Frederick Meredith born 1801

Frederick Meredith Junior was the eldest of the six children born to the first fleeter and free settler Frederick Meredith and his wife Sarah Mason. He was born I 7 March 1801, and was baptised 5 April that year at St. Phillips Church of England in Sydney.

Frederick Junior married Sarah Morgan, daughter of Eleanor Fraser and William Morgan, on 30 September 1822 at St Luke’s Church in Liverpool. He was 21 and Sarah was 18 years of age. At that time, marriages were supposed to be carried out before 12 noon. A story passed down through the family tells that Frederick was late, and the clock had to be put back to comply with the rule. After they married, they lived in Liverpool, where Frederick held a licence for the sale of ale, beer and spirits at a business on Liverpool Road.

Although he continued in this business for some time, he was soon to follow his father into the police force. As one can imagine with two Frederick Meredith, both of Liverpool, both married to a Sarah, telling the two apart was not always easy. It’s clear that Fred Senior was the first to take a post in the Police force, including the position of Chief Constable at Liverpool. It is not clear, however, when Fred Junior took over the position from his father.

In March 1823 His Excellency, the Governor was requested to favourably consider Frederick Meredith, a young man of good character and a Native of the Colony to the position of Chief Constable at Liverpool. This decision proved to be right for the time and the place as records would later show.

With the widening of the track from Sydney to Liverpool into a road capable of taking wheeled wagons, the way was open for bushrangers, escaped convicts, thieves and vagabonds to prey on the settlers taking produce to Sydney and returning with cash and coin from their sales. The tiny Police force was occupied in bringing these offenders, who were mostly armed to the magistrates and they had to travel far and wide to carry out their duties.

Frederick junior’s career as Chief Constable must have been exciting and dangerous. There is one particular occasion worth noting, an account of which is reproduced below that details an encounter with the notorious bushrangers Dolton and McNamara. This is a section from the Sydney Gazette  30 March 1830: Daring outrages – other instances of bushranging have just been brought to our notice. Two more glaring cases of robbery than those perpetrated on Saturday afternoon and night last have seldom occurred. The following is a sketch of what took place. Six bush-rangers entered the house of a Mr Bolloway, who, it appears, is a licensed victualler, on the Liverpool Road, and they regaled themselves with what they pleased, and then set-to on the work of plunder. It is reported that they carried off 8 pounds in money, besides five gallons of spirits, and a brace of pistols.

The robbers afterwards proceeded to the house of one Jackson, on the same Road, also a publican. One of the party gave a gentle top at the door which was presently answered by a servant in the house demanding to know who was without. The answer was “Friends, we are constables.” This was sufficient to gain them admission, for there happening at the time to be constables in the house, and it being known to the inmates that on additional force of constabulary was momentarily expected, the door was immediately opened. On the instant, the door keeper had the muzzle of a double barrelled gun presented to his breast, and then, in rushed five men all armed. By one of the inmates of the house the lighted candle, then burning, was blown out, all was then darkness, and confusion, so much so, that one of the marauders actually placed his back by the side of the watering trough which is fixed to the front of the house, and set fire to it.

In the fight the bushrangers were worsted. One man who is said to be the captain of the party, was secured; he is said to be seriously wounded; the other bushrangers managed to escape, leaving, as it is thought, all their fire-arms behind them. We are sorry, however, to add that Mr Meredith, the Chief Constable at Liverpool, was shot through both his legs. Mr Jackson, and also his wife were cut and bruised in the affray.

Frederick Junior received a land grant of one square mile for his gallant efforts and so it was not all for nothing. By 1830, Frederick Junior as Chief Constable had four District Constables, eleven ordinary Constables and a watch housekeeper to enforce the laws in the Liverpool district. In 1838, finding that his salary of 100 pounds ($200) was insufficient to provide for his family, Frederick Junior presented his resignation as Chief Constable. The Police Magistrate and Superintendent of Police at Liverpool made on appeal on his behalf to the Governor quoting him as a zealous and competent man. As a result of the appeal, the salary was raised to 130 pounds ($260) and Frederick Junior continued as Chief Constable of Liverpool until his resignation from the force in 1844.

It’s clear that Frederick Junior was a family man as he and Sarah had 11 children. Upon his death, his total estate was worth 2,900 pounds and was divided among his six sons. In addition to their own children, Frederick Junior and Sarah also adopted Ann Clegg, daughter of Lucy Morgan and John Clegg. John Clegg owned the Weavers Arms Hotel on Liverpool Road and was the subject of a notorious incident, being tried for the brutal bashing of his wife and acquitted. He later drowned in his own pond behind the Weavers Arms.

Apart from being a Constable, Frederick Junior was also a farmer, working land at Liverpool and at Banks Town or Irish Town, as it was also known then. Frederick Junior was a community minded and religious man. He built the St Matthew’s Church, which was first built at Church Street, Yagoona and then moved to Milperra. He was one of the early church wardens. He had all of his children christened and was himself married in a church. Frederick Junior died on the l0 February, 1861. He is buried at St Thomas’ Cemetery Enfield.

Image: Liverpool Court House, Liverpool. Artist Edward Mason. Circa 1822-23. This building is thought to have been used as the first Police station and gaol, and would have been the workplace of Frederick Meredith Junior. Courtesy of Liverpool City Library.