John Frederick Burcher was born Hans Fredrick Carl Böttcher in Angermünde, Brandenburg, Germany on 27 January 1884, son of fireman Wilhelm August Christian Böttcher and his wife, Wilhelmina Louise Christine, née Dahn. He arrived in Brisbane, Queensland with his family aboard RMS Bullimba on 22 August 1887. He was three years old.
He and his family moved to Sydney, and on 27 July 1907 Böttcher applied for naturalisation, listing his occupation as labourer and address as 58 Union Street, Erskineville. After his naturalisation was granted in August 1907, Böttcher changed his name to John Frederick Burcher.
Burcher married Rachel Young at St Pauls Church of England, Redfern on 30 May 1908. They had two children, Rita and John (born in 1909 and 1915 respectively), and lived at 137 Cleveland Street, Redfern until 1935. During the 1940s and 1950s, the couple lived at 88 Baptist Street, Redfern. Burcher died at Ashfield on 27 May 1955 and was buried at Waverley Cemetery.
Occupation & interests
John Burcher worked on Sydney’s tramways as a labourer before working as a ballast guard in 1930-35 and then a ganger supervisor in 1936-54. According to his family, Burcher became a good friend of Sir William McKell, who was Premier of New South Wales (1941-47) and Governor-General of Australia (1947-53).
John Frederick Burcher was a Justice of the Peace.
Local government service
John Burcher stood for nominations for Redfern Council in November 1922. He was elected an alderman of Redfern Council on 24 May 1924 to fill a vacancy caused by the resignation of Alderman Bracks and served until March 1925. Burcher was a Vice-President of the Redfern Labor League and his election as a Redfern alderman gave Labor seven votes in a council of 12.
In a colourful council meeting on 23 October 1924, the Artists’ Ball, which had been held at Redfern Town Hall a few days previously, was described by Deputy Mayor Alderman John Harvey as a ‘disgraceful orgy’. Aldermen Burcher chimed in, noting:
‘These people made absolute beasts of themselves. The mess in the hall was disgusting. When the caretaker attempted to interfere they threatened to tear him to pieces, it was a most disgusting and brutal party. These drunken orgies are a disgrace to the municipality…We had better purchase a lion from the Zoo to guard the town against some of these people.’
Council resolved not to allow ‘large quantities of liquor’ to be taken into the hall in future.
‘Family Notices’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 March 1905, p.4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14705532
‘Redfern By-Election’, The Sun, 25 May 1924, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223397528
‘Beer To Swim In’, The Sun, 24 October 1924, p. 11, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223574265
‘Uninvited Jazz Fiends’, The Sun, 24 October 1924, p. 11, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223574264
‘Death Notice’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 1955, via Ryerson Index