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John Harper (1831–1918)

from Dubbo Dispatch and Wellington Independent

Mr. John Harper, father of Mr. Thos. Harper, of Dubbo, whose death was reported last Friday, had been a resident of the west for 65 years. He died at Wallerawang at the age of 88. Mr. Harper was a native of Sussex. He served his apprenticeship as an engineer, and at the age of 21 went to Oberon and erected the machinery for a flour mill for his uncle, the late Charles Whalan, discoverer of the Jenolan Caves. In the exploration of these cave with his uncle and party he nearly lost his life, the candle giving out before the gleam of light from the entrance could be discerned. He had many exciting experiences with the Ben Hall gang on the Vale Road, near Bathurst, and actually saw Messrs. Bolton and Peachey on their way out with the £500 ransom of Mr. Keightley's life, for the shooting of Bourke, one of the gang. His father, who was probably the first shipbuilder in Australia, constructed three vessels at or near the spot where Darling Harbor station now stands. The timber was pit-sawn and prepared on the present site of the Vegetable Markets. In one of the vessels, The Sisters, he sailed as captain to the South seas in the year 1844-5 and did not return. The islanders burned the vessel and murdered all the crew but one, who got back to Sydney with some of the ship's books. In the seventies Mr. John Harper entered the service of the Railway Commissioners as engineer, and held that position until his retirement, at 66 years of age.

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Citation details

'Harper, John (1831–1918)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


28 April, 1831
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


August, 1918 (aged 87)
Wallerawang, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.