Due to the presence of French survey ships in the seas around the Colony of New South Wales, it was feared France may lay claim and settle the deserted West Coast of New Holland, motivating the British Government to consider establishing settlements there to protect its interests (1).
Major Edmund Lockyer was placed in command of the expedition by Governor Darling on 4 November, 1826, and given "secret instructions" in case of an encounter with the French. The instructions stipulated Lockyer was to land troops to signify to the French that " the whole of New Holland is subject to His Britannic Majesty's Government, and that orders have been given for the Establishment at King George's Sound of a Settlement for the reception of Criminals accordingly" (4).
The expedition left Sydney on 9 November, 1826 aboard HM brig Amity, the expedition consisting of a detachment of twenty troops from the 39th Regiment, twenty-three convicts to assist in establishing the settlement, and six months provisions (5). Major Lockyer had also been consigned various plants, seeds and animals that were only intended for breeding purposes until fully established in the settlement (6).
Arriving at King George's Sound on 25 December, 1826, Major Lockyer landed ashore early the next day and commenced a survey of the area (7).
Friendly encounters were made with aboriginal people on the 26th and early on the 27th (8). On the 27th Lockyer reported that four aboriginal men were brought ashore from a nearby island, at least one having deep scars on his neck from injuries possibly inflicted by a cutlass (9). The scarred man made complaints and showed his injuries to the other aboriginal people on shore, who then left the company of the landing party abruptly. Lockyer reported the scarred man was seen during an attack upon the watering party later that day, one convict being severely injured (10). Despite the attack Major Lockyer, Lieutenant Festing and Captain Wakefield fixed upon a site for the settlement (11).
On 30 December, 1826 the troops and prisoners were disembarked, setting up camp and landing stores, as well as gathering materials to set up temporary huts (12). Work upon the garden commenced on 2 January,1827, with the stores hut, troop barracks and animal pens being constructed in the following days (13).
A sealing gang which operated in the area arrived on 10 January, 1827 and were interviewed. The interrogation revealed the reason for the aboriginal peoples' anger that had resulted in the attack upon the convict, the sealers admitting to perpetrating crimes against the aboriginal population including kidnapping and murder (14). The sealers also confirmed the presence of a French ship in previous months (15).
As instructed by the Colonial Secretary, the Union Jack was raised and a "Feu de Joie" fired by the troops on 21 January, 1827, formally annexing the territory (16,17). Lockyer named the settlement "Frederickstown" in honour of His Royal Highness Frederick, the Duke of York and Albany (18,19).
Major Lockyer left for Sydney on 3 April, 1827 to report upon the settlement, handing over command to Captain Joseph Wakefield (20).
King George's Sound continued as a penal settlement for several years. As instructed by the Colonial Secretary, Lieutenant George Sleeman took over as Commandant on 6 December, 1828, followed by Captain Collett Barker on 3 December, 1829 (21,22).
A new Colony, envisaged from the outset as a free settlement, was founded at Swan River and proclaimed on 18 June, 1829 (23). Not only did the settlers of Swan River object to the presence of convicts within the Colony, but its Commander James Stirling was unhappy having a military outpost within Western Australia under the command of the Governor of New South Wales (24). In view of its proximity of the new settlement, Britain requested that the garrison at King George's Sound be placed under the control of the military at Swan River, pending the mobilisation of the 39th Regiment to India (25).
Due to "the inconvenience which has been experienced, and the Expense which has been occasioned in communicating with King George's Sound", Governor Darling used the opportunity to hasten Britain's order and withdrew the garrison with its convicts, transferring the settlement of King George's Sound to the Government of Western Australia (26,27). Captain Collett Barker and the detachment of the 39th Regiment withdrew in March 1831, King George's Sound henceforth being administered from Swan River (28).
(1) B. Fletcher, Colonial Australia Before 1850, West Melbourne, 1976, p 97.
(2) F. Watson (editor), Historical Records of Australia, Series I, Volume XII, Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1919, p 218.
(3) ibid., p 640-641.
(4) ibid., p 701.
(5) D. Pike (general editor), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume II, 1788-1850, I-Z, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1967, p 123.
(6) F. Watson (editor), Historical Records of Australia, Series III, Volume VI, Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1923, pp 453-457.
(7) ibid., p 463.
(9) ibid., pp 465-466.
(10) ibid., p 466.
(11) ibid., p 467.
(13) ibid., pp 467-468.
(14) ibid., pp 473-474.
(15) ibid., p 473.
(16) ibid., p 454.
(17) ibid., p 472.
(18) ibid., p 460.
(19) A. H. Chisholm (editor-in-chief), Australian Encyclopaedia, Volume I, "Abbott" to "Birch", Augus & Robertson Ltd, Sydney, 1958, p 153.
The only person to use the name of Frederickstown apparently was Lockyer. From 1 January, 1832 documentation referred to the settlement as Albany.
(20) F. Watson (editor), Historical Records of Australia, Series III, Volume VI, Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1923, p 506.
(21) ibid., p 524
(22) ibid., pp 547-548.
(23) A. H. Chisholm (editor-in-chief), Australian Encyclopaedia, Volume 9, "Trade Union" to "Zygophylla", Angus & Robertson Ltd, Sydney, 1958, p 254
(24) D. Pike (general editor), Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume I, 1788-1850, A-H, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 1966, p 57.
(25) F.Watson (editor), Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Volume XV, Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1922, pp 677-678.
(26) F. Watson (editor), Historical Records of Australia, Series 1, Volume XVI, Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, Sydney, 1923, pp 55-56.
(27) ibid., p262.
(28) A. H. Chisholm (editor-in-chief), Australian Encyclopaedia, Volume 1, "Abbott" to "Birch", Angus & Robertson Ltd, Sydney, 1958, p 153.