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Kermode, Robert Crellin (1847–1927)

from Mercury (Hobart)

Robert Kermode, n.d.

Robert Kermode, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 March 1927

By the death of Mr. Robert Crellin Kermode, of Mona Vale, Ross, which took place at his residence at 5.30 p.m. yesterday, Tasmania has lost a prominent pastorallst, an enthusiastic church and mission worker, and a great philanthropist beloved by a wide circle of friends.

Mr. Kermode was a son of Robert Quayle and Martha Elizabeth Henrietta Mona Vale, and was 80 years of age on Sunday last. A few months ago he had a stroke from which he was making a good recovery, but on his birthday, last Sunday, after he had delivered a speech, he had a second stroke, and gradually sank. He was a much travelled man, and Tasmania has benefited greatly from his experience and the energy he threw into his work in many directions for the welfare of his country and his fellowmen.

Mr. Kermode was born at Mona Vale, Ross, on February 6, 1847. His grandfather (Mr. William Kermode) came to Tasmania in 1823 with his wife, and their three sons, Messrs. Robert Quayle Kermode (father of deceased), W. A. Kermode, and L. Q. Kermode, were all born in Tasmania. The original Mr. Kermode was granted a stretch of land embracing practically the whole of what is now Battery Point, Hobart, and subsequently Mrs. R. Q. Kermode gave a block of land for St. George's Church, Battery Point. The family, however, settled at Mona Vale, which was a grant by Sir Thomas Brisbane, Governor of New South Wales, and entered upon pastoral pursuits, taking an active interest also in public life. Mr. William Kermode was one of the first members of the Legislative Council in Van Diemen's Land, being appointed by the British Government in 1842, and Mr. R. C. Kermode's father was also a member. He was also the first president of the Midland Agricultural Association in 1837. The presidency of this notable society has fallen to the lot of three generations of the Kermodes. The late Mr. R. C. Kermode was president for many years and acted in this capacity right to the last.

In 1868 Mr. Robert Quayle Kermode built the Mona Vale mansion, which is recognised as the finest country residence in Tasmania. He entertained the Duke of Edinburgh there in 1868, shortly after the building was completed. The Duke planted two trees there, one of which still lives, and promises to become a noble oak. On the death of Mr. R. Q. Kermode the estate was divided among his three sons. Mr. R. C. Kermode received a third, including the Mona Vale cottage. Lewis was left another third on the Ballochmyle side, and to William fell the Mona Vale homestead. This was entailed, and went to his son Eric, who sold it to Sir. Eustace Cameron, the present occupant.

Mr. R. C. Kermode received his early education at Horton College, commencing about 1858. He was there with Mr. W. H. Bennett, who is now in his 85th year, and was the first boy to attend this College at its opening. Shortly afterwards Mr. Kermode and one of his brothers were taken by their father to England, and attended Wadham College, Oxford, where Robert finished his education and was a contempary of the present Lord Oxford. Even in those carly days Robert showed evidence of his unbounded energy by walking round the Isle of Wight and taking other walking tours in England. He took up cricket at Oxford and got his college blue. He was a fast round arm bowler and a good batsman. After his education in England he returned to Tasmania and took up pastoral pursuits at Mona Vale. His father imported Merinos from England, and he took an interest in these for many years. Mr. R. C. Kermode was one of the first men to start golf in the Midlands and was a keen cricketer, at which game he excelled, his support being given to the Ross team. After a few years (about the year 1887) he went to Florida, where he joined his brother and took up orange growing. While in Florida he indulged his sporting proclivities in shooting, and the hall at Mona Vale contains several glass cases of stuffed birds of brilliant plumage which he shot in America.

 After leaving Florida he again went to England, and then travelled extensively. In the course of his tours he walked through many of the countries of Europe. He visited almost every part of the world except China and Japan. His great energy was demonstrated again in Tasmania some years ago, when he walked through the roughest part of the West Coast from Waratah to the Huon. He walked also from Lake St. Clair to the West Coast, and the story is told of the discovery by the party of a lake somewhere in the west, Mr. Kermode making an unpleasant acquaintance with the lake by walking into it in the dark. In between his tours of different countries, Mr. Kermode returned to Mona Vale. He again went to England in 1910, and for the last time in 1924. He was a great photographer, and for an amateur did most beautiful work. Upon his last visit to England he took over 1,000 photographs, and on his return he came through Palestine, where he took some 600 photographs. He visited almost every country mentioned in Biblical History.

A little over 40 years ago, before going to Florida, Mr. Kermode married Miss Fawns, daughter of the Rev. J. Fawns, of Launceston, and after his marriage continued his travels. Then he settled down at Mona Vale. Mrs. Kermode died in 1923. There were no children. Last year Mr. Kermode added an excellently appointed children's ward to the Campbell Town Hospital, entirely at his own expense, as a memorial to his late wife.

