This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976
Edward Trickett (1851-1916), sculler, was born on 12 September 1851 at Greenwich, on the Lane Cove River, New South Wales, son of George Trickett, bootmaker, and his wife Mary, née Evans. He worked as a quarryman and in 1868 with C. Bullivant won the under-18 double skiffs at the Anniversary Day Regatta; next year he won the under-21 skiffs. He rowed little in 1871-73. At the 1874 Balmain Regatta he won the outrigger race and was in the winning whale-boat crew. In October he was second to Michael Rush in the £200 'Clarence River Champion Outrigger Race'. At the 1875 Anniversary Regatta he won the light skiffs race, although it had been made a handicap as he was now much the best sculler in the colony.
After wins in 1875-76, Trickett was taken to England by James Punch, a Sydney innkeeper and former sculler, to challenge for the world championship. On 27 June 1876 he defeated James H. Sadler on the Thames on the Putney-Mortlake course in 24 mins. 36 secs. and became the first Australian to win a world championship in any sport. Trickett was 6 ft 4 ins (193 cm) tall and weighed 12 stone 1½ lbs. (77 kg) for this race. He returned to Sydney on 9 November and was greeted by 25,000 people. At the 1877 Anniversary Regatta, after winning outrigger and skiffs races, he was presented with a cheque for nearly £900 by (Sir) John Robertson.
Trickett became licensee of Trickett's Hotel and later proprietor of the International Hotel on the corner of Pitt and King streets, Sydney. On 30 June he defeated Rush in a £200-a-side challenge for the world championship, having trained daily for a month. Next year a rolling keg crushed his hand; the self-amputation of fingers affected the balance of his stroke, but in August 1879 he defeated Elias Laycock in a £200-a-side championship contest. In June 1880 he went to England but lost his world title to the Canadian Ned Hanlan on the Thames on 15 November and was also defeated in a match race by Wallace Ross. Losing in Ottawa, Canada, on 4 July 1881 he failed in a challenge to Hanlan on the Thames on 1 May 1882. On his return to Australia he rowed against William Beach on the Parramatta in 1883-84, but was troubled by using narrow-rigged boats.
In May 1884 Trickett moved to Rockhampton, Queensland, where he had apparently been given a hotel by an admirer. He came out of retirement to race against Hanlan on the Fitzroy River, Rockhampton, on 14 June 1888. He invested in a worthless mining venture and returned to Sydney in dire straits. On 17 September 1893 he became a tide-waiter at a salary of £120 with the New South Wales Customs Department and in 1896 was a bridge watchman at Moama on the Murray River. In 1901 he was transferred to the New South Wales branch of the Commonwealth Department of Trade and Customs. He retired as a customs assistant in the shipping branch on 11 September 1916.
An envoy of the Salvation Army and reputedly a teetotaller, he had reformed his ways after duck-shooting on the Sabbath at Rockhampton. On 28 November 1916 in the home of his son Frederick at Uralla, New South Wales, he died of injuries and shock received when the walls of a gold-mine shaft collapsed. Buried in the Salvation Army section of the Uralla cemetery, he was survived by six of his eight sons and two of his three daughters by his wife Maria Frances, née Silva, daughter of the South Head lighthouse-keeper, whom he had married at North Sydney on 20 January 1874. His estate was sworn for probate at £163.
Winner of over 150 trophies, Trickett was one of the most versatile rowers of his time. His prowess was recorded in ballad and verse and his portrait in rowing colours was featured on cigarette cards for many years. A memorial to him was erected by public subscription at Uralla in 1918.
J. L. Stewart, 'Trickett, Edward (1851–1916)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/trickett-edward-4747/text7885, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 5 July 2015.
This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976