For Trove Tuesday, I am looking at one of the Hawkesbury's memorable characters, Dr Thomas Parmeter c.1790-1836. Parmeter was sentenced to transportation, arriving in Sydney in 1816 as a convict. He studied medicine, then trained with a surgeon. He served in the army and then appointed to a nobleman’s household as a surgeon. He married a second time when he believed his wife from his disastrous first marriage was dead, however he was still officially married. He was charged with bigamy in 1815, and sentenced for seven years.
On arrival, Dr Parmeter was given approval to resume his medical profession and was appointed as the Assistant Surgeon at the Lunatic Asylum 1817-1819 in Castle Hill.
Between 1818 and 1825 he practised medicine whilst living in Windsor. He claimed this was one of the happiest period in his life. Thomas had a relationship with Jane Meredith, and they had several children. He assisted with problem births, performed complicated operations as well as autopsies. He was associated with the Hawkesbury Benevolent Society which was established to help others. In the early 1820s he suffered several tragedies that affected his livelihood, including my severe Afflictions (for I broke my Leg, lost my right Eye, and got Palsy in my limbs).
|Classified Advertising. Sydney Gazette & NSW Advertiser 5 May 1825 p. 1.|
Whilst travelling from Wilberforce to Windsor in 1820, he was thrown from his horse and sustained a broken right thigh. Tragedy struck again when in 1823, Thomas experienced loss of vision and palsy resulting in some paralysis.
On his departure from the Hawkesbury in 1825, the community presented him with a gift. He was rather pleased that the gift was a horse and not a plate. He advertised his medical services despite his inflictions.
Dr Parmeter was also a prolific writer and compiled many articles and letters, some of which appeared in the Sydney Gazette. In one article he described a woman living in deplorable conditions at Cornwallis, giving birth. He amazingly penned a history of New South Wales and also wrote poetry including the poignant poem about his daughter Harriet playing on the Green in Windsor.
He eventually took up land in the Hunter Valley in 1826. Jane left Thomas in the mid-1820s for Walter Rotton, and later married him. Thomas continued his writing pursuits and perusing the digitised newspapers on Trove shows numerous articles. He also supplemented his income with a few patients to keep him solvent.
Dr Parmeter died at Cockfighters Creek on the 14 July 1836, he was only forty-eight years old. His obituary recorded in the Sydney Gazette he was, a kind-hearted being, who was never more happy than when he was doing a kind and good act.