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James Govan (1834–1898)

During the month of November there passed away, at Weelong, Forbes, N.S.W., Mr. James Govan, a man well and favourably known in pastoral circles throughout the mother colony.

The deceased gentleman was born in Glasgow, Scotland, on 31st July, 1834, and was, therefore, at the time of his death sixty-three years of age. When he attained his majority he left Scotland for Australia, consigned to the care of his uncle, the late Dr. Gibson, of Tirranna Station, near Goulburn (N.S.W.). He was sent to obtain his "experience" at Wangaratta Station (Vic.). After some further experience on other Victorian stations, Mr. Govan determined to make a start for himself, and with that object in view he proceeded to Queensland where he took up and stocked country on Mimosa Creek, near the Dawson River. He was compelled through failing health to sell his property and return to New South Wales, where he soon found employment for his wonderful "go" as manager of Milroy Station, in the Bourke District, the property of Messrs. Gilchrist, Watt and Co. Here he remained five years, or until the station changed hands. For some years he was employed by financial institutions and private individuals in valuing properties. However, his strong preference for country life induced him to look about for another station, and he joined the Messrs. Gilchrist in the purchase of Weelong and Battery stations, which property he managed until his death.

Mr. Govan was an exceedingly hard worker in all matters affecting the pastoral industry, and was a member of the General Council of the Pastoralists' Union of New South Wales. At the ordinary monthly meeting held in November, the Council directed that its appreciation of his great services to the Union should be recorded in the minutes, and that a letter of sympathy should be forwarded to the deceased gentleman's family.

Mr. Govan was chairman of the P. and S. P. Board and Sheep Board for some eight years, president for four years of the P.A. and H. Association, vice-president for many years of the Forbes Jockey Club, one of the founders and first president of the Lachlan Club, Chairman of the District Committee of the P.U. of N.S.W. since its formation in 1890; also member of council for the district; but one of the works by which he will be best remembered was the formation, in 1885, of the Crown Tenants' Union, of which he was president. This union had the object of protecting the interests of selectors and graziers against the actions of the then Minister for Lands in raising the rents of leases without any consideration for the nature of the country. To test the validity of these acts an action was brought against the Minister by one of the members, viz., Ridley; and the present Speaker, Sir Joseph Abbot, was retained by the union, but the case never came on for hearing as the Minister backed down and paid all costs, and shortly afterwards the Land Act was amended and the power taken from the Minister.

For the last twelve months Mr. Govan suffered from chronic indigestion, the complaint eventually carrying him off.

In 1891 he married Miss Comans, the eldest daughter of Mr. M. Comans, of Prairie Lands station, and leaves a widow and three children to mourn their sad bereavement.

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Citation details

'Govan, James (1834–1898)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


31 July, 1834
Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland


January, 1898 (aged 63)
Forbes, New South Wales, Australia

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