|Died||21 April 1826
Macquarie Field, New South Wales, Australia
|Years active||1800 - 1822|
|Known for||Early Australian surveyor|
Meehan 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, 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 the summer of 1802-3. 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 directed him to trace the course of the Nepean to the southward a little beyond Mount Taurus, and in October 1807 Meehan prepared his plan of Sydney.
In 1812 Governor Macquarie sent him to Tasmania with instructions to remeasure the whole of the farms granted by former governors and himself. He accompanied Hamilton Hume in some explorations in southern New South Wales in 1816, when Lake George was discovered, and in 1818 Meehan was appointed deputy surveyor-general. It was around this time that he named the settlement of Goulburn after Henry Goulburn, the Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies.
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.
- James Meehan Reserve in Dee Why, New South Wales is named after Meehan for his role in surveying the Northern Beaches area and giving Dee Why its name.
- James Meehan High School is named to commemorate Meehan's role in mapping and opening up the Macquarie Fields, New South Wales area.
- Serle, Percival (1949). "Meehan, James". Dictionary of Australian Biography. Sydney: Angus and Robertson.