Matthew Medway was born in Swanage, Dorsetshire, England, on 13 April 1818, as the son of James Medway and Ann Gillingham. He married Elizabeth Skelton in London in 1837, and a daughter, Elizabeth, was born shortly afterwards. The family arrived in Sydney on the Bussorah Merchant in 1853. Their daughter Elizabeth married Rowland Pawley in 1862, and one of their sons was Medway (Tom) Pawley.
By 1863, Medway and his wife lived at Frederick Place, Fitzroy Street, Chippendale, where they still resided in 1873. They later moved to ‘Cambrian’ on Laura Street, Camdenville, Newtown, where his wife Elizabeth died in July 1881. In December 1882 Medway married his second wife, Catherine Robinson, at his home in Laura Street. In March 1891, an ‘elderly woman’ named Mrs Fraser was fined 5s or 21 days at Newtown Court for assaulting Matthew Medway. He died at home on 23 October 1892 aged 74.
Occupation & interests
Matthew Medway was a builder and stonemason. He constructed buildings at lower George Street, near Christ Church, and with William Stoddart constructed Mortuary Station in 1868, to the design of colonial architect, James Barnet. The Sydney Morning Herald found it “difficult to say which is the most remarkable, the taste of the architect, Mr. Barnett [sic], or the faithful and persevering skill of the general contractors, Messrs. Stoddard [sic] and Medway” (SMH, 22 April 1868, 9).
Medway was a secretary of the Operative Stonemasons’ Society in 1856. He was also active in the Wesleyan Church at Chippendale, where he served as a circuit steward during the 1860s and 1870s. In 1871 Matthew Medway was the Worshipful Master of the Cambrian Lodge of Freemasons, No. 656 EC. He was also on the Newtown Committee in 1880 to support the return of John Young to Parliament. In 1883, he was re-elected as the treasurer of the Builders and Contractors’ Association.
Local government service
Matthew Medway was elected to Newtown Council in September 1886 for the new ward of Camden when Enmore Ward was split. He was an active member of the Works Committee and died while in office in 1892, having served continuously for six years.
Biographical information for this alderman was originally researched by Mark Matheson for the Newtown Project Website. Further information was provided by Karilyn Pawley in 2012, and additional research was carried out by Dr Martina Muller in 2022.
‘III. Property Stolen or Lost’, NSW Police Gazette, 4 February 1863, 34, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article252047201
‘Wesley Church, Chippendale’, Sydney Mail, 6 January 1866, 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166664007
‘Telegraphic Intelligence’, Empire, 27 March 1867, 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article60838068
‘City and Suburban Improvements’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 1868, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13165025
‘Memorial’, NSW Government Gazette, 31 January 1873, 311, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article230047414
‘Australasian Wesleyan Church – Sydney District Meeting’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 November 1873, 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13326967
‘No title’, Sydney Daily Telegraph, 17 January 1883, 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article238495542
‘Operative Stonemasons’ Society’, Co-operator, 7 October 1912, 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article238817090