Hon. Edmund Walcott Fosbery, C.M.G.
Member of the Legislative Council
for New South Wales
In 1879, Sir Henry Parkes agreed to a recommendation put forward by Inspector General Edmund Walcott Fosbery, that a Criminal Investigation Branch be formed and Inspector Henry John Wager, be the officer in charge.
This was assented to on the 19th November, 1879.
Edmund Walcott Fosbery, the Inspector General of Police, responsible for forming the Criminal Investigation Branch in 1879, was born at Wootton near Gloucester, England, on the 6th February, 1834, the son of Commander Godfrey Fosbery, Royal Navy. Edmund was educated at the Royal Naval College, New Cross, and at the age of 13 years obtained a scholarship, entitling him to a commission in the Navy. He did not accept this but on leaving school was for some years secretary to a firm of Solicitors. Fosbery came to Australia in 1852, and on the l0th February, 1853, obtained an appointment as a cadet in the Police Department of Victoria, under the Chief Commissioner of Police, Captain Standish.
On the 1st November, 1853, he was appointed chief clerk in the office of the Chief Commissioner. When the New South Wales Police System was being remodelled by the Premier, Sir Charles Cowper, in 1862, Mr Fosbery was invited to come to Sydney and assist in putting the new organisation into operation. He accepted the invitation and was appointed Secretary to the Police Department with the rank of Superintendent and to act as the Deputy Inspector General of Police.
He was appointed Inspector General of Police on the 7th October, 1874 and carried out the duties of office with marked ability. He held the position of Inspector General until the 30th June, 1904, when he retired. Immediately prior to leaving the Police Force he was created a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George and on his retirement was made a member of the Legislative Council. He died at his residence 'Eaton,' Bayswater Road, Darlinghurst, in Sydney NSW Australia, at the age of 85 years on the 1st July, 1919. This was during the Influenza Pandemic.
Obituary Published in The Sydney Morning Herald , 2nd July 1919
NOTED FIGURE GONE
MR. E.W. FOSBERY'S DEATH
The death occurred , at quarter-past 8 o'clock yesterday morning, of Mr. Edmund Walcott Fosbery, C.M.G.,M.L.C., at his residence, Eaton, Bayswater Road. The deceased was 85 years of age.
Few men were better known in the life of this State than Mr. Fosbery, who was for many years Inspector-General of Police, and had since his retirement from that position at the end of 1903 occupied a seat in the Legislative Council.
With the exception of a few months absence in Europe on one occasion - partly on official business - Mr. Fosbery noted on his retirement that he had not had a day's leave for 42 years.
Born at Wotton, in Gloucester, on February 6, 1834, Mr. Fosbery was the son of Commander Godfrey Fosbery, R.N. His mother was a daughter of Mr. John Walcott, the naturalist. The deceased was educated at the Royal Naval School at New Cross, where he obtained a scholarship in
mathematics and navigation, entitling him to a commission in the navy. This, however, he did not avail himself of, having no liking
for the sea. On leaving school he became secretary to Sir Phillip Rose, of the well-known legal firm of Norton, Rose and Russell, who were solicitors to some of the big railway companies in Great Britain, and to Benjamin Disraeli and other famous men.
Although Mr. Fosbery was born in England, and his people were originally from England, the family had been settled in Ireland, near
Limerick, for a great many years.
Lured, as so many other men were, by the gold discoveries in Australia, Mr. Fosbery came out to this country in 1852, being then
only 18 years of age. It was not long before he found himself in the Police Department in Victoria as a cadet, under the late Captain
When the New South Wales police system was being remodelled by Sir Charles Cowper, he was offered and accepted the position of secretary to the department, and Acting Inspector-General, and he arrived in
Sydney in 1862. He was a young man for such an important position, but he had an old head on his shoulders; and in 1874, when he was appointed Inspector-General of the Police Force, in succession to the late Captain McLerie, it was generally recognised that no better appointment could have been made.
