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Thompson, Richard Windeyer (1832–1906)

It is with very deep regret we record the death of Mr. Richard Windeyer Thompson, which occurred at his residence, 'Warrane,' about 8 o'clock on Monday evening, after a somewhat protracted illness. The end came peacefully and not unexpectedly, the deceased having been in declining health for some months, and with his advanced years — having passed by four years the allotted span of three score years and ten,— recovery was impossible. News of his death will be received with general regret throughout the town and district, and, indeed, all over the State, in which he was widely known and greatly esteemed, and the sincere sympathy of all will be felt with his bereaved widow and family in the sad loss they have sustained.

The late Mr. Thompson was born in Sydney on June 18, 1832. He was the son of Mr. John Thompson, who occupied successively the offices of Deputy Surveyor-General, Acting-Surveyor General, and Surveyor-General for the colony of New South Wales. His mother was the oldest daughter of the late Mr. Charles Windeyer, the first Police Magistrate in Sydney, and formerly a House of Commons reporter. Mr. Thompson received his elementary education in a school, the site of which is now occupied by the Sydney School of Arts. He subsequently studied under Professor Ronnie, also at St. James' Grammar School, at Sydney Grammar School, under Dr. Brahm, and finally under Mr. Cape at Paddington. Amongst his most distinguished fellow-students may be mentioned the late Judge Windeyer, Mr. Oliver (late president of the Land Court), Fitzwilliam Wentworth, the late Ettie de Mestre, and his own brother, Mr. John Malbon Thompson, who for many years was a member of the Palmer Ministry in Queensland. He left school at the age of 17 years, and was articled to Mr. Way, solicitor, of Sydney. He was eventually assigned to the late Sir George Wigram Allen, with whom he completed his articles. He practised in Sydney for a year, and in 1859 came to Maitland as manager for the late Mr. W. H. Mullen, solicitor. In the same year, the first Maitland District Court was held, in a house in Sempell-street, before Judge Owen. Mr. Thompson drew out 120 plaints on behalf of Mr. Mullen, who also had 80 defended cases at the same court, which lasted for three weeks. In 1864 he retired from Mr. Mullen's office, married Miss Bedwell, daughter of Lieutenant Bedwell, formerly of the navy, and commenced the practice of his profession. After a short time, the late Mr. Pigou joined him in partnership, which did not last very long, owing to the illness and death of the latter. Mr. Thompson in his first year of business on his own account reckoned his income at £1200, and for many years controlled the largest practice out of Sydney. In public and in private life he was held in the highest esteem, his word in all things being accepted as his bond. He represented West Maitland three times in the Legislative Assembly. He took an active interest in public matters, being associated with every movement for the advancement of the town and district. In cricketing circles Mr. Thompson was an enthusiast. For a number of years he was president of the old Maitland United Club, which had a record of victories for three years, beating amongst others the Sydney Warwicks, Civil and Military Club, and 18 and 22 of the district, and playing a draw with the unconquered Sydney Alberts. It may be of interest to present-day cricketers to know that the lions of the field in those days were John Rourke, John Riley, John Tyter, Dick Bryant, and Ben Lipscomb. Perhaps no man played a more prominent part in flood rescue work than the deceased gentleman. He practically set going the first regatta at Maitland, and got up the nucleus of what has since developed into the West Maitland Water Brigade. The men associated with him in that work were John and Edward Sheppard (deceased), George and Sam Swiney, Jack James, G. H. and W. Varley, Morris Brothers, Webb Brothers, Harry Levien, M.P., and many others who have since passed away. Mr. Levien was secretary, and the late Matt Scott treasurer. In those days they had to supply their own boats, and in the repeatedly-occurring floods had arduous work to do. Mr. Thompson was an alderman for one term, in the days when the council meetings were held in the office next [to] the Congregation Church, and also in a room at the Metropolitan Hotel. He has also been identified with the Free trade Association and with the Narrabri-Walgett Railway League. He was also a leading spirit in the Federal campaign, being an enthusiastic supporter of the Commonwealth Bill. When Sir Edmund Barton contested the Hunter Electorate, and was returned unopposed, Mr. Thompson was chairman of his election committee, but, on the introduction of the tariff in the House of Representatives, he retired from the ranks of the Prime Minister's supporters. He leaves a widow, three sons, Messrs. W. V. W. Thompson. Richard Thompson, and Malbon Thompson, and three daughters, Mrs. Burkitt, Mrs. Ellis Capper, and Miss Thompson. The mortal remains of the late Mr. Richard Windeyer Thompson were laid at rest in the Church of England cemetery, Campbell's Hill, on Wednesday, in the presence of a large number of mourners and sympathisers, who assembled to pay a last tribute, of respect to one who was widely known and held in high esteem throughout the State.

The mournful cortege was of a lengthy and representative character, comprising over 90 vehicles, and during its progress through the town there were many outward and visible signs of sympathy and manifestations of respect for the departed gentleman. Immediately behind the hearse there followed two mourning coaches, in which were seated Messrs. W. V. W. Thompson and Malbon Thompson (sons), Messrs. Edward and Frederick Bedwell (brothers-in-law), Mr. Ellis Capper (son-in-law), Mr. Julian Windeyer (cousin, and a former partner), Mr. G. W. Ash (solicitor, and Sydney partner of deceased). Members of the West Maitland Volunteer Water Brigade acted as pall-bearers. Behind the mourning coaches members of the Water Brigade, under Captain Morris, marched, with the boat which was christened the 'R.W.T.' in recognition of the great interest deceased had taken in the operations of the brigade. The sculls were draped, and the boat contained a number of beautiful wreaths and floral tributes. Then came two buggies, containing Messrs. A. J. Windeyer and E. Windeyer (cousins of deceased) and Mr. Chas. E. Webster. In the procession were many leading citizens, including the Mayor (Alderman W. J. Enright), the Revs. A. S. McCook, B.A., and Alex. Smith, and Mr. George Vindin, Sydney. As a mark of respect the offices of the legal profession in West Maitland were closed during the afternoon. A short service was conducted at 'Warrane,' the late residence of deceased, by the Rev. G. F. Rushforth, assisted by the Rev. W. F. Oakes, and the service at the graveside was conducted by the Rev. G. F. Rushforth, the Rev. W. F. Oakes delivering a most impressive address of appreciation of the life and worth of the deceased gentleman.

Numerous wreaths and floral emblems of sympathy were received, including the following: — Mr. L. Morris and family, Dr. Edward and Mrs. Bowker (Newcastle), Clerks of the Sydney office, Mr. and Mrs. A. W. Simpson (Armidale), Messrs. J. and A. Brown (Newcastle), Mrs. John Pierce, Miss McDougall, Mrs. McDougall, Mrs. Green, Mr. Walter Neve (Newcastle), Mrs. Owen Capper, Mrs. Wolfe and family, Miss Capper, Northern Division Cricket Club, West Maitland Water Brigade, Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Carr, Lady Windeyer, Mrs. Windeyer, Mr. A. J. Windeyer, and St. Paul's Sunday School teachers. A large number of telegrams and messages of sympathy were also received by the bereaved family from all parts of the State.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Maitland Daily Mercury (NSW), 21 November 1906, p 5

Citation details

'Thompson, Richard Windeyer (1832–1906)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/thompson-richard-windeyer-28834/text36220, accessed 19 June 2019.

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