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.

William John Sheehan (1845–1881)

from Morning Bulletin

Mr. William Sheehan, who was drowned opposite Redcliffe Point on Friday afternoon last, was a brother-in-law of Mr. Randall Macdonnell, the organizer and first General Inspector of the State schools of this colony, and of Mr. Finucane, chief clerk to the Commissioner of Police, Brisbane. The deceased gentleman was the son of Mr. Wm. Sheehan, one of our pioneer colonists, and was among the earliest of the Queensland natives, the date of his birth having been, I believe, 1845. At his father's death he inherited valuable property, worth, at least £1000 a year; but, unfortunately for himself, he fell gradually into a circle of "turfites" and "sharpers," who, practising on his inexperience and good nature, ruined him. The life interest of his property was sold to pay his debts. This property now reverts, by Mr. Sheehan's death, to his children, his wife being dead. The writer of this article and the deceased were playfellows from infancy. Their holidays were spent together, and they sat side by side at the same desks in the old Normal school, Brisbane, at a Grammar School established for a short time by the late Dr. O'Quinn in the same city, and finally at St. Mary's College, Lyndhurst, Sydney. The college regimen was unsatisfactory: meat once a day, dry bread and tea four evenings a week and every eve of a Saint's day. Coming from Queensland, the land of plenty, this annoyed poor Sheehan. Having got "leave" to spend a day in Sydney, he returned with a bottle of jam, which he commenced to use the first dry bread night afterwards. The deacon in charge of the refectory, ordered him to bring it to him; Sheehan ate on. One of the waiters was commanded to take it; Sheehan defied him, and still ate on, distributing his jam to those who sat near him. Dire punishment was to follow this, and, to avoid it, the culprit left the college, and telegraphed to his father. An investigation, conducted by the late venerable Archbishop Polding followed, who, in announcing its result, condemned the dietary system of the college, ordered meat to be given to the collegians twice a day, and subsequently made most important changes in the management. Mr. Sheehan had no profession, and when he had lost his property, became a civil servant. He was devoted to out-door exercise, and his name has been a household word to Brisbane cricketers for fifteen years.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for William John Sheehan

Citation details

'Sheehan, William John (1845–1881)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 22 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Queensland, Australia


18 November, 1881 (aged ~ 36)
Scarborough, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cause of Death


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.