Rear-Admiral Frederick Tickell

M, #4514, b. 7 Mar 1857, d. 19 Sep 1919
Frederick TICKELL
Note Http:// 
Birth*7 Mar 1857 At Sea (China).1 
Marriage*18 Dec 1886 Spouse: Mary Elizabeth Figg. Williamstown, VIC, Australia, #M6620.2
Land-UBeac*18 Mar 1914 GEM-D-2 (part), 8-10 St Georges Road. Transfer from The Bank of Victoria to Rear-Admiral Frederick Tickell. 1a.3 
Death*19 Sep 1919 Kew, VIC, Australia, #D13099 (Age 62) [par George TICKELL & Charlotte CRABBE].1 
Land-UBeac*a 19 Sep 1919 GEM-D-2 (part), 8-10 St Georges Road. Transfer from Rear-Admiral Frederick Tickell to Mary Elizabeth Tickell. 1a.4 
Death-Notice*22 Sep 1919TICKELL.-On the 19th of September, 1919 (suddenly), at his residence, "Delmira," Denmark street, Kew, Rear-Admiral Tickell, C.M.G., beloved husband of Mary Elizabeth Tickell and loving father of Sharley, Lucy, and Kathleen, aged 62 years.
TICKELL - Friends of the late Rear-Admiral FREDERICK TICKELL, C.M.G., are informed that his funeral will move from "Delmira," Denmark street, Kew, THIS MORNING (Monday, 22nd inst.), at 11 a.m., and will proceed to Holy Trinity Church, Kew, thence, after a short service, to the Booroondara Cemetery.
TICKELL - Would Gentlemen attending the funeral of the late Rear-Admiral FREDERICK TICKELL, C.M.G., with motors, kindly ask their chauffeurs to approach Denmark street from the west, along Barker's road, where attendants will be in waiting to allot them their positions. Horse drawn vehicles are requested to head north in Denmark street, south of Barker's road.5 
Probate (Will)*20 Oct 1919 Frederick Tickell. Rear Admiral. Kew. 19 Sep 1919. 167/614. His real estate consisted of: GEM-D-2 (part) 1 acre, valued at £430.6 
Land-Note*6 Feb 1923 GEM-D-2 (part). Frederick Tickell died on 19th September 1919. Probate of his will has been granted to Mary Elizabeth Tickell of "Delmira" Denmark Street Kew Widow.4 
Note* Tickell, Frederick (1857-1919), RADM, CMG 1901; b. 7 March 1857 Amoy Harbour, China; settled in Melbourne 1869; educ. Scotch Coll. 1870-75; made Sub-Lieut. in Vic. Naval Brigade 1888; trained with RN 1893-97; Comdt. Vic Naval Forces 1897-1904; Vic contingent to Boxer Rebellion, China 1900; Naval Comdt. Qld 1904-07; brought Yarra and Parramatta from UK for RAN 1910; Dir. of Naval Reserves (later Auxiliary Forces) 1911-19 (as Rear-Adm 1919); d. 19 Sep. 1919 Melbourne.7 


  • C/E C 1379A, Boroondara Cemetery, Kew, VIC, Australia8


  • 18 Oct 1910: PROHASKY—RIPPINGALE.—[Silver Wedding.]—On the 18th March, 1885, at Holy Trinity Church, Port Melbourne, second son of the late William Charles Prohasky, of Daylesford, to Maria, only daughter of the late John Rippingale, Retford, Nottinghamshire, and step-daughter of the late Captain George Tickell, pier master, Port Melbourne. Present address, "Hazelmere," Fermanagh-Road, Camberwell. (Home and New Zealand papers please copy.)9
  • 21 Jan 1911: COMMONWEALTH NAVAL FORCES. THERE are Vacancies for SEAMEN, STOKERS, COOKS and STEWARDS at the Naval Depot, Williamstown. The following is the standard for Seamen and Stokers:— Height, 5 ft. 4 in; chest measurement, 34 in; age, Seamen, 19 to 25 years; Stokers, 19 to 30 years. Applicants for ratings of Seamen and Stokers must produce certificates to show they have served afloat for at least twelve months. Further particulars regarding service, pay, &c., may be obtained on application at Naval Depot, Williamstown. F. TICKELL, Captain, Naval Commandant, Victoria.10
  • 11 Feb 1914: Captain Tickell, director of the naval reserve, has purchased "Carisbrook" and is going to reside in this district.11
  • 22 Sep 1919: The death of Rear-Admiral Frederick Tickell, of the Royal Australian Navy, which occurred on Friday evening, will be keenly regretted by a large circle of friends. The son of the late Captain G. Tickell, R.N.R., Rear-Admiral Tickell commenced his nautical career as an officer in the service of the Union Steamship Company. He later joined the Victorian Naval Brigade, and after qualifying for promotion by attending naval courses of instruction in Great Britain he attained the rank of commander. In 1900 he commanded the Victorian naval contingent sent to China in connection with the Boxer troubles. He was in turn naval commandant in Queensland and in Victoria, and was subsequently appointed director of naval auxiliary services. In April 1916 he was promoted to commodore, and in March last he attained the rank of rear-admiral. The funeral which will be conducted with full naval honours, will leave his late residence, Kew, at 11 o'clock this morning. A short service will be held in Holy Trinity Church, and the funeral will then proceed to Boroondara Cemetery.12
  • 26 Sep 1919: It is with regret that we announce the loss by death of Rear-Admiral F. Tickell, late Director of Naval Auxillary Services and formerly Naval Commandant of Victoria. He devoted his time and energies to the naval defences of Australia. It was his privilege and joy to have brought from England to our shores the destroyers Yarra and Parramatta, which was their maiden voyage. The service was held at Holy Trinity College, Kew. It was a full naval funeral, when officers and men followed his remains to the Kew cemetery. His week-end residence was in this district. He was much respected by all who knew him.13
  • 27 Sep 1919: OFFICERS and Ratings of the Naval Forces are invited to attend a Memorial Service for the late Rear-Admiral F. TICKELL, R.A.N., at Holy Trinity Church, High street, Kew, on Sunday, 28th instant at 7 p.m. - Dress-Officers No. 5 without swords; Ratings No. 1.-
    (Sgd.) J. T. RICHARDSON,
    Captain, R.A.N., Director of Naval Auxiliary Services. Temp.14

