William and Henry Dumaresq

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William and Henry Dumaresq


William John Dumaresq

It might be thought that brothers who owned properties in Australia called St Aubins and St Heliers would have strong connections with Jersey. They were William and Henry Dumaresq, both distinguished Army officers in the early years of the 19th century. They were not born in Jersey, but their father was, and many generations of their ancestors before him

News that a property called St Aubins in New South Wales was for sale attracted the interest of Jerripedia user Sandra Hamel, who grew up in St Aubin, Jersey, and now lives in Australia. The sale announcement did not mention the property's history, but she quickly established that it was first owned by Captain William Dumaresq, and that his brother Henry owned a nearby property he called St Helier.

She contacted us with this information and some further research established that the brothers were both former Army officers, who emigrated to Australia. They were not born in Jersey, but their father John, who was also a career soldier, was.

He was Lieut-Colonel John Dumaresq, son of another John, and Rachel Bandinel, who moved to England in the 1780s and married Ann Jones in Chelsea in 1789. They had six children, including Henry, who also became a Lieut-Colonel, and William John and Edward, who were both Captains.

All three brothers served during the Peninsular War, and Henry was at the Battle of Waterloo. Edward, the youngest, also emigrated, being the last of the three to die, in Tasmania, in 1906.

Australian Dictionary of Biography

Henry and William merit a substantial article in the Australian Dictionary of Biography:

"Henry Dumaresq (1792-1838), and William John Dumaresq (1793-1868), were sons of Colonel John Dumaresq of Bushel Hall, Shropshire, England, and his wife Anne, née Jones. Both went to the Royal Military College, Great Marlow, and served during the Peninsular war and in Canada, where William, a captain in the Royal Staff Corps, was engaged in the construction of the Ottawa canal.
"Henry, who served with the 9th Regiment (Lieut-Colonel, 1818) was severely wounded at Waterloo, his gallantry being recorded by Sir Walter Scott in 'Paul's Letters to His Kinsfolk (1816).
"While on service in Mauritius in 1818-25 he became military secretary to General Sir Ralph Darling, who married his sister Eliza. When Darling accepted office as governor of New South Wales, Henry was invited to become his private secretary and arrived in the Phillip Dundas in October 1825 to prepare accommodation for the governor's party. Edward Dumaresq accompanied Darling as far as Van Diemen's Land and William came with him to Sydney.
"Darling at once appointed Henry as clerk to the Executive Council. William received provisional appointment as civil engineer, inspector of roads and bridges, and was later recommended by Darling as deputy surveyor general. For a short time he was acting colonial treasurer, in anticipation of Henry's appointment to this office, but none of his appointments was confirmed by the British government.
A map of the area in which the Dumaresq brothers settled

Nepotism allegations

"Accusations of nepotism made by Sir Francis Forbes and by the editors of the Australian and the Monitor were followed by Sir George Murray's dispatch warning Darling against the appointment to public office of 'any relative or near connection'. In 1829 William retired from public life and after Darling's recall in 1831 Henry served as private secretary to the acting governor, Patrick Lindesay, until Governor Sir Richard Bourke's arrival, when he too retired to the country.
"The Dumaresq brothers were subjected to constant newspaper attacks during Darling's term of office. William's part in the Sudds-Thomson affair and his work on the north road which led to his brother's estate received much unjust comment. He was accorded less publicity, but more enduring praise, for his services on the Land Board, on the committee of the Female Factory and as the sponsor of John Busby's water supply scheme. A libellous attack in the Australian' on 17 March 1827, 'How-e to live by plunder', resulted in a duel between Henry Dumaresq and Robert Wardell. After three shots were fired on each side without effect Wardell's apology was accepted.
"In June 1827 Henry returned to England, where he married in 1828 Elizabeth Sophia, elder daughter of Augustus Butler-Denvers and his second wife Eliza Bizarre, née Sturt, and half-sister of George, later the fifth earl of Lanesborough. In the same year Mrs Dumaresq's cousin, Charles Sturt, became Darling's military secretary. Returning with his wife in 1829, Henry brought to New South Wales Thomas and Martha Petty as his personal servants. Petty later became the proprietor of the famous hotel in Sydney which was known for a century simply as Petty's.

