William John Plowright (1859-1914) was my husband’s great grand uncle, the oldest son of John Plowright (1831-1910) and Margaret Plowright née Smyth (1834-1897).

The Avoca Mail reported on a mining accident where William Plowright dislocated his ankle and broke the extreme end of the small bone of the leg. He was nearly killed.

No title (1884, March 28). Avoca Mail (Vic. : 1863 – 1900; 1915 – 1918), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201529669

William married Harriet Hosking in 1881. At the time of the accident, they had two children, both born at Homebush near Avoca in central Victoria. They had another child, also born at Homebush in 1885, when their fourth child was born in 1886 they had moved to Melbourne.

It appears after the accident William Plowright gave up mining and joined the police.

The Geelong Advertiser reported the recruitment of a number of new constables in October 1885.

TOWN TALK. (1885, October 2). Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 – 1929), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article149010584

On 6 October 1885 William John Plowright was appointed a constable with the Victorian Police Force. Constable Plowright was 26 years old.

Fifteen years later, in 1901, he still held that position. His name appeared in the Police Gazettes for 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1904.

Victoria, Australia, Police Gazette 14 October 1885 page 284 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.

The first mention I found in the newspapers of Constable Plowright was in December 1885, on duty at Princes Bridge on the Yarra in Melbourne when a young man jumped off.

CASUALTIES AND OFFENCES. (1885, December 21). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 5. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article197028844

In 1888 Constable Plowright gave evidence in court about a fight in Clarendon Street. In 1889 he pursued and arrested three burglars in South Melbourne, apparently with the help of just one man, who was not a member of the police force.

In March 1889, with another constable he arrested three boys who had escaped from a reformatory.

Constable Plowright was regularly involved in various prosecutions under the liquor act, in particular Sunday trading offences.

WILLIAMSTOWN POLICE COURT. (1890, August 9). Williamstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1856 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article68594039

In 1891 Constable Plowright was working in a plainclothes position, still helping to enforce Sunday closing laws. He was also preventing young men from playing football in the street.

FOOTBALL PLAYING IN PUBLIC THOROUGHFARES. (1891, June 16). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 9. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8637481

In his work as a plainclothes constable, Plowright helped to arrest a gang of harness thieves.

PARS PITHILY PUT. (1893, January 28). The Prahran Telegraph (Vic. : 1889 – 1930), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article144497711

In early 1894 Constable Plowright applied to rejoin the uniformed branch.

In 1902 Constable Plowright was assaulted by a drunk. This required several stitches to his wound.

A VIOLENT RUFFIAN (1902, December 10). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article9070007

POLICE INTELLIGENCE. (1902, December 18). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187636294

STONE THROWING AND ASSAULT. (1902, December 18). Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 – 1918), p. 4. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article89512971

The Police Gazette of 3 March 1904, page 122, records that Constable William John, Plowright, number 3607, Melbourne District, was discharged 29 February 1904. This was shortly after his 45th birthday.

The electoral roll of 1903 shows him living at 69 Argyle Street, St Kilda, with his occupation constable. The roll of 1905 shows that he moved to 27 Hannover Street Prahran and his occupation is given as home duties. By the 1908 roll he was still living in Hannover Street, working as a wood merchant. It appears after he was he discharged from the police force he took a while to establish a new career.

William John Plowright died on 29 May 1914 at the age of 55.

Additional sources

  • Ancestry.com. Victoria, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1855, 1864-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016. 
  • Ancestry.com. Australia, Electoral Rolls, 1903-1980 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Original data: Australian Electoral Commission.