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Frederick Waldeck

Frederick/Friedrich Waldeck (1807-95) was apparently of the family of the Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont, which had been a principality from 1712. He came to the Swan River Colony with his fiancée and fellow catechist, Fredericka Kniest, to work with Louis Giustiniani as missionaries to the Aboriginal people. The mission failed and Frederick worked as a tailor. He married Fredericka immediately after arrival and they had eleven children.

Norma King:
... the long-awaited missionary, the Reverend Louis Giustiniani D.D., an Italian [was] sent from England by the W.A. Missionary Society. With him was his German wife, and two German catechists Frederick Waldeck and Miss Fredericka Kniest. All these people had arrived to establish a mission for the Aborigines and "the more destitute of the settlers at Guildford" as quoted from the Perth Gazette July 2, 1836. ...
One of Giustiniani's catechists also came from a noble and ancient family - in this case a German one. Frederick Waldeck was a member of the Waldeck family whose head at that time was Prince George Frederick Henry of the principality of Waldeck. ...
Now what is Frederick Waldeck’s place in this family? It has been extremely difficult to discover anything specific about his German background. When his son Joshua asked him the reason he left Germany he answered evasively, “It has nothing to do with you but it is nothing to be ashamed of”, as his daughter told the author. However, he must have claimed ties with the titled Waldecks, as several of his descendants asserted that they were related to Princess Helen of Waldeck and Pyrmont. This claim was made at the time of her marriage to the youngest son of Queen Victoria, Prince Leopold, the Duke of Albany.
One story of his life in Germany was handed down from one of Frederick’s sons-in-law, Edward Gray. Frederick told him that while he was in his second year of medical studies in Berlin in about 1826 he and some companions were forced to flee to the free port of Bremen to escape incarceration for refusing to join the army. Berlin was then the capital of Prussia, and at that time all males of 20 years of age and over had to serve two years in the army. Frederick’s religious beliefs were most likely the reason for his objection to military service and his family, with its tradition of brave military leaders, would probably have disowned him. This is suggested by the fact that from the time he prematurely discontinued his medical training he was thrown on his own resources.
After reaching Bremen he met the Kniest family who were devout Protestants. Mr. Kniest was a tailor and taught his trade to Frederick. He also had a daughter called Fredericka to whom Frederick later became engaged. In the meantime he travelled between Bremen and London on business for Mr Kniest, and on May 6,1833, arrived in London, this time to stay and to establish himself as a tailor. Waldeck remained in this business for only two years and was then chosen to be one of Dr Giustiniani’s catechists. ... King 1980: 2-5.

It is not known which Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont, if any, was the father of 'our' Frederick, who was born 1807. Just from dates, it could have been Frederick Karl August, who was born 1743.
Frederick (1743-1812) was Prince of Waldeck (but not Pyrmont) 1763-1812, until his death, when his brother Georg assumed control of the principality.
Georg I (1747-1813), Frederick's brother, Prince of Pyrmont, was also Prince of Waldeck 1812-13.
Georg II (1789-1845) was Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont 1813-45.
Georg Victor (1831-1893) was Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont 1845-1893.
Frederick (1865-1946) was the last Prince of Waldeck and Pyrmont, 1893-13 November 1918.

Mrs H. K. Maley & Mrs M. Farrelly 1928:
One of the oldest settlers of Greenough was Mr. F. W. Waldeck, who was born on February 3, 1807, and came out as a missionary with the Rev. Dr. Giustiniani, who was instructed to organise a mission among natives. They arrived here in 1834; the Rev. Dr. Giustiniani was recalled and Mr. Waldeck set up business in Perth where he remained for twenty-four years and was a zealous worker in the cause of Methodism. In 1859 he went to Greenough to commence farming, which occupation he followed till his death in 1895. Although not a qualified medical practitioner, he rendered favourable assistance to settlers far and near and endeared himself to all with whom he came in touch. Mrs. Waldeck survived her husband by ten years. They left 135 descendants. Their marriage was the first celebrated in Guildford. Early Days, vol. 1, part 2: 34-37.

