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William John Dumaresq (1793–1868)


Amongst the obituary notices which appeared in our last issue, was one recording the death of a very old and much respected colonist; Sir. William John Dumaresq, of Tivoli, Rose Bay, and of St. Aubins, near Scone. His decease took place on the 9th November, 1868, at Cleveland, Moreton Bay, the residence of his son-in-law, the Hon. Louis Hope.

Captain Dumaresq was bom on the 26th February, 1793, so that he had reached the ripe age of 76 years. In the "Armorial of Jersey", a work containing a record of all the principal families belonging to that Island, we find the following passages: —

"Few families in Jersey can boast a more lengthened lineage or more distinguished members than that of Dumaresq. It is one of the few Patrician houses of the Island, the representatives of which have from the earliest historic period held offices of trust and distinction.

"The three families of De Carteret, Dnmaresq, and Lempriere have, for a very long period, borne supporters."

Their use as applied to commoners is limited, but quoting the following authority, I think that its deduction will show their continuance as applied to the families mentioned is legitimate:—

"It is confessed there is little or nothing in precedent to direct the use of supporters. I suppose since custom and practice hath reduced the use of bearing supporters to the major nobility no infertor degree may now assume them, nor may fe'arter assign thun to the lesser nobility. But these families whose ancestors have used supporters, whose monuments are accomplished with them, whose houses are adorned with them, and whose, pious foundations continue them, the churches, chapels, and religious places where patrons, founders, and benefactors that render memorials of them, have such a possessory right to them that they cannot be suppressed or alienated, but may safely and justly continue." (MS. Winqfield, York Herald, Coll. Arms, &.)

William John Dumaresq was the son of the late Lieutenant- Colonel John Dumaresq, and brother of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Dumaresq, who died in this colony (New South Wales), in 1836. Of the brilliant military services of his brother, the following record will be found in the work which has already been quoted.

"He joined the 9th Regiment from the Royal Military College at the age of sixteen, and as detailed in the official record of his services at the Horse Guards — 'served in eight campaigns, of which six were in the Peninsula and one in Canada, and the last that of Waterloo.' He was present in the thirteen battles for which medals were bestowed, besides many affaire of outposts, of advanced and of rear guards; also at the sieges of Badajos and Burgos, and at the assaults of the Forts of Salamanca; on the two former occasions he served with the engineers es a volunteer, and on the latter (again a volunteer), being the foremost person in the assault of that redoubt, he received from the officer in command of the Victoria Convent the terms of his capitulation, which he delivered to the Duke of Wellington.

"He attained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel after nine years' service, and was gazetted to that grade in June, 1817, for services in the field. He was employed on the Staff upwards of eighteen years, and out of twenty-six years' service he was employed more than twenty-two abroad, and had been twice dangerously wounded.

"At the battle of Waterloo he was on the staff of Lieutenant- General Sir John Byng (afterwards Lord Strsfford), and wsb shot through the lungs at Hou goumont ; but being at the time charged with a mes sage for the Duke, he, in spite of his wound, reached him, and delivered the despatch before he tell.

Captain Dumaresq's sister, Elizabeth, was married to General Sir Ralph Darling, G.C.H., late Governor and Commander in-Chief of New South Wales. Intelligence of her death was received by the last mail from England, and only just in time to be communicated to her brother.

"The Armorial of Jersey" contains the following passages, giving an account of the military and civil carter of the subject of this memoir :— "

William John Dumaresq, Esquire, late Captain Royal Staff Corps, is also an officer who has eminently served his country in both military and civil capacities. He joined the army from the Royal Military College at Great Marlow in June, 1809. In 1811 he proceeded to join the army in the Peninsula, and continued with it until the dose of the war in 1814 ; principally employed as belonging to the Quarter master-General's department in reconnaissances and in the charge of bridges.

"For his services he received the Peninsular medal with four clasps — Cuidad Rodrigo, Badajos, Nivelle, and Pyrenees.

"In 1815, he was employed with the British army in Belgium in reconnoissances and in the construction of rope bridges at Antwerp to provide for forward move ment of the troops.

"When With the British army in Paris, he was entrusted by the Emperor of Austria to superintend die removal of the Venetian horses from the Place de Carrousel and the lion from the Invalides, and was presented with a gold snuff-box with cypher in brilliants on the occasion. In 1819 he proceeded to Canada, and was there engaged in the construction of the Ottawa Canal. In 1825 he removed with his company to New South Wales, and was placed in charge of the public works, roads, and bridges.

"He retired from the service in 1829 to settle in that colony, where he was elected to sit in its first Parliament."

Captain Dumaresq was married on the 15th October, 1830, to Christiana Saean Macleay, second daughter of the late Alexander Macleay, Esq., so well known and respected as the Colonial Secretary of New South Wales. By this marriage there were two sons and two daughters. The eldest son, William Alexander Dumaresq, M.A. of Cambridge and Barrister of the Inner Temple, becomes the representative of this branch of the family. The second son, Alexander Macleay Dumaresq, entered the army in 1854, and served with distinction in the Eastern campaign of 1855, including the expedition to Kertch ; the siege, assaults, and fall of Sebsatopol, bombird mem and capture of Kinburn, for which services he received a medal and clasp and the Turkish medal. He attained the rank of captain in the 63rd Regiment, and died in November, 1866.

The eldest daughter, Susan Frances Sophia, married in October, 1859, the Honorable Louis Hope, late Captain Coldstream Guards, and son of John, fourth Earl of Hopetoun.

The youngest, Eliza Henrietta, died in 1865. Mrs. Dumaresq, the wife of the subject of this memoir, died in May, 1868, so that her husband survived her only a few months.

Captain Dumaresq served in the first representative Legislative Council, as member for the district ot the Hunter, from 1843 to 1848, and was again returned in October, 1851, as member for the counties of Philip, Brisbane, and Bligh, and continued to represent that electorate until the termination of the Parliament in December, 1855.

He was appointed to the first Legislative Council under the new constitution in 1856, but did not take his seat. In May, 1866, he was again offered a seat in the Legislative Council, but declined to accept it on account of his advanced age.

He was a director of the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary from its first establishment in 1845 till 1848; he was then appointed one of the vice-presidents, an office which he continued to hold until he resigned in July last (1868). On that occasion the following resolution was unanimously passed by the Board of Directors : — "

It was resolved that, on receiving the letter from Captain Dumaresq, enclosing a donation of £100 to the permanent endowment fund, this Board desires that a letter be prepared by the hon. secretaries, expressing its warm appreciation of the great and long-continued services of Captain Dumaresq, .and acknowledging with gratitude his liberal gift to the endowment fund."

Such is a brief record of the valuable military and civil services rendered to his country by the late Captain Dumareq. There are few men of whom it can be said with more truth, that he was ' sans peur et sans reproche.'

The writer of this memoir was present on the occasion, and he retains a vivid recollection of the exciting circumstances of the scene. Paris was then occupied by the allied troops, and a considerable number of the crowned heads of Europe were on a visit to that city. This was only a very short time after the battle of Waterloo — there was something awful in the silent and suppressed indignation of the inhabitants.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Dumaresq, William John (1793–1868)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 16 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


25 February, 1793
Jersey, Channel Islands


9 November, 1868 (aged 75)
Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia

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