Edward Close - A Diary Promise


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Lieutenant Close's Diary, 1811, Napoleonic War (Extract)

"In 1811 when Sergeant Meulen was wounded I went to take the colours. When I arrived at the centre a shell fell. We lay down till it burst. My head was between the legs of a soldier, and a soldier was on my right and left side, close against me.

I vowed to God if spared I would erect a church in his honour.

The shell burst, the man whose legs my head was protected by had half his head carried off; the other two were dreadfully mangled; the body of one was laid bare from his loins to his breast and both the legs of the other was carried off near the knee."

The Vow Honoured

In 1837 at Morpeth Lieutenant Close erected St James Church, as he had promised. 'Morpeth (or Green Hills), which is situated at the head of the navigation of the Hunter River, 96 miles north of Sydney, and nine miles above Raymond Terrace, the Paterson joining that river half a mile east of the township. Morpeth is situated on the south bank of the Hunter River, on rising ground, and is extremely well adapted for carrying on large manufacturies, being well supplied with good coal and water, and being surrounded by an alluvial district, deservedly called the garden of the Hunter.'

This was an early description of the settlement of Morpeth, which Lieutenant Close is regarded as the father of, as it was built upon part of his original three grants of land taken up in 1821. At this time he was employed as an engineer of Public Works at Newcastle, carrying out major works including upgrading the port, building a fort where Fort Scratchley now stands, and a coal fired beacon for the safety of shipping. During this time he arranged for a small wooden cottage to be erected on his estate. It was located on the corner of Tank and High Streets and became his family's first home in Morpeth.

The magnificent east window of St James' Church was dedicated to Lieutenant E. C. Close after his death, as a tribute to him by the residents of Morpeth.

- as quoted in: Morpeth - Where Bishops and Ships Once Rode Tall
by Richards, S. and Muller, P. Kookaburra Educational 1989


A facsimile of the Diary of E.C. Close was published in 2015 with a new introduction and a miniature of him painted in February 1808 shortly before he went to join the 48th Regiment in Ireland. It is available from: Highland House Publications

A biography of E.C. Close entitled A Man of Many Parts was published by Ann Beaumont in 2016. It is also available from: Highland House Publications

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This page was updated on: 9 September 2020