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Jennings, Sir Patrick Alfred (1831–1897)

Sir Patrick Jennings, n.d.

Sir Patrick Jennings, n.d.

from Australasian Pastoralists' Review, 16 August 1897

The late Sir Patrick Alfred Jennings was born on the 17th March, 1831, in the town of Newry, County Down, Ireland. His father was a prominent merchant of that town, and intended his son for the bar, but decided to send him to a friend in Exeter, who was a surveyor and civil engineer in that old English city. Young Jennings remained there some time, when, attracted by the gold discoveries, he came out to Victoria, and first worked at Forest Creek. He afterwards settled at St. Arnaud, in the northwestern district; was largely interested in mining and general business. He first brought machinery for quartz crushing to that district, and when local government was introduced was elected the first chairman of the Shire council. In 1863 he married the oldest daughter of Martin Shanahan, of Marnoo and York Plains, and with Mr. Shanahan he purchased Warbreccan Station , near Deniliquin, some time in 1863. In July, 1866, Messrs. Shanahan and Jennings purchased Billilla Station, on the Darling, from Messrs. Phelps and Chadwick, and in 1869 they acquired from the late Patrick Hennessy the Belubla Station, near Tocumwal, on the Murray. In 1873 the Garrawilla, Nombi, Goorianawa, Belar, and Ulamambri stations were purchased from the Messrs. Orr, and in 1874 the famous Westbrook Estate was purchased at auction by Mort and Co. from McLean and Beit. In order to more efficiently develop and secure these properties, Belubla was sold in 1874 to Mr. Edward Hillson, Billilla in 1875 to Messrs. Chirnside and Weatherly, and Goorianawa in 1877 to Messrs. Maguire, C. Fetherstonhaugh, and Robert Cornish.

In the meantime Mr. P. A. Jennings was forced, by the operation of the Robertson Land Act, to purchase large quantities of freehold land at Warbreccan and Garrawilla, about 64,000 acres at the former, and 52,000 acres at the latter place. Both these estates were beautifully improved and had splendid stock.

After settling at Warbreccan Mr. Jennings took an active part in the Riverina Association and was appointed a delegate to proceed to Sydney. In 1867 he was nominated to a seat in the Legislative Council, and on the retirement of Mr. Robert Landale was elected for the Murray in the Lower House. In 1874 he came to live in Sydney at Karoola, Edgecliffe, and afterwards purchased Colebrook, Double Bay.

Sir Patrick was created a C.M.G. in 1879 and a K.C.M.G. in 1880. He was Chief Executive Commissioner at the Garden Palace Exhibition in 1880, and carried out the duties of this onerous position with great dignity. Prior to this he represented New South Wales at the Philadelphia Exhibition. Afterwards he accepted the position of Vice-president of the Executive Council and representative of the Government of Sir Alexander Stuart in the Upper House, and was closely associated with his old friend William Bede Dalley in despatching the Soudan contingent. He was afterwards Premier and Treasurer in the Jennings-Dibbs Government, but owing to failing health and the difficulty of keeping an unruly team together, many of whom were avowed protectionists while Sir Patrick was always a staunch freetrader, and only believing in moderate revenue duties of 5 per cent, ad valorem, he resigned his position and seat in Parliament, and visited England and the Continent. On a former visit to Rome he had been invested by the Pope with the Order of St. Gregory. On the last visit he was created Hereditary Marquis. On his return to Sydney he was one of the delegates at the first Federal Convention, and though nominated at Albury, Dubbo, Mudgee, Wellington, Gunnedah, and Sydney, declined, under plea of failing health, to contest the election for the last Convention held at Adelaide. Since his late partner's death Sir Patrick sold his Ulamambri and Belar stations, and last year Garrawilla, to his brother-in-law and manager for twenty-nine years, Mr. Hugh Kelly; the Nombi Estate to the Hon. Henry Moses; and Warbreccan to the Hon. William McCulloch, of Melbourne. During the last few years, except occasional visits to Sydney to attend to sittings of the Upper House, and social functions, Sir Patrick resided at the Westbrook Estate, Darling Downs, where he and his eldest son were engaged in pastoral pursuits and scientific agricultural and dairy farming, he having brought a large number of Jersey cattle from the South Coast.

Sir Patrick was one of the best known and most universally loved and respected men in Australia. He was an accomplished linguist and classical scholar, as well as having a profound knowledge of the latest scientific and political works of the day. He was a most brilliant conversationalist, with a fine turn of true Irish wit; and, with it all, a highly honourable, extremely conscientious man. Most generous and charitable, he was the largest contributor to the St. Mary's (Sydney) Cathedral Building Fund, and imported a splendid stained glass window for the cathedral; he also presented an organ to St. John's College. He was for many years president of the Sydney Liedertafel. Sir Patrick got a chill in Brisbane about the 30th June last, and after ten days' illness died on the 11th July, his daughter and two sons being present. His remains were brought to Sydney, and after a solemn requiem mass, celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Moran, were buried in the family vault at Waverley. He leaves one daughter and two sons.

Original publication

Citation details

'Jennings, Sir Patrick Alfred (1831–1897)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/jennings-sir-patrick-alfred-532/text533, accessed 14 November 2019.

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