Mortimer William (junior)
The Maitland Weekly Mercury
The late Mr Mortimer W. Lewis, who died at Kogarah on Saturday last at the age of 78, was born at Regents Park, London, in 1820, and was amongst the oldest residents of the colony, having come out in the year 1830 with his father, who was one of the Royal military surveyors appointed by the Earl of Mulgrave in 1811, afterwards first town surveyor of Sydney and Colonial Architect. Mr. Lewis was appointed in 1835 at the age of 14 to the Royal Engineers Department, under the late Colonel George Barney. In 1837 he received an appointment in the Surveyor General s Department, under the late Colonel Sir T. L. Mitchell, and in 1843 was appointed to the Colonial Architects Department, where he served until his retirement on a well-earned pension in 1891, after a faithful service of 56 years, 54 years of which were spent in the colonial service and two years in the Imperial service. In the Colonial Architect s Department Mr. Lewis was in charge of the northern district from Cooranbong to Newcastle, Tenterfield, Narrabri, and Walgett, in the days that travelling had to be done on horseback or coach, before the railways came into operation, and all the principal Government buildings then in the northern district were designed and carried out under his supervision, as well as the Banks of Australasia at New castle and East Maitland, St. John s Roman Catholic Church at West Maitland, now the Cathedral, and many others, the latter buildings having been erected at the time public officers were allowed to do private work. Part of the Newcastle Breakwater was also carried out under his supervision.
Obituary - Mr. M.W. Lewis, The late Mr. Mortimer William Lewis, whose death we recorded in a recent issue, commenced his professional life at an early age. On the 19th November 1811 he was appointed by the Master General of Ordnance to the position of cadet surveyor and draftsman, and after a course of instruction extending over three years in mathematics, military surveying and plan drawing, fortification, and the construction of buildings bridges etc. he passed a satisfactory examination before a Board of officers. Soon afterwards he was appointed to the corps of Royal Military Surveyors and Draftsmen. Not long afterwards a surveyor and draftsman being required at the office of the Inspector General of Fortifications , Head Quarters, he was selected, though a junior, as a fit and proper person for the duties of the position, which were important and partly confidential, consisting principally of taking charge of the plans and correspondence relating thereto, as received from all parts of the world where Engineer officers were stationed. He had to make copies of the most important plans and documents, in order to make himself thoroughly acquainted with their substance, so that he might be able to explain instantly any question relative to the different subjects as the Inspector General might require the information. He remained in this position more than seven years, giving entire satisfaction to his superior officers and acquiring that experience and general information in his profession which proved so valuable to him afterwards. His health, however, suffered so much from the close confinement and hard work that he deemed it advisable to retire for a time upon half pay, and for the succeeding eight years he was occupied in private surveying and building. Whilst thus engaged he received intimation from Colonel Wedderburn, secretary to Sir George Murray, that if he would accept an appointment as a surveyor in New South Wales the situation was at his service. After a few days consideration, and wishing for a change of scene, he obtained leave from the Ordnance department, and accepted the appointment, arriving in the colony in March 1830. Under the orders of the Surveyor General Sir Thomas Mitchell, he proceeded at once into the interior to survey the main dividing range between the eastern and western watershed. He was engaged in this work for upwards of two years, and obtained the express approval of the Surveyor General for the manner in which he performed his work. Sir Richard Bourke having heard of his former employment in the Ordnance Department appointed Mr. Lewis as the first Town Survey for Sydney, and afterwards made him Colonial Architect. His efforts in this position earned him the express approval of Sir Richard Bourke, Sir George Gipps, Sir Charles Fitzroy, and the then Colonial Secretaries. Among the public buildings erected by him may be mentioned the Court House and goal, Darlinghurst, The Colonial Treasury, Custom House and Government House, Sydney. He also designed the Court houses and gaols at Newcastle, Maitland, Muswellbrook, Parramatta, Berrima etc and also the Lunatic Asylum, Gladesville and several churches and private buildings. He also carried out the alteration of the old building in Macquarie Street into the first Parliament House and the conversion of the old Military Hospital into the first National School. With the Hon. Sir E. Deas Thomson, he surveyed and laid out the Racecourse at Randwick. He was acting Colonial Engineer and had to attend to harbour and river works and had the roads and bridges of the colony under his control in addition to the duties pertaining to the office of Colonial Architect. For some years past Mr. Lewis has led a strictly private life, surrounded by his children, grandchildren, and a large circle of friends to whom he had endeared himself by his many amiable qualities, and by whom his memory will be long revered.