sketcher, was probably born in Eckington, Gloucestershire, daughter of the vicar. Her brother, Edward Locke Courthope (1825-97), became auditor-general and registrar-general at the Swan River settlement, Western Australia. In December 1836 Elizabeth married Major Frederick Chidley Irwin, son of another Anglican clergyman and a cousin of Captain James Stirling, first lieutenant-governor at the Swan. They embarked for Western Australia when her husband was reappointed commandant of the military forces, arriving in 1838. Their first child, Frederick, was born at sea on the voyage out.

The Irwins lived in St George’s Terrace, Perth, before moving to Henley Park, a mile from the church at the Upper Swan near Guildford. They were both devout members of the Church of England and supported it in many ways. Frederick Irwin had given the land on which the Upper Swan church had been built, and soon after her arrival Elizabeth established a Sunday School at Perth with Rev. J.B. Wittenoom . There is a view of Rev. W. Mitchell’s octagonal church at Middle Swan (long demolished) in the sketchbook attributed to her, as well as one of Eckington church and a View from Mother’s Bedroom at Eckington Vicarage .

Elizabeth and Frederick Irwin returned to England in the Aerolite in March 1854, preceded by their nine surviving children who had been sent home to be educated in 1852. One son had died in 1847 and another daughter was born after they left the colony. Elizabeth Irwin died at Clifton, Gloucestershire, on 14 May 1882.

Because the sketchbook which contains Irwin’s pencil sketches (Battye Library) is inscribed 'Elizabeth C. Irwin from her friend Mr[Mrs?] Nash’, it has been suggested that Richard West Nash not only gave her the book but the sketches as well. This seems unlikely. It was presented on 22 June 1841, according to Nash’s inscription, and although none of the sketches is signed or dated some appear to postdate the gift. Most are topographical pencil drawings of properties and homesteads around Perth, together with a few English scenes. Sketches such as Millenden or Oakover meticulously record early Western Australian homesteads and their gardens. Other drawings include a careful View of the Tunnel under the Roundhouse, from the Sea , taken from the south bank of the Swan at Fremantle, and there is a very competent watercolour of an unidentified bell-like flower painted in sparse Regency style. One lively drawing labelled Cook’s Retreat shows a rough gunyah in a back-yard.

Staff Writer
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