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Fairfax, Charles John (1829–1864)

from Bell's Life in Sydney

Charles Fairfax, by Edwin Dalton, c1864

Charles Fairfax, by Edwin Dalton, c1864

National Portrait Gallery, 2002.81

It is with inexpressible regret that the duty devolves upon us of recording the death of Mr Charles John Fairfax, one of the proprietors of the Sydney Morning Herald—a gentleman who had endeared himself to all who knew him not only by his unblemished public career in connection with the "Press of Australia," but by his manifold deeds of private benificence, and his ever amiable and courteous demeanour towards all who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance either in business or social relations. We can say no more in eulogy of such a respected citizen beyond this—that his untimely demise in the prime of manhood, in the enjoyment of everything that could aid him in his efforts to assist and encourage his fellow men in the "struggle of life," is mourned with unfeigned sorrow by every member of the community. We take the following obituary notice from Tuesday's Herald, conscious that our humble pen would fail in doing equal justice to his memory:—

On Saturday last he visited a relative—Mr. Alfred Fairfax—at Burwood, where he met a number of friends. In the afternoon the whole party set out for a ride, in the course of which he was thrown from his saddle, and falling on the back part of his head, received a concussion of the brain, of which he languished until four o'clock yesterday (Monday) morning, when he died.

Mr Charles Fairfax, although not a native of the colony, spent here the greater part of his life. He was an apprentice in the Herald Office, and a few years ago became a member of the firm. All connected with the Herald have marked his assiduity in business, his tact in the management of its details, and his consideration for persons employed under him. Among the employees of the establishment it would be difficult to find anyone who did not regard him as a personal friend, and who did not deplore his loss as an individual bereavement.

In all the relations of life—as a son, as a husband, and as a father, he displayed devoted affection. The death of a person known so extensively, by an accident so sudden, could not fail to create some sensation. We believe that in this community it will be difficult to find any person who did not regard him with respect. If we were to select the feature of his character most prominent and most endearing, it would be the extreme kindness of heart which he always displayed towards suffering in every form.

A calamity so sudden and so impressive has its lesson for all. It repeats to us again the words we have so often heard—"In the midst of life we are in death." It points out the importance of a prompt fulfillment of duties which, if neglected, would make death more bitter to those who survive. It reminds us that the youthful may not trust in their strength, nor the fortunate in their prosperity, since both are but a shadow; and it renders still more imposing the grandeur of that faith which alone can afford consolation in such bereavements, or shed the radiance of hope upon the tomb.

Our departed friend had just returned from a tour extending through many countries. He travelled probably not less than 50,000 miles. So long a journey was not without perils. He visited most of the capitals of Europe, and saw the greater part of those objects which commonly attract the curiosity of tourists, besides seeking in every place such information as might be useful in the business which he returned to assist. Strange lot to have spent scathless so many months in travelling and encountering dangers by sea and land, and then within a few miles distance from his home to have met with such a fate.

Mr. Charles Fairfax was born on 1st January, 1829, and had he lived but a few days longer he would have completed his thirty-fifth year. On New Year's Day he was expected to meet a very numerous circle at his father's house. For this festivity the invitations were already issued, but the day designed for festivity and congratulation will dawn upon his mourning kindred who lately received him with welcome, but who will see him no more.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Charles John Fairfax

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 December 1863, p 4

Citation details

'Fairfax, Charles John (1829–1864)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/fairfax-charles-john-13776/text24615, accessed 21 November 2017.

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