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

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Thomas Windeyer (Tom) Macansh (1854–1919)

Thomas Macansh, n.d.

Thomas Macansh, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 December 1919

Thomas Windeyer Macansh, who died in Sydney recently, was the son of the late Hon. John Donald Macansh, M.L.C., and was born at Kinross, Raymond Terrace, N.S.W., on the 1st September, 1854. He spent the first ten years of his life at Kitticarara, where his father lived during the time he was manager and partner with S. K. Salting in Bouyeo, which at that time included Kitticarara, Demondril, Cunningham Plains, and Cumbermurrah.

In 1873 he went into the office of MacDonald, Smith and Co., Hunter-street, Sydney, to learn business habits. He left MacDonald, Smith and Co. in 1880, having acquired a sound commercial training and a habit of accuracy to the smallest detail, which characterised him in all his dealings throughout his life. At the end of 1880 he went to Mr J. W. Raven, who was managing Albilbah, near Isisford, Q., for MacDonald, Smith and Macansh, and immediately on his arrival Mr. Raven sent him to relieve Mr. Colin Bertram of a mob of 12,000 travelling sheep. This was a new experience to Tom Macansh, who had never counted a mob of sheep, and his precautions of making a break with a narrow opening and good wings caused some merriment amongst the men, but at the same time enabled him to make accurate counts and a good delivery to Mr. Bertram, who was overseer at Albilbah. One of the men, a big fellow, became insulting to Tom, who stood only 5 ft. 6 in. Tom walked straight up to the man in front of all the men in the camp and said: "If you can't keep a civil tongue in your head and do your work properly you had better clear out." The man blustered and demanded his cheque. "Cheque," said Tom, "you have no cheque coming to you; come to the dray, and I'll pay you off in coppers." This created such a laugh that Tom had no further trouble during the trip.

In July 1882 his elder brother, John Donald Macansh, was taking 3000 head of cattle to stock up and obtain the lease of country in the Northern Territory now known as Brunette. It was intended to travel across to the Diamantina and on to the Herbert, but the winter was wet, and the direct route had to be abandoned, as all the rivers were in flood, so the route up the Thompson, Landsbrough to Hughenden and down the Flinders and across the Gulf country was adopted. John Donald Macansh was accompanied by two brothers, Thomas and William. John went ahead to locate the country, and engaged W. Redford to accompany him. They left the head of the Rankin and rode over 60 miles to where they expected water, but found the hole dry, so they turned back, having ridden over 120 miles without any water beyond what they carried in the waterbag.

John returned to Canning Downs, and left Tom, with the aid of Redford, to locate the leases and get the cattle on to the country, which he accomplished in the first half of 1883. He formed Brunette, and remained there for three years. At this time there was no mail out to Barkly Tableland, and letters had to be sent from station to station until they reached the Queensland mail service running out from Burketown, and it took several months to get a reply to any letter. Consequently from time to time a party would go over to Tennant's Creek telegraph station on the overland line and telegraph in to the owners.

During one dry spell there was a 70-mile dry stage between Brunette and Tennant's Creek, and T. W. Macansh, with Redford and two others, had been in to Tennant's Creek telegraphing to the owners, and after they had left on their return the blacks reported to the telegraph master at Tennant's Creek that the whole party had been murdered by the blacks in the middle of the dry stage. A party was organised on the telegraph line to go out and recover the bodies of the murdered men. This party did not make proper provision for crossing the dry stage, with the result that the whole of the party, except one man, perished of thirst.

Mr. T. W. Macansh's family did not believe the report, as it seemed to them incredible that four careful and well-armed men could have been killed as described, but it was many months before they got any definite news from Brunette, and the first the Brunette people knew of the report was months afterwards, when one of them was on his way to Burketown for supplies. Later on T. W. Macansh visited Adelaide, and induced the South Australian Government to vote a sum for a mail service from Borroloola, but no tender was received, and the vote was likely to lapse when T. W. Macansh personally put in a tender in order to save the situation, and took the contract and carried it out himself until he finally left the Territory.

From the end of the eighties until Canning Downs (Warwick, Q.) was sold, Tom Macansh took a very active part in the management and subdivision and sale of that property. For the last twenty years of his life he had plenty to do, either as a trustee of the late J. D. Macansh or chairman of directors of Macansh Estates Limited. Everyone with whom he came in contract liked and respected him. He was a "white man."

Original publication

Citation details

'Macansh, Thomas Windeyer (Tom) (1854–1919)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 18 April 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Thomas Macansh, n.d.

Thomas Macansh, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 December 1919