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John Francis Lane Mullins (1857–1939)

Alderman John Lane Mullins, M.A., n.d. photographer unknown

Alderman John Lane Mullins, M.A., n.d. photographer unknown, City of Sydney Archives

Death of Hon. John Lane Mullins

Services to Church and State

The death of the Hon. John Lane Mullins, P.C., K.C.S.G., occurred at his home, Beverley Hall, Elizabeth Bay, on Friday last, 24th ult. He was in his 82nd year. Mr. Mullins had been ailing for some months, but his condition began to decline rapidly only a few days before his death.

Mr. Mullins was the son of James Mullins, of Sydney, and Elizabeth, daughter of John Lane, of Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. He was baptised by Archpriest Therry, first official Catholic chaplain of N.S.W., and founder of St. Mary's, confirmed by Archbishop Polding, and married by Cardinal Moran.

Mr. Mullins's association with St. Mary's Cathedral, dated right back to the laying of the foundation-stone of the early Cathedral by Archbishop Polding. As a small boy, in company with his father, he witnessed this ceremony. When the Cathedral was completed 60 years later, John Lane Mullins was its treasurer—occupying the same office as his father had previously held.

It is interesting to note that Mr. Lane Mullins took a prominent part in founding the "Catholic Press," and the first meetings of the promoters were held at his office. He was the company's first solicitor.

The late Mr. Lane Mullins was educated by the Benedictine Monks at St. Mary's College, Lyndhurst, Glebe Point, and later at St. John's College, Sydney University, under Archbishop Vaughan. He became an M.A. when only 21 years of age. In 1855 he was admitted as a solicitor of the Supreme Court, and was called to the Bar on August 1, 1930. He won prizes in classics and mathematics. He became a Fellow of St. John's College in 1885. He helped to form the Irish Rifles, in which he was a captain.

In 1885, he married Jane, the second daughter of the late John Hughes, of Kincoppal, Elizabeth Bay, who pre-deceased him. Mr. Mullins was an alder- man of the City Council from 1900 to 1912, and chairman of the finance committee from 1902 to 1905. He was appointed by the Holman Government to the Legislative Council in 1917, but retired in 1934 when the Council was reorganised. In 1903 he was appointed a Privy Chamberlain to Pope Pius X, and a Knight Commander of St. Gregory in 1917.

Honorary treasurer of St. Mary's Cathedral up to the time of his death, he was also honorary secretary and for many years honorary treasurer of St. Vincent's Hospital, with which he was associated for more than 50 years. He had had seven years' study and practice of music, and was the friend of almost every artist, scholar, author, and musician in Australia. He was honorary secretary of the Society of Artists, and was recently appointed president of the National Art Gallery. He was also president of the Australian Ex Libris Society since its foundation, and president of the Australian Limited Editions. His collection of bookplates is one of the largest in the Commonwealth, and his book of autographs is extremely valuable.

Mr. Lane Mullins was a director of Tooheys Ltd., Toohey Standard Securities Ltd., Lisgar Investment and Building Society, and The City Mutual Fire Insurance Co., Ltd.

A son, Lieutenant Brendan Lane Mullins, was killed in the Royal Artillery during the war. He left four daughters — Mrs. Norris, widow of Colonel I. B. Norris, who was killed in the war; Misses Barbara and Hilda Lane Mullins, and Mrs. Tansey, wife of Dr. John Tansey, of Bellevue Hill.

St. Canice's Church, Elizabeth Bay, was taxed to capacity on Saturday morning, the 25th ult., by the large and representative attendance at the Requiem Mass. Rev. Father J. V. McCooe (Adm., pro tem, St. Mary's Cathedral), was the celebrant. His Lordship the Bishop of Wilcannia- Forbes (Most Rev. T. M. Fox, D.D.), was present, and representatives of the clergy included Right Rev. Monsignori T. Hayden, D.D., P.P., J. Meany, P.P. (Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Sydney), Very Rev. Monsignor J. F. Giles (Secretary, Apostolic Delegation), Very Rev. Dean P. Crowley, P.P., Very Rev. Fathers Stephen, C.P. (Provincial), P. J. Murphy, P.P., J. C. Thompson, C.M., M.A. (Rector, St. John's College, within the University of Sydney), J. Meagher, S.J. (Rector, Riverview College), Very Rev. Dr. P. McCabe, M.S.C. (Superior, Kensington Monastery), Rev. Drs. Eris O'Brien, P.P., and P. Tuomey, P.P., Rev. Fathers M. Tansey, P.P., G. Bartlett, P.P., R. J. O'Regan, P.P., E. Bond, P.P., E. McAuliffe, P.P., W. Clark, C. McKillop, S.J., R. Murphy, S.J., T. Hehir, S.J., L. Murphy, S.J., D. O'Connell, S.J., C. Mori- arty, O.F.M., A. Jeffcott, S.M., J. Brosna- han, S.M., B. Hudson, E. Archer (St. John's College); Very Rev. Father E. O'Donnell, and Rev. Fathers J. Ferrari, J. Freeman, M. Cronin (St. Mary's Cathedral). The principal mourners included Mr. Lane Mullins's daughters — Mrs. Norris, Mrs. Tansey, Misses Barbara and Hilda Lane Mullins; and Mr. and Mrs. George Lane Mullins, Mrs. T. Lane Mullins, Messrs. Oswyn, Meldan, and James Lane Mullins, Captain Geoffrey Hughes, Mr. and Mrs. Roger Hughes, Mrs. John Hughes, Miss Mary Hughes, Dr. James Hughes, and Messrs. John, Gilbert, Roger, Maurice, Frank, and Cedric Hughes, and Commander and Mrs. Hehir.

