James Meehan (surveyor)

James Meehan[1][2] (1774 – 21 April 1826) was an Irish-Australian explorer and surveyor.

James Meahan
Died21 April 1826
Macquarie Field, New South Wales, Australia
Years active1800 - 1822
Known forEarly Australian surveyor

Meehan was born in Ireland, in Shinrone, County Offaly, in 1774. He was declared a rebel and given a life sentence in a trial after the Rebellion of 1798[3] and was one of a number of political prisoner who arrived in Australia in February 1800. He came under the assumed name James Mahon. [4] Two months later he became an assistant to Charles Grimes, the surveyor-general, and went with him to explore the Hunter River in 1801. He was also with Grimes on the expedition to explore King Island and Port Phillip in the summer of 1802–3. Grimes had leave of absence from August 1803 to go to England, and during his absence for about three years, Meehan did much of his work with the title of assistant-surveyor. On Grimes return in 1806 and in appreciation for his work he was given a pardon for his political crimes. In October 1805 Governor King directed him to trace the course of the Nepean to the southward a little beyond Mount Taurus, and in October 1807 Meehan prepared his plan of Sydney.

In 1812 Governor Macquarie sent him to Tasmania with instructions to remeasure the whole of the farms granted by former governors and himself. He accompanied Hamilton Hume in some explorations in southern New South Wales in 1816, when Lake George was discovered, and in 1818 Meehan was appointed deputy surveyor-general. It was around this time that he named the settlement of Goulburn after Henry Goulburn, the Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies.

He endeavoured in this year without success to find a practicable road over the Shoalhaven River so that communication might be opened up with Jervis Bay, but continuing his efforts early in 1820 he went through some very difficult country after crossing the river from the east, and then connecting with his 1818 track.

In 1822 he resigned his position and was granted a pension of £100 a year in 1823. He died on 21 April 1826. He was a most capable and industrious official, and though he does not rank among the leading explorers, he did some very valuable work while carrying out his duties during the first 20 years of the nineteenth century.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Perry, T. M. (1967). "Meehan, James (1774–1826)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. 2. Melbourne University Press. ISSN 1833-7538. Retrieved 15 December 2014 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. ^ B.T. Dowd, James Meehan, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 3 (2) (1970), 8-12.
  3. ^ "Irish Convicts to New South Wales 1788-1849 (Convicts and Databases)". Peter Mayberry.
  4. ^ https://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1020&context=ihsbulletin "James Meehan, Notes on an address to the Society by B. T. Dowd" Check |url= value (help). University of Wollongong, Australia.

Further readingEdit

  • Dawson, Tony (2003). James Meehan: a most excellent surveyor. Darlinghurst, NSW: Crossing Press. ISBN 9780957829169.
  • Dawson, Tony (2008). "Meehan, James". Dictionary of Sydney. Dictionary of Sydney Trust. Retrieved 17 January 2015.