James H. Cain, Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography:
WALDECK, FREDERICK (b. Germany, 1807; d. Greenough, WA, 14 Sept 1895). Missionary to Aborigines.
Little precisely is known about the ancestry of Frederick Waldeck except that he came from the German nobility. He served his apprenticeship to tailoring in Bremen and later, in May 1833 migrated to London where he set up a tailoring business. In Sept 1835 the Western Australian Missionary Society was chartered in London to evangelise the Aborigines. The Society was both interdenominational and international. Irish, Scottish and English churches pledged support through local branches and a group of Christians from Stuttgart in Germany also contributed. The society was set up along the lines of the world famous Moravian Missions. The Rev Louis Giustiniani DD an Italian, accompanied by his German wife and two German catechists, Frederick Waldeck and Fredericka Kniest were sent to the Swan River Colony to begin work among the Aborigines. They arrived at Fremantle 26 June 1836 on Addingham. They set up their mission in Guildford almost at once and began work among the Aborigines. A few weeks after arriving in the colony Frederick married Miss Kniest. The mission did not progress as well as expected. Within a year Frederick Waldeck and his wife left Guildford and set up a tailoring business in Perth.
Frederick was naturalised in 1841, and he immediately acquired a lot in Hay Street where he built his home and shop. In Sept 1840 the Wesleyan Methodists opened a Native School in Perth, later transferred to Wanneroo in 1844 where a 60 acre parcel of land known as Alder Lake Farm had been secured. The land proved unsuitable for serious farming. In Oct 1848 Waldeck was appointed superintendent. At this time the Waldecks had six children, a seventh and possibly eighth were born while they were at the Wanneroo farm. Despite his flourishing business and family, Frederick Waldeck took on the position because he saw that the need for a superintendent was great. The Wesleyan Society paid Waldeck a salary of £90 for the first year and free farm milk and vegetables. John Smithies (q.v.) described the Waldeck couple as 'deeply pious ... with a tender and increasing love for the natives' cause ... He has a good knowledge of farming and general usefulness'. Later he was to write to London that Waldeck was 'not all the help he wanted for school operations but he consciously does his duty and in a spiritual sense is a blessing'.
With the Waldecks in charge of the farm the native children's schooling recommenced. They also held regular morning and evening Bible readings as well as conducting singing and prayers. Twenty natives were then living on the farm. The farm was still not supporting itself as had been hoped. At the end of their third year the Waldecks left the farm and returned to Perth. For over 20 years Frederick Waldeck and his family were actively associated with the Wesleyans in Perth. He was a trustee of Wesley Church, a member of the choir and for many years was the superintendent of the Sunday School.
Frederick took up 30 acres in Greenough (480 km N of Perth) in 1857. He built a solid homestead which he named Mt Pleasant and by the turn of the century the Mt Pleasant holding consisted of 900 acres. The Waldecks were one of the pioneering families in the district and he was sometimes referred to as 'the father of us all'. The Waldecks quickly arranged for Methodist services to begin and soon a church was built. By 1863 of the 650 white settlers in the Greenough Northampton districts 468 of them claimed to be Methodists. Mt Pleasant homestead was a church, doctor's surgery, courthouse, post office and tailor's shop. Most of the children were married from Mt Pleasant.
Frederick and Fredericka Waldeck survived 5 of their 6 sons. An obituary in the West Australian on 16 Sept 1895 included the following: 'By his death Greenough loses one of the most respected of its settlers, and one whose name was a household word for a life of benevolence ... many owe their lives to the active Christianity of this good, old man. He possessed no small skill in medicine and surgery ... and when Greenough was not supplied with a medical practitioner, without fee or reward, (he attended many and was often called) "good old Doctor Waldeck".'
Ronald Turner, Foundations Not Made With Hands (Perth, 1984)
Norman King, The Waldeck Story (Fremantle, 1980);
Thomas Farmer, Extract from the Journal of Thomas Farmer (Wesley Church Archives)
Website: Australian Dictionary of Evangelical Biography.

WALDECK, Frederick, b. 3.11.1807 (Germany), d. 14.9.1895 (Greenough), arr. 26.6.1836 per Addingham with fiancee, m. 14.8.1836 (Perth) Fredericka W.L. KNIEST b. 17.6.1812 d. 9.8.1905, dtr. of Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig & Lucia Catharina (nee Schierstein). Chd. Sara Catherine b. 1837 d. 1928, William Frederick b. 1839 d. 1884, Elizabeth Kniest b. 1841 d. 1917, Henry Fletcher b. 1843 d. 1883, Robert Newton b. 1844 d. 1893, Hannah Wesley b. 1846 d. 1915, Joshua Watts b. 1848 (Wanneroo) d. 1920, Mary b. 1850 (Perth) d. 1926, John b. 1852 d. 1852, Joseph b. 1853 d. 1856, Rodda Lowe b. 1855 d. 1933. Catechist, WA Missionary Soc. & with Dr Guistiniani undertook to evangelise Aborigines. Supported himself in a tailoring business in Perth 1836-47. Was Wesleyan trustee & Sunday School Supt. During 1847-1850 manager of Wanneroo Native Mission. To Perth 1850-1859 & bt. Town Lots in 1854. Leased his business & moved to Greenough where he bt. 60 acres initially. Member of local Bd. of Educ. 1863 & postmaster 1866-Qualified as a juror in 1860 with £150 personal estate. Employed 25 T/L men at Perth & Greenough on occasions 1851-1875.

The County of Waldeck (later the Principality of Waldeck and Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont) was a state of the Holy Roman Empire and its successors from the late 12th century until 1929. In 1349 the county gained Imperial immediacy and in 1712 was raised to the rank of Principality. After the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 it was a constituent state of its successors: the Confederation of the Rhine, the German Confederation, the North German Confederation, the German Empire and, until 1929, the Weimar Republic. It comprised territories in present-day Hesse and Lower Saxony (Germany).

Waldeck Castle, Hesse. This is what Frederick may have given up to come to 'save' the Aborigines.

