SOME EARLY MILITARY DEATHS IN MELBOURNE

Private William KIRBY of H.M. 4th Regiment of Foot (The King's Own Regiment) drowned while swimming across the River Yarra on the evening of 7 April 1837. His body was recovered on 11 April 1837 and he was buried on 12 April 1837. His name appears in the registers of the Anglican Church at Melbourne. Historical Records of Victoria (Vol. 1, p.308) gives the following account by George Timms of the "Stirlingshire" from the Melbourne Court Register of 12-13 April 1837: "I am in the survey party of Mr. Darke. On the evening of the seventh instant I was on the banks of the Yarra when a soldier of the 4th Regiment named Kirby swam across from the town to the opposite side. He then walked a little way further up and jumped into the river again just above the falls. After he jumped in he called some dogs that had crossed over with him to follow him. He swam to the middle of the river and then stopped and appeared as if he would go no further. He remained a short time this way and then sank and did not rise again. Two boats were put off to try and recover him and a soldier dived repeatedly but could not find him. He was dressed when he went into the water, partly in soldier's uniform. He had been in the habit of swimming across in this way. I have seen the body which was taken from the river yesterday and I know it to be that of Kirby." A hunting horn with scrimshaw containing the name 'William Kerby - IVth - King's Own Regimt' and other decoration was sold at a Melbourne auction in August 2013 for $6,800 by Noble Numismatics Pty. Ltd.

[Kirby Scrimshaw 1]
[Kirby Scrimshaw 2]

Private William McCORMICK of H.M. 28th Regiment of Foot (The North Gloucestershire Regiment) was found dead on the morning of 11 August 1838. Historical Records of Victoria (Vol. 1, p.310) gives the following account by Private Patrick Nadine of the 80th Regiment of Foot from the Melbourne Court Register of 14 August 1838: "I accompanied a detachment of the 28th Regiment up the country lately. On the night of the tenth and morning of the eleventh instant Private Will McCormick was on duty. I slept in the same tent with him. About five o'clock in the morning the sentry called him to relieve him on his post, but it was found he was insensible. He was taken to the fire and he was rubbed but to no effect. I think he was dead when he was first discovered. I heard no complaint from him during the night or the least noise. When he was first seen he was lying on his left side." Dr. Patrick Cussen, Colonial Assistant Surgeon, stated: "I have examined the body of Private William McCormick, 28th Regiment and I have no doubt whatsoever from appearances that he died of apoplexy." His burial on 17 August 1838 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne. He was probably the person referred to by Garryowen in the following: "In 1839 the barracks, consisting of a long slab building on the 'Government Block,' between West Bourke and Collins Streets, were occupied by the Grenadier Company of the 28th Regiment, who all wore bearskin hats, branded with the regimental number on the front and back. This distinction was given them to commemorate a deed of valour displayed when they landed at Aboukir Bay, in 1801, under General Sir Ralph Abrecrombie. They were encountered by a French Infantry Regiment, which, at the point of the bayonet, they drove up the sand hills near the landing place, and, while thus engaged, were suddenly attacked in the rear by another French regiment; but they were equal to the occasion, for while the front rank defeated their antagonists, the rear rank faced about and served their opponents in a similar manner, an event unique in the annals of war, and worthy of being held in remembrance. One of their number died while in Melbourne, and the funeral procession, preceded by a fifer and drummer, playing 'Adeste Fideles,' passed down Collins and along Queen Streets, to the cemetery."

Eleanor NASH, daughter of Private Thomas Nash of H.M. 80th Regiment of Foot (The Staffordshire Volunteers) and his wife Elizabeth died in October 1838. Her burial is recorded in the registers of the Anglican Church at Melbourne.

Margaret THOMPSON. Born on 20 February 1838 and baptised on 29 March 1838 by Rev. James Forbes of the Presbyterian Church, the daughter of William Thompson, a Private in H.M. 80th Regiment of Foot (The Staffordshire Volunteers) and his wife Elizabeth. She died in October 1838 and was buried by the Rev. James Forbes of the Scots Presbyterian Church, Melbourne.

Mrs. Elizabeth McARTHUR, widow of Army Captain Donald McArthur, died on 14 June 1840. Her burial is recorded in the registers of the Scots Presbyterian Church, Melbourne.

Henry David ERSKINE, son of Lt. James Augustus Erskine, Deputy Assistant Commisary General, died on 14 December 1841. His burial on 15 December 1841 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne.

Frederick HARRISON, son of Private John Harrison of H.M. 80th Regiment of Foot, died on 3 January 1842. His burial on 4 January 1842 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne.

