Walter Henry Hickson
Walter Henry Hickson born 3rd September 1869 at Frederickton, Macleay River. [ref
12828/1869 -trans held] son of Peter Hickson and Matilda Ann Sheppard and eldest brother
of my great grand father George Hickson. He was the elder born of twins. Present at the birth
was Mrs Tyson. Of interest is the fact that his name Walter Henry was added after the
registration. It appears that the original name was William Henry.
Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children :
On 10th March 1880 Walter, Ada, William [Peter] George, Edward and Frederick were admitted
to the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children by their mother, Matilda. Baby Benjamin is not
listed. It appears her address at the time was Maitland Place off Parramatta Street, Sydney. The
reasons given for the admittance of the children were mistreatment [?], neglect and desertion
by father. Their admission was noted 'To pay two pounds six per week for each child'. This
probably applied to Matilda as she later says she was the one who placed the children in the
facility. On 14th April 1880 all of the children except Edward were discharged to their father,
Peter, who gave the address 8 Glenmore Rd Paddington. What followed then was recorded in
The Sydney Morning Herald dated 18th May 1880 under the headline "Shocking Destitution":
The truth of the aphorism that one-half the world has no idea how the other half lives was fully
exemplified at the Water Police Court yesterday morning, when a case was brought under the
notice of the magistrates which dis closed a state of misery and wretchedness seldom heard of
in this community. Peter Hickson, a middle-aged man, described as a sawyer, together with a
woman named Mary Jane Mackay, was charged with having no lawful means of support, while
five children-four boys, whose ages ranged from 2 years to 11 years, and a girl-were also
brought before the Court as destitute children, having been found on Saturday night sleeping
out in the open air. From the statement of senior-sergeant Bremner, it appeared that he
discovered the five children on Saturday night at about 8 o'clock lying in the scrub at the water
reserve, Moore Park, in company with the father and a woman of the vagrant class. The
children, who were lying asleep on the bare ground, were in a most filthy and pitiable
condition. They were wretchedly clad, what little clothing they had on being in a state of rags,
and the unfortunate waifs were shivering bitterly with the cold. One of the children, a girl
about 11 years of age, told the constable that she was sent out begging by her father every day,
and whenever she came home without either money or food she was flogged. Whatever money
she obtained by begging she always gave to her father, who invariably spent it in drink. The
children were not only disgustingly dirty, but also more or less afflicted with blight in the eyes,
the result of exposure and want. The constable had the children forthwith conveyed to the
police station, where they were washed and fed. The father and the woman who was found
lying in the scrub with the children were also taken to the station, and were charged with
having no lawful means of support. Matilda Hickson, the mother of the children, informed the
Bench that she was in service, and received a sum of 12s per week, out of which she had to pay
10s for the support of one of her children two years of age. In March last she got five of the
children into the Randwick Asylum, where they were in good health and quite contented ; but
the father took them out against her wishes and without her consent, and since then they had
been going about the streets begging. The father stated that he was turned out of his house
with his children lately because he could not pay the rent, and that he took them out of the
asylum to provide for them himself, but had since been unable to obtain work. Mr. Marsh, in
commenting on the case, said that it was very painful to see an able-bodied healthy man like
the prisoner living in such degradation and abject misery, and allowing his children to suffer
such horrible privations through his own laziness. His personal appearance was sufficient to
inspire any one with disgust, and he was nothing better than a disgrace to humanity. Hickson
was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, with hard labour, in Darlinghurst gaol ; and the
woman who was found in his company, and who said that she had been " hired by Mr. Hickson
to mind the children," was sent to gaol for two months. The children were ordered to be sent to
the Industrial School.
