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Fothergill, William (c. 1859–1921)

This entry is from Obituaries Australia

Death has again been busy in our midst, and we have this week to mourn the loss of one of our most popular, best known, and useful townsmen in Mr. William Fothergill. Mr. Fothergill had been in failing health for some time. Bright's disease and asthma being the prevailing complaints, and although his death was not unexpected in the near future, still the blow came with fearful suddenness. Mr Fothergill took a bad turn at about 2 a.m. on Tuesday and Dr. Cook was quickly in attendance, but his time had come and he passed away quietly in his sleep at about 8 a.m. Messrs. Meacham & Leyland conducted the funeral obsequies at 5 p.m.; the pretty blue and silver coffin was covered with M.U.I.O.O.F. emblems of which Society deceased was an old and respected member. Indeed the "Loyal Barcaldine" Lodge members practically took charge of the cortege, the N.G., Bro. R. G. Cowan, and several old members and officers of the Lodge, with representatives of the St. George Society, acting as pall bearers. The Shire Council was represented by the Chairman (Mr. R. A. Parnell), Councillors, ex-Councillors, and the Shire Clerk (Mr. C. H. Fysh). The Royal Society 0f St. George (of which Society Mr. Fothergill was a Past President), was represented by Mr. H. R. Chivers, President, and others. The hospital committee and P. A. & H. Society were both directly and indirectly represented. The attendance of townsfolk and the general public was large. The Rev. P. E. Demuth, Vicar of St. Peter's Church of England, conducted the service at the grave.

Among the wreaths perhaps the most striking was that from the Barcaldine Branch Royal Society of St. George, made by Miss E. Gunn. It represented a shield bordered with national red and white roses, the centre piece being the cross of St. George. Other wreaths and crosses noted were —Loyal Barcaldine Lodge Oddfellows, Shire Council, Mr. and Mrs. J. Arthur (Braeside), R. M. Quinn, Mr. and Mrs. Devery and family, Mr. J. P. Vesper, Mr. and Mrs. E. Lynch (Westbourne), Mr. Alf Johnson. There were wreaths and crosses of natural flowers and foliage sent in anonymously.

The Shire Hall and other flags were flying at half-mast during Tuesday out of respect for the deceased townsman.

Mrs. Fothergill and family have received many messages of condolence and sympathy in their bereavement. The late Mr. Fothergill was born at Gravesend, Hants., England, on 24th May, 1860. His father was a sea-faring man. He came out to Queensland in 1882 and later found his way out west, where he took on station work, eventually developing into a shearer. He was shearing in the Central-West in 1891, and was on the Executive in connection with the great strike. He was known as a man of very moderate views, and although he always had urged conciliatory measures he was unfortunate enough to be embroiled in the Clermont riots and paid the penalty. In 1894 Mr. Fothergill started business in Barcaldine as general storekeeper and baker, and many a camper on the creek in the early days has to thank Mr. Fothergill, who was a true benefactor to them. Later Mr. Fothergill married Miss Clare Lyons, who was laundress at the hospital, and settled down in a comfortable home adjoining the store. The issue of the marriage was a son (William) and daughter (Clare). Mr. Fothergill was an ardent horticulturist, and before his complaints took too firm a hold of him his garden and bushhouse were the admiration of everyone. No roses were ever grown like those of the deceased ten to twenty years ago.

Mr. Fothergill soon entered into the business life of the town and worked hard for its advancement. He was one of the first male members on the Victoria Hospital committee when the Cottage hospital was handed over by the ladies committee in 1897, and became the nucleus of the splendid institution of to-day. Mr. Fothergill was identified with the hospital up to the time of his death, and every week he supplied buns gratis for the benefit of staff and patients. In the early day Progress Associations and Chambers of Commerce Mr. Fothergill took a lively interest. Mr. Fothergill was very prominent in the Methodist Church May chrysanthemum shows of some years ago, and did a great deal in fostering a friendly emulation among growers of this pretty flower. Old Mrs. Peut used to always beat such well-known amateurs as C. H. Fysh. J. Butler, and C. J. James. When the Barcaldine P. A. & H. Society was formed 7½ years ago Mr. Fothergill was a great enthusiast, especially in the horticultural and household sections. He had been Vice-President and President, and acting judge in various sections, taking Mr. R. Simmons' place as judge of the fruit, flowers and vegetables, when that gentleman could not spare the time to attend. Mr. Fothergill was a member of the Shire Council for ten years, having succeeded Mr. H. H. C. Peut in 1911. He acted as Deputy Chairman from October, 1917, to January 1918, and in November and December 1918. He was Chairman from February 1919 to 1920. He did not seek re-election to the new Council in July 1921, owing to ill-health. During his term on the Council Mr. Fothergill was most conscientious in all the work that he undertook, and in debate was very solid in argument, especially if he thought he was in the right.

Mr. Fothergill was a foundation member of the Barcaldine Branch of Royal Society of St. George, over 21 years ago, and was one of the earliest Presidents. He was responsible for several notable functions held in connection with the Society. Mr. Fothergill was number 22 on on the membership roll of Barcaldine Lodge of Oddfellows, having been initiated on the 7th December, 1898. He had filled several positions in the lodge, including that of auditor. Reference was made to Mr. Fothergill's death at meetings of the Shire Council and Barcaldine P.A. & H. Society ; it was recognised that a useful and energetic townsman had "crossed the Great Divide" and that his place will be hard to fill.

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'Fothergill, William (c. 1859–1921)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://labouraustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/fothergill-william-32319/text40037, accessed 14 August 2022.

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