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DEATH OF MR. WILLIAM
(Br CABLE FROM Otra CORRESPONDIS!.)
LONDON, OCT. 28.
Mr. William Westgarth, lato of tlu firm of Messrs. Wm. Westgarth and Co., colonial agents and brokers, London, died suddenly to day, aged 74 years.
THE CAREER OF MR. WESTGARTH.
Another of the few remaining links which connect us with " the old colonial days" has passed away. Our cable message conveys the news, which will be received with pro- found regret by a large number of colonists throughout Australasia, that Mr William Westgarth, the head of the London bouse of Mesara, Wm Westgarth and Co, Australian agents and brokers, and who waa amongst us only a lew months ago, has been cut off by death at the age of 74 yeara After bil return to London from his Australasian trip at the end of last year, Mr Westgarth had an attack of pleurisy, and waa led by the state of bis health to retire from business. Later informa'ion seemed to indicate that he had to some extent recovered, and the mes- sage from London is therefore to that extent right in 8aying that the end was Budden.
The late Mr. Westgarth's connection with Victoria as a colonist belonged to an era the very recollection of which is now rapidly passing away, but though almost a third of a century has elapsed since he became a resi- dent in the world's metropolis, he retained to the last an intercourse and a business relationship with the colonies and with colonists of such an intimate nature as to justify Ins being claimed as an Australian from first to last In financial circles his position haa been unique, and his whole career baB been one of great netMff, aflat, upon the whole, of eqnal prosperity The eldest surviving son of the late Mr John Westgarth, of Edinburgh, one of the Sur- veyors General of Cuatoms for the United Kingdom, be waa born m that city on the 15th June, 1815 Ho carne of on old family of the Weatgarths, of Unthank-one of the smaller landed properties of the county Durham, Bituated near Stanhope in Wear- dale-where his great grand uncle, "Justice Westgarth," a local magnate of his time, is still a remembered name. Ho was edu- cated at the High schools of Leith and Edinburgh, and at Dr Bruce s Academy, Newcastle on Tyne, an institution which has been fertile in boya who have naen to high positions in the world, including Robert Stephenson, Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell, and Sir Charlea M Palmer, M P , parent of the great steam collier interest At an early age Mr Westgarth entered the oflice of MesBra. George Young and Co, of Leith, who bad been for some time in the Australian trade, and where, irom the glowing accounts of the colonies which passed through hia hands from time to time, he at last formed the design of emigrating to the new settle- ment of Port Phillip, which was at that time invested with a halo of undefined romance in the eyes of many enterprising young1 men in the old country, alike by the wonderful stones of its early prosperity and still more by the effects of the publication of Sir Thomas Mitchell's exploration of "Australia Felix," a name which, in surprise and admiration at the beauty of the scenery and the fertility of the soil, be beatowed npon the large central area of that Port Phillip district which is now»
the colon» of Victoria.
