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Wentworth, Fitzwilliam (1832–1915)

from Sydney Morning Herald

The remains of the late Mr. Fitzwilliam Wentworth, who died on Sunday at the age of 83, were laid to rest yesterday morning beside those of his revered father, William Charles Wentworth, in the family mausoleum at Vaucluse. Fitzwilliam Wentworth was born at the historic Vaucluse House in 1832, and he was buried within a stone's throw of his birthplace in that area of the estate consecrated by the late Bishop Barker in 1872. Upon this land there is erected a fine mausoleum, the front wall of which is resting upon a large rock. Here in his lifetime the late W. C. Wentworth often sat, and his love for that rock was so strong that he made a request that it should become his tombstone. The family respected the wish, and erected the mausoleum, and the Australian patriot's remains rest in a marble casket immediately behind his favourite rock. Mr. Fitzwilliam Wentworth's remains were laid to rest yesterday with those of his brothers and sisters in the vault below.

The funeral was strictly a private one, relatives and close friends of the family only being present. An impressive service was conducted in St. Michael's Anglican Church, prettily situated on the estate at Vaucluse, the land on which the church is built having been a gift from the estate, of which Mr. Fitzwilliam Wentworth was the principal trustee, and it was he who laid the foundation stone of the church.

Archdeacon D'Arcy Irvine conducted the service, both in the church and at the mausoleum. The chief mourners were Messrs. William Charles, D'Arcy, Fitzwilliam, and George Wentworth (sons), Miss Wentworth (daughter), Mrs. W. C. Wentworth (daughter in-law), and Messrs. Donnelly and Robert Fisher (nephews). Others present included Mr. R. Hill, Mr. Joseph Horn, Mr. W. Duncan (representing trustees of Vaucluse House), Mr. E. S. Dunhill, Mr. Grant, Mr. Colin Stephen, Mr. W. C. Hill, Mr. Arthur Hill, Mr. George Youll, Mr. Bertie McNamara, Mr. Brian McNamara, Miss Hill, Miss E. Hill, and Alderman W. Johnson.

The late Mr. Wentworth was educated at the school conducted by the Rev. Henry Cary, of St. Mark’s, Darling Point, and later at the Sydney University, where he obtained the gold medal and a scholarship entitling the holder to complete his education at an English university. Like his father, Mr. Wentworth selected Cambridge, and entered St. John's College, obtaining his degree of Bachelor, and later his degree of Master of Arts. He studied for the Bar in London, but never practised. Returning to New South Wales, he became interested in pastoral pursuits. He took up land near Dunedin, New Zealand, his station being named Wantwood, and later he was the owner of Burrabogie station, near Hay, in this State.

Mr. Wentworth was fond of all outdoor sport, and was a familiar figure at most of the sporting fixtures. He was an old member of the committee of the Australian Jockey Club, and in the Seventies and early 'Eighties his colours were frequently seen at Randwick, the best known of his horses being Rapid Bay. Mr. Wentworth married Mary Jane Hill, daughter of the late Mr. George Hill, of Durham Hall. He left four sons and one daughter. One of his sons, Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth, has enlisted, and will shortly proceed to the front. Of the late Mr. W. C. Wentworth’s family only one now remains, Mr. D'Arcy Bland Wentworth, who resides at Brighton, England.

The death of Mr. Fitzwilliam Wentworth brings up memories of some of the most important events in Australia’s history, such as the granting of full responsible government in 1856, and, four years before that, the inauguration of the University of Sydney. William Charles Wentworth played a very important part in connection with both these events. It was he who moved in the Legislative Council, on September 6, 1849, "That a select committee be appointed to inquire into and report upon the best means of instituting an university for the promotion of literature and science, to be endowed at the public expense." It was Wentworth who drew up the report of that committee, the other members of which were E. Deas Thomson (Colonial Secretary), John Hubert Plunkett (Attorney-General), Charles Cowper, Robert Lowe (afterwards Lord Sherbrooke), Charles Nicholson (Speaker), Robert Nichols, and James Macarthur. And on October 3, 1849, Wentworth made a very eloquent speech, in moving the second reading of the "Bill to Incorporate and Endow the University of Sydney." He saw in this measure the facility given to the child of every man, of every class, to become great and useful in the destinies of his country. "So long as this institution should exist they would, not be forgotten; so long as it flourished their memory would not decay."

The first meeting of the Senate of the University was held under the presidency of Wentworth on February 3, 1851. The first Chancellor or Provost, as he was then called was Edward Hamilton, who had been fifth wrangler at Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity and who later acted in England as Parliamentary Agent for the colony, and became a member of the House of Commons. The first Vice-Provost was Sir Charles Nicholson. And one of the first students of the University was Fitzwilliam Wentworth, the son of the great founder of the Institution—"our noble Wentworth," as Dr. John Woolley called him in his oration on the occasion of the inauguration ceremony on October 11, 1862. "Amidst the social and political revolution which is going on before our eyes," said Profossor Woolley, "fraught in many respects with elements of anxiety and alarm, there is no circumstance more suggestive to a patriotic mind of sober exultation and rational hope than the foundation in the bosom of our society, by the unaided, unsuggested act of that society itself, of the first colonial University in the British Empire." And he stood there, he added, as the representative not only of one of our ancient universities, but of the oldest collegiate corporation in Christendom, to congratulate this far-off, youngest accession to the sacred sisterhood of learning and science.

It is not time wasted to look back occasionally on the days of our youth, and note what progress, what changes, have taken place. Sydney University to-day is one of the great universities of the world—very different from the institution that William Charles Wentworth knew, and very different from the institution which his son, Fitzwilliam Wentworth, knew, when, as a young man, he entered its portals. The first matriculation examination was held in the first week of October, 1852, and 21 candidates succeeded in passing the test. Their names are given in Mr. Barff's history of our University, published in the Jubilee year. They were:—W. C. Curtis, David Scott Mitchell, Alexander Oliver, R. Sealy, Fitzwilliam Wentworth, H. S. Willis, W. C. Windeyer, C. Allen, A. R. Riley, J. A. Wilson, W. H. A. Hurst, W. F. Forshall. G. A. Moore, John Kinloch, G. C. Curtis, R. M. Fitzgerald, R. Riddell, Marshall Burdekin, E. Lee, H. W. Radford, T. B. Clarke, T. H. Coulson, G. Leary, J. Leary, and J. W. Johnson.

Among those names are many that became well known in after life. One of them, afterwards Mr. Justice Windeyer, became Chancellor of the University. Mr. Alexander Oliver became Parliamentary Draughtsman, and sat on the University Senate for many years. Marshall Burdekin was a brother of the late Mr. Sydney Burdekin, who was at one time Mayor of Sydney. David Scott Mitchell has placed the State in his debt for all time as the munificent founder of the Mitchell Library. The Rev. Robert Spear Willis, the father of Mrs. James Ashton, was another well-known man.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Wentworth, Fitzwilliam (1832–1915)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/wentworth-fitzwilliam-1208/text24483, accessed 24 November 2017.

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