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Edmund DuCane

Edmund DuCane (1830-1903) Royal Engineer, was a supervisor of convicts on public works. He arrived in Fremantle on the Anna Robertson 18 December 1851 (with Henry Wray), and left on the Esmeralda in 1856. He married Mary Molloy (daughter of Georgina Molloy) in St John's Church in 1855, and their first child was born during the voyage home.

Andrew Minogue, SGHS President:
Lieutenant Du Cane, R.E., arrived in the Colony in December 1851 in the Anna Robertson. He was only 21 years old. He was assigned to design and supervise construction of convict works in the Guildford, Toodyay and York Districts.
In a letter to his mother in April 1852, Du Cane wrote: "On Lot 45 (14 Meadow Street) about the middle I am building myself a house (or office) consisting of two rooms, a big office, a kitchen, and servant room, stable and garden. The house is built by me for the Government, for myself to live in. It faces the road, looking up the Helena Valley to a distant glimpse of the Darling Hills."

Du Cane was in Guildford for three years, having first found lodging in a cottage owned by William Devenish at 10 James Street. Du Cane left the Colony in February 1855, never to return.
He and his Sappers and Miners were responsible for instructing the convicts in the development of the Depot, which by 1856 comprised a grand array of buildings.
The house still stands, an important heritage home built in the convict period.

References and Links

DuCane, E.F., RE 1862, 'The convict system in the colonies', Bentley's Miscellany, May: 527. [article critical of Jebb]

Hasluck, Alexandra 1973, Royal Engineer: A Life of Edmund DuCane, A&R (photo from that).

Vetch, Robert 1912, bio, DNB.

Diane Oldman's page for DuCane on her website: Royal Sappers and Miners in Western Australia

On the same site, an article about DuCane by Peter Conole & Diane Oldman

Guildford convict hiring depot, in Guildford Western Australia.

Swan Guildford Historical Society, President Andrew Minogue, to whom thanks for his words about Edmund DuCane above.

Wikipedia page.

SLWA catalog entry.

CISBE page.


Garry Gillard | New: 26 November, 2015 | Now: 6 May, 2021