Mr. Westgarth sailed from Leith on July 11, 1840, a young man of 25, and after a voyage of 141 days reached Port Phillip on the 13th December following. The near settlement was then in the most primitive stage of its existence. Melbourne had been laid out only three years before, and when Mr Westgarth landed the population of the place waa only between 3,000 and 4,000, and perhaps a fourth of these had been re- cently shot out of immigrant Bhips, and were merely waiting for employ- ment or settlement Tho population of the whole district did not much exceed 9,000 The new comer retained to the end of his days a vivid recollection of his first night ashore, and a record of it is to be lound among his published reminiscences. He had engaged to spend the next day, which was a Sunday, with a joung friend at his " country Beat," on Richmond Flat, where he had con- structed, moally with his own hands, "asort of hut or wigwam, under an unchallenged aqnat tage." The friend was engaged in a store foe long hours on Saturday night, and it was
past 11 o'clock before the two started from town for the walk across coantry. The ram had been pouring all night, and it was pitch dark. They got into Collins street, but had much difficulty in keeping ita lines where there were , not posc-and rail fences round tbe vacant
allotments After floundering helplessly about in the foundation cutting of a new house, they nt length emerged upon the open of the preaent Eit/roy gardena, where for a time they could keep to the bush track only by trying the gronnd with their feet or fingers. Finally they lost the road and were unable to regain it, and wandered about for the rest of the night in the pouring rain, to lind themselves when the day broke close to the Yarra, be- tween Hawthorn and Studley park. Three years afterwarda Mr Westgarth was a spec- tator at a grand corrobboree of natives within a mile to the north of the pre- aent General Post olhce, in which 700 aborigines ot all ages and both sexes took part These incidents are sufiicieut to in- dicate the atuge of development at which Mr. Westgarth found the infant city. He was un- fortunate in the precise time of his arrival, for the settlement was passing through a period of depression, which happily proved to be of short duration Turning his atten- tion to mercantile pursuits, Mr. Westgarth entered into business as a merchant and general importer, and m 1815 ho was joined by Mr Alfred Ross, and the firm of Messrs, Westgarth, Rosa, and Spowers waa ultimately established in premises of modest préten- tions in Market street. Prom the outset Mr. Westgarth threw himself with great hearti- ness into every movement which had lor ita object the advancement of the settlement, and he became quickly recognised aa one of the leading spirits of the place Fvery half > ear for some years up to 19 Id, he issued a printed re- port, commercial, statistical, and general, on the district of Port Phillip, with the view not so much ot pecuniary prout aa of disseminating information relntins to the settlement When the merchants of Melbourne founded the Chamber of Com- merce in 1851, he waa chosen as ita first president, and waa re elected for the follow- ing j ear For l8 monthB ho was a member of the National Board of J^ducation, and assisted m founding the Melbourne Mechanics' Institute, from which the pre- sent Athen tura ia descended. Upon the establishment of the Bank of Victoria he was appointed deputy chairman, and he pro- moted the formation of the first Melbourne Gas Compauy.
The inlluence of Mr. Westgarth was not conlined, however, to purely local affairs. In the struggles made by the colonists against the importation ot British felonry through the medium of Van Dicmcn'a Land he took a prominent part He was one of the founders of the Australasian Anti T ranaportation League, and a subscriber of 100 guineas to its funds, and ha acted as lion secretory to the Mel- bourne branch of the organisation. In 1850 Mr. Westgarth entered public life us the representative of Melbourne in the Legisla- ture of New South WnleB The Legislative Council Bat at Sydney, and Mr, Westgarth was there again in 1851, represent- ing Melbourne in the "separation" session, when the Port Phillip province was erected into the separate colony of Victoria. In the agitation winch led to this aeparation be took a very active part, and when the desired consummation was brought abont, and Victorian affairs were placed under the control of a Legislative Council, partly elec- tive and partly nominee, he contented to offer hlmielf as a candidate for the repre- sentation of the city of Melbourne. The number ot nat« was three, and ibera wen
«even candidates. Mr. Westgarth headed the poll, and he had es his colleagues the late Sir John (then Mr.) O'shanassy, and Mr. J. S. Johnston. The last-named gentleman ia still with ns, but the only other members of that first Victorian Legislature who sur- vive are Mr, William Campbell and Sir Francis Murphy, though the clerk of the House, Mr. John Barker, has continued to occupy his accustomed place during the whole of the intervening period.
' Mr. Westgarth held his seat for the first two sessions, during which be waa generally ¡wajognlsed as the leader of the popular party "a the Legislature. In July, 1852, he obtained tile appointment of a lelect committee to inquire into the subject of prison discipline, and the management and employment of
prisoners. In the same month he carried a protest-in the shape of a BerieB of resolutions-against the transportation of convicts to Victoria or any other of the Aus- tralian colonies. In the month of September following, he submitted to and carried »brough the Legislature his once famous bill " to prevent the introduction into Vic- toria of convicted felona und other persons sentenced Uo transportation for offences »gainst the law"-a measure better known as the Convicts' Influx Prevention Bill. In Sep- tember, 1852, he moved that a proportion of the grant in aid of public worship should be given to the Jews-a proposition which was lost by one vote only. During the same session, lie secured the passage of the Mount Alexander and Mnrray River Railway Bill and the Hobson'a Bay Railway Bill, and also obtained the adoption of a resolution in favour of the assimilation of the colonial tarilla, and of opening negotia- tions with the other Australian colonies on the subject It may be added that it waa at his suggestion-a suggestion made in order that the question of the constitution might he duly and properly considered-that the lint ¡ncrcnao in the number of members of the Legislative Council was made.
