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Lewis, William (1825–1900)

William Lewis, n.d.

William Lewis, n.d.

from Australasian Pastoralists' Review, 15 September 1900

Another of the pioneer settlers of Western Victoria, and one of the most highly esteemed, Mr. William Lewis, of Stoneleigh, died in Melbourne on 27th ult., at the age of 75. For some time past he had been ailing with an internal complaint, for which he was operated upon, and death took place from failure of the action of the heart about nine days afterwards.

Mr. Lewis was born at Boglily, Fifeshire, Scotland, in 1825. He came to Australia in 1846, and obtained his first colonial experience with his uncle, Mr. William Russell, in Tasmania. After a short residence in the island he came over to Victoria and assumed the management of the Mount Cole Station, near Beaufort, for Messrs. Russell and Simson, who rented same from Mr. Alexander Campbell, a brother of the Rev. Colin Campbell now residing in Melbourne. Mount Cole Station in those days was an extensive squatting run, embracing a large area between Beaufort and Buangor, and included amongst others the well-known Eurambeen property. On the expiry of Messrs. Russell and Simson's lease of Mount Cole, Mr. Lewis accepted the management of the station properties belonging to the Clyde Company, a pastoral company well known in the early days. Its properties included Golf Hill and Terinallum and a considerable tract of country along the Moorabool and Leigh Rivers. His uncle, the late Mr. Geo. Russell, of Golf Hill, was the chief representative of the Clyde Company, and it was during the latter's absence in England that Mr. Lewis managed the properties. The gold diggings broke out during his management and the country was swept by the disastrous fires of Black Thursday, but, notwithstanding the difficulties he had to contend against, the affairs of the company prospered under his careful and able supervision.

In 1854, Mr. Lewis purchased the well-known Stoneleigh Estate from Mr. Duncan Cooper—the latter, though over eighty years of age, is still living, and resides in London.

With the exception of a short visit to the old country in the year 1859, Mr. Lewis continued to own and reside on his Stoneleigh property until the date of his death—a period of forty-six years. He paid great attention to the management and improvement of his property, and the improvements are very complete. The garden is a very fine one, the flock is well known, and the wool and fat sheep command high prices. Stoneleigh is surrounded by the following properties, namely, Mawallok, Eurambeen, Challicum, Yalla-y-poora, Blythvale, Mooramong, and St. Enochs.

Mr. Lewis subsequently became part-owner of the Elderslie property situated near Casterton, on the South Australian border, but sold out many years ago.

Besides devoting a great deal of time and care to the management and improvement of his property, Mr. Lewis took an active interest in everything connected with the progress and welfare of the colony, and more especially of his own neighbourhood, his advice being always ready and his purse also wherever these were required. He was appointed a J.P. at the age of twenty-two by the then Governor of Port Phillip, Mr. Charles Latrobe. Mr. Lewis represented the West Riding in the Ripon Shire Council for over a quarter of a century, and he was president of the shire on several occasions. Failing health compelled him to retire about five years ago, when the council presented him with an illuminated address as a token of their esteem and in appreciation of his services to the ratepayers. His eldest son, Mr. George Lewis, was chosen without a contest to fill his father's place in the council. Mr. Lewis never sought a seat in Parliament, preferring the life of a country gentleman and the fulfilment of its duties to political honours. He was always ready to maintain the honour of the wool of Victoria at international exhibitions, and won awards for his wool at London, Paris, Amsterdam, Chicago, Adelaide, and Melbourne. He held an honoured position as an elder in the Presbyterian Church, to which he was for many years a most generous contributor. Indeed he was always to be depended upon to assist every movement of a charitable nature, whilst he was no less ready to help quietly under circumstances which were never known to the outside world. Moreover, he was a kind and generous employer, and one who followed up with interest and help those who had been in his service.

Mr. Lewis leaves six sons and one daughter, three of the sons being settled close to him as managers of Mawallok, Blythevale, and Stoneleigh. Mr. Lewis was a tall, well-built, handsome man, about 6 ft. 2 in. in height, and had the courtly manners of the old school. He was a genial, kindly host, and nothing pleased him more than to have his house full of visitors. A country gentleman of the best kind, his memory will long be cherished by those who had the privilege of coming in contact with him.

Original publication

Citation details

'Lewis, William (1825–1900)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/lewis-william-601/text602, accessed 7 December 2022.

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