Constable John CANFIELD

Constable John CANFIELD



16 August, 1852


Constable Canfield died at Parramatta on 16 August, 1852 as a result of “severe injuries from bushrangers” he had received “years earlier”.  These injuries were no doubt received on or about 4 March, 1850 during an incident which had been described in some detail in the Bella’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer newspaper dated 9 March, 1850.


OUTRAGES ON THE PARRAMATTA AND LIVERPOOL ROADS – Late on the evening of yesterday week, as Dr. Gwynne, of Parramatta, was proceeding towards that township, when near Iron Cove Bridge, three armed men rushed from the bush on him, forced him to dismount, and having plundered him of his purse, containing about £5, and his riding whip, he was allowed to proceed. On Dr. G passing the Concord Watchhouse, reported the occurrence to the resident constable there, Canfield, who, being a very active officer, lost no time in mounting his horse, and, taking a cross road, soon reached the Liverpool Road, which he proceeded to traverse, making in the direction of Sydney. After loitering about for some hours, and as he was passing close to the Canterbury Bridge, the three men suddenly came upon him, two seized his horse, whilst the third, by a violent blow on the head, brought him to the ground, when they jumped on him, took from him his pistols and handcuffs, and stripped him of all his clothing but his shirt. They then handcuffed him, and dragged him some distance along the ground, inflicting some serious wounds, and, after maltreating him by blows and kicks, left him. Canfield, after lying for some time insensible, contrived to get up, but had proceeded but a short distance when he was again encountered, and most savagely ill-used and left covered with gore. Subsequently he managed to reach Frazer’s (Ireland’s) public house. Canfield’s life is stated to be in a very precarious state. Parties of police have been sent out from Parramatta in search of the ruffians, but hitherto no tidings have been gained of them.


Shortly after his death Constable Canfield’s widow Mary Anne made an application for a gratuity from the Police Reward Fund. An enclosure with Mrs Canfield’s application revealed that “Constable John Canfield entered the Parramatta Police on 1st June 1843 and continued in it until the day of his death the 16th of August 1852 being a period of nine years and 77 days. His death resulted mainly from severe injuries received from bushrangers in the execution of his duty some years previously” Gratuity proposed “the amount of one year’s pay of an ordinary constable.”


The constable was aged 48 years and had joined the police force on 1 June, 1843.  At the time of his death he was stationed at Concord. He is sometimes referred to as “Cantfield”.