The discovery of gold in 1851 and the jpening np of the Ballarat gold-field brought about changes which were as surprising to the Melbourne merchants as they were to the world at large. Mr. Westgarth visited Ballarat a fortnight after the discovery, and as senior member for Melbourne in the first Parliament and first president of the Chamber of Commerce, was regarded as a person of great distinction. He addressed the diggers from a tree stump, and endeavoured to persuade them to adopt a more economical method of nsing the stream that ran through the valley, lind was then conducted to a small "claim," and picked nut about 7s. Od, worth of gold from a handful of dirt In May, 1853, Mr. Westgarth resigned hiaaeatandleftthecolony on a visit to England. This was his second trip to the mother country, the first having been made in 1343. Having married while in England, he returned again to Victoria in October, 1854, when be found the colony con- vulsed by the conflicts between the authorities and the diggera, which cul- minated in the outbreak at Ballarat, and i the exciting events of the Eureka Stockade. A commission of inquiry waa just being formed by the Governor-the late Sir Charles Hotham - and Mr. Westgarth accepted His Excellency's invitation to become one of ita members. The commission included an interesting gathering of eurly aa well as prominent colonists - Fawkner, O'shanassy, J. F. Strachan, and John Hods eon. Mr. Westgarth wai chosen chairman, and the extraordinary diplomatic tact which had to be exercised in arbitrating between the aggrieved miners and the authorities was amply evidenced in the successful seulement of the difficulty which was so quickly and so permanently effected by the commission. The commission recommended, but failed to secure, a general amnesty to the rebels, who were afterwards tried but acquitted.
Business matters called Mr. Westgarth again to England in 1857, and be resolved to settle permanently in London, founding soon afterwards the firm of Messrs. Wm. West- garth and Co., colonial ageuts and brokers, and for the last 30 years a recoznlted authority in all matters of Austra- lian finance. The field o! business, that of the Australian and New Zealand securities, which to-day ¡a BO widely developed, was just budding at the time oi Mr. Weilgarth'a return to London, and lils intimate knowledge of colonial affairs and rare Bagacity in large financial transactions enabled bim in the course of a few years to make it entirely his own. He became the centre of the syndicates of «peculators who have cbieliy controlled Australian loans, and his clients placed implicit confidence in his judgment. In the year 1805-to show the remarkable growth ot this business during the past 20 years-there were only about £13,000,000 of Australasian stocks in all, of which ten were Governmental and two municipal. The business circulars of Wm. Westgarth and Co. now deal with 145 millions of colonial Government stocks and 10 million! of municipal and kindred stock. Mr. West garth's attention was early called to certain serious defects In the form and mode of issue of the colonial loans, which seriously affected both the issue price obtained for them and their subsequent standing In the market. The loans were of course In comparatively small amount« at first, and there was nn almost general habit on the part of the colonies of issuing each successive loan as different as possible in all particulars from ita predecessors. Thus came an intermin- able variety of small Btocka, which, owing to their smallness, had but little negotia- bility, and in tbls divided way were at times so small as to be refused Stock Ex- change quotation. The cotony of New Zealand was a great offender in this reapect, hut its special disadvantages became at lut so obvious that New Zealand was the first to move for the principle of " consolidation." Twenty years ago when Mr. (now Sir William ) Fitzherbert wont to England to attain this pur- pose, and took Mr. Westgarth and the Crown agents into his councils, a five per cent con- solidation was successfully and advanta- geously accomplished. Besides this advantage of consolidation, he was the first to explain the further great advantage ol a registration or inscription system for the loans, which was at length adoptod, at the instance chiefly of Sir Saul Samuel for New South Wales, and Sir Julius Vogel for New Zea-
