MEEHAN, James (1774-1826)


MEEHAN, James (1774-1826)
early surveyor and explorer
was born in Ireland in 1774, and was one of a number of political prisoners who arrived in Australia in February 1800. Two months later he became an assistant to Charles Grimes (q.v.), the surveyor-general, and went with him to explore the Hunter River in 1801. He was also with Grimes on the expedition to explore King Island and Port Phillip in 1802 and 1803. Grimes had leave of absence from August 1803 to go to England, and during his absence for about three years, Meehan did much of his work with the title of assistant-surveyor. In October 1805 Governor King (q.v.) directed him to trace the course of the Nepean to the southward a little beyond Mount Taurus, and in October 1807 Meehan prepared his interesting plan of Sydney, a copy of which will be found opposite page 366 in volume VI of the Historical Records of New South Wales. In 1812 Governor Macquarie (q.v.) sent him to Tasmania with instructions to remeasure the whole of the farms granted by former governors and himself. He accompanied Hamilton Hume (q.v.) in some explorations in southern New South Wales in 1816, when Lake George was discovered, and in 1818 Meehan was appointed deputy surveyor-general. He endeavoured in this year without success to find a practicable road over the Shoalhaven River so that communication might be opened up with Jervis Bay, but continuing his efforts early in 1820 he went through some very difficult country after crossing the river from the east, and then connecting with his 1818 track. In 1822 he resigned his position and was granted a pension of £100 a year in 1823. He died on 21 April 1826. He was a most capable and industrious official, and though he does not rank among the leading explorers, he did some very valuable work while carrying out his duties during the first 20 years of the nineteenth century.
Historical Records of Australia, ser. I, vols. V, VII to XII; B. T. Dowd, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. XXVIII, pp. 108-18; P. S. Cleary, Australia's Debt to Irish Nation-Builders; E. Favenc, The Explorers of Australia.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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