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Kelly, Anthony Edwin (1852–1930)

from Argus (Melbourne)

It is with great regret that we announce the death of Mr. Bowes Kelly, which occurred at his home, Moorakyne, Glenferrie road, Malvern, at 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Mr. Kelly, who became critically ill a few days ago, was one of the best known men in the mining industry of Australia, and the creation of his fortune was bound up with the romantic development of Broken Hill, which towards the end of last century was the source of such unexpected and enormous wealth. Mr. Kelly had also extensive commercial interests, and he retained seats on the directorates of several companies to the time of his death.

Mr. Kelly was the son of Mr. John Kelly, who was resident police magistrate at Deniliquin (N.S.W.) for many years. He was born in County Galway, Ireland, in 1852, and he came to Australia in 1860. As soon as opportunity offered he went on the land, and for some time he was engaged in sheep farming in Victoria and New South Wales. From the first he interested himself in mining. In 1861, when manager of Billilla Station, near Wilcannia, he saw the first rush of gold-seekers to the Mount Brown diggings. He then took up land north of Wilcannia. This he sold shortly afterwards, at the peak of a favourable season, at a substantial profit, and he came to Melbourne. About this time news of the discoveries at Silverton and Broken Hill were filtering through to Melbourne. Mr Kelly decided to go to Silverton. Then, in the process of development from mining camp to township, it was "a wild, feverish place, threatened by the continuance of drought, and yet born up by the excitement of the discoveries of silver," where, so it is said, any miner who could produce a silver slug could demand an infinite number of free drinks at the expense of the credulous seeking information about the situation of the supposed discovery. With so many false alarms, the excitement over local discoveries, and the rigours of prospecting in the drought-stricken country, it was not perhaps surprising that the strange formation of Broken Hill was, to most of those who thought about it at all, a subject of scepticism—a "hill of mullock," as it was called by some. But others beside the discoverers of its minerals had faith in the hidden fortunes of the mysterious black hill. One of them was Mr. William Jamieson, mining surveyor of the New South Wales Government. The syndicate which planned to make its fortunes from the hill, however, did not have the immediate success which some of its members had hoped for. "This silver-mining business is the very devil" said one of them. "It would ruin a man." The sale of shares—the original seven were divided into 14—brought into the syndicate William Jamieson. The shares could be bought for £100 or so—the ownership of one of them had been decided by a game of euchre—but Jamieson believed in the hill, and, ever a staunch advocate of its possibilities, he communicated his faith in it to Mr. Kelly.

Mr Kelly, was impressed by what he heard, and it occurred to him that the hill might indeed be the very centre of the silver-field. Although he did not go to the property at the time, he was successful in buying for £150 a share of one-fourteenth in the first Broken Hill Mining Company. That was in 1884. So was laid the foundation of his fortune. Mr. Kelly became a director of the original Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd., which was formed in 1885. He remained a member of the board of directors to the time of his death. He was chairman between 1892 and 1922.

It was not only in Broken Hill, however, that Mr Kelly was interested. He was regarded as the "father"of Mount Lyell mine, Tasmania. The mine was discovered in 1883 by the "Cooney Bros," whose real names were W. and M. McDonough, and who pegged out the famous "Iron Blow" which proved to be the centre of the Mount Lyell mine. The mine was worked for gold with varying success for several years. In 1891 Mr Bowes Kelly and the late Mr William Orr, attracted by the fame of the Mount Lyell ore masses, visited that place, and the vigorous development of the mine mainly resulted from that visit. Mr Kelly inspected the Iron Blow, and he sent samples of ore to Broken Hill for treatment. He and his advisers concluded that the ore would not pay if worked as a goldmine, but that if attacked on a sufficiently large scale the pyrites could be worked for copper, and the gold and silver saved as by-products. A syndicate of which Mr Kelly was the most active was formed further to prospect the field. This led to the formation of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co Ltd. The task of developing the property as a copper producer was difficult and complex. Before the first dividend was paid a total expenditure of about ₤400,000 had been incurred. Mr Kelly was chairman of directors almost continuously for 30 years, and he remained an active member of the board. He was particularly interested in the opening of the zinc-lead in the Williamsford-Rosebery district, and in 1916 the most promising mines were acquired by the Mount Lyell Company and amalgamated under the Read and Rosebery Mines Limited, which in turn sold them to Electrolytic Zinc Co of Australasia Ltd. in 1919.

Mr Kelly was also the owner of Norton Mandeville, one of the historic station properties of Tasmania, which he sold a few years ago. He was a director of the Emu Bay Railway Co Ltd, the National Bank of Australasia Ltd, the Union Trustees, Executors and Agency Company and the Sea Elephant Tin Mining Company, King Island. He was also interested in country and city properties.

Mr. Kelly leaves a widow and two sons and four daughters. His eldest daughter is Mrs. J. R. Hay of Flinders Island. His elder son in Mr Monckton Kelly, of the Melbourne Stock Exchange. The funeral will leave his home at 4 o'clock this afternoon for the St. Kilda Cemetery.

The arrangements are in the hands of A. A. Sleight Pty. Ltd.

Original publication

  • Argus (Melbourne), 17 October 1930, p 8

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Additional Resources

Citation details

'Kelly, Anthony Edwin (1852–1930)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/kelly-anthony-edwin-6916/text27315, accessed 22 November 2017.

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