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Thomas (Tom) Shaughnessy (1773–1837)

When men in private life exhibit singular kindness of heart, and which from their occupations happens to become wellknown, it is the duty of the Press, when it can so far intrude on private affairs, to record them. For, if it be a duty to expose wickedness of every kind when it intrenches on the public weal, how much more is it the duty of the same powerful agent to exalt unusual goodness, and record it in the public chronicles of the country? Mr. Thomas Shaughnessy was by trade an undertaker. With a face of lengthened gravity he joined a most sociable and jocular disposition. He had the art of laughing inwardly; a nice observer, however, could discern in the cast of his eye, the merriment which, under a grave aspect was going on within. But besides his love of humour, Shaughnessy was a man of singular benevolence; the consequence was, that unlike his brethren of the same craft, he was able neither to build houses nor keep his carriage. Shaughnessy was not esteemed by the religious; because his religion consisted but little in external devotion; it possessed the unequivocal stamp of perpetual works of kindness and charity. Many a poor man has worthy Tom buried, whose widowed wife and children never paid him; and what is still more to this good Christian's credit, he was pretty certain at the very time he made the decent coffin, and carried the dead to their long home, he would have to do the job gratis. Our Saviour advises his followers to lay up their treasures in heaven. This was honest Tom's opinion; so he buried the corpses of worthy people at a risk. If he were paid, well; if not, he considered (no doubt) that the Saviour of men would be as good as his word, and place it to his credit in another book kept by himself. Peace be with thy manes, honest Tom Shaughnessy! Thou wast a sympathiser with the human race, and especially with those in affliction! May your family find, in the world, and it not in the world—with God, one who will be to them better than yourself.

Original publication

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Shaughnessy, Thomas (Tom) (1773–1837)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 21 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Dublin, Ireland


6 May, 1837 (aged ~ 64)
Sydney, New South Wales, 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.

Passenger Ship
Convict Record

Crime: unknown
Sentence: life