Among pastoralists Mr. Kermode was widely known as an enthusiastic breeder of high-class Shropshires, in which he interested himself many years ago, and took prizes at the different shows; but in more recent years he changed his fancy, and went in for Lincolns, which he has bred for the last nine years. He kept his Lincoln stud flock at a farm at Sheffield, in West Kentish, and also owned the Dog's Head property at Lake Sorell, Interlaken. He was always a successful exhibitor at and keen supporter of the Campbell Town and Hobart shows, at which he was a prominent figure. As president of the Midland Agricultural Association he did all in his power for the advancement of the Campbell Town Show, and took an active part in advancing the reputation of Tasmanian wool and Tasmanian sheep. His speeches at the show luncheons were always forceful, and optimism and faith in the resources of Tasmania were the keynotes of all his utterances.

Mr. Kermode was a prominent member of the Municipal Council of Ross. He joined it in 1894, and had been a member, also a justice of the peace ever since. He was a trustee of the Macquarie Water Trust also since its inception. As a councillor Mr. Kermode interested himself in the building of the Ross Town Hall in 1801, and was very enthusiastic over the hydro-electric power scheme for the Midlands, which is shortly to materialise. He took a great interest in the welfare of the municipality, and wrote a history of Ross on the occasion of its centenary in 1921. He took part in the building of the dam at Tooms Lake, at the head of the Macquarie River, Mr. Kermode was a prolific correspondent, and is said to have found time for writing, on an average, 40 letters a week.

The late Mr. Kermode's chief interest and greatest enthusiasm, however, was for church work. He was a lay reader in St. John's Church of England, Ross, for upwards of half a century, and was superintendent of the Sunday school for a similar period up to the time of his return from England in 1924. At Ross every Sunday morning, after he had conducted the Sunday school, he assisted the rector in the service, and occasionally conducted the service himself. In the afternoon he conducted a Sunday school at Mona Vale, and in the evening he took service in the Mona Vale Church, built by his father. He was greatly interested also, in the little State school at Mona Vale, providing prizes and an annual treat for the children. He was a churchwarden at Ross, and was the lay representative of St. John's parish in Synod. He was a Tasmanian delegate to the recent Australian Church of England Convention in Sydney. His father was the prime mover in the building of the Church of England at Ross, a most picturesque freestone edifice. In the church there is a tablet erected to the memory of Mr. R. Q. Kermode on the occasion of the church jubilee in 1919. There is also a fine ornamental imported stone pulpit given by W. A. and Edith Kermode in 1885. Mr. R. C. Kermode was a staunch advocate of the evangelical principles of the Church. He was keenly interested in and a great supporter of missions, and he once remarked that if he had his time over again he would be a missionary instead of a pastoralist. He was president of the Church Missionary Society of Tasmania, and was collector for the British and Foreign Bible Society right up till last year. He gave very liberally to missions and to charity, and will be greatly missed. His death is a distinct loss to the rector of St. John's (Rev. F. A. Carr), and to all connected with the church, of which he was regarded as the backbone. His philanthropic spirit was one of his greatest characteristics, and his charitable works were all done in a quiet, unobtrusive way, so that very few knew the extent of his generosity. Every year he supported the Church of England fair by gifts of half a dozen sheep, and a quantity of other goods, apart from his purchases at the functions. To the minister, and to others who would appreciate them, he personally was in the habit of taking gifts of joints of meat, vegetables, etc., every week, and the extent of his benevolence to the poor it would be difficult to estimate. His unfailing kindness was his greatest attribute, and he set a very high standard which will be a splendid example for all time. He was a strict temperance advocate. His principles were high, and he lived up to them. He had a fine sense of humour, and was always full of life and energy. In Ross township and wherever he was known his loss will be keenly felt. His last gift to the Church was a large book of Common Prayer, and eight years ago he gave an organ to St. Peter's Church, Sandy Bay. In the archives of the church at Ross is a record of the late Mr. Kermode's baptism on February 6, 1847.

Mr. Kermode was an ardent lover of flowers, and his beautiful garden at Mona Vale is the admiration of all who see it. He regularly sent flowers to the Campbell Town Hospital and to the church.

His immediate surviving relatives are a niece, Mrs. E. Harrison, of Devonport, and her son, and the Misses Gwen, Ethel, and Edith Tinning, the three daughters of Mr. S. T. Tinning, solicitor, of Hobart.

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'Kermode, Robert Crellin (1847–1927)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/kermode-robert-crellin-1426/text25080, accessed 22 April 2019.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2019

Robert Kermode, n.d.

Robert Kermode, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 March 1927