The esteem in which he was held by all ranks in the police force was well illustrated on the occasion of the valedictory gathering in St. James' Hall, when a presentation was made to him, consisting of an illuminated address and a cheque, together with a tea and coffee
service for Mrs. Fosbery, who died over two years ago. Mr. Thomas Garvin, who succeeded Mr. Fosbery on the latter's retirement, presided, and remarked that Mr. Fosbery might possibly take a trip to his native land, and with the cheque might get a painting of himself, which he could hand to his family as an heirloom. Both these things
Mr. Fosbery did. The painting by Longstaff, is a beautiful piece of work, and a speaking likeness, and it was for a time on view at the National Art Gallery.
But Mr. Fosbery was honoured not only by the members and ex-members of the police force, he was honoured also by members of the Public Service generally and by the Sydney Chamber of Commerce. The latter
body, at a gathering at the Royal Exchange, presided over by the then chairman, Mr. G.S. Littlejohn and attended by the late Sir John See as Premier, the Lord Mayor (Mr. S. E. Lees), Sir Norman Maclaurin, M.L.C. and Sir George Dibbs, together with many other prominent
citizens, presented him with a magnificent illuminated address , on behalf of the mercantile community. In making the presentation, Mr. Littlejohn remarked that Mr. Fosbery had been a giant of his time,
and the question was, " Where are we to get the giants of the future?" And he read some lines specially written by himself, in which he pictured their guest as having held "the reins of office as a sacred trust, to be discharged for simple conscience’ sake."
It was only natural that Mr Fosbery should indulge in some reminiscences on that occasion.
" A peaceful traveller, or even an armed escort, was not safe from highwaymen 43 years ago," he said. " The police and mounted patrols, who were under control of various magistrates, were not always a class of men equal to coping with the villainy and criminality of the day. In the work of reform there was a heavy sacrifice of valuable lives.
Many of the police were shot down in the execution of their duty while performing acts of bravery that under other circumstances
would have won them the Victoria Cross. The country is dotted with the memorials of these martyrs to duty." He added that he believed
he was handing over to his successor a police equipment unequalled in the world, and he concluded with the words:- " When many years
ago I took up my position I swore to do my duty, and I feel I may regard this gathering as an indication that I have kept my oath."
Mr. Fosbery was until a comparatively recent date, a director of the Bank of New South Wales, and a director of the United Insurance Company. Before his retirement as Inspector-General he was a member of the Board of Health, a vice president of the old Barrack-street Savings Bank , chairman of the Public Service Tender Board, chairman of the Aborigines Protection Board, and a member of the central board for the administration of the Old-age Pensions Act. In addition he
had been actively associated with the Discharged Prisoners Aid Society, and several other important bodies. He had been a member of the Union Club since 1873, and he was an old member , and for many years a trustee of the Australian Jockey Club.
During the visit of the King and Queen to Australia (then the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York) Mr. Fosbery was the recipient of a Royal gift, and in 1902 he was created a Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.
The deceased gentleman had a family of eight children, of whom three survive - Mr. Eustace Fosbery, Mrs. R. E. Horsfall of Melbourne, and Mrs. Consett Davis.
The funeral of the late Mr.E.W. Fosbery will take place today, but in accordance with an oft-repeated wish expressed by him during his
life, it will be private, and will be attended only by members of the family. It is the request of the relatives that there should be
Notes on the Police Superintendent's Residence
From at least 1842 a house on the site was occupied by the then Chief Commissioner of Police, Major Joseph Long Innes and his wife, Elizabeth Anne Reiby, the daughter of Mary Reiby. Innes was a member, in 1844, of a delegation from the St Lawrence Parochial Association seeking a grant of land for the Christ Church School from the Governor (one of the sites unsuccessfully proposed at the time was that of the Debtors' Prison). The residence was next home to John McLerie, who was Superintendent of Police from 1850 and Inspector General of Police from 1856. McLerie was a pew holder at Christ Church throughout the 1850s and, following his death on 6 October 1874, was buried at Camperdown Cemetery after a service conducted at Christ Church by Bishop Barker. McLerie was succeeded immediately by Edmund Fosbery who also lived in the house, naming it "the Cottage". Since he retired at the end of 1903, Fosbery would have been the last Inspector General to live in the house on Pitt Street.