William's marriage

"In Sydney on 15 October 1830 William married Christiana Susan, second daughter of the colonial secretary, Alexander McLeay.
"St Heliers, Henry's estate near Muswellbrook, and William's St Aubins, near Scone, named after the home of their forbears in Jersey, were extended by grant and purchase until each amounted to approximately 13,000 acres (5261 ha). Their large New England stock runs were Saumarez and Tilbuster. 'One of the best-regulated estates in the colony is that of Colonel Dumaresq', wrote John Dunmore Lang 'the law on his estate is the law of kindness, and incitement to industry and good conduct are rewards, not punishments. The convict labourers reside in whitewashed cottages, each having a little garden in front. Prizes are awarded to those who keep their cottages in the best order … The result of such a system is just what might be expected; the men are sober, industrious and contented'.
"James Backhouse added further praise, pointing out the advantages of Dumaresq's system of 'classifying the single men and placing the married men with their wives and families', while both he and Charlotte Anley also commended the St Aubins establishment. Edward John Eyre, who visited St Heliers in 1833, found it 'the best-ordered, best-managed station on the Hunter', and from its owner 'experienced unvarying and genuine kindness'.
"Henry was appointed commissioner of the Australian Agricultural Company in 1833 and next year moved to Port Stephens. He maintained excellent discipline, supported the work of the chaplain, William Cowper, and used his influence to provide suitable settlers and stock for his district. He died at Tahlee House, Port Stephens, on 5 March 1838, as a result of his war injury, and was buried at St Heliers. His widow returned to England with her children a few years later.


"After 1840 William lived mainly at Tivoli, Rose Bay, but continued his association with the Scone district. He was largely responsible for the erection in Scone of St Luke's Church of England, was a foundation member of church and hospital committees, gave the land on which the first Scone Hospital was built and was a member of the bench of magistrates and of the Scone District Council. He represented the districts of Hunter, Brisbane and Bligh in the Legislative Council in 1843-48, Phillip, Brisbane and Bligh in 1851-56, was again re-elected in 1856, but resigned, before taking his seat, in favour of his friend Joseph Docker.
"During the next ten years almost his only public interest was in church activities and, after his wife's death at Tivoli on 2 May 1866, he moved to Queensland. He died on 9 November 1868 at Cleveland, the home of his daughter Susan, wife of the Honourable Louis Hope, a brother of the fifth earl of Hopetoun. His only surviving son, William Alexander Dumaresq of Furracabad, Glen Innes, married in 1870 Helen Gladstone, a sister of Lady Belmore, and a grandson, Rear Admiral John Saumarez Dumaresq, commanded the Australian Squadron in 1919-22, the first Australian-born officer to do so.
"Sir Francis Forbes's comment, that the Dumaresqs were 'obviously expectants of what may first fall', was thoroughly justified, for each hoped to supplement his military allowance by colonial appointments and by land grants. William's claim to a Hyde Park allotment was based, according to Governor Bourke, solely 'on the gratuitous favour of my Predecessor'. Although they were recognized as Darling's 'unofficial and unauthorized advisers', this did not, despite Sir George Murray's warning, 'infallibly prevent the zealous co-operation of the members of the Council', most of whom were their friends.
"Henry's quick temper and great ambition made him many enemies, but his warm humanity brought him many friends. His brilliant wit was tempered with good humour and his 'urge for great possessions' with common sense. His powerful influence in the colony was exercised in large measure to the public good. William scarcely emerged as a personality in his own right until after his brother's death. 'A mental Lazarus and a physical Herod' said 'The Hermit' in the Chronicle; 'a most excellent fellow, without anything like humbug about him', was the comment of John Street in a letter to Thomas Henty; his brother Henry's remark, in a letter to their mother, was, simply, 'he sometimes says more than he means'."
William Dumaresq's imposing grave


When William died the Sydney Mail published a lengthy obituary on 21 November 1868, which quoted extensively from references to the Dumaresq family in Payne's Armorial of Jersey. The obituary was as much about Henry, who had died 22 years earlier, as it was William.