Australian Dictionary of Biography

Frederick Tickell (1857-1919), naval officer, was born on 7 March 1857 at Amoy Harbour, China, son of Captain George Tickell, mariner and member of the Royal Naval Reserve, and his wife Charlotte, née Crabbe. The early part of Frederick's life was spent on his father's ship, but in 1869 the family settled in Melbourne. Educated at Scotch College in 1870-75, Tickell went to sea and later joined the Union Steamship Co. in New Zealand, gaining a master's certificate; in 1888 he became a sub-lieutenant with the Victorian Naval Brigade. He had married Mary Elizabeth Figg on 18 December 1886 with Presbyterian forms at Williamstown, Victoria.
Promoted lieutenant in 1889, Tickell spent six months in 1890 attached to the Royal Navy's Australian Squadron, serving aboard H.M.S. Rapid. In 1893 he was selected for instruction in England where he gained first-class certificates in gunnery and torpedo, and completed a course in ordnance at Woolwich Arsenal. During his time in England he served as a lieutenant in the protected cruiser H.M.S. Royal Arthur and joined in manoeuvres aboard H.M.S. Northampton and the battleship H.M.S. Majestic.
On his return to Australia in 1897 Tickell was promoted commander and in November became commandant of the Victorian Naval Forces, a position he was to hold until 1904. In 1900 the Victorian government offered assistance to Britain in putting down the Boxer rebellion in China. With her navy all but defunct after a decade of neglect, Victoria could provide no warships, merely a naval brigade. Under Tickell's command two hundred men left for Hong Kong aboard the requisitioned liner S.S. Salamis in August 1900. Sent initially to occupy the captured forts at Taku, the Victorians were employed as troops but saw little action. Tickell was mentioned in dispatches and was subsequently appointed C.M.G. for his services in China.
In December 1900 he was promoted captain and after Federation became third in seniority in the Commonwealth Naval Forces behind (Sir) William Creswell and Captain C. J. Clare. In the reorganization which followed the creation of the C.N.F. Tickell served as naval commandant in Queensland in 1904-07 before resuming his former position as naval commandant in Victoria. He was acting naval director while Creswell attended the 1909 Imperial Defence Conference in London. Together with his fellow officers in the C.N.F., Tickell was an advocate of a local naval force and a supporter of Creswell in his calls for a national Australian navy. In 1910 Tickell brought the recently completed destroyers Yarra and Parramatta from England.
Like other former colonial naval officers who did not have backgrounds in the Royal Navy, Tickell was transferred to an administrative position when the Royal Australian Navy was formed in 1911. He became director of naval reserves, subsequently renamed auxiliary forces, a post which he held for the rest of his life. In 1912 he was appointed an aide-de-camp to the governor-general. Promoted commodore in 1916, he was raised to rear admiral in March 1919 in recognition of his war work and length of service. Tickell died of a cerebro-vascular disease on 19 September 1919. Survived by his wife and three daughters (his son having been lost at sea in 1909), he was buried in Boroondara cemetery, Kew.15


  1. [S5] Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Death Index Victoria 1921-1985.
  2. [S1] Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Pioneer Index Victoria 1836-1888.
  3. [S185] Property Titles ; PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), C/T 2489-610 - Frederick Tickell of Denmark Street Kew Naval Officer from Bank of Victoria.
  4. [S185] Property Titles ; PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), C/T 2489-610 - Frederick Tickell died on 19th September 1919. Probate of his will has been granted to Mary Elizabeth Tickell of "Delmira" Denmark Street Kew Widow.
  5. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 22 Sep 1919, p1.
  6. [S35] Probate Records, PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), VPRS 28/P3, unit 976; VPRS 7591/P2, unit 611.
  7. [S50] Miscellaneous Source,
  8. [S46] Index of burials in the cemetery of Boroondara, Kew,.
  9. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 18 Oct 1910, p1.
  10. [S16] Newspaper - The Age (Melbourne, Vic.), 21 Jan 1911, p18.
  11. [S19] Newspaper - Berwick Shire News and Pakenham and Cranbourne Gazette (Berwick, Vic.), 11 Feb 1914, p2.
  12. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 22 Sep 1919, p8.
  13. [S82] Newspaper - Pakenham Gazette and Berwick Shire News (Pakenham East, Vic.)
    Pakenham Gazette and Berwick Shire News (Pakenham East, Vic.), 26 Sep 1919, p3.
  14. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 27 Sep 1919, p27.
  15. [S55] Adb online, online, Briggs, Mark, 'Tickell, Frederick (1857–1919)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,…, accessed 30 April 2012.
    Select Bibliography
    History of Scotch College, Melbourne, 1851-1925 (Melb, 1926)
    H. J. Feakes, White Ensign—Southern Cross (Syd, 1951)
    B. Nicholls, Bluejackets and Boxers (Syd, 1986)
    Argus (Melbourne), 17 Mar, 22 Sept 1919
    MP472/1/S19/2000 (National Archives of Australia).
Last Edited1 Jun 2020

