Frederic Urquhart

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Frederic Urquhart
Administrator of the Northern Territory
In office
17 January 1921 – 16 January 1926
Personal details
Born (1858-10-27)27 October 1858
St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, East Sussex, England
Died 2 December 1935(1935-12-02) (aged 77)
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Nationality British / Australian

Frederic Charles Urquhart (27 October 1858 – 2 December 1935) was a Native Police officer, Queensland Police Commissioner and Administrator of the Northern Territory in Australia.

Early life[edit]

Frederic Charles Urquhart was born at St Leonards-on-Sea, Hastings, East Sussex, England in 1858. His father was an officer in the Royal Artillery and his uncle was a colonel in a cavalry regiment of the British Army.[1] He was educated at Bloxham School in Oxfordshire. He served as a midshipman in the Royal Navy before migrating to Queensland in 1875, where he worked in the sugar and cattle industries. In 1878 Urquhart became a telegraph linesman at Normanton, Queensland.[2]

Native Police career[edit]

In 1882, Urquhart was appointed to the paramilitary Native Police as a cadet and was promoted quickly to the rank of Sub-Inspector within the year. He was stationed in the Cloncurry area where he and his troopers were involved in multiple skirmishes with local Indigenous Australians. The most notable of these was in 1884 where he led a nine week punitive expedition against the Kalkadoon people.[3] This included a mass shooting at what is now known as Battle Mountain of which Urquhart wrote a poem entitled Powell's Revenge. Some of the stanzas of this poem are as follows:

"Fire!" The word rang clearly out
in the fresh mountain air
from rock and craig that single shout
is answered everywhere.
See how the wretched traitors fly
smitten with abject fear
they dare not stop to fight and die
and soon the field is clear.
Unless just dotted here and there
a something on the ground
a something black with matted hair
lies without life or sound.[4]

General police and administrative career[edit]

Urquhart was transferred to the civilian Queensland Police service in 1889 and rose to the rank of Inspector in the Criminal Investigation Branch and then to Chief Inspector. On 1 January 1917 he was appointed as the 4th Queensland Police Commissioner, a position he held until 16 January 1921. In 1921 he was appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory.[2]

Later life[edit]

After retiring as administrator in 1926, Urquhart settled in Brisbane. He died at St Helen's Private Hospital on 2 December 1935 and was buried in Toowong Cemetery.[2]


  1. ^ "MR. F. C. URQUHART DEAD". The Telegraph. Queensland, Australia. 3 December 1935. p. 7 (CITY FINAL LAST MINUTE NEWS). Retrieved 21 September 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ a b c W. Ross, Johnston. "Urquhart, Frederic Charles (1858–1935)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University: National Centre of Biography. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  3. ^ "QUEENSLAND PIONEERS". Cairns Post (11, 378). Queensland, Australia. 3 August 1938. p. 11. Retrieved 21 September 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ Fysh, Hudson, Sir (1950), Taming the north (Rev. and enl. ed.), Angus and Robertson, ISBN 978-0-207-12112-8