Fremantle Stuff > People > Anthony Barnaby Curtis 1798-1853

Anthony Curtis

Anthony Curtis was born in London 28 December 1798, to William Curtis and Mary Bishop. After serving in the RN, he arrived in Fremantle on board the Medina 6 July 1830.

CURTIS, Anthony Barnabus, b. 1794/1796. d. 11.1.1853 (Frem), arr. 6.7.1830 per Medina, m. 2.6.1836 (Frem) Susannah GLINDON b. 1815 d. 10.9.1856 (Busselton). she arr. 1835 with Anthony's mother. Chd. Mary Ann Amelia b. 1837 d. 1837, Anthony b. 1838 d. 1856 (Busselton), William Glindon b. 1841 d. 1918, Amelia Harriet b. 1842 d. 1916. From small beginning at Frem. he developed as a shipowner & trader with Mauritius etc. & East lndies, buying Fanny from Hentys 1835, the Lady Stirling from Scott c.1836/7, & Vixen in 1840. Built Water Witch & later owned Black Swan as well. His business activities included butchering 1834 & a store at "Stag's Head Inn". Began bay whaling in 1839 with Scott & established a brewery at Frem. Merchant & Importer. Although illiterate was appointed valuator for Frem. Town Trust in 1850. His widow went to live with her sister Mrs. Chapman at Busselton & ran a small shop. Commemorated in 1979 in a brass plaque in Perth pavement for year 1845. (Erickson)

Edward Back arrived in Western Australia in the 1830s as a crew member on the Fanny, a vessel owned and skippered by Anthony Barnabas Curtis. Anthony was also an Englishman, the son of William and Mary Curtis. He had first arrived in WA in 1830 and, after father William passed away in 1835, brought some of his relatives out to the colony on the Fanny, including his mother and sister. Edward Back became acquainted with Anthony’s sister Paula Curtis, later to be known to family and friends alike as Poll Back. Edward married her at Fremantle in September 1837. They had a very large family, ten children in all, the last of whom was born in the year Poll turned 48. (Conole 2010)

Anthony Curtis was running the Black Swan Inn with John Bateman (who also arrived on the Medina) between Cantonment Street and the river in 1830, but it was apparently not successful. He was then licensee of the Stag's Head Hotel from 1833 (still extant in 1844), on Lot 106, which was on the SW corner of Pakenham and High Streets. (The building now on that corner is known as the Ajax Building.) Hitchcock records that Anthony Curtis was granted town lots 381 and 385. In 1836 at Fremantle he married Susannah Glindon; they had two sons and two daughters. He died in Fremantle 11 January 1853.

Curtis commenced business as a hotel-keeper at Fremantle and soon afterwards opened a store. In 1834 he invested in the 36-ton schooner Fanny, and traded between Fremantle and Albany calling at intermediate ports. This coastal service was of much benefit to the settlers, providing a market for their produce as well as supplementing their provisions. In 1843 he started a fishing station at the Abrolhos, where he cured fish and exported them to Mauritius. During the 1840s Curtis was actively engaged in whaling and by 1845 had established his own station and was operating off Rottnest. He made regular trading voyages to Mauritius and the East Indies and in January 1846 took his 43-ton schooner Vixen to Ceylon to try the market with Western Australian products. The Vixen was the first vessel to trade between Ceylon and Western Australia. (Cammilleri 1966)

A note about Conole's reference to the Fanny. I can find no record of her arriving in the colony in the 1830s (for example in Hitchcock, how gives a full list of vessels arriving in that decade). As she was only of 36 tons, I doubt she was suitable for the long journey to England and back with passengers. We know that Curtis's mother and future wife arrived in 1835, but there is no record I can find (yet) of the vessel they travelled on, except for his mention.

References and Links

Cammilleri, Cara 1963, Anthony Curtis: His Life in Western Australia, 1830-1853 (typescript, State Library of Western Australia).

Cammilleri, Cara 1966, Entry for Curtis in ADB.

Peter Conole 2010, 'Edward Back and Son', Fremantle History Society newsletter, January.

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Tuckfield, Trevor 1971, 'Early colonial inns and taverns', Early Days: Journal and proceeedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, 7, 3: 65-82; Part 2, Early Days: Journal and proceeedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, 7, 7: 98-106.

Map compiled by Allen Graham in the Fremantle Library collection showing Fremantle hotels 1829-1857.

Thanks to Dianne Dench, a Back descendant, for many details.


Garry Gillard | New: 27 February, 2018 | Now: 15 November, 2019