There’s more to my house’s heritage than I could have thought

I received a letter in the mail yesterday telling me that the heritage value for my house was to be upgraded from Category 3 (“some cultural heritage significance”) to Category 2 (“considerable cultural heritage significance”).

The attached historical description of the property was as follows:

Rates Book Information:

Wray Avenue was named after the former Mayor Fremantle, W.E. Wray 1914 to 1918. The road was formerly named Alexander Road after the Mayor of Fremantle, Laurence Alexander 1901 to 1902. Prior to that the road was named Hampton Street.

This group of three houses at 38/40/42 was built in 1902/03 for the owner John Pattinson Beresford who also built the adjacent properties at 9/11 and 13/15 Wray Avenue. Beresford worked as a police officer, brewer and publican. At different times he ran the ‘Pearler’s Hotel’, ‘Star Hotel’ and the ‘Esplanade Hotel. The properties were used as investment properties and were leased out to various tenant.

The houses were formerly numbered 40/42/44 Wray Avenue, the numbering changed in 1935/36.

The first two occupant of the three cottages were J. Lewis, painter and Samuel Lawrence a police constable. The third is not listed. The rates books do not distinguish which occupant lived in which house.

The Beresford family were owners of the three cottages until at least the 1920s. Afterwards the ownership was split.

This confirms my earlier research regarding the naming of Wray Avenue but discounts my theory about the origin of its earlier name of Alexander (read that post here).

The history of my house and Wray Avenue is a hobby of mine, and I can add the original occupiers from the 1903 Western Australian Directory of Towns [1]. J. Lewis, the painter, occupied number 40 (now changed to 38 Wray Avenue) and Samuel Lawrence, the police Constable, occupied number 44 (now 42 Wray Avenue). The directory lists a Mrs J Farell as the first occupier of number 42. Is it possible that women weren’t allowed to put their names on rates books at this point in history?

Anyway, this address is now 40 Wray Avenue – my house (the one in the middle below).

What is even more interesting for me is that in the 1904 Western Australian Directory of Towns [2], there is a Henry Beresford, no doubt a relative of John Pattinson Beresford, listed as living in this house. Henry seems to have occupied several places along Wray Avenue at different times after this.

Trying to find information about this connection led to a very tragic twist in this story – the suicide of Mr John Pattinson Beresford [3]. This is another suicide related to this street, as Mayor W.E Wray himself committed suicide.

A report in the Western Mail Saturday 10th October 1908 told the story.



At about half-past one o’clock on Thursday morning, Mr. John Pattinson Beresford, licensee of the Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, committed suicide in very tragic circumstances. The deceased, who was formerly a sergeant of police in Western Australia, had been suffering from dropsy and insomnia, and was under the care of Dr. Paget. It is understood that his conduct of late had been such as to cause some alarm. On Wednesday night he and his wife went to bed, and at about 1.30 in the morning Mrs Beresford went to sleep. Shortly afterwards she awakened and discovered her husband lying across the foot of the bed with a revolver near him. She did not hear the report of the revolver shot, and was horrified to find that he was dead. The police were sent for, and on examination a bullet was found in the left breast, right over the heart. In the revolver were found two undischarged cartridges. One cartridge had been discharged, and two others were found at the foot of the bed.

The event was reported in papers across the nation, including The Brisbane Courier and The Mercury in Tasmania. It can be assumed that this must have occurred at what is either 25 Alexander Road where his wife, Mrs Mary Ann Beresford, is later listed as living there and other searches showed Beresford children living at 27 Wray Avenue (coincidentally the property I was looking to buy before this one).

To back up my theory that the Henry Beresford who lived in my house in 1904 was the son of the man who had these houses built, I have found a birth notice in The West Australian, 22 October 1908 showing that his son was born at 25 Alexander Road (now Wray Avenue), the house where Mary Ann Beresford dwelt.

BERESFORD, – On October 21 at 25 Alexander road, Fremantle, the wife of Henry James Beresford – a son. Both doing well.

Incredibly, this was not even a fortnight after the suicide of the child’s grandfather John Pattinson Beresford. Henry is later listed as living at this property.

All in all, quite interesting stuff and not what I was expecting to be looking into over these school holidays.

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3 responses to “There’s more to my house’s heritage than I could have thought

  1. I am the great great granddaughter of John Pattinson Beresford. and have been researching the family history.

    • Hi Lynn
      My daughter is also a great great granddaughter of John Pattinson Beresford through his son Henry’s line. I would love to know which line do you descend from.

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