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DEATH OF MR. J. A. PANTON.  

 

NOTABLE CAREER CLOSES.

VETERAN PUBLIC SERVANT.

After nearly sixty years of public service,     ended in a quiet retirement from the sterner calls of public duty, Mr. Joseph Anderson Panton, for many years Melbourne's senior police magistrate passed quietly away on Saturday afternoon at his residence, Alex- andra street, East St Kilda, at the ripe age of 82 years. Death came suddenly upon   this veteran servant of the State for none of the infirmities which are usually asso- ciated with such years had visited Mr.

(Vandyck, Photo.) MR. J. A. PANTON.  

Panton. His figure was a familiar one in the city, and even at the end of last week he wasin town accompanied by his daugh-   ter, and was alertly interested in the ebb and flow of humanity about him.

Mr. Panton was born at Knockiemil, Aberdeenshire, in June, 1831. He was edu-   cated at the Scottish Naval and Military Academv, and afterwards at Edinburgh   University.

Fom the days when Melbourne was little     more than a redex of the seething life of the goldfields until, the present, when the metro- polis of Victoria stands acknowledged as     one of the finest cities of the Empire, is moro than the span in which most men are allowed to participate. But, to have helped to rule and to create law and order in those       turbulent times, when life was cheap and gold plenteous, and to have rounded off a strenuous careel administering, in dignified fashion, the legal rules of a community in its most advanced centre, is an achievement which is something yet more remark-

able. And Mr. Panton was one of

the few men who accomplished such an achievement. For 56 years he served the State of his adoption, handling the raw, bizarre life of the goldfields with the same calmness and judical outlook as he mani- fested when, in more recent years, from be- hind the magistrates bench in the City Police Court he dealt out punishment, not to those who played and fought with for-

tune, as in the early days, but to those who had transgressed in the lesser things     of life.

It was during the last 30 years of his public life that Mr Panton perhaps became     best known in the metropolis. During that period he attained the position of senior police magistrate of Melbourne and perhaps nothing conveys more clearly the     regard in which he was held than the re-   marks which Mr. Duffy, K.C., now Mr. Jus-

tice Duffy, a member of the High Court of Australia, uttered when Mr Panton signed the sheet in the police court for the last time on June 29, 1907. It was then that Mr Duffy said that Mr. Panton had made his mark by "his unfailing rectitude, his honesty, honour, and undaunted cour-   age;" and Mr Purves, KC then the leader   of the Victorian bar, emphasised the still wider sphere in which Mr. Panton had played his part, speaking of the retiring   police magistrate as one of those Empire   builders who had left their mark on the history of the State, and one who had taken a distinguished part in art, literature, and geographical study.

When he came to Australia Mr. Panton was 20 years of age. He arrived at Syd-

ney in the ship Thomas Arbuthnot, with the avowed intention of engaging in pas-   loral pursuits. Why he deviated from his   intended course is now a matter which will   probably never be known but in one of his   reminiscent moods Mr. Panton related to a   group in the City Court that he had finally offered himself to Governor La Trobe for service as a trooper. "The Governor looked   me up and down for a while." said Mr.

Panton, and then remarked jocularily,

"This fellow seems too big for a trooper. I think he would make a commissioner."'   And a commisuoner of goldfields and Crown lands Mr. Panton duly became. "If the   Governor had offered me the Lord Chief

Justiceship I should not have been more surprised," Mr. Panton used to say when telling the story, but the commanding figure of over 6ft, with the upright car- riage which remained until his last days, is perhaps the solution of the Governor's   spontaneous offer.

Perhaps some of Mr. Panton's s most yeo- man service was rendered during the time     he held the position of Commissioner at

Bendigo. Up to the beginning of 1853 Mr.

Panton acted as assistant commissioner to Captain Bull, who was then head commis- sioner at Bendigo. What was thought of the appointment then is instanced by the remarks of Mr. W.D.C. Denovan, an early         authority on the goldfields which are con-

tained in contemporary records in one of     these it is stated: - "A wiser appointment could not have been made for though Mr Panton was but a young man, he had been well trained in the duties previously, and had proved himself an able administrator. He was not only popular with his subordi-

nates, but he obtained the confidence and   esteem of the whole community, and I am

pleased to say that his officers were gentle-

men like him, and discharged their un- pleasant duties with great tact and forbear-

ance. Mr. Panton has invariably been praised for the great tact and moderation exhibited by him throughout a very trying time. His great ability as a commissioner   has invariably been cited as one reason why the diggers of Bendigo did not resort to the extreme measures which resulted so dis- astrously at Ballarat. There never was     actual rebellion on Bendigo, but there is no doubt that some serious disturbances   were prevented through the tact and fore- bearance excercised by Mr. Panton.

