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James Milson (1814–1903)

from Sydney Morning Herald

James Milson, n.d.

James Milson, n.d.

Sydney Mail, 21 January 1903, p 158

An old and respected colonist in the person of Mr. James Milson passed away quietly yesterday morning at his residence, Elamang, Milson's Point, in his 89th year. Mr Milson was a native of the colony, and was born at the Field of Mars, near Ryde, on the Parramatta River, on November 25, 1814. He was baptised in the old St Philip's Church by Archdeacon Cowper, the father of the late Dean of Sydney. The major portion of his life was spent at Milson's Point, North Sydney, which was named after his father. Mr James Milson was educated at the school in Phillip-street, conducted by the late Dr. Halloran, and of which Mr. Cape was assistant master. At the age of 15 years he made his first entry into commercial life in the office of Messrs Aspinall, Brown, and Co, of Charlotte-place. Later he became a partner in the firm of Messrs. Robert Campbell, jun., and Co., of Bligh street, upon the site of the present Union Club. Mr Milson's was a familiar figure in commercial circles, and he occupied many important positions. He was a director of the Bank of New South Wales, of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, of the old Australian Steam Navigation Company, of the Waratah Coal Company, and other public companies. Mr Milson took an active part in the progress and development of North Sydney, and it was he who inaugurated the old Milson's Point ferry, which was subsequently sold to the North Shore Ferry Company, and more recently merged into the present Sydney Ferries, Limited. In all other matters affecting the advancement of the district in which he made his home and with which he was so closely connected, he took an abiding interest, and in the cause of charity he was ever foremost.

Mr Milson was also a large owner of station property in Queensland, and was for many years in possession of the well known Wolfang and Coreena stations in the northern colony. At the time of his death he owned Spring Vale and Herbert Vale stations, both of which are in Queensland.

Mr Milson was twice married. On July 22, 1852, he married Marianne Elizabeth, daughter of Captain Grimes, a son of the first Surveyor-General. He had issue three sons and four daughters. His first wife died in November, 1864. In November, 1869, Mr. Milson married Anna Stewart, sister of Mr Neil Stewart, of Parramatta, but who died on December 10, 1888. Of his three sons Mr. Alfred G. Milson is an alderman of the borough of North Sydney and a well-known member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, and the owner of the crack yacht Era. Messrs Arthur and Leslie Milson are engaged in pastoral pursuits in Queensland. His three surviving daughters are Mrs. W. Alison (wife of Mr. Alison, secretary of the Taxpayers' Union), Mrs. Otto Bauer (wife of Mr Bauer, of Messrs. Rabone, Feez and Co), and Mrs. Prosper Williams (wife of the well known solicitor and yachtsman). In yachting circles Mr James Milson was a very old identity and a prominent figure among yachtsmen in the early 30's. He may be described as the ''doyen" of Australian yachting. He remembered regattas as far back as 1834, at which period they were got up among the ships' boats, which were provided with temporary keels to increase their stability. In 1836 there were several small yachts afloat and an informal association of yachtsmen, who flew a flag much like that of the Royal Sydney. It was the first approach to a club in Australasia. The boats were all open an known as first-class sailing boats in the regattas of the day. The association consisted of Messrs. Burton Bradley, with the Swallow; John Ritchie, Ariel; James Milson, Sophia; Elyard, Wave; and George Macpherson. Mr Bradley was commodore. Mr Milson used to say that in those days Good Friday and Christmas Day were the only recognised public holidays. In 1837 Mr Milson entered his first yacht, the Sophia, for the first Anniversary Regatta organised to celebrate the forty-ninth anniversary of the colony. There were nine boats in the first class boat race, and an interesting contest resulted. After that Mr Milson gave up boating for a time, but in 1841 he resumed the pastime and raced with the Friendship, a famous 12-ton decked boat, built especially for him by Mr George Green, of Lavender Bay. The craft carried all before her and was afterwards fitted with a cabin and used for cruising on the coast. In her fastest days she was sliding-gunter rigged. Later her rig was altered to a cutter but undor the new rig in her first contest she suffered defeat at the hands of Mr George Thornton's Champion.

Mr Milson then made a trip to England, and in 1855 returned with the Mischief, an 11-ton cutter. She was the first English yacht in Port Jackson, and marked a completely new departure in style and rig, so far as the colonies were concerned. She had won many races in England, and for many years continued her victorious career here. In 1856-57 a formal club was formed, with Mr Hutchinson Brown, police magistrate, as commodore. Then came the Sydney Yacht Club, and subsequently the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, with Mr. Howell, an old English gentleman, as secretary. Mr Milson took a leading part in the formation of the association, which boldly applied for the honour of the white ensign, but got instead the blue. In 1859 he built the Era, which came out in frame work from England. Mr. James Milson was the first vice-commodore of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron.

Mr. Milson during the past four or five years relinquished his business connections, but was able up to within the last three or four weeks to visit the city. His illness, in which he was attended by Drs. Isbister and Chisholm, was of brief duration and he passed quietly away about 9.30 yesterday morning. By his death is removed another of the few remaining links of the chain connecting the history of the past with the present, and the news of his demise was received with regret by a large circle of friends. As a mark of respect to his memory the flags on the boats of the Sydney Ferries, Limited, were yesterday flying at half-mast, and many other evidences of the esteem in which he was held were manifest.

The funeral leaves Elamang, Milson's Point, at 3.30 p.m. to-day, for St John's Church, Milson's Point, thence to St Thomas' cemetery, where the interment will be made.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for James Milson

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 January 1903, p 6
  • memorial service, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 January 1903, p 8
  • probate, Australian Star (Sydney), 24 March 1903, p 6

Citation details

'Milson, James (1814–1903)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

James Milson, n.d.

James Milson, n.d.

Sydney Mail, 21 January 1903, p 158

Life Summary [details]


25 November, 1814
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


12 January, 1903 (aged 88)
Milsons Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


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

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