Mary Elizabeth Figg

F, #4515, b. 1860, d. 1939
Anecdote*Edward Garland Figg 1815 - 1902
EIGHTEEN-FIFTEEN was the year of the battle of Waterloo, in which my great-great- grandfather, Edward Figg, fought as a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Royal Engineers. His fourth son, Edward Garland, was born at Plymouth a few months before the battle. He was to qualify in medicine at Glasgow and migrate to Williamstown fifty years later. His mother was from Watervale in Ireland, the youngest daughter of a fellow-officer named Armstrong. At fifteen she was judged too young to marry, so that Colonel Figg had to wait until she left the schoolroom.
She was by all accounts a forceful personality, reputed to have sent a governess back to England for daring to sit down in her presence. She and her husband both died in Quebec, and the four children returned to Great Britain for their education.
Edward Garland Figg was registered as a Licentiate of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (LFPSG). In Victoria he was variously credited with an MD and a MRCP but there is little doubt that these were mere ‘courtesy titles’. In Scotland he was a friend and associate of James Young Simpson in the early work on chloroform, and he remained an ardent advocate of anaesthesia, in spite of several untoward accidents.
He practised medicine for eleven years at Bo'ness in Linlithgowshire and seems to have been highly regarded and handsomely rewarded when he left. He was then aged fifty . At the age of thirty-seven he had married his cousin, Annie Hudson, who was twenty-two. They had six children and the prospect of providing for five daughters in the depressed economy of Scotland, together with a spirit of enterprise and energy, may have prompted the move to Australia. He at least had the foresight to come out with just one of his daughters to survey the prospects. Harriette, aged thirteen, kept him company on the Great Britain, and their names can be checked on the ship's manifest for 1864 in Bristol, where this historic ship has been restored. She was the first of the steam-driven iron passenger ships, but was furnished also with a full set of masts and rigging - a sort of ‘belt and braces’ job. Her career was about to end as a coal-hulk on the South American coast, when by public subscription she was towed back to Bristol.
In 1865 Edward Garland Figg was registered by the Medical Board of Victoria as Vaccinator for Williamstown ‘in the room of Dr Wilkins, absent on leave’. He succeeded to the practice of Dr Wilkins and his home ‘Ednam’, the traditional ‘doctor’s house’ at 231 Nelson Place. It is a solid two-storey bluestone house, built for Dr Wilkins in 1850-52, still standing, and on the Register of Historic Buildings. It achieved notoriety in 1857 when convicts working at Point Gellibrand attacked John Price, the Inspector-General of Penal Establishments. He was carried to the house in a barrow and died in an upstairs bedroom next day.
For two years, 1860-1861, this house was leased by Dr Wilkins to Frank Liardet as the Clarendon Hotel. Apart from this it was a doctor’s residence and surgery from 1852 until the death of Dr Donald Coutts and the sale of his estate in 1976. In succession to Drs Wilkins and Figg, it housed Drs Honman, Yuille, John Thomson, W Orchard, D Powers and Dr Coutts. After 1976 it was restored as a private residence and since 1987 it has been converted to a flourishing restaurant ‘Sails’.
Annie Jane Figg and her family followed her husband two years later, leaving one daughter with relatives in Ireland, later to rejoin the family. Not long after, in 1867, the youngest child Eliza Jane died at the age of five.
FIGG was for some time the Health Officer and Port Doctor in Williamstown. The sanitary conditions of the time are vividly described by Lynne Strahan in her history, At the Edge of the Centre, and can be derived also from the ‘Local topics’ entries of the Australian Medical Journal. In 1867 it records a Public Health Bill relating to the pollution of streams. This was knocked back by the Assembly, which, in the words of the Editor, “Seems bent upon turning the running streams of the Colony into sewers”. In the same month there is recorded a ‘filthy nuisance in the shape of a night-soil deposit at Richmond’, the chief objectors to its removal being a medical man and a chemist.
A Public Health Act in 1854 established the Central Board of Health with William McCrea MD as President, and made provision for local Boards. These were charged with the prevention, containment and treatment of infectious and contagious diseases; the construction and maintenance of adequate drains and sewers; the regulation of noxious trades, the cleansing of streets and public ways and the maintenance of adequate standards of sanitation and ventilation in both public and private premises. Fine words, but Williamstown was not sewered until 1910; it was downstream from the growing city, and much of Melbourne's effluent ended up on the Strand. The morgue was a cramped and ramshackle building on the foreshore, without ventilation or drainage, and the various waste products were swept out the door and on to the beach. It was the lack of an adequate water supply which swung the decision against Williamstown and in favour of Melbourne as the seat of government in the young colony.
But Williamstown was the port, and Hobson’s Bay was full of ships in the gold-rush and after - some deserted by their crews, and all with rubbish to dispose of. The streets were fouled with dead cats and dogs, the offal from butcher shops and the run-off from pigsties. Figg recommended these be removed from the town. Infectious diseases were rife - measles, scarlet fever, diptheria and tuberculosis; he suggested that the cramped and huddled cottages of the time be separated by a garden strip to minimise contagion.
Smallpox was much feared. and one of his duties was to board ships where there was any suspicion of the disease. The information would often come through the Pilot, who boarded the ship at the Heads, or through the Customs Officer. A stairway gave access to the roof of ‘Ednam’, where a telescope was installed to survey the shipping in Hobson’s Bay and look for the warning yellow flag. In 1878 the P&O steamship Siam reported three suspicious eruptions among its Lascar seamen. Figg thought it was chicken-pox but he was over-ruled by the Chief Medical Officer, Dr McCrea, who dispatched the ship to the Quarantine Station at the Heads. Such was the fear that the boat which had brought the seamen to shore was disinfected and sunk. There were no further cases. Vaccination in infancy was at that time compulsory.
Figg must have made the acquaintance of James Beaney soon after his arrival. To Figg’s daughters, the surgeon was a well-remembered and flamboyant visitor to the house. In 1866 we find Figg giving evidence on Beaney’s behalf at his trial for criminal abortion, which is fully reported in the Australian Medical Journal.
At this trial, Figg claimed he had attended 7000 cases of midwifery. He “believed he had manipulated the uterus more than any man in Europe” and that “it was impossible, for he had tried many times, to introduce the hand into the uterus at the fifth month”. If he is correctly reported, these claims are astonishing and, to us, quite damaging.
