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Bowman, George (1795–1878)

from Sydney Morning Herald

Our obituary notices of the last few months have contained the names of several of our best and most esteemed colonists; and now we have to record the death of one whose name has been associated with the colony for very many years, and who was as greatly esteemed as he was widely known, Mr. George Bowman, of Richmond. He died at his residence, Richmond, on Monday morning, at the advanced age of 84 years.

Mr. Bowman was born in 1793, and was only three years old when he came to the colony. His father, John Bowman, was a native of Fifeshire, in Scotland; his mother belonged to Cornwall in England. They were among the earliest free settlers who came to take up their abode in this new land. George was the second and last surviving member of his father's family. The eldest, John, died in India many years ago. The youngest, William, died at his residence in Richmond about four years ago, and Mrs. Chisholm died in May last.

The facilities for education in the early days of the colony were not very abundant, but such as were available were made the most of. Mr. Bowman acquired, in his youth, those habits of method of order and of self-reliance which contributed largely to his future success in life. He was one of the first who, after its discovery, penetrated through the mountains to the Hunter River, and pitched his tent on its banks, where his sons are now all located. He had many interesting tales to tell of the hazards which had to be run and the hardships which had to be endured in those early days. By dint of industry, enterprise, and perseverance he soon began to get on in the world. Wealth began to increase, and he appears to have entertained from the outset an enlightened idea of the responsibilities which attach to wealth, and of the higher ends and uses to which it ought to be devoted. Though, like Samuel Budgett, "The Successful Merchant," he was exact and keen in matters of business, he was, like him, freehearted in the distribution of what he had aequired.

It was a ruling ambition with him to obtain for his children the best possible education. He was one of the largest, if not the largest, contributors to the Australian College, established by the late Dr. Lang; and in this college the elder sons were educated, while the younger ones passed through the Sydney University. His fourth son, Matthew, after receiving such education as was available in the colony, was sent to Scotland to study theology in the new college in Edinburgh, shortly after the disruption of the Church of Scotland. After completing his studies he returned to the colony, but was cut off before he had actually entered on the office or the ministry. The fifth son, Robert, was sent home to study medicine, and became an M.D. of the University of Edinburgh. After returning to the colony he practised his profession for several years in Sydney, but his health failed, and he died at middle age. The two youngest (twins), after graduating in the Sydney University, were sent to London to study for the legal profession. After being, admitted as barristers by the Middle Temple, and having obtained the degree of LL.B. from the University of London, they returned to the colony, but instead of following their profession they have preferred to devote themselves to pastoral pursuits. The seventh son, Alexander, was at the last election returned to Parliament as one of the members for the electorate of the Hawkesbury. Mr. Bowman had, in all, nine sons and two daughters, of whom six sons survive and one daughter, wife of Rev. James Cameron, H.A., of Richmond. Besides these, he has left behind him about thirty grandcildren. At an early period Mr. Bowman was placed on the list of the magistracy. He also served for several years in the Legislative Council as representative for the electorate of Northumberland, or Hunter. In politics his sympathies were with the liberal party. He was remarkable for his integrity, his high conscientiousness, and force of character. He took a lively interest in the welfare and prosperity of the town of Richmond, in which the greater part of his life was spent. He was ever ready to use his influence with the Government, and to expend his own means in promoting objects of public usefulness. To him Richmond is largely indebted for its public buildings and public institutions. He was a loyal and liberal supporter of the Presbyterian Church, the Church of his fathers. He served for many years as representative elder in the Church Courts, and took a lively interest in the business. The Presbyterian Church in Richmond, which was built entirely at his own cost, has recently been improved by the addition of a handsome tower and spire, the expense of which has been borne by him. It was long his desire to erect a public clock for the benefit of the town, but although the clock has been ordered from London, and is probably on its way, he has not lived to see his desire accomplished. While liberal in his giving to his own church, he knew how to be generous to other denominations. He was naturally of a buoyant and cheerful disposition, and even amid the infirmities and sufferings of later years his natural vivacity did not wholly forsake him. He will be missed by the community in the midst of which he lived so long. He will be missed by the church to which he belonged and by the congregation, of which he was the mainstay. He will be missed by many a friend in need, to whom kindness and help were extended of which but few were aware.

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Citation details

'Bowman, George (1795–1878)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/bowman-george-15340/text26549, accessed 25 November 2017.

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