Late Mr. John Thornton.
PASSING OF A WORTHY PIONEER.
As the years roll on, gradually, but all too surely, the worthy pioneers of the early days are passing away. One by one they are being laid to rest in this quiet graveyard or that, and in a little while the last of the men and women who most deserve the name of pioneers will be taking his or her last long rest. But they have play- ed a big part in the building up of Australia, and few have proved more worthy to rank among those who should long he remembered for the good work they have done than the late Mr. John Thornton, of Mount Myrtoon, who died at his residence on Monday evening last. Mr. Thornton, who had reached the great age of 85 years, was a native of Yorkshire, England. It was in the year 1835 that he was born, and at the age of 18 years, with his brother Al- fred, he embarked on, the sailing ship Great Britain, en route to Australia. In those days a voyage to this con- tinent was no light undertaking. On arrival in Victoria Mr. Thornton took up his residence in Melbourne, where he commenced business. A year or two-later he forsook the city, going first to the North-Eastern District of Victoria and thence to Gippsland. It was in the "seventies" that he deci- ded to move to the fertile Western District, and coming to this locality purchased the Mount Myrtoon pro- perty where he had resided ever since —a period of 50 years. Having been, possessed of great energy, in addition to attending to his property at Mount Myrtoon. five years later he started a Land and stock agency business in Camperdown. Like all new ventures of the kind, his business here had a email beginning, and the stock sales of those first days were not very im- portant as compared with the sales in this town to-day. But Mr. Thornton was possessed of keen business acu- men and, under his able guidance, the venture quickly became firmly estab- lished and rapidly expanded, and its proprietor speedily became well and favorably known from one end of the "Western District to the other, as well as in other parts of the State. For some 25 years Mr Thornton's busi- ness steadily grew and he then found it necessary to enter into a partner- ship and Mr Curie was the new mem- ber of the firm, which afterwards carried on just as succesfully under
the style of Thornton and Co. It was some time later that Mr. C. B. Palm- er, of Terang, also became a partner and the style of the firm changed to Thornton, Palmer and Co. It so con- tinued for a period of years when Sir. Howe, of Armstrong, Howe and Co., entered the business that Mr. Thorn- ton had founded so many years pre- viously. Transactions were carried out in a large way in the district from Hamilton to Melbourne and various other parts of Victoria. This was at the time one of the most important businesses of its kind in the State, and had branches in Hamilton, Te- rang, Cobden, Colac, Geelong and Mel- bourne. The late Mr. Thornton not only founded the firm, but was re- sponsible to a large extent for the success achieved. With the going of the years and as the partners pass- ed the prime of life they accepted an offer from Messrs. Dalgety and Co., which Company was at the time establishing additional centres in the country district. And so, under the skilful directorship of the late Mr. Thornton the operations of the Com- pany grew from the selling at the first of a few cattle and sheep on a set day to the huge transactions it carried out later . But it was not only from a business point of view that Mr. Thornton's life was a more than ordinarily use- ful one. He was a man possessed of many truly sterling characteristics. He had varied interests in public and private life apart from the commer- cial point of view, and through his unbounded energy and unlimited de- sire to help all worthy movements along, he accomplished much that was good and desirable and to a na- ture such as his the opportunity to do this, must have meant true plea- sure. His activities were many, and on the starting of any new movement it was the custom to seek Mr. Thorn- ton's aid, which was invariably given in full measure. Numberless ven- tures for the common good owed their success largely to his sound judgment and unstinted help, and in any good cause he was as liberal as he was en- thusiastic. He was an ardent sportsman and was particularly fond of cricket, a game at which in his prime he had few peers. When he first interested himself in this sport the present Camperdown Cricket Ground was vir- tually a swamp, and those concern- ed are mainly indebted to Mr. Thorn- ton for the fine ground of to-day His energy was also greatly helpful in having the ground fenced in and the pavilion, which was recently burned down, erected. He it was who work- ed hardest to get the turf wickets made, and in those days the Cam- perdown Cricket ground was recognis- ed as one of the best in the State, while the Club also was one of the most formidable In Victoria. Its team was superior to any excepting some of those in the cities, and the Camperdown willow-wielders in those days often lowered the colors of tha best elevens of Geelong and Ballarat, and not infrequently defeated the crack teams of Melbourne. Mr. Thornton, was himself a brilliant all- round cricketer. He was one of the smartest fieldsmen of the day, a fine bat and a good bowler. He was also a good tactician and there was no. captain more quick to recognise the best measures to adopt In the early days he was captain of the Emerald Hill Cricket Club, and by his death the Melbourne Cricket Club has lost its oldest member. How many years, ago it was when Mr. Thornton joined the Melbourne Cricket Club, perhaps only the records can say accurately, but there is no doubt that he was the senior member by some years, and his demise will be very deeply regret- ted by members of that Club as well as in cricketing and sporting circles generally. As illustrating his ability as a player, he represented Victoria in inter-State cricket in 1859 and I860, and he was the last living mem- ber of the first Victorian eleven that engaged New South Wales. Mr. Thornton also took a deep in- terest In all matters pertaining to the land and he was Chairman of Direc- tors of the Cobden Butter Factory the pioneer factory of the State, from its inception until a few years ago. As well, he found it necessary owing to his numerous offices, to refuse many other positions. He was deep- ly interested in Church matters, and was a member of the Committee of St Paul's for many years, and ren- dered very valuable assistance in freeing the Church properties from all debt . In his advanced years he retired from this office. For a very long period he was a justice of the Peace, and was recognised as a most conscientious adjudicator. By his passing the district loses one of its most worthy citizens—one who was deservedly and universally esteemed and admired, and the sor- rowing relatives will have the sym- pathy of a host of friends. The only son is Mr. John Herbert Thornton, of Monnt Myrtoon, and the daughters Mrs. Harold Grimwade, wife Of Gen- ral Grimwade, and Mrs. George Reed,
of Sydney, whose husband is a son of -Mr Justice H00d. He was pre- deceased by his wife by over 35 years. The funeral, which took place yes-. terday was largely attended. The body was laid to rest in the Church of England portion of the Camper- down Cemetery the Rev. Canon Cole- brook reading the burial service. Messrs. Collie, and Brennan had charge of the funeral arrangements.