Thomas Walker (philanthropist)

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Thomas Walker
Thomas Walker hp003333.jpg
Member of the New South Wales Legislative Council
In office
1 June 1843 31 July 1845
Constituency Port Phillip
Personal details
Born3 May 1804
Leith, Scotland
Died2 September 1886
Concord West, New South Wales
Resting place St John's, Ashfield
Nationality British
Spouse(s)Jane Hart m. 1860
Children Dame Eadith Walker
Residence Yaralla Estate

Thomas Walker (3 May 1804 – 2 September 1886) was a New South Wales colonial politician, merchant banker and philanthropist. At the time of his death, he was one of the wealthiest and most influential colonialists in New South Wales.

Colony of New South Wales British colony which later became a state of Australia

The Colony of New South Wales was a colony of the British Empire from 1788 to 1900, when it became a State of the Commonwealth of Australia. At its greatest extent, the colony of New South Wales included the present-day Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, and South Australia, the Northern Territory as well as New Zealand. The first "responsible" self-government of New South Wales was formed on 6 June 1856 with Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson appointed by Governor Sir William Denison as its first Colonial Secretary.

Contents

He was the father of Dame Eadith Walker and founder of Yaralla Estate. The Thomas Walker Hospital was named in his honor.

Eadith Walker

Dame Eadith Campbell Walker, DBE was an Australian heiress and philanthropist.

Yaralla Estate Hospital in New South Wales, Australia

The Yaralla Estate, also known as the Dame Eadith Walker Estate and now home to the Dame Eadith Walker Hospital, is a heritage-listed hospital at The Drive, Concord West, City of Canada Bay in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Unit

Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Unit is a mental health facility specialising in the problems of young people. It is located at Hospital Road, Concord West, New South Wales, Australia. The historic buildings housing the facility are listed on the New South Wales Heritage Register.

Life and career

Thomas Walker was born at Leith, Scotland, in 1804, and came to Sydney as a young man. About the year 1822 he joined the firm of Riley and Walker, [1] general merchants, the senior partner of which was his uncle. Some years later he acquired this business in partnership with a cousin, and carried it on successfully. He was made a magistrate in 1835, in 1837 visited Port Phillip district, and in 1838 published anonymously an account of his experiences under the title, A Month in the Bush of Australia.

Leith district and former municipal burgh in Scotland

Leith is a port to the north of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, at the mouth of the Water of Leith.

In 1843 he was elected one of the representatives of the Electoral district of Port Phillip in the first partially elected New South Wales Legislative Council, [2] and in January 1845 he was one of the six members of the council who signed a petition praying that Port Phillip should be made into a separate colony. Walker, however, gave up taking an active part in politics, though he kept his interest in them and published some pamphlets on the land question. His financial affairs prospered, and he invested widely. His special interest was the Bank of New South Wales, of which he was president for many years before his death. The statement that he was one of the original founders of the bank is not correct, but his uncle was one of the early shareholders. Walker was a conscientious, benevolent man who went about doing good. He took a personal interest in his benefactions, and at one period employed an agent, searching out and relieving cases of distress and yet most of his benevolent activity was impersonal and detached. [3] In 1882, just before taking a trip to Europe, he distributed £10,000 among benevolent institutions.

Electoral district of Port Phillip electorate of the New South Wales Legislative Council

The Electoral district of Port Phillip was an electorate of the New South Wales Legislative Council before it became the separate colony of Victoria (Australia) on 1 July 1851. At the time, some members of the Council were elected and the balance were appointed by the Governor. The Town of Melbourne returned one member while the Port Phillip district, which covered the rest of what became Victoria after its separation in 1851, returned five members.

New South Wales Legislative Council Upper house of the Parliament of New South Wales

The New South Wales Legislative Council, often referred to as the upper house, is one of the two chambers of the parliament of the Australian state of New South Wales. The other is the Legislative Assembly. Both sit at Parliament House in the state capital, Sydney. It is normal for legislation to be first deliberated on and passed by the Legislative Assembly before being considered by the Legislative Council, which acts in the main as a house of review.

Bank of New South Wales former banking company

The Bank of New South Wales (BNSW), also known commonly as The Wales, was the first bank in Australia, being established in Sydney in 1817 and situated on Broadway. During the 19th and early 20th century, the Bank opened branches first throughout Australia and Oceania. It merged with many other financial institutions, finally merging with the Commercial Bank of Australia in 1982 to form the Westpac Banking Corporation.

He married Jane Steel Hart on 25 July 1860, when he was 56 and she was 28 years old. There was one child of the marriage, Eadith. Jane died on 26 January 1870 and was buried at St John's Ashfield. [1]

In 1876 he generously funded a parcel of land in Ashfield to provide a new residence for the Sydney Foundling Hospital [4] l, (Now The Infants' Home Ashfield).

Legacy

Walker died in 1886 in Concord, New South Wales, and was buried in the cemetery at St John's Ashfield, [5] He left a large fortune, and was survived by his daughter Eadith.

Under a codicil in Walker's will, £100,000 was set aside to found the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital in the Sydney suburb of Concord West. The hospital was duly designed by Sir John Sulman in the Federation Free Classical style [6] and built in 1893. In its first 20 years nearly 18,000 convalescent patients, all non-paying, received the benefit of this hospital. In the early 1900s, author Henry Lawson was several times a patient there, treated for his alcoholism.

After the death of Dame Eadith Walker 51 years later, two-thirds of the income from £300,000 of his estate was set aside for the upkeep of this hospital. Another £100,000 was used to found the Dame Eadith Walker Convalescent Hospital, which was established in the family home, the Victorian Italianate mansion Yaralla, on the banks of the Parramatta River. One-third of the income from another sum of £300,000 was set aside for its maintenance. The remaining two-thirds of the income was appropriated for the upkeep of the Thomas Walker Convalescent Hospital and the cottages built by Dame Eadith Walker. She had devoted her life to philanthropy, making the poor and distressed her special concern. She supplemented her father's endowment of his hospital, gave liberally to other hospitals, and worked on many committees.

The Thomas Walker Hospital is now known as Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Unit and specialises in the treatment of young people with problems. Yaralla Estate still survives as the Dame Eadith Walker Hospital. Both hospitals are listed on the Register of the National Estate. [7]

Notes

  1. 1 2 Cooper, Paul F (21 May 2016). "Thomas Walker (1804-1886) Businessman, Banker and Philanthropist". Philanthropists and Philanthropy in Australian Colonial History. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  2. "Mr Thomas Walker (1) (1804-1886)". Former Members of the Parliament of New South Wales . Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  3. Cooper, Paul F (2015). More Valuable than Gold, The Philanthropy of John and Ann Goodlet. The Ponds, NSW: Eider Books. pp. 215–221. ISBN   978-0-9943580-0-4.
  4. "Sydney Foundling Institution". Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907). 4 May 1878. p. 25. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  5. "NEWS OF THE DAY". The Sydney Morning Herald . National Library of Australia. 6 September 1886. p. 7. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  6. A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture, Apperly (Angus and Robertson) 1994, p.104
  7. The Heritage of Australia, Macmillan Company, 1981, p.2/23

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References

New South Wales Legislative Council
New creation Member for Port Phillip
1843–1845
Served alongside: C. Ebden / A. Young, J. Lang,
A. Thomson / T. Mitchell, C. Nicholson
Succeeded by
Maurice O'Connell
Thomas Boyd
(Two vacancies filled)