Having taken a prominent part in originat- ing the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce, and proved Its usefulness, Mr. Westgarth turned his thoughts towards establishing a like institution in London, where he waa much struck with the absence of such an institution. Repeated attempts had previously been made to form such a chamber, hut each bad been attended by failure. For many years Mr. Westgarth waa equally unsuccessful till the mayoralty in 1880-81 of IIÍB old friend, the late Alderman Sir William M'Arthur, gave him the opportunity he had desired. The Mayor warmly took up the cause, summoning Mr, Samuel Mor- ley to his nid, au well na hta brother, Mr. A. M'Arlbur, M.P. Tho result waa that after much trouble the chum her wa* successfully launched In July, 1881, and It has continued to Increase In strength and usefulness. Before this timo Mr. Westgarth had attended as one of the representatives of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce the Tariff Contre« which was held In London at the instance of Canada, with the object-which, however, was not much advanced-of binding the empire to nether in more intimate trade relations.
The opening of the Melbourne Centennial Exhibition last year induced Mr. Weet nartli to visit once more the scene of his early career. The hearty reception which he met with throughout the whole of Aus- tralia will be fresh in the minda of our renders. Accompanied by his wife mid one of hiaduughters hu vlaited Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland, and in each colony he was asked to accept the honour of n free railway puss. It waa 31 yenra nineo he had left the colonice, und the changr-a which he saw on every hand Ulled him with gratification. He took the oppor- tunity of urging upon the colonial Govern- ments the wisdom of issuing their loans at the rate of 3 per cent, instead of at largcpremiums, und he delivered an nddress on that and other matters before the Bankers'Institute at Melbourne, He was also entertained at a banquet by the Melbourne Chamber of Com
tuerce, and the value of his work in connection with the colonies wai highly eulogised Upon the voyage out from England Mr Westgarth utilised his leisure time in writing an interesting volume of reminiscences, under the titio of Pciaonil Recollcc tiona of Larlg If ti'oui ii' and Victoria, to which be added beiore publication a few comment« upon the aspect of the colonies in 1(388. He also published a volume entitled A Half Cenlmy of Auitialian Progias But these were by no means Mr Westgarth s first attempts at authorship As early as 1848 lie published a History of Vic ona, in which much valuable information l8 preserved, and m 1853 and 1857respectively he wrote works of an historical nature, dealing with the growth of Victoria and the chief incidents in its early history The first of theae booka wis en titled Kicfoiin, or Australia ielix, Icing an Historical and Denoriptue Account of the Colony and its hold Mines, and the other, Victoria and Us Gold Mme» In addi
tion t* numerous pamphlets on financial queationB Mr Westgarth contributed to the Enci/cloi <alia Britannica the articles on " The Goldfields of Australia, ' "Melbourne,' "Sydney," and '"lusmania," nnd he was the writer of the article on "Australia' in C/iambeiss Lnci/ctopodia It will surprise man) of his old friends to leam that be even entered the field of fiction, though m a modest way Irom time to time lie gave birth to short tales and novelettes, and for some reason, known only to himself, tie Belected the immersion ¿¿aminci ( Tasmania) ns the outlet for his creations lor many years his contributions bave boen regularly published in that journal under a no\n de plume
In pmate life Mr Westgarth was of a quiet though genial disposition, methodical to n degree in his habite, and unostentatious in his mode of living It has been already stated that he retired from the London buai nesg a short time ago, and the work of the firm is now being corned on by the former junior partner, Mr W Devon Aatle Mr Westgarth leaves a wife and three daughters, two of whom are married, one to Dr Voclcker, analytical chemist to the Koyal Agricultural Socletj, and the other to Mr W G L Spowers, one of the proprietors of 'J he Argus ________________