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Richard Fitzgerald

1772 – 1840

Richard Fitzgerald (1772-1840), convict, public servant and settler, spent four years of his seven-year sentence imprisoned (probably on a floating 'hulk') at Portsmouth before arriving in Sydney in 1791, along with his private assets. By virtue of his conduct, in 1792 he was appointed superintendent of convicts at Toongabbie; by the spring of 1795 his district encompassed Parramatta; in 1798 John Hunter made him superintendent of public agriculture in the region; and his public service continued under King. In the meantime, he had received three land grants and had purchased land, so that by 1802 he was growing wheat and running livestock on 350 acres. Unsurprisingly, in 1804 King dismissed him for neglecting his public office. He turned to serving as the so-called 'faithful factor' of John Macarthur. In 1808, after the removal of Bligh, he was appointed constable at the Hawkesbury. Once Macquarie settled in, he developed a close personal and professional relationship with Fitzgerald, and the latter became superintendent of stores in 1811. At Windsor, where Macquarie often stayed with him, Fitzgerald was in charge of the commissariat and public works, supervising the building of a 'handsome, commodious inn' (Australia's first) and Francis Greenway's chef d'oeuvre, St Matthews Church, (in which, incidentally, lies astronomer John Tebbutt). Fitzgerald married Mary Ford, a convict with whom he had already had three children, in 1815. After a short period of renewed public service in 1819 he devoted himself to his own affairs, and those of Mrs Macquarie, for whom he was an effective agent. He was an early proprietor of the Bank of New South Wales, and although he is believed to have been a pioneer of the Freemasons in Australia he made generous donations to not only the Anglican, but the Catholic Church. He was a supporter of the Hawkesbury Benevolent Association and evidently treated Aboriginal people with kindness. Judged by his biographer to be 'one of the most remarkable men to settle in early New South Wales', he left a large estate.

Updated 2018