sketcher and surveyor, was appointed a draughtsman in the New South Wales Surveyor-General’s Department under T. L. Mitchell about 1830. He proved most unsatisfactory, but the actions the government took to rectify the situation suggest he came from an extremely well-connected family (possibly the D’Arcys of Ireland who traced themselves back to Lord Darcy de Knayth, Lord Justice and Chief Governor of Ireland in the fourteenth century). Deputy Surveyor S.A. Perry wrote to the Colonial Secretary on 12 August 1837 that D’Arcy had 'been tried in every branch of this Department and in almost every part of the Colony, and has failed in impressing the Head of Department with a favourable opinion of him’. So 'after every other means had failed’ D’Arcy was promoted! Unhappily, 'even promotion unsolicited, unexpected and unmerited has been insufficient to stimulate him to a sense of the importance of diligent attention to his duties. I can only account for his conduct by supposing there must be some radical defect in his intellectual organs.’

Although D’Arcy’s survey drawings proved few and inaccurate, he apparently enjoyed sketching. A drawing of two men on horseback is located with W. R. Govett 's Notes and Sketches, Blue Mountains 1830-1835 (Mitchell Library) – Govett being another recalcitrant English gentleman who was a colleague of D’Arcy’s in the NSW Survey Department under Mitchell. Sotheby’s (Melbourne) had an early colonial drawing by 'D’Arcy’ in its rooms in September 2002, while the National Library of Australia has two competent watercolours both depicting a Corroboree or native dance at Durhambak [i.e. Duranbah] on the banks of the upper Manning, New England, Australia , which are attributed to an unknown 'Henry Darcy’ and dated c.1830 (see website and file).

F.R. D’Arcy’s promotion to assistant surveyor in 1835 despatched him to Port Phillip to help lay out Melbourne under Robert Russell . He purchased two allotments there. When Robert Hoddle took over from Russell D’Arcy became a constant thorn in his side, refusing to deliver plans he had drawn (there probably were none), claiming he could not afford to return to Sydney when ordered to do so, losing government equipment (a saddle) and finally, in January 1838, instead of continuing on to Sydney stopping off at Launceston, Van Diemen’s Land, with a female companion, his assigned convict servant Margaret Scott who had illegally left Melbourne with him. In Launceston he set up as a private surveyor.

By the late 1840s D’Arcy (alone) was back in NSW, apparently still in contact with influential friends. His Mounted Policemen (probably a watercolour sketch) was lent by the lawyer father of the painter Frederick Garling to the first exhibition of the Society for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Australia held at Sydney in 1847. He was living in rural Hartley by 1849 when he exhibited Emu Hunt at the society’s second exhibition. In August 1851 he was officially accredited as a licensed surveyor in New South Wales but may never have practised. When declared bankrupt on 20 July 1852, he was listed as 'gentleman’. No certificate of solvency is recorded. Nevertheless, on 9 August 1855 he was appointed one of the electoral assessors for Rylestone, the district where he continued to live until 1859. Then he moved to Merriwa in the Hunter Valley to work as a surveyor. The following year he was said to have moved to Queensland but has not been traced there. (The male D’Arcy who exhibited a drawing at Sydney in 1875 was young W. D’Arcy , apparently the son of Norman D’Arcy of Brisbane. No surveyor called 'D’Arcy’ is listed in Watson & McKay.)

Staff Writer
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