Edgar Thomas Aldridge (1817 – 1888), store owner, hotelier and councillor, arrived in Queensland in 1848. He was the first European man to reside in the area that eventually became known as Maryborough. Aldridge died in 1888 at his third home, ‘Baddow House’, located at 366 Queen Street, Baddow. He was preceded in death by his ex-convict wife Maria who died in 1886. They are buried together in Maryborough Cemetery.
Edgar Aldridge migrated to Australia from England in the 1840s. In 1843 Aldridge became a hotel keeper on the Macleay River near Kempsey, NSW. He continued to involve himself in a variety of business endeavours before heading to northern NSW. In 1848, Edgar Aldridge headed north with a party that included Enoch Rudder and Richard Palmer and on 4 April 1848 the party crossed the Mary River (formerly named the Wide Bay River) to the north bank naming the place Baddow. Aldridge then returned with livestock and built the Bush Inn and a crude wool store.
In 1849 Aldridge married former convict Maria Slater (née Steele). Maria was a widow with one child, Frederick Slater. Edgar and Maria had two children, Maria Rachael and Harry Edgar, both born prior to their marriage. In late 1849 the entire family moved to Wide Bay Village where Aldridge established a store, wharves and the Bush Inn hotel, where the family lived. Another son, Joey Edgar, was born in 1850 but died in January 1851.
The Bush Inn at Wide Bay Village accommodated the Native Police when they passed through the territory while out on patrol in southeast Queensland. In 1856 Aldridge built a new Bush Inn hotel at Kent Street, where the present day Royal Hotel is located. It was an impressive two storied timber building.
The Register of Lands Sold in Maryborough 1842-1859 shows Aldridge as the largest purchaser of land in the region at that time. In 1857 he built the first brick building in Maryborough — the Court House and Lock-Up — followed by the Receiving Store. Aldridge successfully cultivated the first sugar cane in the area, resulting in the future establishment of what would become an important and profitable crop for Maryborough. Edgar held the position of Alderman of Maryborough from 1861-1864 and 1865-1866.
His wife Maria passed away in 1886 and to honour her memory Aldridge built St Thomas Church in 1887 and in 1888 installed nine bells, crafted in England, in the bell tower of St Paul’s Church. The bells rang out each year on the anniversary of Maria’s death.
Built in 1883 by Fritz Kinne and designed by Maryborough architect Willoughby Powell, Baddow House was the third home of Edgar Thomas Aldridge. He died at Baddow House in 1888 and is buried with his wife and other members of his family in the Maryborough Cemetery.
Lee Butterworth, ‘Edgar Thomas Aldridge (1817 – 1888)’, Harry Gentle Resource Centre, Griffith University, 2017, https://harrygentle.griffith.edu.au/life-stories/edgar-aldridge/.
Queensland State Archives, Item ID ITM101517.
1855 Petition from Edgar Thomas Aldridge to William Denison, Reel A2.35, pp. 339, 341-342, CS ref. 56/01211.
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