Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Stacy, John Edward (1799–1881)

by Jean Caswell Benson

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

John Edward Stacy (1799-1881), surgeon, was born on 9 June 1799 at Hammersmith near London, tenth child of Rev. Dr Henry Peter Stacy and his first wife Anne, née Keele. Although orphaned at 9, he received a sound education and in 1820 became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and of the Physical Society of Guy's Hospital. He practised at Finchley and in 1823 married Jane West who brought with her a generous marriage settlement. In 1828 he was appointed surgeon to the Australian Agricultural Co. at Port Stephens. He reached Sydney on 25 October in the Magnet with his wife and two children, arriving at Carrington settlement, Port Stephens, while the company's affairs were in disorder.

Stacy was a keen botanist and became a member of the Ashmolean Society, Oxford; he planned experimental cultivation of drugs, but after the arrival of Sir Edward Parry late in 1829, in addition to normal medical and dispensary work, he became responsible for treatment of all diseased stock, acting on occasion as veterinary surgeon. In 1831 Parry reported to London that 'Mr Stacy's abilities appear to me to consist in anything rather than in medicine. His forte is Botany … But it is Justice to add that he is a good-natured and obliging man'. He could not often leave Carrington as the area had long been a haven for escaping convicts and the men of the settlement were frequently away for long periods.

In 1835 Stacy was re-engaged with salary increased from £150 to £200, Henry Dumaresq commenting that he was 'an active, accomplished and skilful man honourable and disinterested in all his dealings'. He made pastoral investments in the colony from time to time but not successfully. Next year Stacy resigned; he remained briefly at Port Stephens but in 1838 was practising in Elizabeth Street, Sydney.

In 1839 he took up 500 acres (202 ha) at Upper Rollands Plains near Port Macquarie; he built a comfortable home and started a practice, paying visits to the Liverpool Plains. In 1846 he acted as colonial surgeon for six months at Newcastle; after a brief return to Port Macquarie, he filled the post again in 1848-55. In 1854 his wife died, leaving him with seven sons and four daughters. For most of his time in Newcastle he was also magistrate, district coroner, port health and vaccine officer and helped Dr R. R. S. Bowker with his practice. He was also warden of the Newcastle District Council in 1854-59 when sale of company-owned land allowed the township to expand. On 4 February 1858 at Balmain he married Elicia Antonia, sister of William Beit, by whom he had two more sons.

In 1860 Stacy set up in practice at Toowoomba, Queensland. A magistrate, he was also licensed for marriages, and in 1864-68 was visiting surgeon to the gaol. He returned to England in 1872 where he died at Finchley on 13 March 1881. He was a staunch Anglican, reserved, hospitable and upright, whose public service, especially in local government, and professional work contributed much to the localities in which he lived.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Gregson, The Australian Agricultural Company, 1824-1875 (Syd, 1907)
  • Governor Gipps dispatches, 1838 (ML)
  • manuscript catalogue (State Library of New South Wales)
  • A. A. Co. papers (Australian National University Archives)
  • Stacy land file (Queensland State Archives)
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Jean Caswell Benson, 'Stacy, John Edward (1799–1881)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/stacy-john-edward-4631/text7629, published in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 21 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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