# 41181

GAUL, John

Jamaica-born Gertrude Colleton, daughter of Frederick Colleton and great-granddaughter of Admiral Richard Graves. Melbourne, November 1866.

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Albumen print photograph, carte de visite format, 101 x 61 mm (mount); verso imprinted ‘Photographed from life by Gaul, 75 & 77 Swanston St., Melbourne’ and with an extensive inscription in ink: ‘Gertrude Sophia Jane Plantagenet Colleton, only child of Frederick Nassau William Graves Colleton and great-grandchild of Admiral Richard Graves of Hembury Fort, County Devon. / Taken November 1866’; both the print and mount are in very good condition.

In the wake of abolition – but especially after 1838, when slaves were finally emancipated in British colonies and slave-owners received compensation – there was a significant influx into the Australian colonies of families and individuals who brought with them accumulated wealth that was the legacy of slave ownership, especially in the Caribbean, North America, or Mauritius.

For almost 200 years, from the mid-seventeenth to the early nineteenth century, the Colleton family, originally wealthy wool merchants from Exeter in Devon, played a major part in the establishment of slave codes and the administration of the slave/plantation system in the New World – in Barbados, Jamaica and South Carolina. The surname Colleton is among the most prominent of those associated with the history of slavery in these places.

Gertrude Sophia Jane Plantagenet (Colleton) McEwen (1845-1917) was an indirect beneficiary of the wealth and entitlement that had been created for her family through generations of slave ownership. She was born in Jamaica on 21 August 1845, the daughter of Frederick Nassau William Graves Colleton (Lieutenant 2WI Regt., Fort George) and Jane Alves (Dyer) Burke.

We do not know precisely when, or with whom, or under what circumstances Gertrude arrived in Melbourne, but this portrait of her by Gaul tells us she was certainly in Melbourne by the end of 1866. In Melbourne in 1874 she married Charles William McEwen (b. 1851 in Great Boughton, Cheshire). The couple later settled in Sydney, where we believe Charles may have become a partner in the Wynyard auctioneer business of James Rodd & Co. (see New South Wales Government Gazette, 21 June 1899). Gertrude died in Woollahra, Sydney in 1917. Charles – six years her junior – outlived her: he died in Parramatta in 1921. Their only child, William Frederic Augustus Calveley Colleton McEwen, was born in Williamstown, Melbourne in 1877, and died in North Sydney in 1957.