Frederick Adam Weiss

Frederick Adam Weiss, in about 1926
School teacher

Born: 6 February 1839, Manchester, Lancashire, England
Died: 20 December 1931, Hurlstone Park, New South Wales, Australia

Father: Charles Nicholas Weiss, 1789-1845
Mother: Benigna Catharina von Holst, c1801-1845

Spouse: Rosetta Horsey (1842-1927)
Married 26 September 1864, in Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia, by the Rev F. Hibberd.


Biographical information
Frederick was the youngest son of Charles and Benigna Weiss, and was born the same year that his father joined the British Army. His father left for India with the British Army in 1840, but at least part of the family stayed behind for a time, including Frederick - in the 1841 Census, Benigna, Frederick (called Fritz in the census record) and his siblings Adelaide, Derby and Egmont were living in St Pancras in London. By July 1842 the rest of the family had joined Charles in India - Frederick and Egmont were baptised in Aden (then part of British India).

There are notes of Frederick's that have been passed down through the family and they give us some idea of what life was like for him. He was orphaned when he was only six years old, and he and his brother Egmont (aged 8 years), being the only remaining members of the family in India (his sisters were away at school in England) were sent to a military boarding school in Bombay. One Christmas when carriages were picking up children to take them away for the holidays, Frederick cried bitterly that they as orphans were not going away anywhere. The matron kindly gave both Frederick and Egmont a Christian book each to cheer them up, and through reading the Bible stories in those books they both chose to become Christians.

At the boarding school Frederick described being fed curry and rice nearly everyday, and only being allowed a certain amount of water per day. He learnt to save some water for night time, because the food would make him thirsty at night and stop him from getting to sleep. He also described that every morning after waking the children had to fold up their beds and carry them outside to lay them in the sun. They would then bring them back inside into their rooms at about four in the afternoon.

By the time he was about 11 or 12 years old Frederick and his brother Egmont were living in Kotree, Sindh with one of their sisters - Adelaide or Caroline. An obituary for Frederick in The Methodist (9 January 1932, p15) suggested it was with Adelaide and her second husband Rev James Sheldon, but as they were not married until after Frederick had left India, this is not possible. It was therefore either Adelaide and her first husband Patrick White (though I'm not sure where they lived), or Caroline and her husband Henry Hughes, who did live in Kotree at the time. They lived not far from the Indus river, and less than a mile from the desert, and Frederick and Egmont used to go for a walk for two or three miles each morning before breakfast. Frederick kept this custom of taking a "morning constitutional" throughout his life, even until a few weeks before his death.

In 1853 Frederick Weiss took the big step of leaving India, and returning alone to the homeland he hardly knew. We have a photocopy of handwritten notes that Frederick made about his journey to England. He sailed on the P&O steamship Ripon, and left Kotree on 16 September 1853, then travelled via Kurrachee, Bombay, Aden, Suez, Cairo, Alexandria, Malta and Gibraltar to Southampton, arriving 5 December. He then caught the train to London, and stayed for a time with his maternal uncle Gustavus von Holst's family.

Weiss' notes also detail amounts he had set aside for expenses in the first year after he arrived, including £12 5s for Edinburgh Institution, a school for classical, mathematical, commercial and scientific education. He also set aside £5 5s for a tutor for five months. According to an obituary for Frederick in the Lithgow Mercury (21 December 1931, p4) he "went to Scotland, where he completed his education." After arriving in Britain it seems that he finished the academic year off at the Edinburgh Institution, with a tutor assisting him to get up to speed. He then moved on to Highbury College, a Church of England teacher training college, with £25 set aside for his yearly admission fee.

The handwritten notes of Frederick Weiss on his journey to and arrival in England, 1853-1854.

The apprenticeship as a teacher took a number of years, and by the 1861 Census Weiss was working as an assistant teacher at Rev Thomas Carryer's boarding school in Birmingham.

In 1862 Frederick Weiss took the huge decision to emigrate to Australia. The Black Ball Line ship "Wanata" left London on November 2, 1862, and stopped in at Liverpool ten days later - Weiss might have boarded the ship at either place. The "Wanata" arrived in Brisbane, Australia on February 14, 1863. Weiss was one of 638 immigrants aboard the ship.

Frederick made his way to Sydney, and started his Australian teaching career. He taught in private schools for four years, and then joined the staff of the New South Wales Department of Education on 28 April 1868.

