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Icely, Thomas (1797–1874)

The decease of a gentleman who had for more than thirty years been a member of the Legislature of the colony; and who had for a still longer period enjoyed the respect of many of his fellow countrymen, in New South Wales, naturally awakens a desire, for some review of his career.

Mr. Thomas Icely was born at Plymouth, in the South of England, in November 1797. He turned his attention to commercial pursuits, and in the prosecution of mercantile enterprise came out to this country in the year 1819, in the ship Surrey.

For several years he devoted his attention to merchandise and shipping. He made several trips to England, and on one occasion he took letters of introduction from New South Wales to Sir Wm. Manning, and Mr. Edye Manning, then in the mother country. His energy and prudence was crowned with large success. And finding himself in possession of considerable wealth he determined to settle as a landholder in the country.

In 1828 he was made a magistrate of the territory. He was on the Commission of Peace for forty-six years, that is, till the day of his death. In 1830 he married Miss Rothery, and took up his residence at Bungaribee, near Parramatta. He afterwards removed to Combing Park, near Carcoar. His estate there is on the River Belubula, and Mount Icely in the neighbourhood memoralizes his name to coming generations.

In 1842 he was first made a member of the Legislature, being nominated by the Governor to the Legislative Council. On occasion of the changes by which a more representative character was given to the Council, he was re-appointed as a nominee member until the dissolution of that House, in 1850. He was not distinguished by oratorical powers, and did not often take any part in debate. But his good judgment and calm temper gained him much influence. The fact that he was regarded with great respect and warm friendship by such a judge of the qualifications of a legislator as Mr. E. Deas Thomson, is a warrant, to those who did not know him personally, of the merits of Mr. Icely.

In 1843 his first wife died, leaving him two sons and three daughters. Two of his daughters died suddenly, about the same time in 1856. The other was married to Captain Henry Genys. After the death of his first wife he married Miss Bartlett, by whom he had a son and a daughter. He afterwards lost one of his sons. Two sons and two daughters, all settled in this country, survive him.

In 1864 he was again summoned to the discharge of the duties of a legislator, being nominated to the Upper House by Sir John Young, on the advice of the Cabinet of Mr. (now Sir James) Martin. He held that seat till his death. All through his political career Mr. Icely has been an unwavering though moderate conservative. He was generally found voting with Mr. Deas Thomson.

After living for some time at Combing Park, he removed to Greystanes, where he resided with his family for many years. About seven years ago he returned to Parramatta; and made his home at "Elizabeth Farm," the name his mansion there retained in memory of Mrs. Lachlan Macquarie. There he ended his days on earth. For the last ten years his health had been failing, and towards the end of January he became so weak as to be unable to leave his bed. He had attained the age of seventy-six, and had seen many of his equals in years pass before him to the grave. He died on Friday the 13th of February, a quarter of an hour before midnight. He was buried in the family vault at St. Peter's, Cook's River, where his first wife and his youngest son had been interred. When the Legislative Council met after his decease the oldest and the youngest members of the house, one who had known him forty-six years, and others who had had ample opportunity of forming an opinion of his private and public worth, bore unanimous testimony to his integrity and prudence, and spoke of him as one who won the esteem and friendship of all who knew him.

Original publication

Citation details

'Icely, Thomas (1797–1874)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/icely-thomas-2258/text28002, accessed 25 November 2017.

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