Fraser, Alexander W K

Full name:

Fraser, Alexander W K

Dates recorded for being in Berrima:


Occupation if known and land ownership:

Presbyterian School Teacher


Arrived Free

Alexander W K Fraser was in Berrima in 1838 and 1839. The Returns of the Colony for those years confirm that a Mr A W K Fraser was operating a Presbyterian school in Berrima incurring a cost to the Treasury of £80/4/2 and £25/-/- respectively. They also report that no children attended the school.

This is the Alexander Frazer brought to the colony by the Presbyterian minister the Reverend Dr Lang to be a schoolteacher. Fraser is listed as an assisted immigrant, a teacher aged 20, on the passenger list of the Portland in December 1837. He was originally from Perthshire, Scotland.

Described under the heading ‘Presbyterian Schools’ the Colonist newspaper of 13 January 1838 lists placements of teachers in Sydney, Parramatta, Windsor and Bong Bong. In relation to the latter it states that it is:

…..intended that a Juvenile School should be established in the town of Berrima, similar to those already set on foot in various parts of the country under the auspices of the Synod of New South Wales. Mr. Alex. Frazer, one of the teachers brought to the colony by Dr. Lang, has been appointed for this station, and has proceeded thither to commence arrangements for opening his school. Mr. F is the son of a late respectable parochial teacher in Scotland, from whom, both as his pupil and assistant he received both a liberal education and a competent experience in the process of teaching. Mr. F. is an excellent classical scholar; he was attending the University of Glasgow before he left Britain; and he holds the diploma of the Glasgow Educational Society, at whose institutions he was initiated in the principles of the Training System. We trust that the inhabitants of Berrima will consult their own interest, by securing and encouraging the labours of so well qualified and deserving a person as Mr. Frazer.

A note in the same newspaper in July of the same year suggests Mr Frazer is indeed operating a school in Berrima, one of eighteen schoolmasters brought to the colony.[1]

Unfortunately the inhabitants of Berrima did not see Frazer’s school as being in their interest.[2] And though this would seem a small matter it did figure in the discussions at the Legislative Council meeting of September 1839 in what would seem to have been a point scoring match between Governor George Gipps (governor from 1838-1847) and the Anglican Bishop, the Right Reverend William Broughton. In accounting for expenditure on schools to the Council, Reverend James Fullerton noted that Frazer had left for Goulburn taking with him £170, money allocated to him by the government for the running of the Berrima school. Frazer had said that one reason for his failure in Berrima was that Broughton had sent an Anglican teacher to Berrima and obtained pledges from parents that their children would attend their school. Broughton did not deny sending an alternative teacher but did deny obtaining pledges from parents. He also implied the failure was indeed Frazer fault as had been no more successful in founding a school in Goulburn than he had been in Berrima.[3]

[1] The Colonist, 28 July 1838

[2] There were only ten people in the township who said they were Church of Scotland – possible Presbyterians – in the 1841 Census

[3] Australasian Chronicle, 13 September 1839