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Arthur Kemmis (1806–1842)

It is with sincere regret that we find ourselves called on to record the death of Mr. Arthur Kemmis, of Melbourne, who passed from life, at seven o'clock on the morning of Tuesday, the 7th of February, 1842. Mr. Kemmis, as a Merchant in Port Phillip, as a Magistrate of the territory, and as the Managing Director of the local Steam Navigation Company, was too well known to gain from any description we may have to offer either of his person or capacities. His sudden death, however, has made an impression on the public that will render interesting any remarks connected with the deceased. At the time of his death, Mr. Kemmis was, as near as could be judged by his friends, thirty-six years of age; he had been a resident ¡n the Australian colonies during the last fifteen years of his life, where he followed the pursuit of a mercantile life, first in New Zealand, and subsequently in Sydney and in Melbourne. He established the house of Arthur Kemmis and Co. here in the year 1839, and intended to have kept his transactions within the limits of the province until his eventual retirement from business. In private life he had friends whose estimate of his work is best judged by their grief at his loss. In public life he was a man eminently useful as a colonist. He may be said to be the "Founder of Steam Navigation" at Port Phillip, and—despite the conclusions which have been drawn against his management of the local company's affairs, from the want of success which latterly attended their operations—we are prepared to protect his talents against the shafts which could only in ignorance have been pointed at his conduct in this important affair. Mr. Kemmis married, in 1834, Miss Raymond, a daughter of the Postmaster-General of New South Wales, and a sister of the present Deputy Sheriff of this province, and has left at his death a family of six children. The deceased took to his bed only about seven days previous to the unexpected termination of an illness which originated in a violent cold, neglected, it is to be feared, from an anxiety to attend to his professional calls. Dr McCrae was in attendance during the brief period of his sickness, and on Saturday night last called in Dr. Hobson, who was sent for express to the country. On Monday evening it was thought a favorable turn had taken place, and placed the patient beyond even the alarm of his family. On Tuesday morning, however, symptoms of danger recurred, and from the hour of four until seven he was in a state of insensibility as to the persons and things around him; his mind, apparently full of anxiety, wandered on the affairs of his business; and so great to the last was the feeling connected with the management of the Steam Company, that he repeatedly alluded to the Corsair, as if desirous of giving directions about her future course. Mr. Kemmis died, it is supposed, intestate, and until letters of administration can be taken out by his widow, the charge of his mercantile house, together, we believe, with the agency of the Steam Company, will remain with Mr. Harper, long his confidential manager.

Original publication

Citation details

'Kemmis, Arthur (1806–1842)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]




7 February, 1842 (aged ~ 36)
Melbourne, Victoria, 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.