Pensioner Guards

The Pensioner Guards were English military personnel who served on convict transportation ships en route to the Swan River Colony between 1850 and 1868, and were given employment and grants of land on arrival.[2][3] Their initial employment lasted for six months, or the duration of the voyage, whichever was the longer time. After this they became "pensioners" and had to serve 12 days per year as well as whenever called upon.[4] They paraded annually in Perth at the Pensioner Barracks.

Pensioner Guards
Active1850 – c. 1900[1]

Many enlisted in the British Army as boys, around 15–17 years of age, and served in many parts of the world including India, Afghanistan, China, Crimea for about 21 years before being pensioned off. This meant a number of guards were under 40 years of age and had young families when they came to Western Australia. As an incentive they were promised a two-roomed cottage[5][6] and a plot of land sufficient to grow crops, vegetables and keep livestock. It was a chance for a new and better life and a large number of families remained as settlers.[7][8]

In 1858, many of the Enrolled Pensioner Guards in the colony contributed to the Indian Relief Fund that had been set up in England following the Indian Mutiny of 1857.[9] Many of the EPGs had served in India with the British Army before their retirement. The mutiny led to the ending of the East India Company in 1858, and the establishment of the British Raj.[8]

A settlement for the Pensioners was established near Lake Coogee in 1876, and ruins of two stone cottages from this time are extant,[10] along with a well on the shore of the lake. This location was chosen as it lay on the main route from Fremantle to Albany, but was never popular and although a few cottages, gardens, and orchards were established the settlement did not flourish. John Hyland, James Cunningham, and John Gilbride were involved in this settlement.[10] The site lies within the buffer zone of the Woodman Point wastewater treatment plant.

After 1880, they were known as the Enrolled Guards.[1][11]

Historical connectionsEdit

Historical connections to pensioner guards include:


  1. ^ a b State Library of Western Australia. "Pensioner Guards". Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Enrolled Pensioner Guards — Western Australia". Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  3. ^ Vines, Freda (1967), An attempt to estimate the number of members of the Enrolled Pensioner Force who came to W.A. as guards on convict ships between 1850 and 1868, from C.S.O. records in Battye Library, retrieved 12 November 2015
  4. ^ "Pensioners in Convict Ships". The Inquirer. Perth, WA: National Library of Australia. 20 March 1850. p. 3. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
  5. ^ Bridges, Paul; Humphrey, Val (2002), Pensioner Guard Museum Project : a vision for a community museum, P. Bridges?], retrieved 12 November 2015
  6. ^ Broomfield, Warwick; Bassendean (W.A. : Municipality). Council; Heritage Council of Western Australia (1993), The Pensioner Guard Cottage, Surrey Street -Bassendean : report and heritage assessment, distributed by Heritage Council of W.A.], retrieved 12 November 2015
  7. ^ Enrolled Pensioner Guards’ display material provided by Army Museum, Fremantle. Pensioner Guards, State Library of Western Australia.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ a b Taylor, Robyn (2015). "Owen Hackett". Toodyaypedia. Lotterywest Toodyaypedia - Part II. Newcastle Gaol Museum Collection: Shire of Toodyay (draft).
  9. ^ Broomhall, F. H. (Frank H.); Hesperian Press (1989), The veterans : a history of the Enrolled Pensioner Force in Western Australia 1850-1880, Hesperian Press, ISBN 978-0-85905-103-3
  10. ^ a b 2 Cottages (ruins), State Heritage Office, retrieved 12 November 2015
  11. ^ Western Australian Genealogical Society. Enrolled Pensioner Guards (2000), Quarterly newsletter, Enrolled Pensioner Guards, ISSN 1443-945X