Festival of Fisher's Ghost 2018: Tragic death of Fred Fisher

Unknown author: This poem tells the tragic tale of Campbelltown's well-known ghostly resident, Frederick Fisher.

Unknown author: This poem tells the tragic tale of Campbelltown's well-known ghostly resident, Frederick Fisher.

ADVERTISING FEATURE

As legend goes, late one night in October 1826, a reputable Campbelltown farmer got the shock of his life. Traipsing home after quenching his thirst at the local inn, John Farley was greeted by the specter of the recently missing Fred Fisher.

Grey and ghostly looking himself after the spooky encounter almost 200 years ago, it is very doubtful Mr Farley could have envisioned the family-friendly festival which now bears the name of the apparition.   

Born in England, Frederick George James Fisher was shipped to Terra Australis on the Atlas in 1816 after being sentenced to 14 years.

The humble shopkeeper was convicted of obtaining forged bank notes, though there is speculation over his guilt. Once he hit these shores, Fred’s luck looked like it was changing and because he was literate (a rarity among convicts) he managed to work his way up to become superintendent of the Waterloo Flour Company – a very prestigious position.

By 1822, Fred had served nearly half his sentence and applied for a Ticket of Leave – essentially an early release for good behaviour – and headed to Campbelltown to make a home for himself.

By 1822, Fred had served nearly half his sentence and applied for a Ticket of Leave – essentially an early release for good behaviour – and headed to Campbelltown to make a home for himself.

Within three years the industrious 33-year-old was supplying wheat to the area and was the proud owner of four farms. But Fred’s luck was soon to change. 

He’d entered the building game and got into a scuffle with a tradesman over money due. Fred defended himself with a knife and the long and short of it was it looked like he would be heading back to prison.

Ghostly: The footbridge over Fisher's Ghost Creek where the inspiration began for the annual festival. Photo: Fowler Collection, Campbelltown City Library.

Ghostly: The footbridge over Fisher's Ghost Creek where the inspiration began for the annual festival. Photo: Fowler Collection, Campbelltown City Library.

Worried over losing the fortune he had struggled to amass, he handed power of attorney to a trusted friend, neighbour and also-convict George Worrall. 

Fred was fined and sentenced to a compassionate six-month stint, so was soon back to take charge of his affairs. Unfortunately, his return was not to the liking of George and when, in June 1826, Fred disappeared, George said that he had sailed for England. 

Cue John Farley’s encounter with a ghost.

That night John was making his way through land owned by Fred when he came to a small footbridge. It was on the fence of this bridge that John claimed he was met by an eerie sight – a ghostly Fred Fisher, bathed in light and with blood dripping from a gash in his head.

With a haunting moan the lost soul pointed to a creek near George’s farm.

The ensuing investigation lead to the discovery of a body believed to be Fred Fisher and the later conviction of George Worrall (who has absconded to England).

* Information courtesy of Campbelltown City Council’s publication Frederick Fisher and the legend of Fisher’s Ghost: Your guide to Campbelltown’s most infamous resident.