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Thomas Skene (1836–1885)

A very sad event in connection with a family whose name is a "household word" throughout the colony, occurred at the residence of Mr. Thomas Skene, Kirkella, near Stawell, on the morning of the 25th inst. It appears that Mr. Thomas Skene, a cousin of the owner of Kirkella, being in ill-health, recently left his station, Krongart, near Penola, in order to pay a visit to Kirkella, a hope being entertained that the change of air would act beneficially. We regret to say this did not result, as the unfortunate gentleman, troubled by the sad news recently telegraphed respecting the low prices of wool, although financilly he had no cause for fear, became very depressed, and during a period of temporary insanity put an end to his existence. Referring to this the Pleasant Creek News of the 26th inst, says "An enquiry was held yesterday afternoon by Mr. B. S. Dawson. J.P., the finding being that the deceased committed suicide whilst of unsound mind. Rachael Skene, the wife of the deceased was examined, and stated that her husband was very restless during Tuesday night, and had been in very low spirits for some time past. He got up early in the morning, but appeared to be restless and did not wish to go to breakfast. His wife went to get him something to eat and when she returned to the room he was gone, and she never saw him alive after. Drs. Bennett and Johnson examined deceased, and said there was nothing serious the matter with him. The witness attributed her husband's loss of spirits to the fall in the price of wool and other losses, but he was not financially embarrassed. The deceased seemed afraid of his mental condition and suggested the same to the doctors, who said that when his health improved, he would be all right. Thomas Skene, cousin of deceased, stated that the latter had said to him that he thought he was giving people a lot of trouble and that he had better be put in some place where he could be looked after. On Tuesday night the deceased was talking about taking a trip home to England, and he retired to bed at about ten o'clock, and was not seen alive by witness again. When it was known that deceased was missing from his room, the whole of the men about the station set to work to look for him, and his body was ultimately found in a hole of water about two hundred yards away from the house, only 2½ or 3 feet of water being in the hole, James Carroll, a groom, gave evidence as to the finding of the body in a hole containing about three feet of water. A verdict was returned to the effect that the deceased committed suicide whilst suffering from temporary insanity. The deceased gentleman, who was a native of Aberdeenshire, came to this colony in 1858, and for some years, during the absence in England of the then proprietor, managed the well-known Skene estate, and was married to Miss McKellar, a sister of the Hon. T. McKellar. Subsequently he became the proprietor of Kongart station, near Penola, and during a fairly long residence in this and the adjoining colony, gained many friends. His sudden and unexpected death, therefore, throws two highly esteemed families into mourning, and, it need scarcely be added, sincere sympathy is being expressed both for them and the bereaved widow. On Thursday the remains of deceased were brought to Hamilton by train, and on Friday conveyed to the final resting place in the Presbyterian portion of the cemetery, adjoining the Skene family vault. The Revd. J. K. Macmillan officiated at the grave, and none but the relations and a few of the more intimate friends of the family were present. Had the hour at which the funeral would take place, however, been known there would, doubtless, have been a large following, as the deceased was greatly respected by those who knew him in the district years ago.—Hamilton Spectator.

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Additional Resources

Citation details

'Skene, Thomas (1836–1885)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


Aberdeenshire, Scotland


25 November, 1885 (aged ~ 49)
Stawell, 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.