William Fryer
Maria Clissold
John Fryer


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Mary Ellen McKnight

John Fryer

  • Born: 20 Dec 1848, Cobbitty, New South Wales, Australia 2
  • Married: 1884, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1
  • Died: 9 May 1917, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia 3

  Research Notes:

"Death of Mr. John Fryer

We referred briefly in our last issue to the regretted demise of Mr John Fryer, an old and esteemed resident of the Nepean and Camden districts, deceased having passed away at his late residence, Mulgoa Road, on Wednesday afternoon of last week (May 9th), about 5 p.m. The late Mr Fryer is a native of the little disttrict of Cobbity, near Camden, and was in his 70th year. He came of the sturdy farming stock which, in our early history, laid the foundations of settlement; and his boyhood was spent in the invigorating 'fellowship' of the primary industries that are the backstop of our national progress and stability. Before Mr Fryer was yet out of his teens he engaged in the then profitable and, oft times, adventurous occupation of carrying to and from the Western goldfields, then in full swing, and during the sixties had a varied experience of carrying over the (then) newly formed roads to the interior; and, in fact, like other carriers, helped to mould for the engineering department at times the best natural routes for the roadways of the future. He observed on occasions that the Western Road, as he knew it in the sixties, was an ill-formed bush track in places, though in parts it had been well built, 'packed' and rolled (and some of the patches are yet durable, through the penalised labour of the early wards of the State. Mr Fryer practically travelled the greater part of the State in the carrying days, bringing wool and produce to the city market, and to the wharves for shipment over seas from places as far apart as Wagga and Albury on the Southern side to Dubbo on the west, and he had a good a knowledge of bush craft generally as the most accredited Theologians have of the chapters and text of the Bible. During his western expeditions Gardiner's and other gangs of bushrangers were terrorising the country, and Mr. Fryer on several occasions met one or other of the outlaws, but was never divested of his wherewithal, or unduly detained for any length of time by the desperadoes. Ben Hall he described as a fine free-handed sort of fellow, who had been, to a degree forced by domestic trouble to adopt bush piracy more or less as an antidote for his private sorrows, as one who has 'fallen out' with society. He also related a meeting with Ned Kelly while the latter was a smart youthful rough rider, in the Albury District and he knew, personally, many of the old-time squatters of the south and west.

In the days when the gates of the world were wide
O'er beyond the Great Divide,
And the squatter was the king
In court and sport and everything —

Mr. Fryer, in common with so many other carriers of his time, was oft delayed through the muddy 'affection' of the black soil country in the winter period. One such incident obtained some historic notoriety, as a photograph depicting the 'bogging' of Mr Fryer's and another carrier's team in a patch of heavy ground out Wagga way 25 years ago, in a peculiar way, happened to reach Her late Majesty Queen Victoria, who, on seeing the reproduction of the incident, expressed her surprise that the carriers of Australia should be obliged to drive their teams through such quagmires. On this particular occasion Mr Fryer and his mate were obliged to unload their cargoes of wool several times during the day, and made barely two miles from sunrise to sundown. A photographer happened to be passing at the time they were unloading for the third time, and the photo that he produced showed the teams stuck fast in the tenacious mud, and the wool bales lying scattered around. One of those photos was placed in a bale of the wool, later shipped to England, and was duly presented to Queen Victoria, as relayed. Mention was made of it in a number of English papers. The existence of the settlers outback depended largely on the carriers, who were the chief medium of supplying the inland settler's requirements, and, as the above narrated incident shows, the carriers' work was not 'all beer and skittles.'

Mr Fryer, with his wife and family, settled in Penrith some seven years ago, and he was a well known and popular figure, being most popular with his acquaintances; a man of characteristically genial temperament, ever ready to do a good turn and assist promptly in the hour of need. The writer recollects that during some heavy weather which eventuated about eighteen months ago, Mr Fryer, on horseback, rescued several children from a dwelling that had been invaded by the storm waters in a low-lying part or the town (Penrith); and he was ever ready to act in such emergencies. The deceased, who had been visiting places in the western district onbusiness, was overtaken an apopletic stroke at Hampton about a week prior to his death, at the home, we understand, of Mr and Mrs George Boyd, of that village. He was most kindly tended by Mrs Boyd and family, and eventually taken to Lithgow Hospital by Mr George Coates in that gentleman's motor car. On hearing of their father's seizure, Messrs William and Percy Fryer (the first of whom is a returned soldier, and the latter Private Percy Fryer, having sailed for the front since his father's death) proceeded to Lithgow, per motor car, and brought Mr Fryer home. Dr. Higgins was sent for, but it was evident that the patient was beyond recovery; and after lingering till Wednesday afternoon he passed away painlessly, to the grief of his home circle and relatives. The members of the Fryer family, all of whom survive their father, are— Messrs William E and Percy Fryer, Mesdames W Izzard, J Thompson, and H O Craig (Penrith), Mrs W Earle (Newtown), and Misses Winnie and Rita Fryer, living at home with their bereaved mother...." 4

  Marriage Information:

John married Mary Ellen McKnight, daughter of Robert McKnight of Penrith and Emily O'Donnell, in 1884 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1. (Mary Ellen McKnight was born in 1866 in Penrith, New South Wales, Australia 5 and died on 21 Jun 1950 in 1 Cooper St., Strathfield, Sydney, N.S.W., Australia 6.)


1 NSW Registry BDM (marriages), 360/1884.

2 NSW Registry BDM (births), 918/1848 V1848918 33A.

3 NSW Registry BDM (deaths), 6168/1917.

4 Nepean Times (Penrith), Saturday 19 May 1917.

5 NSW Registry BDM (births), 13595/1866.

6 NSW Registry BDM (deaths), 11781/1950 (Mary Ellen Fryer, daughter of Robert).

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