Family lore says that Weiss spotted his future wife Rosetta Horsey in a fruit shop in Hunter Street, Sydney owned by her father Josiah, and determined then and there that he would marry her. After courting for a short while they were engaged, and married in Darlinghurst, Sydney on 26 September 1864. They were married by the Baptist minister Rev F. Hibberd at his home. Rosetta's younger brother Frederick Horsey was the best man.

Frederick Adam Weiss - age unknown.
The original photo is heavily foxed, so I have tried to even out the colour.

The family was living in Spicer Street, Woollahra when the first two children were born - Adelaide in 1865, and Arthur in 1866. The private school Frederick was working at must have been in that area.

Once Frederick Weiss commenced working for the Department of Education, he was appointed to Upper Mittagong Public School (now Glenquarry Public School), a one room, single teacher school which opened in 1869. It was during their time in Upper Mittagong that son Walter was born.

Weiss was transferred to Norwood Public School in January 1870, and it was during their time in Norwood that son Frederick was born, however he was born in Sydney, so perhaps Rosetta was visiting family in Sydney when she gave birth.

Frederick Weiss was transferred to Rockley Public School in January 1873, and daughters Sarah Annie and Emily Annie were born while they lived there. Son Frederick died in March 1875 while they were living in Rockley, and daughter Sarah Annie died at the beginning of April that same year, less than a month later. A funeral notice for Sarah gives the family's address as Liverpool and Macquarie Streets (south), Sydney (Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Apr 1875, p10) - where Rosetta's widowed mother Sarah Horsey lived and ran a fruit shop. Considering Frederick's teacher's records do not show a transfer to Sydney, it is logical to assume that after the death of their young son Frederick, the family went to Sydney to spend time with family and mourn, during which time their daughter Sarah also died.

Weiss was transferred to Greghamstown Public School in July 1877, and son George was born during the family's time in Greghamstown.

A transfer was approved for Weiss to Kings Plains Public School in 1880, where he stayed the longest of his teaching career. The final three children of the family, Sarah Benigna, Leslie and Frank, were born while they lived at Kings Plains. It was also during this time that son Walter joined the Public Service as a pupil teacher, having observed his father in the classroom for many years.

Frederick Weiss' last teaching appointment was to Hartley Vale Public School from January 1893. He retired from the teaching profession on September 30, 1899, after 30 years in the New South Wales Public Service, and moved to the Vale of Clwydd, near Lithgow, to live, where his genial manner made him well known and highly respected.

While living in the Vale of Clwydd, Frederick worked as a house and land agent, and also as a bookbinder and repairer. He was also a foundation member of the Cooperative Society of Lithgow. After 11 years there, he and Rosetta left the Lithgow area for Canterbury (then near Sydney rather than in Greater Sydney) because they were finding the winters "rather too severe", Frederick having secured a job with the Mercantile Mutual Insurance Company as their agent in Canterbury.

Frederick and Rosetta in later life.
A relative remembers him almost always wearing that hat,
and she believes it was an Indian hat with lots of embroidery on it.

Frederick and Rosetta's son-in-law Arthur Genders, married to their daughter Sarah, was a carpenter and builder, and he built their house "Rosalie" at 90 Crinan St, Hurlstone Park. Sarah and Arthur lived a couple of streets away at "Egmont" at 1 Gower St, Hurlstone Park, and they kept an eye on and looked after Frederick and Rosetta until their deaths. Frederick was widowed in 1927 upon the death of his dear Rosetta after 64 years of marriage. He moved into Sarah and Arthur's home after Rosetta's death, and that is where he died in 1931, less than a week before Christmas.

Frederick Weiss in front of his house "Rosalie" in Crinan St, Hurlstone Park.
One of his granddaughters says he was a very short man, and this is evident in the photo.

Frederick was a dedicated Christian throughout his life. If the family moved to an area where there wasn't a church of their preferred denomination, they joined whichever Protestant church was there. According to his obituary in The Methodist, Frederick was instrumental in getting an Anglican church erected in one place they lived, a Methodist church in another. If there was no Sunday School he started one. Such was the esteem for him amongst many denominations, when he was buried in the Methodist section of Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney his graveside service was taken by three ministers; one Methodist, one Baptist and one Congregational. The epitaph on his gravestone (barely legible in the photo below) says "He walked with God".

The gravestone of Frederick and Rosetta Weiss, in Sydney's Rookwood Cemetery, Methodist section 2, grave 1033.