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O'Brien, James (1833–1907)

James O'Brien, c1888

James O'Brien, c1888

photo privately sourced

Another of the oldest residents, the pioneers who were attracted here in the early '50's on the discovery of gold, has passed from amongst us, Mr. James O'Brien, who died at the residence of his son, Mr. M. R. O'Brien, at Mount Elrington, on Thursday morning, at half-past 11 o'clock. Mr. O'Brien had been in poor health for some time past, suffering from rheumatics, which led to other ailments and caused a thorough break-up of the system, although until the last few months he bore up well against his infirmities and continued to visit the town on business matters as usual. Some few weeks since he took up his residence with his sister for a week or so, but not finding any improvement in his condition he returned to his country home. Drs. Olivey and Llewellyn were most unremitting in their attendance upon him, and did all that was in their power to alleviate his sufferings. It became too apparent, however, of late that his end was drawing near, and that it was merely a matter of prolonging life for a short time. All that was possible was done for him by his family to comfort him at the close of his life. His sons and Mrs. Austin Chapman, his youngest daughter, who came from Melbourne last Thursday week, unweariedly ministered to him in everything that was necessary to sustain him. As the end was approaching the pain which he had been suffering passed from him, and for a couple of days before his death he was in a much happier condition than he had been previously, and died very peacefully. He was in his 76th year. He was attended in his last hours by all the members of his family, viz, Mrs. H. J. Mallon (his eldest daughter by his first marriage), Mrs. Chapman, and his sons, the Rev. E. O'Brien, and James, Patrick, Michael, and John O'Brien. He had another daughter by his second wife, who was married to Mr. McMahon, of the Bonded Stores, Circular Quay, Sydney, and who died some years since shortly after her marriage.

Mr. O'Brien's first wife was a Miss Dunn, of Goulburn, who died at the age of 19, and whose remains, with those of his second wife nee Maria McManns [sic] are interred in the family vault in the Roman Catholic Cemetery, Braidwood, and who died in December 1904, aged 62 years.

Mr. O'Brien was a native of Carlow Ireland, and came out to New South Wales 52 years since shortly after the breaking out of the gold fields. He came out at the instance of his brother, the Ven. Dean O'Brien who was the first parish priest in Braidwood and who arrived about two years before him. He left three brothers, clergymen in the old country. He started business as a storekeeper at Bellevue immediately upon his arrival and had branch stores in Araluen and Major's Creek, being very successful in business and launching out into mining ventures, in which he was in the main pretty lucky. As the diggings began to fall off, being a man of great business capacity he extended his operations to farming and grazing and purchased Highgate, gradually adding to his possessions by purchasing Mount Elrington, and another large estate at Krawarree, formerly the property of the late Mr. F. Mason, and adding acre to acre in selections he owned at the time of his death some 40,000 acres, his several properties being managed by his sons.

The funeral of the deceased took place yesterday afternoon, his remains being laid in the vault beside those of his deceased wives. It was very largely attended, being followed by upwards of 63 vehicles and a number of horsemen besides a good many townspeople on foot. The arrangements at the grave were entrusted to Messrs. Morris. The chief mourners at the grave were the sons, Messrs. James, Patrick, Michael, and John O'Brien, and Messrs. H. J. Mallon and Austin Chapman sons-in-law (the latter of whom only arrived from Melbourne at 1 o'clock yesterday afternoon.) The Rev. E. O'Brien, the other son, who arrived at Mount Elrington prior to his father's death, was too indisposed to attend the funeral. The Rev. Dr. Murphy conducted the service at the grave.

Original publication

  • Braidwood Dispatch (NSW), 16 November 1907

Citation details

'O'Brien, James (1833–1907)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/obrien-james-13812/text24666, accessed 20 August 2017.

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