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George Harris Watson (1824–1908)

Early yesterday morning, at his residence in Forest-street, there passed away peacefully in death Mr. George Harris Watson, who, together with his brother Robert, surveyed the railway line from Melbourne to Bendigo. Mr. Watson was born at Darlington, near Totnes, Devonshire, England, on 19th June 1824, and came to Australia in 1852 in the ship Hampshire. On his arrival he went first to Simmons and Perry's station, on the Upper Yarra, and in 1853 he came to Bendigo. Shortly afterwards he went for a time to Mr. Cay's station, on the Upper Loddon. Subsequently he became associated with his brother Robert, who was then engineer-in-chief of railways, and together they undertook the survey of several railway lines. Later on Mr. Watson was engaged in contract surveying in the Western district, but returned to Bendigo, and practiced at contract and mining surveying very successfully until about 20 years ago, when he retired. In 1873 he married the second daughter of Mr. Henry Barrow, of Charterhouse, Runnymede, and the newly-married couple visited England, returning in 1873 to Bendigo, where they resided ever since. Mr. Watson was of a most affectionate and kindly disposition—a gentleman in the finest sense of the word. His retiring disposition withheld him from being identified with public life. But in his wide circle of friends he endeared himself by his serene and lovable nature. His friends almost invariably referred to him as "Dear Old Mr. Watson," and little children passing by his gate learned to recognise him as a kind companion. Often he would take them by the hand, and chatting to them all the while, would accompany them along the street. For years he was a prominent member of All Saints' Church, and only with the decline of years had he to relinquish his duties as an officer. His end was calm and not altogether unexpected. About three weeks ago he gave signs of the general failing of his powers, but he retained consciousness up till Saturday. Since then he gradually sank until he fell into his final sleep. During his illness he received the most constant attention from Dr. Atkinson. In a few weeks Mr. Watson, had he lived, would have attained the age of 84 years. It is a curious coincidence that both his mother and his aunt died three weeks before they reached the age of 84. Just before the end he said to his daughter, "I wonder if I am dying: but I have had a fair innings, haven't I?" He leaves behind him a widow and five children. His oldest son, George, is in Western Australia, while the other son, Walter, is in South Africa. The three daughters are Misses Willmot, Hilda, and Harriet. Mr. Watson is a brother of the late Mrs. Hannaford, of Beechworth, and two sisters survive him in England. He is also a brother-in-law of Mr. W. C. Vahland, J.P., of this city.

Original publication

Citation details

'Watson, George Harris (1824–1908)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 13 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


19 June, 1824
Totnes, Devon, England


22 May, 1908 (aged 83)
Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

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