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John Petrie (1822–1892)

from Brisbane Courier

Another well-known face and form, absent from their accustomed haunts for some months past through failing health, have now been withdrawn from us for ever by death. Mr. John Petrie was emphatically one of our city fathers, having been identified with the affairs of Brisbane from his early manhood almost up to the time of his death at the age of 70 years. He arrived in Sydney with his father in 1831 in the ship Stirling Castle, and came to Brisbane six years later, when Mr. Andrew Petrie was appointed to the charge of the public buildings in what was then the penal settlement of Moreton Bay. When Queensland was thrown open to free immigration a few years later Mr. Petrie and his son started in business as builders and contractors, and most of the old buildings and many of those of later date have been erected by the Petries. From their place of business in Wharf-street they managed and directed the building of such notable landmarks as the Supreme Court, Post and Telegraph Offices, Immigration Depôt, the original part of St. John's Pro-cathedral, and several of the banks, with many other places, including the old gaol at Petrie-terrace, now used as police quarters. Mr. John Petrie was returned at the head of the poll as one of the first aldermen of the City of Brisbane, and he was also chosen as the first occupant of the mayoral chair. In that capacity he welcomed our first Governor, Sir George Bowen, and had the honour seldom accorded to any citizen of being mayor for three years in succession, holding the office till the close of 1861. He retained his seat in the council until 1868, and from his practical knowledge was during his nine years' term of office a most useful alderman. He was never more closely associated with politics than as returning-officer for North Brisbane—a post which he filled for a number of years to the general satisfaction; but he has occupied himself in many capacities connected with the local government of the metropolitan districts. Amongst the offices thus held were those of a justice of the peace (which with him was by no means a sinecure), a member of the Brisbane Licensing Board, chairman of the Board of Waterworks, chairman of the Relief Board, chairman of the Committee of the Brisbane Hospital, an institution in which for many years he took a deep interest, and a number of others. 

Mr. Petrie was married in 1850, and his family numbered five sons and five daughters, most of whom survive him. As before remarked, he has for some months past been confined to his home, and the news of his death, though causing very general regret, will scarcely occasion surprise. He became noticeably worse last evening, and died shortly after midnight. His kindly open-hearted manner had endeared him to the very wide circle of Brisbane people with whom he was from time to time brought into contact, and it has been said that he had not an enemy in the city. Be that as it may, his remains will be followed to the grave this afternoon by citizens of all ranks in life, amongst whom there will be a universal feeling of real regret for the loss of one of Brisbane's oldest and most esteemed citizens.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for John Petrie

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Brisbane Courier, 10 December 1892, p 5

Citation details

'Petrie, John (1822–1892)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

John Petrie, n.d.

John Petrie, n.d.

State Library of Queensland, 65629

Life Summary [details]


15 January, 1822
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


8 December, 1892 (aged 70)
Brisbane, Queensland, 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.

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