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Forrest, William (1819–1899)

from Western Mail (Perth)

We regret to record the death of Mr. William Forrest, of Picton, father of the Premier, Sir John Forrest, and the Mayor of Perth, Mr. Alexander Forrest, M.L.A. Mr. William Forrest, it will be remembered, met with a fall a few days ago, and his death may be attributed to the shock occasioned to his system by the accident. Mr. Forrest’s condition was so serious on Monday, that early the following morning the Premier left Perth for his father's residence, near Bunbury. He returned to the city on Wednesday morning, his father then being quieter, although his medical advisors, Drs. Williams and Flynn, held out no hope of his recovery. It was not anticipated by the physicians, however, that the end would be so sudden. About 8 o'clock in the evening Mr. Forrest's brief illness was terminated by death.

The deceased gentleman was the son of Mr. James Forrest, a Scottish Writer to the Signet. He was born in February, 1819, near Stonehaven, Kincardineshire, Scotland, and at the time of his death, therefore, was upwards of 80 years of age. By profession he was a civil and mechanical engineer, and some years after his arrival in the colony he turned his early knowledge of engineering to good purpose by erecting a weir across the Preston River, from which water-power sufficient to drive a large flour mill was obtained. Considering the times in which he undertook the work, and how comparatively primitive were the means at his disposal, this enterprise was a very large one, and one that might well have appalled a man of less energetic character. Mr. Forrest arrived in Western Australia in 1842 and took up his abode at Picton, near Bunbury. In those days the work of the pioneer settler was no light task. His tools and implements for the tilling of the soil were of a type now obsolete, and the conversion of the virgin bush into a well cultivated farm was correspondingly difficult, besides laborious. Nothing daunted by what he saw before him, Mr. Forrest persevered in his task, and saw the reward of his labours in the possession of one of the best and most productive farms in the district. His wife, who accompanied him to Western Australia, bravely shared in all his trials, and helped him in every way possible to a good woman.

Mr. Forrest took a great interest in all public affairs. In every movement having for its object the advancement of his district he bore an active part, and after the initiation of the roads board system in the colony, was a prominent member, as well as honorary secretary of the Bunbury Roads Board. A man of remarkably amiable disposition, he was held in high esteem throughout his district, and wherever he was known, his kind and generous nature was greatly appreciated. He passed away full of years, and beloved by all with whom he had in any way been associated. His pride in the successful career of his sons, especially Sir John and Mr. Alex. Forrest, was pardonably great. In all the great and useful works with which their names have been associated–as Civil servants holding high and important positions, as explorers possessing indomitable pluck and energy and opening up tracts of territory previously unknown, as legislators and public men achieving considerable distinction for the important services rendered to their country–he took the warmest interest, and both the Premier and the Mayor, as well as the people of the colony, are indebted to Mr. William Forrest for the hearty encouragement he gave his sons in their labours for the advancement of the colony.

Mrs. Forrest predeceased her husband by a few years, and it will be remembered that their eldest son, who bore the same name as his father, died a few weeks ago from the effects of an accident. Besides the Premier and the Mayor, the surviving members of the family are–Mr David Forrest, the well-known squatter of Ashburton; Mr Robert Forrest, miller, of Bunbury; Mr James Forrest, of Sea View, near Busselton; and Mr George Forrest, who has lived at the old home.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Forrest, William (1819–1899)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/forrest-william-17330/text29083, accessed 22 November 2017.

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