THEODORE FAWCETT, SOLDIER, MAGISTRATE & W.A. M.L.C.
This English cover bearing the 1867 straw-coloured 9d stamp of QV (S.G. 110) had a Winchester / D/ JA 23/ 73 duplex with the ‘888' numeral obliterator and was addressed to Theodore Fawcett Esqr, Pinjarah (sic) Park, Perth, Western Australia, plus 3 black manuscripts in the same hand: ‘Via Brindisi Jan 23' and ‘Paid’ at the top of the cover, as well as the name of the sender ‘Mrs Fawcett’ at the lower left corner (Figure 1).
Theodore Fawcett was born at Craven Hill, London, England on 10 February 1832, the son of a colonel in the army. He was educated at Cheltenham College, and in 1851 was commissioned in The Carabiniers (6th Dragoon Guards). In 1859 Fawcett emigrated to Western Australia, taking up land in the Swan District, and in 1862 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace. He returned to England in 1863-64, where he married Eliza Hill in March 1864, and they had 7 children..
Fawcett returned to Western Australia in 1864, farming at Pinjarra Park, near Pinjarra until 1882. He was twice acting resident magistrate for the Murray District. On 28 November 1876, Fawcett contested the Western Australia Legislative Council seat of Murray and Williams in a by-election, holding it until 30 January 1889. He planted Don Pedro vines on 20 acres of his land, recorded at a wine website as the year of 1857, but he did not arrive in W.A. until 1859. He is known as the only brandy distiller in Western Australia in the early colonial days. A portrait of Fawcett, whilst in the W.A. Legislative Council, is shown in Figure 2.
A proposal to raise the Pinjarrah Mounted Volunteer Corps was signed by thirty-one residents in October 1861, but virtually nothing is known of their activities until October 1862, but the unit has been ranked as sixth in precedence in W.A. Theodore Fawcett was appointed Captain and he commanded the Corps until its ultimate demise in November 1882. The unit was always smart and efficient , and was favourably complimented on many occasions. In September 1866 new uniforms were ordered which were far the most elegant in the colony, as attested to by the picture of Fawcett in Figure 3.
The uniform has been described as follows: “Scarlet tunics with white cuffs, collars and cord across the chest, white pantaloons, black knee length boots and a white Colonial Pattern helmet with brass fittings. Dressed in this uniform two troopers escorted a prisoner to Fremantle Gaol, and were the centre of much attention”.
In 1867-68, Captain Fawcett raised the strength of the corps to over eighty, of which sixty-five attended the annual inspection on the 6th December 1868. The men voted to change the unit’s name to Fawcett’s Light Horse, but this was not accepted by the authorities. In 1872 the corps was informed that the capitation grant for the following year would not be paid, but this did not cause the demise of the corps, for Captain Fawcett personally financed the unit, both in the prior 10 and subsequent 10 years. The corps was an effective part of the colony’s defence forces, but with the aging of its members, the numbers dwindled, and only nine men attended its final inspection on the 6th November 1882, and the demise of the corps followed 24 days later.
Theodore’s contribution, both moral and financial, to the corps cannot be overestimated, and he also assisted in the formation of every mounted unit in the colony in 1882. He died at Pinjarra Park on 21 March 1898.