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Burgess, William (1852–1891)

Mr William Burgess, forester at the Mount Brown nursery, died at his residence, Mount Brown, on Saturday morning last at six o'clock. The deceased had been suffering from influenza for a week or ten days previous to his death, and was under the care of Dr Pooler, but so far as the public were aware his illness was not understood to be of a serious nature, so that the sad intelligence of his death was a great shock to his friends, and cast a gloom over the district. On Friday night his temperature had gone up very considerably, and Dr Pooler was sent for, when it was all too apparent that pneumonia had set in and death had seized him as its prey, for no human power could have arrested the disease. Scarcely anyone could have felt the blow more keenly than the doctor himself, who had loved his patient as a brother, and had on many occasions been unremitting in his attention and kindness to the family of the deceased. William Burgess was born at Cheltenham, the noted garden town of England, and was the son of a nurseryman who conducted an extensive and old-established business; indeed the Burgess family have been nurserymen for two or three generations. He was united in matrimony to a young lady from Gloucester, a neighboring town, and the young couple set sail for South Australia some thirteen years ago; following the profession in which he had been trained at home he sought an entrance to the Forest Department, and found his way to the Wirrabara Nurseries. Shortly after this he left the employ of the Government to commence business on his own account as a nurseryman, which, however, did not succeed, and he returned to the employ of the Government, and some ten years ago was appointed to take charge of the Mount Brown Reserve where he remained till the time of his death, and during which time he won the esteem of all classes of people in the north, a fact to which the large concurse of people at the funeral, bore eloquent testimony. His profession was congenial to his tastes, and he would have shown much better results at Mount Brown had he been allowed to put his practical experience to the test without being hampered and over-ridden by a theorist who has left the colony a legacy of innumerable examples of maladministration of the affairs of the department, especially in the direction of practical forestry. The subject of this notice was ever desirous of encouraging tree-planting in townships by private individuals and also by public bodies, and was most obliging by his effort to facilitate the distribution of trees as provided for by the department, and the pruning knife at all times was cheerfully produced to instruct the novice in the art of producing trees of stately proportions; was the man so widely known and universally beloved, and whose memory is so sacredly revered to-day. He was the most devoted husband I ever knew and a tender hearted loving father. He has experienced more domestic affliction than most men; indeed during several years one trouble succeeded another in such a way, that there has hardly been a year without its shadow of suffering thrown across the family, and through it all he was the same spirited, cheerful, buoyant character shedding a ray of sunshine where ever he went; surrounded by burdens which required a strong man to bear, he was the first to lend a kindly hand to another who was in need. He was not a religious man in the orthodox sense of the term, but if uprightness, the instructive kindness of heart, and utter contempt for a mean action go to constitute the true idea of religion then he was essentially a religious man. He had an off handed blunt style, a rugged exterior, but beneath that there were the finest instincts, and there is little doubt that in the sight of the Great Father those desires in the direction of goodness are accounted for righteousness. He was past the meridian of life, but in his heart he was still a youth and a warm favorite with the football and cricket clubs, and the young men will not soon forget the energy he displayed on the Queen's Birthday at the Oval in collecting cash to plant their new ground which has since been done under his supervision.

The funeral on Sunday was one of the largest ever seen in the North. The deceased was a member of the Flinders Lodge of Freemasons and was accorded a Masonic burial which he had more than once expressed to be his desire, but little thinking that so soon that wish would be fulfilled.

And now that our friend has gone, and so many wreaths have been laid on his grave, it is our duty to turn from the dead to the living and show our respect to the departed by an effort to provide for the grief-stricken widow and her seven children of tender years who have suffered an irreparable loss, and who are left to face the cold world with the slenderest provision for the future. We commend the family to the care of the Great Father, but we must carry out his injunction to attend to the widow and fatherless in affliction. An appeal is being made which no doubt will meet such a response as to enable the Committee to brighten the future of Mrs Burgess and her children.

Original publication

Citation details

'Burgess, William (1852–1891)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/burgess-william-32894/text40970, accessed 29 January 2023.

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