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Obituaries Australia

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Wittenoom, Laura (1856–1923)

The tragically sudden death at sea of Lady Wittenoom, wife of the President of the Legislative Council, was reverently marked in that branch of the Legislature yesterday by the passing of a motion of condolence with the President, and the immediate adjournment of the House until 7.30 p.m. to-day.

Mr. Kirwan having been appointed to the chair in the absence of the President.

The Minister for Education, in moving the motion of condolence, said: It is with great regret I find it my painful duty to ask members to carry a motion of sympathy with the President. Since last we met the President has lost his wife, Lady Wittenoom, under circumstances almost tragic. Some 12 months ago Lady Wittenoom went to England with every hope of regaining her health and strength. It was thought she had done so; but when she was returning to her husband and family, death over took her very suddenly. Lady Wittenoom had endeared herself to a very large circle, in Western Australia, and to-day many are mourning her loss. I move—

'That this House desires to place on record its expression of sincere sympathy and condolence with the Hon. the President and his family in the irreparable loss that they have sustained by the sudden and unexpected death of Lady Wittenoom while on a voyage to rejoin them after a long absence.'

It is my intention subsequently to ask members to adjourn to-day and to meet again to-morrow evening at half -past 7. This will enable them to attend Lady Wittenoom’s funeral at 3 o'clock to-morrow afternoon.

Dr. Saw: I second the motion. I desire to express my sympathy with the President in the great loss that has befallen him. When, a few weeks ago, I quoted in the House some lines from one of our young poets, Rupert Brooke, 'Comes Death on shadowy and relentless feet,' I little thought the words would be brought home to us in so tragic a manner, and particularly to one who occupies so high a position as does the President of the House. The deceased lady was well known to most of us, and especially to the older generations of Western Australians. She had endeared herself to a large circle of friends, and both her married name, as the wife of the President, and her maiden name, representing the old family of Habgood, one of the pioneering families of Western Australia, was a household word in this State when I was a boy; in fact, it served as name to that corner on which the A.M.P. Buildings now stand, which for many a year was known as Habgood's Corner. We all deeply regret the bereavement our President has sustained in losing one so near and dear to him.

Mr. Lovekin: I wish to say a word in support of the motion. It is 12 months ago, almost to the day, when some of the wives of members of the Chamber gathered together on these premises and gave the late Lady Wittenoom a send-off. As they had sent her off under the best auspices, so it was intended, I believe, to welcome her back in similar circumstances. Unfortunately, death has intervened. On behalf of those ladies who desired to welcome Lady Wittenoom back, I wish to express sympathy with the motion and with the President, who has been so suddenly bereaved.

The motion was passed by members rising from their seats.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Wittenoom, Laura (1856–1923)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 September 2020.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2020

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Habgood, Laura



27 October 1923
at sea