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Jamieson, Thomas McCullogh (1839–1934)

The last of the line of the original pioneers of the West Coast invasion of 1865, Thomas McC. Jamieson, died at the residence of his daughter, Mrs. G. Wilson, in Greymouth, a few days ago.

Mr. Jamieson, who, at the time of his death, was 96 years of age, was a native of Ballymena, County Antrim, Ireland, and left home when 19 years old to pursue the varying fortunes of the digger in Australia. He took part in the early rushes to Bendigo and Ballarat in the halcyon days of Victoria and was attracted to Gabriel’s Gully at Lawrence when that rush broke out in 1861.

At one time or another he was engaged in mining in the Dunstan, Skippers and the Nevis. With his "bluey" he footed it to the Wakamarina field in Marlborough, but that proving a "duffer," he returned to Dunedin in time to be with the vanguard which opened up the Golden Coast to civilisation in 1865. His activities took him to most of the better-known Westland diggings, in particular to the Greenstone and to Stafford, where he was the first to take out a water right. Mr. Jamieson claimed to be one of the few men who passed the tent of the West Coast bushrangers alive. On one occasion he was returning from Red Jack’s and passed the bushrangers’ camp. The infamous Sullivan asked him how things were going and invited him in. "No good," replied the digger, and refused the offer, for it was near nightfall and he had 50 ounces of gold on his person.

He was among the first to enter the new town of Kumara, in 1876, and for the past 57 years has been closely associated with the life of that romantic and now-deserted town. His daughter, Mrs. G. Wilson, of Greymouth, was the first girl born in Kumara. Mr. Jamieson is survived by one son, James (Hunterville) and three daughters, Mrs. W. Evenden (Kumara), Abbiss (Auckland) and Wilson (Greymouth). His grandsons, the four brothers Wilson, three of whom are graduates of Canterbury College, are prominent figures in Rugby football circles in Christchurch and Wellington.

To many the death of the late pioneer snaps the last link with early Westland and the days of flowing hospitality, gold nuggets and the wild carefree romance of the old West Coast.

Citation details

'Jamieson, Thomas McCullogh (1839–1934)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/jamieson-thomas-mccullogh-14709/text25856, accessed 21 November 2019.

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