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Obituaries Australia

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Vicars, Sir William (1859–1940)

Sir William Vicars, a director of John Vicars and Co. Pty., Ltd., Marrickville, died at his home at Cranbrook Road, Rose Bay, yesterday afternoon, after a short illness. He was 81 years old.

He was born at Tillicoultry, Scotland, and accompanied his father, the late Mr. John Vicars, to Queensland when he was four. Eight years later, he came to Sydney, where his father established himself in the woollen trade. On the death of his father he and his brothers took control of the mills at Marrickville.

Sir William Vicars was prominent in the business life of Sydney. He was twice president of the New South Wales Chamber of Manufactures. One of his terms coincided with the inauguration of Federation, and his ability and experience were of special importance in coping with the various problems which arose. His second term was in 1914, when the initial difficulties arising out of the war and the establishment of the A.I.F. had to be overcome.

He was a director of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney from July, 1931, to November, 1933. He was one of the trustees appointed by the State Government in August, 1931, to reopen the Government Savings Bank. He resigned in June, 1933.

Sir William Vicars was well known for his philanthropy. After the last war, he championed the cause of returned soldiers. In August, 1919, he became chairman of the New South Wales Board of Repatriation, and held the position until repatriation activities were reorganised and paid officers were appointed in June, 1920. While he was chairman, the board dealt with more than 20,000 cases. He was a member of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Board, and took a big part in the campaign to raise money to clear off the overdraft, which exceeded £32,000.

For many years, Sir William was actively associated with the work of the Red Cross Society. In November, 1921, he was appointed chairman of the Red Cross Convalescent Homes Committee in succession to Mr. James Ashton, M.L.C, and on the retirement of Mr. (later Sir) James Oswald Fairfax (from the position of chairman of the executive of the New South Wales division of the Society in July, 1921, Sir William was unanimously elected to the office. He was a founder of the National Club, and he and his brother, Robert, presented Pitt Town Farm to the Church Social Campaign, for training returned soldiers for the land.

Sir William was created C.B.E. in 1920, and knighted in 1922. In 1884, he married Miss Mary Hutton, daughter of Mr. James Hutton, a station owner of Rockhampton (Q.). Lady Vicars and one daughter, Mrs. Rupert Furber, survive him.

Sir William Vicars will be buried this afternoon at South Head Cemetery.

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'Vicars, Sir William (1859–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 12 August 2020.

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