful.
Alexandra Hasluck, excerpt from her DuCane biography:
In York, where things did not seem to go right, Lieutenant DuCane had the Government Resident there perpetually looming over him, by reason of superior rank and age, in the person of Captain Richard Goldsmith Meares. Captain Meares was a Waterloo veteran and one of the earliest colonists. He had fought in the Peninsular War with the Royal Fusiliers, and had later transferred to the 2nd Life Guards. He had emigrated to Swan River in 1829, tried to settle at Clarence, a townsite which never came into being on the coast south of Fremantle, and then he had moved to Guildford, where he built a very pleasant home, “The Bower”, which became famous for its hospitality. In 1842 he had accepted the post of Resident Magistrate at York.
Captain Meares and Lieutenant DuCane had a lot in common, not least the fact that they both liked to paint. When in after years DuCane wrote an article on “Early Days in Westralia” for the Cornhill Magazine he must have got one paragraph in it directly from the lips of Captain Meares himself. Describing those early days, DuCane wrote:
"Among the military men who took part in this enterprise was one who sold his commission in the Life Guards, and among other possessions brought his carriage out with him. Too late he realised that it might be a long time before there would be any roads on which this vehicle could figure; so, as the story went, he turned it to the best account by building a chimney up against one door and used it as a dwellinghouse. The same gallant old officer was an accomplished draughtsman, and when in due course he built himself a house with walls of rammed earth, as the manner was, he found that they formed an excellent surface for pictorial purposes, and so adorned one of them with a large and striking representation of a charge of the Life Brigades at Waterloo, led by Lord Uxbridge—in which he had taken part; and on another he depicted the battle of Pinjarrah, in which the colonists, led by Governor Stirling, had engaged in a stand-up fight with the natives of the country— an important event in the history of the colony."
Ceremonious in manner, as were all those colonists of the old school, Captain Meares was nevertheless an Irishman and could tell a good story. It is hardly likely that anyone would build a chimney onto a travelling carriage and light a fire in it, nor is the fact mentioned anywhere else, but the anecdote went to illustrate to what straits for shelter the earliest settlers were reduced. That DuCane could remember this story forty years later indicates that Captain Meares had made a lasting impression.
Deacon, J.E. 1948, 'Captain Richard Goldsmith Meares and his times', Early Days, Volume 3, Part 10: 5-11.
Hasluck, Alexandra 1973, Royal Engineer: A Life of Sir Edmund DuCane, Angus & Robertson, Sydney: 41-43.
Garry Gillard | New: 6 August, 2015 | Now: 5 August, 2023