He believed that the woman’s death had resulted from “pyaemia, chlorosis, and sub- involution”, and that there had been no evidence of pregnancy. He criticised Pugh and Rudall, the pathologists, for making a careless examination - the ovaries were mislaid. We would find the evidence highly suspect.
At Beaney’s first trial before Sir Redmond Barry the jury failed to agree. At a re-trial in the Supreme Court before Mr Justice Williams the jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty to uproarious applause.
As a recognition of services rendered Beaney presented Figg with a handsome ornate silver mug. The inscription reads: From James G Beaney, FRCS to EG Figg Esq MD as a slight token of his admiration for his ability as a practitioner and thanks for the noble way in which he stood forward to defend a professional brother from the malicious charge brought against him in May and June 1866.
Figg himself survived some similar episodes. In 1876 he operated on one Emma Jane Bennett, aged thirty-two, the wife of an engine-driver and the mother of nine children. The indications were haemorrhage and sepsis, and she had denied pregnancy. At autopsy, by Dr Girdlestone, the cavity of the uterus was enlarged and there were tubercles in the lung and Bright’s disease of the kidneys. The jury verdict was death from blood-poisoning.
More than twenty years later, in 1889, in the Supreme Court, he faced a charge of ‘using an instrument with intent to procure an abortion’.
Margaret Dietrich was a widow who kept a boarding-house in Prahran. She deposed that she attended Dr Figg, being (in the parlance of that time) ‘not unwell’ for two months, feeling sick and thinking she might be in the family way. She was given something to smell and lost consciousness. On waking she had severe lower abdominal pain but managed to walk to the station. She had to take a hansom cab at the South Yarra end. Next day she had severe pain and haemorrhage, and was seen by a nurse who claimed to see fragments of a “sponge tent” in the clots. The nurse apparently reported the case to the local police. A local doctor was called next day and evacuated clots but she thereafter became febrile and very ill.
She did recover, with no apparent ill-feelings towards her doctors. The medical evidence was equivocal. Figg admitted passing a sound for the treatment of “retained menses” but denied intent to procure abortion or the use of a “sponge tent”. Dr Davenport thought this was acceptable treatment and the pathologist who examined the clot thought the evidence “not conclusive of pregnancy”. Figg reserved his defence and was found not guilty . In the face of the evidence we would consider him lucky.
In those days of poverty, large families, no effective contraception and the social ostracism of unwed mothers it must have been hard to withstand the desperate appeals of the unhappily pregnant. I think that Figg was more soft-hearted than hard-headed - he certainly made no fortune from illegal operations. Margaret Dietrich said she offered him five pounds but he claimed he did it “for charity”. He retired soon after at the age of seventy-five to have treatment overseas for cataract.
He was given to verse. In Dolore Scriptum appeared soon after his trial, in the local paper. I quote one verse:
“In age advanced, mid joy and ills,
A long career I trace,
Led by that Power whose presence fills
Immensity and space
Through troubled scenes I've safely passed
And dangers dark defied.
Will He not keep me to the last,
My King, my God, my Guide.“
There were some other less serious but rather surprising legal hiccoughs. He was twice charged with assault, and it appears he inherited from his Irish mother a rather short fuse. He also espoused causes with great intensity.
It was a litigious era. In 1867 the Australian Medical Journal in one issue, under ‘Local topics’ reported three instances of medical men in court. One was fined a shilling for committing an assault on the wife of one of his tenants, upon whom he was serving a notice of ejectment. A Mr Govett of Hamilton was fined forty shillings and costs for using profane and abusive language, and at the Williamstown Police Court Mr Figg was fined two pounds with three pounds costs for assaulting a Mrs Amelia Kingston.
Dr Neild's scrap-book has a fuller account in a newspaper cutting - the provocation was homeopathy. On visiting a baby whom he was currently treating he saw a homeopathic remedy on a nearby table. He became enraged, took off his hat and invoked the great curse of Heaven upon the mother. A neighbour intervened between him and the child and it was alleged that he called her by most opprobrious epithets and knocked her down upon the bed. The defendant claimed he had merely pushed her back when she caught hold of him, but the Bench found against him and imposed the fine.
In the second case in 1879 he was more fortunate. It was alleged by a Mrs Boswell that with a man named Andrew, Mr Figg rushed into her house in pursuit of her son, and that she was struck twice on the breast causing serious injury. In defence Mr Figg said he had seen the son ill-treating young Andrew and called on him to desist. When young Boswell ran away he followed him to his father’s house, where Figg was set upon by Mrs Boswell with a broomstick and by her daughter with a tin dipper. The jury found for the defendant.
Homeopathy was a very live issue, provoking in 1870 a great deal of adverse comment in the Australian Medical Journal and an account of the prosecution of a confectioner for prescribing homeopathic globules. Mr Figg’s part in the controversy draws acid editorial comment:
“A foolish pamphlet, by a foolish person, on homeopathy generally, and abuse of this Journal particularly, has led to a vindication of allopathy by Mr Figg of Williamstown. If it amuses Mr Figg to vindicate allopathy, there is no reason why he should not be amused, but if he thinks to convince homeopathists of the absurdity of their so-called system, by any kind of argument, he is as much in error as if he were to give lectures on the Differential Calculus to a congregation of aboriginals.”
This was not the only cause that he espoused with fervour. Controversy was meat and drink to him, beginning in his twenties when he debated the Swedenborgians. Lynne Strahan credits him with a “formidable if obscure intelligence”. The teachings of Darwin and Huxley were anathema. Not that he was a Creationist; he believed that science could illuminate the origins of the Universe, but refused to see it as unplanned and godless. The chief enemy was Atheism.
His convictions he embodied in a series of long, abstruse and almost unreadable pamphlets. “Rational Theory of Life - opposition to Huxley” has been preserved as cuttings in a large family scrap-book. It was succeeded in 1890 by the “Analysis of Theology Revealed” and in 1893 a long letter on “The Church of the Future”, in support of science and setting out the obstacles to further belief in ‘revealed Truth’. “Science is an offspring of Omniscience, a distinguishing attribute of Deity.”