"Among the obituary notices which appeared in our last issue, was one recording the death of a very old and much respected colonist, William John Dumaresq, of Tivoli, Rose Bay, and of St Aubins, near Scone. His decease took place on 9 November 1868, at Cleveland, Moreton Bay, the residence of his son-in-law, the Hon Louis Hope.
"Captain Dumaresq was born on 26 February 1793, so that he had reached the ripe age of 76 years. He was the son of the late Lieut-Colonel John Dumaresq, and brother of Lieut-Colonel Henry Dumaresq, who died in this colony (New South Wales), in 1835. Of the brilliant military services of his brother, the following record will be found:
"He joined the 9th Regiment from the Royal Military College at the age of sixteen, and as detailed in the official record of his services at the Horse Guards, served in eight campaigns, of which six were in the Peninsula and one in Canada, and the last that of Waterloo.
"He was present in the thirteen battles for which medals were bestowed, besides many affairs of outposts, of advanced and of rear guards ; also at the sieges of Badajos and Burgos, and at the assaults of the Forts of Salamanca ; on the two former occasions he served with the engineers as a volunteer, and on the latter (again a volunteer), being the foremost person in the assault of that redoubt, he received from the officer in commend of the Victoria Convent the terms of his capitulation, which he delivered to the Duke of Wellington.
"He attained the rank of Lieut-Colonel after nine years' service, and was gazetted to that grade in June, 1817, for services in the field. He was employed on the Staff upwards of eighteen years, and out of 26 years service he was employed more than 22 abroad, and had been twice dangerously wounded.
"At the battle of Waterloo he was on the staff of Lieut-General Sir John Byng (afterwards Lord Strafford), and was shot through the lungs at Hougoumont; but being at the time charged with a message for the Duke, he, in spite of his wound, reached him, and delivered the despatch before he fell.
"Captain Dumaresq's sister, Elizabeth, was married to General Sir Ralph Darling, late Governor and Commander in-Chief of New South Wales. Intelligence of her death was received by the last mail from England, and only just in time to be communicated to her brother.


"The Armorial of Jersey contains the following passages, giving an account of the military and civil career of the subject of this memoir:
"William John Dumaresq, Esquire, late Captain Royal Staff Corps, is also an officer who has eminently served his country in both military and civil capacities. He joined the army from the Royal Military College at Great Marlow in June, 1809. In 1811 he proceeded to join the army in the Peninsula, and continued with it until the close of the war in 1814; principally employed as belonging to the Quarter-master-General's department in reconnaissances and in the charge of bridges.
"For his services he received the Peninsular medal with four clasps — Cuidad Rodrigo, Badajos, Nivelle, and Pyrenees. In 1815, he was employed with the British army in Belgium in reconnaissances and in the construction of rope bridges at Antwerp to provide for forward movement of the troops.
"When with the British army in Paris, he was entrusted by the Emperor of Austria to superintend the removal of the Venetian horses from the Place de Carrousel and the lion from the Invalides, and was presented with a gold snuff-box with cypher in brilliants on the occasion. In 1819 he proceeded to Canada, and was there engaged in the construction of the Ottawa Canal. In 1825 he removed with his company to New South Wales, and was placed in charge of the public works, roads, and bridges.
"He retired from the service in 1829 to settle in that colony, where he was elected to sit in its first Parliament."

Legislative Council

"Captain Dumaresq served in the first representative Legislative Council, as member for the district of the Hunter, from 1843 to 1848, and was again returned in October, 1851, as member for the counties of Philip, Brisbane, and Bligh, and continued to represent that electorate until the termination of the Parliament in December, 1855.

He was appointed to the first Legislative Council under the new constitution in 1856, but did not take his seat. In May, 1866, he was again offered a seat in the Legislative Council, but declined to accept it on account of his advanced age."

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