Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Frederick Garling (1806–1873)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

Frederick Garling (1806-1873), customs official and marine artist, was born on 23 February 1806 at King Street, Holborn, London, the son of Frederick Garling. He arrived in Australia with his parents in the Francis and Eliza in 1815. In 1827 he was appointed a landing waiter in the Customs Office in Sydney at £250 a year and in 1847 was promoted acting landing surveyor. In 1856 before a parliamentary select committee, and in 1859 before a board of inquiry, he gave detailed evidence on the state and working of the Customs Department.

He was entirely self-taught as an artist and specialized, naturally enough, in marine subjects. His output was prodigious: it is said that he painted a large proportion of the ships which entered Port Jackson during his lifetime. Most of his work, which was generally unsigned, was in water-colour and characterized by a feeling for atmosphere absent from the work of earlier Australian topographical artists. Examples of his art are to be seen in the Dixson and Mitchell Galleries, Sydney, and in the home of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. He also wrote some verse of an undistinguished quality. He died in Sydney on 16 November 1873.

In 1829 at St Philip's, Sydney, he married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Lieutenant Ward of the 1st Regiment, and niece of General Hawkshaw of the East India Co.'s service. They had seven sons and four daughters. The eldest son, Frederick Augustus (1833-1910), was an explorer and pioneer in north Queensland.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 8, 14, 26
  • B. Smith, Place, Taste and Tradition (Syd, 1945)
  • W. Dixson, ‘Notes on Australian Artists’, Journal and Proceedings (Royal Australian Historical Society), vol 7, part 2, 1921, pp 100-04
  • Australian, 14 Oct 1829
  • private information.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Garling, Frederick (1806–1873)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Frederick Garling, n.d.

Frederick Garling, n.d.

State Library of New South Wales, 177835

Life Summary [details]


23 February, 1806
London, Middlesex, England


16 November, 1873 (aged 67)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.