He was by no means alone in his rejection of Darwinian evolution. In the Melbourne community the theory was initially opposed by Frederick Mueller, the botanist, Professor Halford, founder of the Medical School and Professor McCoy who was a noted palaeontologist.
Figg was reputedly at home in Latin, Greek, Hebrew and Sanskrit. He had quantities of verse published in the Williamstown Chronicle, some of it in Latin with an English paraphrase, preserved by his daughters as cuttings in the family scrap-books. I find his poetry a good deal more lucid and succinct than his prose. It covers a great range of subjects - “The Death of Cavour” (the Italian patriot), “Elementary Ideas of Science”, Lady Augusta Scott, his grandson’s eleventh birthday, and a virulent attack on William Ewart Gladstone for his Irish policy. Much of it has a high moral or religious tone, but he writes an “Elegy on the Death of his favourite Scotch Deerhound”, and comments thus on evolution:
“Shall we unto the earthworm say
Potentially in thee
The unborn world invested lay
By chance events set free?”
He was a militant Protestant in an age of high sectarian tension, and inevitably a member of the Loyal Orange Lodge. He edited their journal for four years and became their Grand Master and in receipt of an ornate bound illuminated address when he went overseas. His extreme anti- Catholic views he expresses in his verses on Gladstone, who proposed Home Rule for Ireland.
“The Protestants - the noblest souls
Who stood in Britain’s cause
Beneath the heel of Rome he rolls,
The victims of such laws”
His “Catechism of Irish History” is a pamphlet in question and answer form, demolishing any arguments in favour of the Irish and against the English occupation, and highly defamatory of the native inhabitants of Ireland. He admits to “an undisguised antipathy to Romanists as a class” and one Prior Butler he describes as “an ecclesiastical, oleaginous sinuosity”.
This sectarianism bedevilled his relationship with Dr Goldie, a Roman Catholic doctor in Williamstown, but he seems to have been a good friend of Dr McLean, whose son cared for him in his last illness.
His zest for controversy and innovation found other outlets. He chaired a meeting to form a branch of the Victorian Funeral Reform Association., which aimed to achieve economy with dignity, and to reduce the overall cost of a funeral to three pounds nine shillings. In 1876 he moved to form a Free Trade League, but according to Strahan., contrived to make a protectionist speech. Also in that year he took part in a demonstration of mesmerism and extracted a tooth from a compliant subject at a public meeting. This led him to the rash inference that mesmerism might take precedence over chloroform in the anaesthetic field.
It appears we have to give him credit as a pioneer feminist. The evidence lies in some satirical verse in the Williamstown Chronicle in June 1869, with the title “Dr Figg’s Woman”, the author entitled only ‘Punch’. I cannot forebear to quote some of the eleven verses:
A new-light teacher, Dr Figg -
At Williamstown he’s a big Wig,
Where lectured he on woman -
Her proper place assigns in life
As a free agent, not a wife,
Submissive to her beau, man.
Oh! Dr Figg
He praised her intellect, her love;
He praised her to the clouds above;
He praised her to the skies;
He praised her virtue, learning,
grace; Her varied talents, mien, and face;
And praised her lovely eyes.
Ah ! Dr Figg
Punch joins in all this praise so far;
But, not content with praising her,
Figg advocates her rights
To be man’s equal, and as free
To do just what she likes as he -
Wear hat, and coat, and tights!
Tights! Dr Figg
‘Twas thus, he said, the matter stood: -
Her intellect was quite as good,
Attainments quite as high
As man’s Why should she not be free
To choose her course in life as he,
And for its prizes try?
Try, Dr Figg
A woman may a doctor be,
Prescribe a dose and take a fee
And all the like of that;
But as for female surgery,
Dissection and anatomy,
I don't believe in that.
That! Dr Figg
He was a fervent advocate and practitioner of chloroform anaesthesia in spite of at least two unhappy incidents with it:
In 1871 the Australian Medical Journal reported a death from chloroform at the house of Mr Figg in Williamstown. It was a young married woman who required some surgery to the hand. At the inquest a verdict of accidental death was returned.
In 1879 he was called to treat the cook of the Loch Shiel for varicose veins and ulcers. He saw him at 7pm in his cabin, said to be seven foot long and six foot high. When chloroform was administered on a handkerchief the patient ‘rose up and struggled violently for about two minutes then fell back with alarming symptoms’. His feet were held up at a forty-five degree angle, but his pulse failed and he died. The post-mortem verdict was ‘asphyxia from inhaling chloroform’. It was probably a cardiac arrest or arrythmia. The coroner found no evidence of negligence or recklessness but recommended that a second medical practitioner be present when chloroform was administered - the profession of anaesthetist was launched.
A further coroner's inquest followed the death of a Dr Macartney MLA. found to be ‘verging on delirium tremens, sleepless and depressed’. He was emaciated and a heavy drinker. He failed to respond to chloral hydrate and brandy and died three days later with ‘congestion of the brain and paralysis of the heart’. He may also have taken aconite liniment by mouth! There seems to have been ample cause for his demise.
Of course, only the disasters are recorded, and Figg seems to have been well-regarded as a doctor and a surgeon. We find him in 1869 at a meeting of the newly-formed Victorian Medical Association, delivering a paper on the removal of the thyroid gland and two years later two papers on “The Action of Alcohol in Health” and “The Action of Alcohol in Disease”. He addressed the same subject at the International Temperance Conference in Melbourne 1880.
This Victorian Medical Association held its first meeting on January 8th 1869 in the Port Philip Club Hotel and Figg was a foundation member of the committee. The president was a Mr Cornelius Stewart, and further meetings seem to have been held in the Board Room of the Melbourne Hospital. The Association was apparently out of favour with the editor of the Australian Medical Journal, who refers to it as “the so-called Medical Association of Victoria”.
The railway to Williamstown was laid down in 1859, and heavy industry followed. The Naval Dockyards opened in 1860 and the Railway Workshops in 1868. It is hard to envisage an industrial and shipping centre such as Williamstown was in the ‘60s to ‘80s without a hospital facility . It was not until 1894 that the Hospital was opened by the Minister for Defence. The committee of management minutes and the first annual report in 1895 are signed by EG Figg as President. He stood down next year, being then eighty years old, but is recorded as an Honorary Medical Officer until 1901. His daughter Annie remained a Life Governor. The hospital’s history and its struggle for funding have been fully documented by Dr Lynne Strahan in her book The Bay to Look Upon and the hospital archives are cared for by Geoffrey Preston, a former CEO.