Sydney Evening News, 31 July, 1901
SUSPECTED ANARCHISTS DETAINED IN QUARANTINE.
UNTIL THE DUKE LEFT AUSTRALIA
WHAT THE INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE SAYS.
A telegram received in Sydney from Perth, West Australia, says: "It will be remembered that when the R.M.S. Ormuz arrived at Fremantle on May 16th it was rumored that anarchists were aboard the vessel, which was flying the yellow flag at the time. The anarchist craze gradually died out, but the matter was revived today by a statement in the Perth 'Daily News,' which says: 'A well known Sydney resident, who has just arrived in this State, says positively that, although three other passengers were allowed to leave the ship, three suspected anarchists were detained in Sydney Quarantine Station. He also states that it was subsequently decided to release these men on July 25. The Sydney visitor says that the three men, who were most fashionably dressed, were well treated in quarantine, but were closely watched. Further inquiries are being made.' "
An "Evening News" representative made inquiries this morning in connection with the above telegram, and it appears that something of the kind mentioned did occur, though whether there was any real necessity to keep anybody under surveillance is reasonably open to doubt. Possibly the scare which was occasioned when it was first announced in a wire from Perth that there were some Italians on the Ormuz upon her outward voyage caused the authorities here to take every precaution, even though they did not attach very much importance to the circumstance. From what can be gathered from outside sources (officially, tbe greatest reticence is still observed), it seems that there actually were three men upon whom a watch was kept, in view of what were deemed possibilities. Those men were unsuccessfully vaccinated before the ship reached Sydney, and, with hundreds of others, were kept at North Head as contacts. They were kept there until some time last week, when they were discharged, and since then, it is stated, they had settled down peaceably to business, as was no doubt their intention all along, as they have friends here among the Italian residents of the city.
When seen with reference to the matter, Mr. Fosbery, Inspector-General of Police. returned what was apparently a diplomatic answer. Asked whether the facts as stated in the telegram were correct, he said: "No persons were detained at quarantine unless they were either patients or contacts. Nobody was specially detained for any reason whatever." To all further questions Mr Fosbery replied that he did not wish to say anything further about the matter.
The reporter, subsequently saw Dr. Ashburton Thompson, President of the-Board of Health. Dr. Thompson has but recently resumed duty after a protracted illness, which has kept him away from his office for about six weeks. He courteously offered to give any particulars of the matter within his knowledge, but added that, owing to his absence from duty in the period named, he knew very little about it.
"Were any men kept under any especial observation, doctor?" he was asked.
"No," was the reply; "not at all. I believe there were some men whom the police wished to keep an eye upon, for we were asked not to allow them to go, when the time arrived for their due release, witbout informing the police that they were going.''
''There were some police on duty down there, were there not?''.
"Yes; but they were outside the boundary of the quarantine station, not inside.''
Would it be difficult for anyone to escape from the station enclosure?". asked the reporter.
If anyone had a special object for wishing to escape, I have no doubt that he could accomplish it," the president replied.
''Were the police informed, then, when these men were released?'' the pressman asked.
"Well, as Mr. Fosbery sits at this table as a member of the board, there is no necessity to tell him what goes on here," rejoined Dr. Thompson, 'All these releases came before the board for approval, you know." Dr. Tidswell, who was acting as President of the Board of Health during Dr. Thompson’s absence from duty, said that he could give no information beyond what his chief had just previously stated.
From inquiries made in other quarters, however, it would appear that the incident caused no little stir in official circles at the time, and that more than one cabinet meeting was held to take it into consideration. However, the general opinion now seems to be that all the trouble taken was totally unnecessary.
Capt. Godfrey Fosbery R.N.
Eustace Edmund Fosbery
John Walcott Fosbery
Cousins in W.A.