Nautical School Ship Vernon: Walter along with his brothers was sent to the Industrial School
aboard the ship Vernon (est. 1867) Boys received a combination of moral training, nautical
and industrial training and instruction, and elementary schooling. The Vernon was docked at
NSW Police Gazette dated 28th November 1883 reports Walter Henry HIXON [sic] was
charged on warrant with absconding from his indentured apprenticeship with P H Throsby esq
has been arrested by Constable Spencer, Robertson police. Indentures cancelled
NSW Police Gazette of 15th February 1888 states that a warrant had been issued for the
arrest of Walter Hickson charged with absconding from the Hired Service of Martin Rehardt of
Nowra on 27th Ulitimo [27th January] Walter is described as being about 18 year sold, 5 foot
three or four inches tall, stout build, fair hair and complexion; dressed in dark tweed coat, grey
tweed trousers, and a black felt hat, blucher boots, supposed to have gone to the Macleay.
James Halloran aged 17 was also charges with the same offence. Walter was arrested at Moss
Vale and remanded to Nowra for three days imprisonment.
Police gazette dated 4th April 1888 reports Walter Hickson charged on warrant with
absconding from the hired services of Martin Reharrdt has been arrested by Constable
Saunders of Moss Vale Police. Remanded to Nowra and sentenced to 3 days imprisonment in
The Woolloomooloo Horror: Our Walter was NOT the witness by the same name in a murder
case that became known as The Woollomooloo Horror. This was Walter Atkin/son Hickson who
had previously been a gunner at the Victoria Barracks.
The Shoalhaven Tepegraph dated 23rd April 1902 reported:
Friday, 18th March. (Before the P.M.)
Frederick Hickaon, for using indecent language, was 20s or ten days; and for unlawfully
assaulting his brother, Walter Hickson, he was fined 5s or two days. Defendant was ordered to
be sent to Wollongong goal for medical observation.
The Shoalhaven Telegraph dated 17th September 1902 reported:
William Peter Hickson, for using indecent language in East street, was fined £1. Walter
Hickson, for a similar offence at the same time and place, was also fined £1.
Wollongong Gaol 1905: 17th May Walter Hickson [ex Vernon] of Sydney aged 39 was admitted
to Wollongong Gaol for 14 days for being drunk and disorderly and using indecent language.
He was described as being a labourer, church of England, 5foot five inches tall, light brown
hair, grey eyes and being able to read and write. he was discharge don 5th June. Brother
William was also imprisoned for the same offence.
The Shoalhaven Telegraph [Wollongong] dated 17th May 1905 reported:
Walter Hickson pleaded guilty to making use of indecent language in Berry street. Fined £1, or
one month in Wollongong gaol. William Hickson, for being drunk and disorderly in Berry
street, was fined 10s or 14 days in Wollongong gaol.
WW1: Walter Henry Hickson aged 47 born Frederickton applied to join the AIF during WW1
but was either rejected,discharged while still in training, or went on to serve within Australia
only [usually as depot troops or camp guards]. The most common reason for rejection is on
medical grounds. [research continues]
Illawarra Mercury dated 11th May 1928 reported:
WOLLONGONG.— MONDAY. (Before Mr. Campbell, S.M.)
Walter Henry Hickson, Jessie Moore, Leslie Sullivan, Oscar ? Gall , .(alias Kelil), Harry Harris,
and George Dent did not appear to answer charges of being found drunk, and the
recognisance was estreated in each case.
1930 Walter, a labourer, is residing at Dempster Street, Wollongong.
1933 at 25 Gilmore Road, Woolloongong.
1936&37, Walter, a labourer, was residing with brother William at Dolan's Rd Cronulla. They
were both labourers.
1943 shows William and Walter residing at Gannon's Road, Cronulla. Both are shown as 'no
1949 & 1954 Walter is still residing at the Gannons Road address, alone.
It appears that Walter never married.
Death: Walter Henry Hickson died on 21st February 1961 at the Lidcombe State Hospital and
Home. His usual residence is recorded as being 29 Franklin Road, Cronulla. [ref 5622] His age
is given as 91 but he was, in fact, 93 at the time. His occupation is recorded as labourer. He
had never married. Cause of death in pneumonia, congestive heart failure and parotitis. He
was buried in the Church of England Cemetery at Liverpool on 23rd February 1961.
Last Update 6th July 2014