IN THESE later years of the nineteenth century, Williamstown was not only a centre of migrant and commercial shipping but became increasingly important as the home of the Port Philip Pilot Service and the Victorian Navy . In 1867 HMS Nelson was loaned to the Victorian Government as a training ship for the Naval Force. It was a wooden battleship built in 1814, the largest to that date. The Cerberos arrived in 1871 as a part gift from the Imperial Government, after a hazardous journey. She was a cumbersome iron gun platform which never thereafter went outside the Heads.
When a merchant naval officer broke his ankle playing football Dr Figg took him home to be looked after by his daughters. He was Frederick Tickell. He married Mary Figg and later became Commodore of the Victorian Navy and took a naval contingent to the Boxer Rising in China. He ended his career as a Rear-Adrniral. They were my mother's parents.
EDWARD Figg's family life was not free from tragedy. The youngest daughter, Eliza Jane, died at five years, just after their arrival in the colony. Her death certificate reads “Scarlatina accompanied by rheumatism and followed by disease of the heart” - a duration of four weeks. His wife died at forty-eight, the cause certified by Dr McLean as “serious effusion on the brain” - one would surmise meningitis. His only son, James Carnegie, went to Williamstown Grammar School and then to Edinburgh to qualify in medicine and succeed to his father's practice. He died only months after his return at the age of twenty-nine, from “valvular disease of the heart of five years’ duration”.
Pursuing these three death certificates gave me an illuminating insight into the pattern of mortality in Williamstown at that time. The photostats from the Registrar’s office record five serial deaths on each page, a very small but random series. Of these fifteen only two are over the age of forty, a man of sixty-eight with bronchitis and hepatitis and forty-eight-year-old Mrs Figg. Of the rest, a sailmaker fell down the hold of the City of Melbourne, a woman of thirty-two died of post-partum haemorrhage, there were two deaths each from phthisis and typhoid and one from pneumonia, and no less than six from disease we now recognise as due to haemolytic streptococcal infection, that is scarlatina, rheumatic fever, valvular heart disease and nephritis in various combinations.
Of the son, Dr Carnegie Figg, we have no formal records (other than his death certificate) but a few tangible memorabilia. There is a full dance program of ‘76 when he was 19. He danced two quadrilles and the lancers with Miss E MacKnight. One dance he ‘flirted’ and one he ‘mooned’ and one he spent on the verandah. There are also from Edinburgh the case for his professional cards, with the copper template, and a medical diary for 1886 with entries of patients’ names ceasing abruptly on March 3Oth.
DR FIGG retired from medical practice in 1890 when he was seventy-five and needed an operation for cataract. This was successfully carried out in the United Kingdom. He maintained his output of philosophy and theology in prose and verse. Two of his daughters, Mary and May, had married sea-faring men, but Annie and Harriette remained at home to care for him and to foster two children who had been orphaned on the outward journey. Obituary notices make much of their kindness to the poor in the community, particularly those whose misfortune arose through the “demon drink”.
The Nelson Place house and surgery were leased to Dr Honman at eighty pounds per annum, and the Figg family moved to ‘Miora’, a single-story weatherboard house in the Strand in a big garden. I have happy memories of visits in the 1920s. Aunt Annie was almost blind and mildly eccentric in ways that endeared her to children. She harboured an aged cockatoo who had the run of the house; there were fowls to be fed and an assortment of stray cats and dogs, home-brewed ginger beer and the shallow rocky foreshore at the end of the ferry crossing. She died in 1937 when I was a medical student and able to inherit the Beaney mug and great-grandfather’s wooden mon-aural stethoscope.
DR FIGG died intestate in 1902 at the age of eighty-seven, suffering from chronic bronchitis. The record of Probate shows his estate valued at £7876, including the Nelson Place house at nine hundred pounds and the Strand house at seven hundred and fifty pounds. His daughter Annie administered the estate.
Obituary notices are elaborate and fulsome in the manner of the time. The Chronicle gives him more than a column, with stress on his scholarship, his generosity and his public spirit. He is interred with his wife and family under a severely plain four-square obelisk in the Williamstown Cemetery.
Reviewing this life, one is struck by the impotence of the medical man of that age. Opium was the sole analgesic, digitalis the only cardiac medication, pharmacology was as yet unborn. There was nothing against sepsis nor the infectious diseases, except vaccination for smallpox. Small wonder that homeopathy had a following, as indeed do herbal remedies and aromatherapy in today's alternative medicine.
Figg’s scholarship reflects his rigorous Scottish upbringing, and his many non-medical interests mirror the intellectual ferment of his time - in particular the post-Darwinian debate, the Free Trade issue, the Irish question and the sectarian strife. It was an era which looked to the medical profession as leaders in public debate and popular opinion.
Family photographs record a benign, tall, bearded figure seated in his garden with his treasured Scottish deerhound, but his life and work reflect a man of energy, of passionate convictions, formidable learning and convoluted thought. To us his ideas are often bizarre and wrong-headed but he was undoubtedly a kind and generous man with great feeling for the human race.
The curiously apt epitaph on that solid tombstone seems to bring Edward Garland Figg a touch closer to us:
“Teach me to feel another’s woe,
To hide the fault I see.
That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me.”
Margaret Henderson
Parkville. May 1997.1 
Probate (Will)* Mary E Tickell. Widow. Kew. 11 Aug 1939. 309/017.2 
Married NameTickell.3 
Marriage*18 Dec 1886 Spouse: Rear-Admiral Frederick Tickell. Williamstown, VIC, Australia, #M6620.3
Widow19 Sep 1919Mary Elizabeth Figg became a widow upon the death of her husband Rear-Admiral Frederick Tickell.4 
Land-UBeac*a 19 Sep 1919 GEM-D-2 (part), 8-10 St Georges Road. Transfer from Rear-Admiral Frederick Tickell to Mary Elizabeth Tickell. 1a.5 
Land-UBeac*6 Feb 1923 GEM-D-2 (part), 8-10 St Georges Road. Transfer from Mary Elizabeth Tickell to Alice Mary 'Elsie' Baker. 1a.6 
Death*1939 Kew, VIC, Australia, #D9226 (age 79) [par Edward Garland FIGG & Annie Unknown].4 
Death-Notice*4 Sep 1939TICKELL - At Kew, Mary Elizabeth, beloved wife of the late Rear Admiral F Tickell, C M G RAN loved mother of Alan (lost with Waratah) Shorley Henderson, Lucy Wright, Kathleen George, in her 80th year. (Privately cremated 2nd September.)7 


