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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

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Reuben Gill (1827–1884)

Last week the death was announced of Mr. Reuben Gill, long and favorably known in the colony as an earnest advocate of temperance principles and an energetic worker among the Rechabites. Mr. Gill was a Cornishman and a miner, and like most of these who were born of poor parents in Cornwall between fifty and sixty years ago, he received but a scanty education. When he arrived near to the age of manhood, however, he saw the advantage of being able to read and write, and by dint of hard study and a little friendly help managed to master "the three Rs," and to secure a very fair muttering of scientific knowledge. After arriving in South Australia he settled at the Burra, where he worked for some years. Subsequently he went to Victoria, but came back to this colony again, and was employed at the Moonta Mines. About ten years ago, when what is known on the Peninsula as "the great strike" occurred, the miners naturally looked to Mr. Gill, who was always a ready talker, to come to the front and advocate their cause. This he did with great warmth and effectiveness, and when delegates were appointed to bring the grievances of the miners before the directors of the Moonta and Wallaroo Mines he was selected as one. In his advocacy of the working man's claims at this time, Mr. Gill, though very zealous, was much more moderate than some others who took a leading part in the proceedings, and on some occasions, when the miners were so wrought upon by other speakers that they were ready to take extreme measures, "Reuben" by his good-humoured addresses and jocular remarks was the means of causing them to take more moderate views of their position, and to be less unreasonable in their demands. He was ever a good-tempered as well as an earnest speaker. His rough eloquence would fall from his lips in a vapid stream, and apt metaphor and racy extemporaneous rhyme would follow each other with almost lightning like rapidity, while the attention of his audience would remain enchained throughout his speech. Having taken such a prominent position at the time of the strike it is not a matter for surprise that Mr. Gill was subsequently regarded as one of those who might always be reckoned upon to take part in public meetings when matters affecting the interest of the community were being discussed; consequently at the Hall's shaft meetings, which used to be so frequently held at Moonta mines, and at which the miners' grievances were freely ventilated, "Reuben" was regarded as one of the stock speakers. Indeed, some of the miners would scarcely think a meeting complete unless he took part in the discussion. Among the last meetings of this kind which he attended were those at which the "dynamite question" was discussed about five or six years ago. Mr. Gill was an ardent exponent of the use of dynamite in blasting underground, and, whether rightly or wrongly, regarded the ill health which he suffered from before leaving Moonta as being due to the inhalation of the fumes of that compound.  Shortly after taking part in these discussions he came to Adelaide, where, after working some time as a mechanic, he was offered the position of a life assurance agent, in which position he was engaged up to the time of his last illness. Mr Gill was a consistent advocate of teetotalism, and by his speeches and lectures on behalf of Rechabitism did good service for numerous Rechabite tents in the colony. There is no doubt that he was a power for good in the sphere in which he moved and his death will be regretted by thousands of people throughout the colony. On Sunday afternoon the remains of the late Mr Gill, D.C.R., of Albert District, I.O.R. were interred in the West-terrace Cemetery in the presence of a large number of friends, amongst whom were the representatives of the principal temperance societies of the city. The funeral procession, which left the deceased's late residence, New Thebarton, at 4 o'clock, included in addition to the members of his family, several district officers of the two districts of the Rechabites and office-bearers of the church with which Mr Gill was connected. On reaching West-terrace they were met by a large number of the members of the Rechabite orders, who preceded the hearse in procession, marshalled by Mr. J. S. O. Allen, secretary of the Alliance Tent, North Adelaide. On reaching the cemetery they tiled on either side, and allowed the hearse and mourning coaches to pass between, and then followed. Amongst those present were the district officers and several past district chief rulers of the Albert ? ? South Australian districts, and the ??? of the two divisions of the ?? . The service at the grave was conducted by the Rev. T. Hillman, Bible Christian Minister, and the funeral address of the ??  was read by Bro. Geo. Marshman of the Albert district.

Original publication

Citation details

'Gill, Reuben (1827–1884)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/gill-reuben-33808/text42336, accessed 21 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Birth

December, 1827
Cornwall, England

Death

11 January, 1884 (aged 56)
New Thebarton, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cause of Death

tuberculosis

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

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