Alexandra Ludewig 2016:
The lay-preacher and tailor Fredrick Waldeck and his future wife, Fredericka Wilhelmina Louise Kniest, were among the first Germans to settle permanently in Western Australia. They arrived aboard the Addingham on 26 June 1836, together with the Italian clergyman, the Reverend Dr Louis Giustiniani and his German Protestant wife Maria, with the aim of setting up a Moravian-style mission. Shortly after their arrival in the then struggling Swan River Colony, Waldeck married Fredericka and joined the Reverend in setting up the ill-fated Swan River Mission in Guildford, working among the local Whadjuk Noongars. Soon after, they set up a thriving tailoring business in Perth, advertising for an apprentice in 1838 and expanding rapidly thereafter. In addition to working as a tailor and as the supervisor of the Methodist Sunday School established in 1840, Waldeck assumed the role of superintendent of a missionary farm in Wanneroo near Lake Goollelal. This was later referred to as “The Natives' Experimental Farm” and was by all accounts regarded as a disaster, with many of the children dying of common contagious illnesses, which had been unwittingly introduced by European settlers, and were no doubt exacerbated by the close confines of the school accommodation. Fredrick Waldeck was also in charge of tending to the childrens' schooling and Bible reading.
The application for naturalisation in which Waldeck pleads his case was received by the Colonial Secretary in October 1839:
I have become a married man since I entered the Colony and have now two children and as it is my intention to spend the remainder of my days under this Government, I am truly anxious to secure for myself and my children the privileges and advantages which belong to the country of my adoption.
In 1841 Waldeck was granted naturalisation (only the second foreigner in Western Australia after Preiss, who had left the colony by then) and was able to establish himself with landholdings. He acquired land in Hay Street to build a home and shop and later purchased further properties, including farmland.
Venturing into farming in the late 1850s, the Waldeck family moved to Greenough, 480 km north of Perth, naming their homestead “Mt Pleasant”. Here they grew wheat, experimented with cotton, planted an orchard, grew vegetables, kept poultry and raised cows for dairy produce and sheep for wool and meat. Even with a busy farm to run, Fredrick Waldeck continued tailoring and teaching Sunday school. Methodist services were offered and a church was built on the property.
By 1863 of the 650 white settlers in the Greenough Northampton districts 468 of them claimed to be Methodists. Mt Pleasant homestead was a church, doctor’s surgery, courthouse, post office and tailor’s shop.
Although Fredrick and Fredericka Waldeck had eleven children, only five survived their parents, who both lived to a great age. Nevertheless, the extended Waldeck family now includes several thousand descendants in Western Australia, and is to this day associated with Waldecks Garden Centres, along with Waldeck Wines (now Pinelli Estate Wines) and Waldeck Road, both of which are in Caversham. There are also Waldeck East roads in Bindoon and Wannamal and Waldeck streets in Dongara and Geraldton.
Fredrick Waldeck and his wife were both highly respected figures in the community, and he was also known around the Greenough area as “Doctor” Waldeck, possessing medical skills which enabled him to treat a wide range of illnesses and injuries. Few outside the family, though, knew that these skills were linked to the fact that he had come from a noble background: the principality of Waldeck in Hesse. It is thought that Fredrick had completed two years of medical studies in Berlin when, in around 1826, he came under pressure to join the military, which was compulsory for males aged over twenty living in Prussia at the time. This conflicted with his strong religious beliefs, and Waldeck fled to the free port city of Bremen. Probably disowned by his own family at this point, he trained as a tailor with the head of the Kniest family, Fredericka’s father, after meeting the devoutly religious Protestant family. He travelled between Bremen and London, doing business for his future father-in-law, and in 1833 moved to the English capital, setting up shop as a tailor for two years before he and Fredericka and the Giustinianis sailed for the Swan River Colony. (Alexandra Ludewig 2016, Born German, Re-born in Western Australia: Selected Stories 1841-2016: 23-25.)

Frederick's son Joshua (1848-1920, m. Catherine Pearson 1860) had a daughter called Dora Victoria (1888-1957, m. Orey Maughold Goldsmith [1885-1957] 1912 at Greenough). Dora died at Katanning and was buried at Wagin. Orey Goldsmith's family were from the Isle of Man. He died at Williams and was also buried at Wagin. One of their daughters, Glory Isabel, married Oswald Dickson, the father of my informant, Kevin.

References and Links


King, Norma 1980, The Waldeck Story, Gannet Press, Fremantle.

Ludewig, Alexandra 2016, Born German, Re-born in Western Australia: Selected Stories 1841-2016, UWAP Publishing.

Maley, Mrs H. K. & Mrs M. Farrelly 1928, 'The Greenough district', Early Days, vol. 1, part 2: 34-37.

Wikipedia entry for the Principality of Waldeck and Pyrmont.

Brady family tree, one page of which shows all of the children of Frederick/a Waldeck.

Facebook page of Descendants of the Waldeck Family.

Garry Gillard | New: 13 November, 2022 | Now: 15 November, 2022