  • C/E C 1379A, Boroondara Cemetery, Kew, VIC, Australia8


  • 21 Apr 1914: Mrs F. Tickell spent the Easter holidays in her new house at Upper Beaconsfield.9


  1. [S50] Miscellaneous Source,…


    Family scrapbooks and photographs

    Brownless Library
    Australian Medical Journa1 1865-1902 Ann Tovell Catalogue
    Dr Neild’s Scrapbook

    State Library Victoria
    Newspaper files - Williamstown Chronicle, Williamstown Advertiser
    Biology pamphlets vol I Melb 1869
    Irish History Pamphlets vol XIV Melb 1886

    At the Edge of the Centre , Lynne Strahan
    The Bay to Look Upon, Lynne Strahan

    Victorian Archives

    Record of Probate EG Figg
    Proceedings of Supreme Court, May 1889

    Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages
    Victoria Death certificates

    Heritage Victoria

    House at 231 Nelson Place,
    Williamstown Rate records

    Personal Communication
    Geoffrey Preston
    Bryan Gandevia
    Williamstown Cemetery.
  2. [S35] Probate Records, PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), VPRS 28/P3, unit 3290; VPRS 7591/P2, unit 1088.
  3. [S1] Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Pioneer Index Victoria 1836-1888.
  4. [S5] Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Death Index Victoria 1921-1985.
  5. [S185] Property Titles ; PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), C/T 2489-610 - Frederick Tickell died on 19th September 1919. Probate of his will has been granted to Mary Elizabeth Tickell of "Delmira" Denmark Street Kew Widow.
  6. [S185] Property Titles ; PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), C/T 2489-610 - Alice May Baker of 5 Waterloo Street Camberwell Married Woman.
  7. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 4 Sep 1939, p6.
  8. [S46] Index of burials in the cemetery of Boroondara, Kew,.
  9. [S14] Newspaper - The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.), Tue 21 Apr 1914, p4
Last Edited1 Jun 2020

Edward Tweddell

M, #4529, b. 15 Oct 1813, d. 19 Jun 1889
Birth*15 Oct 1813 Haltwhistle, Northumberland, England, [par Edward TWEDDELL & Margaret MARSHALL]
baptism: 6 Jan 1814.1,2 
Marriage*25 Dec 1844 Spouse: Ann Ellidge. Durham, England.3
(Migrant) Migration/TravelSep 1865 Sailing with Ann Tweddell Richard Ellidge Tweddell to Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Ship Great Britain
Age A.4 
Death*19 Jun 1889 St Kilda, VIC, Australia, #D10070 (age 75) [par Edward TWEDDELL & Margaret].5 
Death-Notice*20 Jun 1889TWEDDELL. —On the 19th inst., at his residence, Graystone, Barkly-street, St. Kilda, Edward Tweddell, late of Newcastle-on-Tyne, in his 76th year.6 
Death-Notice21 Jun 1889THE Friends of the late Mr. EDWARD TWEDDELL are respectfully invited to follow his remains to the place of interment, the St. Kilda General Cemetery.
The funeral will move from his late residence Greystone, Barkly-street, St. Kilda, THIS DAY (Friday, 21st inst.), at half-past 2 o'clock.
ROBERT CHURCHUS, undertaker, No. 49 High-street, St. Kilda.7 


  • St Kilda Cemetery, St Kilda, VIC, Australia, WESLEYAN, MONUMENTAL, COMPARTMENT A GRAVE 78, 78A, 798


Ann Ellidge b. 1820, d. 13 Feb 1895
Children 1.Edward Tweddell+ b. Jun 1847, d. 7 Jul 1929
 2.Elizabeth Ellidge Tweddell b. Dec 1852, d. 7 Aug 1937
 3.Annie Plumtree Tweddell b. Jun 1855, d. 28 Mar 1939
 4.Richard Ellidge Tweddell+ b. Jun 1861, d. 2 Jan 1953


  1. [S50] Miscellaneous Source,
  2. [S31] IGI "P002851."
  3. [S50] Miscellaneous Source,
  4. [S36] Inward & outward passenger lists to and from Victoria. Series: VPRS 14; 7666; 7667; 7786); PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), 250 011.
  5. [S2] Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Federation Index Victoria 1889-1901.
  6. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 20 Jun 1889, p1.
  7. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 21 Jun 1889, p1.
  8. [S48] Index of burials in the cemetery of St Kilda,.
Last Edited13 Apr 2016