The Premier, Mr. Stevens, was represented by Mr. B. F. Andrews; the Attorney-General, Sir Henry Manning, by Mr. E. A. Paton; and the Minister for Public Health, Mr. H. P. FitzSimons, by Mr. C. B. Stinson. Mr. Justice Nicholas and Judge Coyle attended, and Sir George Rich was represented by Mr. George Rich, Sir Thomas Bavin by Mr. John Bavin, and Mr. Justice Boyce by Mr. F. B. Treatt.

Others present included Sir John Peden, president of the Legislative Council; Sir Allen Taylor, Dr. F. E. Wall, Mr. J. Ryan, and Mr. B. B. O'Conor, Ms.L.C.; Sir Benjamin Fuller, Messrs. James Ashton, John Travers, G. E. Flannery, K.C., and Andrew R. S. Watt, K.C., Ald. E. S. Marks and Arthur McElhone, City Council; and Alderman N. McGuinness, Erskineville. Mr. Justice Halse Rogers and Mr. J. E. Rofe, Metropolitan Hospitals Fund, were represented by Mr. L. Harvey.

There were also present—Messrs. E. P. Holling- dale, P.C., A. W. M. d'Apice, K.C.S.G., M. J. O'Neill, K.C.S.G., J. F. Hennessy, K.S.S., G. E. Bryant, K.S.S., J. J. Carroll, K.S.S., Laurence Maher. H. R. Washington and H. C. Reid (Catholic Club), A. J. Harris (Sydney Industrial Blind Institution), Dr. J. W. McNamara and Mr. W. V. Bourke (St. Vincent's Hospital), Mr. A. E. Massey (Lewisham Hospital), Bros. J. L. Mullen, L.C. (president, Superior Council), W. J. Coogan (president, Particular Council), representing St. Vincent de Paul Society), Messrs. W. Lister Lister, Howard Hinton, W. H. Ifould, J. R. McGregor, J. S. Watlins, J. W. Maund, Sydney Long, B. J. Waterhouse, Lionel Lindsay, C. Lloyd Jones, Professor Waterhouse, and Mr. Will Ashton (National Art Gallery), Dr. W. F. Burfitt (Sancta Sophia College), Messrs. Squire Morgan (Australian Painters-etchers), Norman Carter (Australian Academy of Art), S. Ure Smith (Society of Artists), and Frank Way (Royal Society for the Welfare of Mothers and Babies Tresillian Homes), Messrs. T. H. Kelly, J. Merrick (Examiner of Titles), A. E. Rolfe (re-presenting the staff of the National Art Gallery), Engineer-Commander C. W. Bridge, Drs. Walter Perry, Frank Broughton, V. Conrick, Kevin Collins, W. F. Burfitt, V. J. McPhee, Adrian Odille Maher, and M. J. O'Shea, Dr. and Mrs. T. W. Lipscomb, and the Misses Lipscomb, Dr. and Mrs. J. Whitton Flynn, Dr. and Mrs. W. J. Pearson, Mr. and Mrs. F. J. Loneragan (Mudgee), Messrs. D. Spruson, C. Davis, K. C. Young, T. W. Everingham, F. S. Burnell, A. J. Cobcroft, W. T. Porter, T. W. V. Read, John Carew, W. J. King, P. E. Dalton, Herbert Morris, W. A. O'Donnell, Austin Curtin, P. H. Louis, W. Aston Watkins, O. J. McDermott, Thomas Magney, John Manning, O. E. Friend, Sydney Evans (Union Club), Alrey M. Cohen, Alfred E. Stephen, John Roche, V. J. Flynn, J. J. Keenan, W. M. Hopkins, Leon M. Lyons, Thomas Anderson, Edmond Read, A. G. de L. Arnold, H. C. Charlton, Phillip H. Bovey, W. Cooper, Richard Stanton, W. J. Camphin (ex-S.M.), B. A. Hollingdale, E. T. Hollingdale, F. H. Mullens, Royce Shannon, Claude S. Healy, Claude Healy, C. O'Gorman Hughes, Peter Meagher, J. J. Roth, F. E. Bowden, K. C. Young, F. A. Bowden.

