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Pirani, Frederic Joy (1850–1881)

from Argus (Melbourne)

The injuries sustained by Mr. F. J. Pirani on the 30th ult., by a fall from his horse, proved fatal shortly after 10 o'clock on Saturday night. The sad result was feared from the first, his medical attendants, Messrs. Rankin and Fitzgerald, never having been able to give any hope of his recovery. After the accident, Mr. Pirani had only a few very brief intervals of consciousness. He was able on Sunday week, for several minutes, to recognise his wife, mother, and sister, who were then present, speaking a few words only expressive of his belief that he was about to die. On Saturday morning, the comatose state in which he had remained throughout the week changed to restlessness, an indication, it was rightly thought, of inflammation of the brain having set in. Premonitory symptoms of this had occurred on Friday night, but it was hoped that a change might take place under the new treatment that such symptoms called for. The deceased's left side and arm have been in a paralysed state since the time of the accident, and had he survived, it was greatly feared that he would have been but a suffering wreck of his former self. The after-death appearances to the non-medical observer are but a scar on the forehead, a blackened left eye, and a long scratch on the right side of the nose. An inquest will be held by Dr. Youl at 11 o'clock to-day, at the George Hotel, St. Kilda, where the deceased had resided since his recent marriage. The funeral will take place this afternoon, the place of burial being the St. Kilda Cemetery. We are requested to mention that the members of the Melbourne University will assemble in full academic dress at the George Hotel, at a quarter to 2 o'clock, for the purpose of following the remains to the place of interment. At Williamstown yesterday, the flags of the Victoria Yacht Club, of which Mr. Pirani was a member, were flying at half-mast as a mark of respect for his memory.

Frederic Joy Pirani was born at Birmingham, England, in December, 1850. He came to this colony in 1859, and entered the Church of England Grammar School, under Dr. Bromby, in 1868, and was first in both classics and mathematics. He matriculated in 1869, and gained the entrance exhibition for classics and for mathematics. He studied in the schools of arts and engineering, in the latter under Professor Andrew, and on that gentleman's retirement, under the present lecturer, Mr. Kernot. Mr. Pirani obtained his C.E. in 1870, graduated B.A. in 1871, and M.A. in 1873. In the last-named year he became a member of the University senate, at which he was afterwards a regular attendant, and frequently took an active part in its debates. For some time he practised his profession of civil engineer, but eventually accepted the post of assistant lecturer to the late Professor Wilson, at whose death he was appointed acting professor of mathematics until Professor Nanson arrived. He was then relieved of the elementary mathematics, and appointed lecturer in logic and in natural philosophy. He devoted himself with enthusiasm to his university work, and particularly to researches in natural philosophy, in connexion with which he was in frequent communication with the leading English scientists—Sir W. Thomson, the late Professor Clark Maxwell, and others. Mr. Pirani also acted for several years as examiner in Euclid at matriculation. He also took a keen interest in the Royal Society of Victoria, to which he was secretary for some years, and to which he contributed several interesting papers on his original researches in his favourite pursuit—philosophy. Some of these papers have appeared in the society's Transactions. He wrote, in conjunction with Professor Andrew, a treatise on elementary geometry. It is no secret that at the end of this year, if he had been spared, he would have been promoted to the chair of natural philosophy at the University, the council having decided to establish two new chairs, this being one. He married, as recently as the 7th June last, Miss Marian Rennick, of St. Kilda. In his social and private life Mr. Pirani was greatly esteemed, and had numerous friends, by whom he was greatly beloved. He was an accomplished musician, and an excellent modern linguist. He devoted a good deal of his leisure to yachting, and it will doubtless be remembered that in 1879, Mr. Pirani and Professor Andrew performed the exploit of making the voyage to Tasmania in the Mischief, a small yacht of 14 tons, belonging to the former.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Frederic Joy Pirani

Additional Resources

  • inquest, Argus (Melbourne), 9 August 1881, p 6
  • funeral, Australasian Sketcher, 27 August 1881, p 286

Citation details

'Pirani, Frederic Joy (1850–1881)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 October 2020.

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