How true this old extract is may be judged fiom the fact that the Royal com-     mission appointed to report on the adminis- tration of the goldfields after the Eureka outbreak specially commended the work of Mr Panton. During the troublous times when the miners threatened to expel the Chinese from the Bendigo field. Mr. Panton arranged matters, and prevented a   collision, and Sir Challes Hotham, arriv-

ing in Victoria about that time selected   Mr. Panton to inquire into the Chinese question, and to advise a scheme of man- agement of the Chinese on the goldfields. Upon his report or suggestion the Chinese were assembled into camps or villages under the immediate supervision of a head man and Chinese protectors were ap-

pointed with special police and interpreters.

To defray the cost of that establishment the poll tax was for the first time levied.  

Until 1858 Mr. Panton continued his work at Bendigo, obtaining leave of absence with out pay to visit Europe. Before he left the goldfields however, he was requested to help to establish the first police court, and   that he did, being present at the first court which was held in a green lined tent, the magistrate sitting on a packing case, and the clerk perching on a five gallon keg.

When Mr. Panton returned from Europe, one of his chief interests was the explora- tion of huge tracts of country, and the pos- sibilities of the pearling industry on the West Coast of Australia. Shortly after his   return from the old country, however, Mr.

Panton rejoined the public service but his   old position having been abolished he was stationed as police magistrate at Heidelberg, subsequently at Geelong and then finally   at Melbourne. His varied interests are well lllustrated by the fact that during his tenure of office at Heidelberg he made a map of   the whole of the Uppper Valleyof the Yarra,       from the Goulburn watershed to the La- trobe watershed. Panton Hills were named   after him. It was he who then discovered     and named Mt. Donna Buang, although that       is not the name which he first gave it.   According to Mr. Panton's own story he   called the mountain first Mount Acland, but he learned subsequently from the head   man of the Yarra Valley aboriginals, that  

the native name was Donna Buang, and to that name he altered the designation of the mountain on his map.

When preparations were being made for the 1854 exhibition, Mr. Panton, with other gentlemen in "Sandhurst," organised a   local exhibition, and that was the first ex-     hibition held in Australia where gold and silver medals were awarded. He was one of the commissioners of the 1854 exhibition and he took a prominent part in the Mel- bourne International Exhibition of 1880-   1881 as one of the executive commissioners. At one time Mr. Panton was deeply in- terested in viticulture, while he has always been regarded as one of the pioneers of squatting. In the early squatting maps of the Albert district, New South Wales, his name is to be seen on large areas which he   examined and took up. He was also one of the pioneers of Kimberley, Western Aus- tralia. Mr. Panton has taken a very active     part in Melbourne artistic circles, and up to a few weeks of his death he was to be seen at most of the musical functions held in the city. The geological and geographical study which claimed a huge part of Mr Panton's   time has resulted in much useful informa-   tion being made public, and at the time of his death he was vice-president of the Vic-   torian branch of the Royal Geographical Society. He was also one of the original founders of the old Victorian Academy of

Art.

In 1895 Mr. Panton was created a Com panion of the Order of St Michael and St George, and it the same time, although it is not gciicralla known, he was also offered a knighthood an honour which he declined for personal reasons.  

In 1869 he married Eleanor daughter of Colonel John Fulton, of the Bengal Native lnfantry. His wife predeceased him. He has left two daughters, Mrs Crossman and Miss Panton.  

Mr. Panton's commanding figure will be   missed in many circles in Melbourne, and his individuality is one which no community could afford to lose. His demeanour was characterised by an old world courtliness, and, although during the closing years of his life he suffered from blindness, his mental faculties remained unimpaired to the

end.

Hie funeral will leave the late residence of the deceased at a quarter to 4 o'clock to-

day for the St Kilda Cemetery

___-____-_______

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