Francis Greenway

Convicted forger, government architect
Arrived 1814 on General Hewitt
When Francis Greenway was appointed Civil Architect by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in March 1816, he became the first government architect of New South Wales, a post which celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2016.

Francis Greenway (1777–1837), the architect of the Hyde Park Barracks, was born in England and came from a long line of architects, builders and stonemasons. He arrived in the colony of New South Wales as a convict in 1814, after being found guilty of forging a document. His skill as an architect quickly caught the eye of Governor Lachlan Macquarie, an enlightened thinker who had grand building plans for the colony.

The collaboration of Greenway and Macquarie transformed Sydney from a penal colony into a civilised Georgian town. Their architectural mark can been seen clearly in the surviving colonial buildings at the southern end of Sydney’s Macquarie Street – the Hyde Park Barracks, St James’ Church and even the General ‘Rum’ Hospital.

Completed in 1819, the Hyde Park Barracks was the first building Greenway designed in his role as Civil Architect. Through the extensive and diverse range of buildings he designed in the role, Greenway sought to improve urban planning and the quality of design and construction in the colony.

The role Greenway began in 1816 has endured for over 200 years, with the position renamed Government Architect in 1890.

Receiving a full pardon on the completion of the Hyde Park Barracks, Greenway could have freely chosen to leave the colony. Instead, he stayed, going into private practice. With a reputation for arrogance and conflict, he quickly fell out of favour with clients and the government before dying alone and penniless, at the age of 59. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the Hunter Valley.