Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

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

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Matthew (Mat) Higgins (1844–1931)

Readers who take an interest in athletics, will regret to learn that the famous old-time champion runner Mat Higgins is dead. Born in Kilkenny (Ireland), 1846. Mat, when at his best, stood 5ft 7in. and in condition, weighed about 8st 10lb.

His first notable race was in 1865, beating Flood for a trophy, of £40 and amateur championship, of Victoria on the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Later on, he entered the professional rallies, beating the Launceston champion, Bob Hunter, over a mile on the Flemington Racecourse, and for a wager, completed 10 miles within the hour at Northcote.

Visiting Sydney, he won the Champion Cup at the Albert Ground, and also in matches among others defeated M. Ryan, and that popular athlete, Aleck Pike, for the championship of the colony. The latter died recently at Quirindi.

In an attempt to run nineteen miles in two hours on the Albert Ground, Higgins, after completing the first ten in 1hr. 3min 5sec, was taken ill in the 16th mile and had to retire. At that time, 1868, Thomas Cusack, of Wangaratta, was not only champion of his district, but thought to be the best in Victoria. However, the style in which Mat Higgins won the Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Cup on the M.C.C. Ground, was such an attractive performance that he found backing against Cusack to run 440 yards for £200 aside. The match was run off at Mr. Goydor's popular Red House Grounds, Northcote.

Both men stepped on the mark in grand condition. The report says — though the friends of Higgins were very sanguine, they were not men of metal, and their fives and tens were soon exhausted. A bookmaker with a £1000 commission for Cusack, scarcely got £200 at 2 to 1. However, it turned out a soft thing for Higgins, who left his man at 100 yards and won easily in 57sec.

Retiring, Higgins went to Tasmania. In the Civil Service for many years, he retired devoting the late years of his life to fruit growing and gardening. The famous old pedestrian is survived by his widow, four sons, and five daughters, Mr. J. F. Higgins, a member of the N.S.W. Legislative Council, is one of his sons.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • profile, Mercury (Hobart), 25 March 1931, p 4

Citation details

'Higgins, Matthew (Mat) (1844–1931)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Mat Higgins, n.d.

Mat Higgins, n.d.

Referee (Sydney), 22 April 1931, p 12

Life Summary [details]


17 March, 1844
Kilkenny, Kilkenny, Ireland


13 April, 1931 (aged 87)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

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.