Biographies of the Early Aldermen
Frederick Jamison Gibbes MLA
Alderman 1882-85, MLA 2 December 1882-17 January 1888
Frederick Gibbes was born 31 October 1839 with a silver spoon in his mouth.
His father William was the son of Colonel John George Nathaniel Gibbes MLC (1787-1874) who worked as Collector of Customs and lived on Kirribilli Point. His house ‘Wotonga’ was later resumed as Admiralty House, the Sydney residence for the Governor-general. Alderman Gibbes’ mother Harriett was the daughter of Sir John Jamison MLC 1776-1844, who was knighted for services as a physician to Lord Nelson’s Baltic fleet and in the 1820s, owner of land which became Jamison Street at Sydney’s Wynyard and the giant ‘Regentville’ mansion at Mulgoa 1823-1869.
Frederick was born at ‘Regentville’ but raised at ‘Beulah’ on the waterfront at Kirribilli. He liked the outdoor life having four boats. The house boasted a number of pianos and a 19 foot long dining table which could seat forty.
In the late 1850s the family resided at Camden Terrace near Station Street Newtown when he was studying law at the University of Sydney, where he proved himself expert at chess and adept at cycling. He graduated from in 1860 and read for the bar for a time with MH Stephens and worked as a clerk in the Lands Office. However the ‘Aldine History of NSW’ says that Gibbes’ ‘fondness for sports led him to spend so much time in connection with sporting circles that he had little time for much else’. He left the Civil Service in 1865.
His grandmother Lady Mary Jamison resided at Hunters Hill and was buried at the Camperdown Cemetery on 15 August 1874.
His portrait shows a man with a broad face with mutton-chop whiskers. Gibbes. He was a member of Manchester Unity Oddfellows’ Loyal St John’s Lodge. He was recorded as having ‘no occupation’ whilst running for election in O’Connel Ward in February 1882 and Council’s minutes mispell his middle name as ‘Jamieson’.
He was made MLA for Newtown from 2 December 1882. Morrison comments that Gibbes was rarely heard in Parliament ‘but it was not for any want of skill’. He acted as a messenger from Parliament, relaying in May 1882 that his Excellency’s grant of £25,000 had been refused, reduced to £10,000 only. He was infrequently heard in Newtown’s Council but he did make sensible proposals; that Newtown and the three adjoining boroughs amalgamate in 1883 (something which had been discussed in 1873-74 by the State Government’s Select Committee on the Working of Municipalities, in Newtown in 1890 and later in connection with the Greater Sydney Convention Bill of 1912), and that the growing Enmore ward be split (something which had been discussed since 1878). Gibbes was the only one objecting to offering a ‘certificate of cure’ to Dr Stanick /Prof Stanich (15 November 1881, 30 May 1882).
He married Mary Gill, the daughter of a wealthy Tamworth landowner on his property called ‘Moombi’ in 1883. They had at least two children; it is thought they may have moved to Collins Street Leichhardt in 1885, the year he left Council and after they had the first of two children, John and Mary.
In 1884 he was a Trustee of the University Park, now Victoria Park alongside Joshua Frey Josephson, William Montagu Manning, a young Edmund Barton, and Charles Moore from the Botanic Gardens.
He was Chairman and/or a Director of two companies which played a part in Newtown’s subdivision, the Universal Land & Investment Co and the Mercentile Building Land & Investment Co in the 1880s. Gibbes St was formed in 1885 down behind the public school.
Newtown’s aldermen frequently talked of building a town hall ‘appropriate to their needs’ but the council minutes are silent on the deals which must have gone on between Aldermen Gibbes and AW Fallick concerning the speculative venture to build St George’s Hall as an unofficial municipal hall. He was Director of the St George’s Hall Company and James Fallick built it. Henry Parkes laid the foundation stone in 1887 and first mentioned in the minutes on 20 December 1887. It was one of the largest suburban halls until Paddington’s of 1891.
He died that year at Moombi aged 49; his Parliamentary term had ended on 17 January 1888. The cause of death was said to be pneumonia or (according to the Town and Country Journal of 21 January 1888)’inflammation of the bowells’.
St George’s Hall was completed three years after his death.
Co-incidentally the first officer at the original Enmore Post Office was a Miss Rosa Gibbes; she operated the branch was known as Stanmore or Stanmore Road on the corner of Stanmore Road and Liberty Streets from August 1886 until the mid 1890s.