Business firms were represented by Very Rev. Dean P. Crowley (chairman), Messrs. J. Flynn, M. J. Dodds, P. O'Sullivan (trustees), representing Catholic Cemetery Trust; Messrs. E. L. Callaway, M. A. Francis, M. J. Molloy, R. H. Bond, W. F. Knight, and W. H. John- ston (Tooheys Ltd.), C. M. Harvey (Yarwood, Vane and Co.), W. J. Coogan, L.C., O.B.E., Cyril E. Odillo Maher, M. J. O'Neill, K.C.S.G., P. A. Carnegie, C. H. Newman, and John Breen (Liegar Investment and Building Society), S. McCure (Angus and Robertson, Ltd.), A. G. Madden (Federal Mutual Insurance Company), W. R. Schofield (Kent, Brierley and Sully), A. S. Osborne (Commercial Banking Company of Sydney), W. R. Reynolds and J. Airey (City Mutual Fire Insurance Co.), and Frank Way (H. B. Allard, Way and Hardie).

Rev. Father M. Tansey, P.P. (Croydon), who preached, said that he had been invited by the Administrator of St. Mary's Cathedral to pay a tribute to the rich worth of John Lane Mullins, whose mortal remains lay before him. His Grace the Archbishop, weighed down with years, was unable to be present at the obsequies of his oldest and dearest friend, and his Grace the Coadjutor was far distant from Sydney. But both Archbishops had already extended profound sympathy to the members of the grieving family.

Continuing, Father Tansey said: Gentle and humble to the last, John Lane Mullins expressed the wish that a simple Requiem should be his portion, and not in the Cathedral, but here in this sequestered spot of St. Canice's, so dear to him and his family. This almost cloistered Church of St. Canice owes much to the generosity of John Lane Mullins and the Hughes family, to which he was so closely allied. He loved to quote the Requiem of Robert Louis Stevenson, and I cannot help thinking that it was in his mind when he he made his last request:

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I lay me down with a will.

I speak the more readily and the more feelingly, said Father Tansey, for it was my good fortune to have known him for a full lifetime. I happened on him first in the grounds of St. Mary's Cathedral one Spy Wednesday night, when I was but a boy. As the years wore on, I was happy to know him more intimately in his home, and I learned that the gracious mantle of courtesy and gentleness could never fall from his shoulders.

God has already judged him; for "it is appointed unto man once to die, and after that, the judgment." But we, at least, can estimate the worth of his public life. The journals of today and yesterday have given full accounts of his activities as a civic father and a legislator; his scholarly career in the University of Sydney; his association with the early Benedictine monks of Lyndhurst; his intimacy with the immortal names of Polding, Vaughan, Davis, Moran, Barton, Griffith, Badham—all the giants of Church and State in other days. And his association with the giants of today, especially with our own beloved Archbishop. You have learned all about his connection with St. Mary's Cathedral from its foundation. He saw St. Vincent's Hospital grow from a tiny house to the noble pile it is today, and governed its finances as treasurer from its inception.

Few, however, know that he was an active member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, in this very parish of St. Canice, and visited night after night the homes of the poor and indigent in this neighbourhood. For those present today who are not conversant with the work of the society, there are many homes in this parish whose thresholds John Lane Mullins crossed on works of mercy, that will not forget to say: "God give rest to his soul."

Though he hid his sorrows, some of you will remember the bravery of the stricken man when he lost his only son in the Great War. "Under the bludgeonings of chance, his head was bloody and unbowed." And a triple tragedy came upon him in one fell swoop, when two others bound to him by bonds of blood, found shallow graves in France and Flanders.

He was a Romanticist, and loved the arts. Literature and the arts were the badge of his tribe. He loved to be among his Turners, his Heysens, his Gruners, his oils and etchings, aquatints, and first editions. Like the Knight in "The Canterbury Tales," "he was a worshipper from his youth of chivalrous and gallant deeds, a lover of truth and honour, frankness and courtesy."

I doubt if there is another man alive to-day whose memory was so replete with the trials of the early Church in Australia, and I am sure there is no other layman who has been so closely linked with the Hierarchy of Australia. His Catholicity was stamped into his character. By his faith and his practice he gave an unobtrusive example of the type that pure and sincere Catholicity can produce.

It would have been ungracious did I not trace the lines of his life for you in some poor way, and uncatholic did I not ask your prayers for him who is dead. "It is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins." He knew that death was coming upon him, and he went to God with his eyes wide open, comforted with the Sacraments of Confession, Viaticum and Extreme Unction. So he went to God. Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

Pupils from Kincoppal and nurses from St. Vincent's Hospital formed a guard of honour as the remains were borne from the church. Mr. H. B. Dawkins (Cathedral organist) rendered appropriate music. The funeral was to South Head Cemetery, where Father McCooe officiated.—R.I.P.

Original publication

Citation details

'Lane Mullins, John Francis (1857–1939)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Alderman John Lane Mullins, M.A., n.d. photographer unknown

Alderman John Lane Mullins, M.A., n.d. photographer unknown, City of Sydney Archives

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Mullins, John Lane

4 June, 1857
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


24 February, 1939 (aged 81)
Elizabeth Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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