A plaque near the entrance to Old Government House Parramatta, now a popular tourist spot, marks the place where Lady Fitzroy died.
Friday, 1 March 1844. NSW Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy accompanied by his wife Mary, a son acting as private secretary plus entourage, embarked on the steam packet for Port Macquarie. A new Governor, he had been sworn in the previous August, FitzRoy was determined to visit every part of the colony.
At Port Macquarie, the Governor and his party were accommodated and entertained at “the
the attractive and well established home and headquarters of Archibald Clunes
Innes. Innes’ niece Annabella Innes, later Boswell, recorded the details of the
visit in her diary, including details of the dinner and ball staged in honour
of the FitzRoys. Lake Cottage
FitzRoy was a man of considerable charm and ability, able to navigate the complex web of colonial politics and society, if not always in ways that satisfied his superiors in
. His wife had equal, if not better,
social skills. Personally close, they made a formidable team. London
From Port Macquarie, the couple and their companions set out on the 150 mile journey to Armidale, the first Vice-Regal visit to the Northern Tablelands. The tracks were abysmal, with the drays carrying supplies in and wool out sometimes bogged for days, so all the party rode. The journey took three days.
On the return trip, FitzRoy’s horse fell, pinning his leg. Injured, he was placed in a two wheel vehicle to reduce the jolting, although the jolting on the rough track must have been almost as bad. Then the lead horse fell, throwing FitzRoy from carriage to ground.
The FitzRoys returned safely to
. However, there
would be a further and tragic reminder of the dangers involved with horses. Sydney
On 7 December 1847, the couple were leaving Government House at
. The party was delayed and the horses were restless. FitzRoy was at the reins of the carriage, he was an excellent whip, when the horses bolted. His wife was killed, his aide-de-camp would die from
injuries, while FitzRoy suffered leg injuries. Parramatta
FitzRoy’s many friend in the North were deeply upset. FitzRoy was distraught. He considered resigning his post, but finally decided to stay on, primarily for financial reasons.
Among those who attended that Port Macquarie dinner and ball were Archibald Innes’ cousin William Tydd Taylor, wife Margaretta and their now four children. “Mrs Taylor, we thought, was very pretty” wrote Annabella Boswell, nee Innes, in her journal..
In my last column, we left William and Margaretta Taylor still in
following their 1839 marriage. On 5 October 1839, they sailed for England Australia on the 350 ton barque “Chelydra”,
on 29 March 1840. Two days later, 1 April, they set sail for Port Macquarie on
the steam packet “William the Fourth”. Sydney
It seems clear that it was the Innes connection that persuaded the
to emigrate. It was also that connection that provided a base for what was to
Note to readers: This post appeared as a column in the Armidale Express Extra on 27 April 2016. I am repeating the columns here with a lag because they are not on line outside subscription. You can see all the Belshaw World and History Revisited columns by clicking here for 2009, here for 2010, here for 2011, here for 2012, here for 2013, here for 2014, here for 2015, here for 2016.