During that year Fremantle sheltered for a time that prince of romancers, the notorious Louis de Rougemont. His real name was Louis Grin and he arrived in the colony as a valet to Governor Robinson. A Swiss by birth, but able to speak English fluently, he was a suave and voluble individual and by his oily tongue succeeded in duping several Fremantle tradespeople, from whom he obtained advances to prosecute a pearling venture, which advances he never repaid. Among his victims were Pearse and Owston and John McCleery, but the person on whose gullibility he worked most was a reputedly wealthy old gentleman named Coulson, who was staying at the same hostel. He cajoled that simple-minded old gentleman into financing him in the purchase and outfitting of the cutter Ada. In that vessel he sailed from Fremantle and his creditors saw no more of him or his lugger. In the course of time it was reported that he and his crew had been killed by natives in the far North-West, but it was afterwards learned that he had made his way around to Torres Straits and finally landed in England. The Wide World Magazine published thrilling stories of his adventures and exploits, and they made his name famous, earning for him the sobriquet of the modern Munchausen. During his stay in Fremantle de Rougemont lodged at the boarding house kept by G. A. Seubert, a three-storey building that stood on the present site of the Union Bank. It was the best establishment of its kind at the time and was the favourite resort of the North-West pearlers as well as of shipmasters, who in those days spent most of their time on shore while their ships were lying out in the roadstead, the discharging and loading being done by lightering. The pearlers flocked from the North-West in large numbers during the off season and before steam communication with the Eastern States they went no further than Fremantle. Being well equipped with money, they made things hum in the town during their stay. Much has been heard of the 'Roaring Nineties' of the golden era, but many old residents retain pleasant memories of the 'Roaring Seventies' of the pearling era. Hitchcock 1929: 58.
Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.
Garry Gillard | New: 26 June, 2015 | Now: 28 August, 2015