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Sumner, Theodotus John (1820–1884)

Another very old colonist has passed away, Mr. Theodotus John Sumner, the senior partner in the well known and old established firm of Grice, Sumner and Co., having died at his residence, Stony Park, Brunswick, at an early hour on the 20th April. The deceased gentleman had been for the last two years confined to his bed, but his naturally fine constitution withstood all attacks of disease, and until recently he was, though an invalid, in fair health. A few weeks ago, however, his state became such as to indicate to his medical attendants, Dr. James and Dr. Charles Ryan, that he would not live much longer; but for some three weeks prior to his death he rallied wonderfully several times. Mr. Sumnier was 63 years old at the time of his death. By birth he was an Englishman, but he had been a resident in Melbourne for upwards of forty years. He came originally to Tasmania, but after remaining there for a brief period came over to Victoria, and went into partnership with the late Mr. Richard Grice, from whose original firm of Heap and Grice the present firms of Grice, Sumner and Co. and Connell, Hogarth and Co. have developed, and prospered with the growth of the city and the colony. Mr. Sumner took great interest in agricultural affairs, and many years ago became the owner of a property near Snapper Point. On this place, known as Anniesleigh, he spent large sums of money in transforming a wilderness into a model farm. The quality of the land was, however, found to be such that cropping would not pay, and the farm has since been devoted to grazing purposes. At his residence at Brunswick Mr. Sumner carried on farming to a limited extent. He imported some of the first Alderney cattle which came to this colony, and up to the time of his death took the greatest pride in the possession of the purest strain in the colony of these valuable dairy cattle. He also imported live stock of all descriptions for the farm, and was noted for having none but the best examples of any breed he might fancy. Mr. Sumner was one of the trustees of the National Agricultural Society of Victoria, and he was also for many years one of the commissioners of the Savings Banks in Victoria. He took no active part in politics until 1873, when on the retirement of Mr. Archibald Michie from the Legislative Council he contested the Central Province with the late Mr. A. K. Smith, whom he defeated. Even as a member Mr. Sumner never threw himself into party warfare, but always maintained a quiet, unobtrusive demeanor. Owing to failing health he did not seek re-election when his seat became vacant. In private life the deceased gentleman was generally liked, being unswervingly upright and straight forward in all his dealings, and of a genial and kindhearted temperament. He leaves a widow and family of one son and several daughters, one of whom is married to Mr. James Grice, and another to Dr. Charles Ryan.

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Citation details

'Sumner, Theodotus John (1820–1884)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/sumner-theodotus-john-15510/text26725, accessed 25 April 2018.

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