Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Cultural Advice

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

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

John Dawson Robinson (1828–1891)

The intelligence of the death. of Mr John Dawson Robinson, the well-known auctioneer, was received with general regret in Geelong yesterday. On Monday week last Mr Robinson, while engaged at his office in Moorabool-street, became so unwell from the effects of what he regarded as an attack of influenza that he had to go home in a cab to his residence, Latrobe-terrace, and secure medical attention. He was obliged to remain confined to his room, but hoped by taking care of himself to shake off the effects of his illness and get about again in a few days. His condition varied, however, and while at one time he seemed to be improving, at another his condition became sufficiently serious to be alarming to his relatives. Dr. Small, who was attending him, was hopeful that he would get over the influenza all right but further complications set in, the heart being effected. When his condition became really critical efforts were made by Mr Sparrow, one of the partners of the deceased gentleman, to secure the assistance of Dr. Fitzgerald of Melbourne. Being unsuccessful in this he arranged for a visit from Dr. Maudsley, who held a consultation with Dr. Small on Wednesday, and grave fears were entertained by both medical gentlemen as to the prospects of Mr Robinson recovering. His condition, however, slightly improved, and during the evening he felt so much better that he was able to partake of a half-pint of porter and a dozen oysters. During the night he took another change for the worse and gradually sank into an unconscious state and died yesterday morning. The deceased gentleman was a very old colonist, and had been associated with the progress of the town since the early fifties. He was born at Bolton-on-Sands, Lancashire, on January 15th, 1828, and was therefore in his 63rd year when death closed down the final page of his life's history. Early in 1813, before the fame of the early gold discoveries served as a stimulus to the youth of every land to emigrate to these shores, he had the courage and enterprise to undertake the wearisome voyage to what was practically an unknown land, and seek for what fortune might have in store for him at the antipodes. He was landed at Hobart Town by the tug Emily; on which he was the only passenger, and shortly after secured a place in the business of Burns, White and Co., then a considerable trading firm. A few years of his life in the island colony satisfied him, and the news of the wonderful wealth discovered at Ballarat and other places induced him to leave for Victoria. He crossed the straits in 1852, but he was not among those who had the luck to lay bare a fortune with a stroke of the pick, and he shortly afterwards returned to Tasmania. In 1854 he returned to Victoria, accompanied by Mrs Robinson, and entered into partnership with Mr J. R. Ogilvie, who will still be remembered by old Geelong identities. They carried on business successfully in Moorabool-street, and the fame of the partnership was widespread. Subsequently death brought about a change in the style of the firm, and the business became known as that of Robinson and Burns. Under this designation, with Mr Robinson as its senior member, it continued for many years, and the latest alteration in the business was made when Mr E. R. Sparrow became a partner, since which it has continued its prestige as a triumvirate. Mr. Robinson was a lover of field sports and athletics, and took a warm interest in the Geelong Racing Club ever since its establishment. For a time he occupied the position of treasurer of the club, and as secretary, an office which he retained until two or three years ago. He was indefatigable in his exertions to maintain the club's efficiency. In all his dealings he was honest and upright, and as he possessed the many qualities that go to make up a good citizen, his circle of friends was a large one. His bluff and genial presence will be missed for many a day to come. Deceased leaves a widow, and one son and two daughters, who are comfortably settled.

Original publication

Additional Resources

  • funeral, Geelong Advertiser, 5 October 1891, p 2

Citation details

'Robinson, John Dawson (1828–1891)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 29 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


15 January, 1828
Bolton-on-Sands, Lancashire, England


1 October, 1891 (aged 63)
Geelong, Victoria, 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

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

Key Organisations