Captain Philip Grove BEERS, of H.M. 80th Regiment of Foot, died on 28 February 1842, aged 40 years. The "Port Phillip Gazette" of 2 March 1842 reported: "DEATH OF CAPTAIN BEERS - At five o'clock on Monday morning Captain Beers was seized with an apoplectic fit. Drs. Wilmot and Cussen were immediately called in, and attended at his bedside until ten, when he passed away in a state of insensibility. Captain Beers had only lately arrived with a detachment of the 80th Regiment, as military commandant at Port Phillip. The deceased had been subject to fits of epilepsy, none of which, however, seemed to indicate so serious a termination. He was a married man, and has died at an early age." His burial on 2 March 1842 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne. His widow, Matilda, died on 9 May 1842 at sea off the south coast of New Zealand whilst en route to England. Captain Beers was the son of William Beers, Esq., J.P., of Ballyward Lodge, County Down, Ireland and Jane Leslie, daughter of the Venerable Charles Leslie, Archdeacon of Raphoe. He became an Ensign on 11 July 1826, a Lieutenant on 15 June 1830, and Captain on 29 May 1840. While a Lieutenant in H.M. 3rd Regiment of Foot (or Buffs), he married on 16 February 1832 in the Cathedral in Calcutta, Bengal, India to Matilda Hodgkinson of Calcutta, India. He and his wife arrived at Sydney New South Wales on the "Prince George" in February 1841 from England.

Thomas MINTON, former Captain in H.M. 6th (Royal 1st Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, died on 5 July 1842. The "Launceston Advertiser" of 16 June 1842 had reported: "ACCIDENT - We regret to announce that a melancholy accident occurred to Captain Minton, a few days since, at his station in the vicinity of Western Port. The gallant Captain was superintending the falling of a tree, and having incautiously remained too long within reach of the falling trunk he was struck on the neck and the small of the back, by one of the branches, as he was attempting to retreat, and so seriously injured that his life is considered in danger." His burial on 9 July 1842 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne. He had arrived at Melbourne on 22 January 1840 on the "Madras" from England and, according to Billis and Kenyon held the 'Borran Borron' pastoral run from 1840 to 1842. His brother Christopher Minton and sister (or wife) Jane Minton were also at Port Phillip. On 21 August 1871 the Melbourne "Argus" contained a letter from a Richard McLean reporting from Gulgong that a man claiming to be the son of this Captain Thomas Minton had been found stranded on the Mills Group of Islands and taken to the Island of Papua. Here, Minton went ashore with a large group of natives who later attacked and probably killed him. McLean was lucky to escape alive to tell the story but was unsuccessful in rescuing Minton or retrieving his body.

Ellen HARRISON, daughter of Private John Harrison of H.M. 80th Regiment, died on 20 August 1843. Her burial on 21 August 1843 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne.

Susan KANE, daughter of the late Colonel Kane, died 10 January 1844, aged 37 years. Her burial on 11 January 1844 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne.

Edward Grey KENNY, infant son of Colonel Eyre Evans Kenny, formerly of the 80th Regiment of Foot and his wife Frances Anne, died on 27 March 1844 at Camp Hill, on the Moonee Ponds, near Melbourne. His burial on 28 March 1844 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne. Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Kenny, his wife and children, had arrived at Port Phillip on 13 December 1842 per "Glenswilly" from England.

[A Colour Sergeant of the 99th Regiment]

A COLOUR SERGEANT OF THE 99th REGIMENT
(Source: www.delcampe.net)

Colour Sergeant John McCULLA (or McCULLOCH), of H.M. 99th Regiment of Foot (The Lanarkshire Regiment) died on 11 March 1845, aged 36 years. Garryowen states that he went: "out duck-shooting in the swamp, near Batman's Hill, and catching cold, it settled on his lungs, and carried him off in a few hours" and also that he was "seized with sudden illness, and died in a few hours, presenting the indications generally attendant upon Asiatic cholera. His body turned blue, and when this got to be known, there was great alarm through the town, and rumour speedily circulated the astounding intelligence that several persons were attacked with similar symptoms, which was subsequently ascertained to be only a scare. Notwithstanding the temporary panic, McCulla was interred in the (now) old burial ground with military honours, and a firing party of twenty placated his 'manes' with the orthodox farewell volley." His burial on 13 March 1845 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne.

Mrs. Jane McCULLA (or McCULLOCH), widow of the above, died 10 September 1845, aged 28 years. Her burial, on 11 September 1845 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne.

Private Thomas ORRIDGE of H.M. 11th Regiment of Foot (The North Devonshire Regiment) died on 8 October 1846 aged 24 years. His burial on 10 October 1846 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne

Gertrude Elizabeth KENNY, infant daughter of Colonel Eyre Evan Kenny, formerly of the 80th Regiment of Foot and his wife Frances Anne, died on 10 March 1847 at Camp Hill, on the Moonee Ponds, near Melbourne, aged 1 3/4 years. She was born on 1 May 1845 and baptised on 22 May 1845 at St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne. Her burial on 11 March 1847 is recorded in the registers of St. James Anglican Church, Melbourne.

Ellen KENNY, infant daughter of Colonel Eyre Evan Kenny, formerly of the 80th Regiment of Foot and his wife Frances Anne, died on 10 October 1847 at Collingwood.

Margaret CHANTER, daughter of William Chanter, soldier in H.M. 11th Regiment of Foot stationed at the Melbourne Barracks, died on 7 March 1850. Her burial on 8 March 1850 is recorded in the registers of St. Peter's Anglican Church, Melbourne.

( Contributed by Alexander Romanov-Hughes - PPPG Member No. 52 )


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