Ann Ellidge

F, #4530, b. 1820, d. 13 Feb 1895
Married NameTweddell.1 
Birth*1820 Spilsby, Lincolnshire, England. [par Rev Richard ELLIDGE & Susannah PLUMTREE]2 
Marriage*25 Dec 1844 Spouse: Edward Tweddell. Durham, England.2
(Migrant) Migration/TravelSep 1865 Sailing with Edward Tweddell Richard Ellidge Tweddell to Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Ship Great Britain
Age A.3 
Land-UBeac*30 Jun 1887 PAK-60 l/p 1137 (Lot 39 part). Transfer from Paul William Einsiedel to Ann Tweddell. 1a 0r 38p.4 
Widow19 Jun 1889She became a widow upon the death of her husband Edward Tweddell.1 
Death*13 Feb 1895 St Kilda, VIC, Australia, #D3629 (Age 74) [par Richard ELLIDGE & Susannah PLUMTREE].1 
Death-Notice*15 Feb 1895TWEDDELL.—On the 13th inst., at Graystone, Barkly street, St. Kilda, Ann, relict of the late Edward Tweddell, formerly of Newcastle-on-Tyne, aged 74.
TWEDDELL.—The Friends of the late Mrs. ANN TWEDELL (relict ot the late Edward Tweddell) are respectfully invited to follow her remains to the place of interment, the St. Kilda General Cemetery.
The funeral is appointed to move from her late residence, Greystone, 18 Barkly-street, St. Kilda, THIS DAY (Friday, February 15th, 1895), at 4 o'clock punctually.5 
Probate (Will)*9 May 1895 57/551. owned 1ac 38 perches, Pt CA60 Parish of Pakenham, on which 5-roomed weatherboard house is erected. Valued L200. Furniture therein valued L50. She leaves her real and personal estate to the use of her two daughters subject to a payment of L250 to their brother Richard Ellidge Tweddell.
Also had property at St Kilda.6 
Land-Note*11 Oct 1912 Ann Tweddell died the 13th day of February 1895. On the 10th day of April 1895 probate of the will of the said Ann Tweddell was granted to Edward Tweddell of Poath Road Murrumbeena Accountant.7 
Land-UBeac*11 Oct 1912 PAK-60 l/p 1137 (Lot 39 part), Rosemont. Transfer from Ann Tweddell to Arthur William 'Boss' Shorthouse. 1a 0r 38p.8 


  • St Kilda Cemetery, St Kilda, VIC, Australia, WESLEYAN, MONUMENTAL, COMPARTMENT A GRAVE 78, 78A, 799


Edward Tweddell b. 15 Oct 1813, d. 19 Jun 1889
Children 1.Edward Tweddell+ b. Jun 1847, d. 7 Jul 1929
 2.Elizabeth Ellidge Tweddell b. Dec 1852, d. 7 Aug 1937
 3.Annie Plumtree Tweddell b. Jun 1855, d. 28 Mar 1939
 4.Richard Ellidge Tweddell+ b. Jun 1861, d. 2 Jan 1953


  • 15 May 1871: Death of sister: RICHARDSON.—On the 27th February, at 18 Park place, West Sunderland, Emma Oakes, aged 45, relict of H. Y. Richardson, Kew, the beloved sister of Mrs Edward Tweddell, Dalgety-street, St, Kilda.10
  • 4 Jun 1890: Berwick Shire. Correspondence. From R. Noble, Beaconsfield, calling attention to bad condition of road between Mrs. Tweddell's and Mrs. Crouche's properties.—Received.11
  • 14 Nov 1893: SUMMER SEASON - Private BOARD RESIDENCE. Mrs W Locke, Rosemount, Upper Beaconfield. Lovely mountain air.12
  • 27 Nov 1893: BEACONSFIELD HILLS, Lovely View.-Family HOME; moderate. Rosemount, Upper Beaconsfield.13
  • 8 Dec 1893: CHRISTMAS Holidays. - Rosemount, Upper Beaconsfield - Private BOARD RESIDENCE, fern gullies, mountain air, shooting, fishing.14
  • 10 Feb 1894: BEACONSFIELD, Upper -ROSEMOUNT, private Board Residence, adults 25s and £1 1s., children 15s. Mountain air, fern gullies.15
  • 16 Feb 1894: BEACONSFIELD (Upper). Rosemount. —Private HOME in mountains lovely climate; careful nursing if required ; moderate.16
  • 29 Sep 1906: At BEACONSFIELD. Land having an area of about ONE ACRE and a QUARTER, well situated, on a good road, about half a mile from the Upper Beaconsfield Post-office. The buildings comprise a DOUBLE-FRONTED WEATHERBOARD VILLA, "Rosemount." containing 6 rooms, pantry, bathroom, fowl-house, and outhouses, verandah on three sides, and with a large underground tank.
    The PROPERTY IS COMFORTABLY FURNISHED), and will be sold as it stands.
    Titles. Certificates.
    W. H. Allard and Co.. auctioneers, Broken Hill Chambers, 31 Queen-street, city.17
  • 13 Mar 1909: BEACONSFIELD UPPER.—Furnished VILLA, 6 rooms, tanks, orchard, elevated position. Tweddell, 31 Queen-st.18


  1. [S2] Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages Federation Index Victoria 1889-1901.
  2. [S50] Miscellaneous Source,
  3. [S36] Inward & outward passenger lists to and from Victoria. Series: VPRS 14; 7666; 7667; 7786); PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), 250 011.
  4. [S185] Property Titles ; PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), C/T 1837-229 - Ann Tweddell the wife of Edward Tweddell of Barkly Street Saint Kilda Gentleman - C/T 1926-123.
  5. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 15 Feb 1895, p1.
  6. [S35] Probate Records, PROV (Public Records Office Victoria).
  7. [S185] Property Titles ; PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), C/T 1926-123 - Ann Tweddell died the 13th day of February 1895. On the 10th day of April 1895 probate of the will of the said Ann Tweddell was granted to Edward Tweddell of Poath Road Murrumbeena Accountant.
  8. [S185] Property Titles ; PROV (Public Records Office Victoria), C/T 1926-123 - Arthur William Shorthouse of Upper Beaconsfield Cab Proprietor - transfer from the above named Edward Tweddell.
  9. [S48] Index of burials in the cemetery of St Kilda,.
  10. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 15 May 1871, p4.
  11. [S12] Newspaper - South Bourke and Mornington Journal (Richmond, Vic.), 4 Jun 1890, p3.
  12. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 14 Nov 1893, p8.
  13. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 27 Nov 1893, p8.
  14. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 8 Dec 1893, p8.
  15. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 10 Feb 1894, p16.
  16. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 16 Feb 1894, p8.
  17. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 29 Sep 1906, p2.
  18. [S11] Newspaper - The Argus (Melbourne, Vic.), 13 Mar 1909, p21.
Last Edited17 Sep 2019


Some family sections show only the children who were associated with Upper Beaconsfield.

Some individuals may be featured because members of their family were associated with the Upper Beaconsfield area, even though they themselves never lived here.