[Editor: This obituary, regarding William Frazer (1831-1870), was published in The Ballarat Star (Ballarat, Vic.), 14 December 1870.]
Mr William Frazer, M.L.A.,
One of the members for Creswick, died at his house at Lyndhurst, near Melbourne, on Tuesday, after an illness of several days, during which time he had worn away from a condition of corpulency to that of an attenuated invalid.
Even as member for Creswick the late Mr Frazer may be said to have been connected with Ballarat, but previously, his relations with this city were more direct. He was a miner here at the time of the Eureka Stockade, but was then a young man of about 23 or 24 years of age, and at that time he had not got into the arena of public life.
Soon after the Stockade affair, however, he began to take an open part in local matters of general interest. The first we hear of him in this way was during Mr J. B. Humffray’s first canvassing for Ballarat East, in which Mr Frazer assisted him with some vigor.
Vigor, in fact, was always a strong element in the deceased. When he put his hand to the plough he generally pressed hard home. Having considerable shrewdness, as well as force of character, without the embarrassment of too much fastidiousness of feeling, he generally asserted himself wherever he was with a heavy and sometimes incisive persistence that made him an opponent whom an adverse party could not afford to despise. He was ready in speech, and not without a considerable share of rough humor, so that these gifts, coupled with his resolution and power of work, made the deceased a man of mark in a certain limited sense.
Unhappily he was intemperate in speech sometimes, as he was also in habits, and thus his natural faculty for doing the State service was shorn of its power for good, and he who might have been an ornament to the Parliament, of which for ten years he was a member, failed to make a position.
With all this, however, he was a zealous worker for the local interests he represented, albeit his services that way partook occasionally of the not very lofty nature of “log rolling.” But whatever may be said in this respect, it was always known also that the deceased was at all times ready to serve his constituents, whether rich or poor, each receiving at his hands equal treatment.
Before Mr Frazer entered Parliament he had been elected to the Ballarat Local Court, and he was also returned to the first Ballarat Mining Board. In both court and board he worked energetically, showing in those offices, as afterwards in Parliament, not only a jovial bantering criticising power, but also some constructive ability. In the mining bylaws he left his mark, and as the chief worker in the Mining Partnerships Act which bears his name, he belongs to the statute history of the colony.
In August, 1869, he adventured upon the open sea of politics. At that time he and Mr Gillies contested Ballarat West in opposition to Messrs Bailey and Serjeant, and the battle went against him, but he was soon after returned for Creswick, for which electorate he sat ever after, and was still a member when he died.
In spite of his occasional escapades, his popular virtues and personal influence kept him firmly in his seat, and his last visit to this district was a few months ago when his constituents of Middle Creek, near Clunes, presented him with a purse of two hundred sovereigns. This was not the first recognition of that kind at the hands of the Creswick electors, and while many persons have called out for his relegation to private life, there still remained in his electorate a party of supporters so strong that it is probable, had he lived to encounter the coming general election, he would have again been returned to his old seat in the Assembly.
The deceased was a native of Edinburgh, and in the High School, Edinburgh, he received the plain commercial education which he so well knew how to use. His father, a wealthy dairyman, is still living. Mr William Frazer served his time to a baker in Edinburgh, and thence went to London, where he worked in the same business, and his intellectual powers procured for him the position of chairman to a bakers’ organisation. He afterwards went to Glasgow, and acted as journeyman to Mr Forester, baker, Gordon street.
He left Glasgow for Melbourne in the Aberfoyle in 1852, and from Melbourne proceeded to Ballarat. While at Ballarat he resided with Mr M‘Lean, of the Emu hotel, for a number of years, and there is now in Mr M’Lean’s possession a trunk containing a number of Mr Frazer’s MSS. and letters.
We have referred to Mr Frazer’s plain but serviceable commercial education. In Ballarat Mr Frazer did his best to add to his stock of information, and it may be concluded that his strong intellect aided him in the task.
About eight years ago he married Miss Sutherland, of Heidelberg, near Melbourne, and he leaves a widow and four or five children. Mr Frazer’s father-in-law (understood to be a wealthy man) died at Bloomfield House, near Heidelberg, aged 67 years, on the day previous to his son-in-law’s death. Mr Frazer’s sisters were all well educated, and at one time, if not now, conducting boarding-schools at Birmingham and Manchester.
We do not know what pecuniary circumstances the widow and family of Mr Frazer are left in, but it is said that the deceased was not rich, having lately suffered severe losses. Some years ago he took up a farm of 120 acres in the Bungaree district, and that he still held at the time of his death.
The funeral will take place at four o’clock this afternoon.
The Ballarat Star (Ballarat, Vic.), 14 December 1870, p. 2
Also published in:
The Bendigo Advertiser (Sandhurst, Vic.), 15 December 1870, p. 3
A death notice for William Frazer was published in The Herald (Melbourne, Vic.), 13 December 1870, p. 2:
FRAZER. — On the 13th inst., at his late residence, Lyndhurst, Brunswick, William Frazer, Esq., M.P., aged thirty-nine years.
Assembly = the Legislative Assembly, the lower house of parliament in the various colonies and states of Australia
attenuate = to make something weaker or to reduce something in amount, degree, effect, force, size, or value; to make something thinner (especially long and thin); to make something weaker
corpulency = the state of being corpulent (fat, obese, portly; bulky, large, stout)
Esq. = esquire (a formal but unofficial title of respect, usually abbreviated as “Esq.” and placed after a man’s surname); a squire (a landed proprietor); a member of the English gentry who ranks below a knight
Gillies = Duncan Gillies (1834-1903), a miner, and Victorian politician; Premier of Victoria (1886-1890); he was born in Overnewton (near Glasgow, Scotland) in 1834, came to Australia in 1852, and died in Melbourne in 1903
See: 1) Margot Beever “Gillies, Duncan (1834–1903)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Duncan Gillies”, Wikipedia
inst. = instant; in this month; a shortened form of the Latin phrase “instante mense”, meaning “this month”; pertaining to, or occurring in, the current month
J. B. Humffray = John Basson Humffray (1824-1891), gold-miner, politician; he was born in Newtown (Montgomeryshire, Wales), came to Australia in 1853, and died in Ballarat in 1891
See: 1) Diane Langmore, “Humffray, John Basson (1824–1891)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “John Basson Humffray”, Wikipedia
journeyman = someone who has finished an apprenticeship in a trade, and who works for a master tradesman (rather than having his own business); a craftsman who has the basic skills in a trade, but who is not especially skilled or talented; an adequate or competent workman
member = (in the context of parliament or parliamentarians) Member of Parliament
M.L.A. = (abbreviation) Member of the Legislative Assembly
M.P. = (abbreviation) Member of Parliament
MSS. = (abbreviation) manuscripts
sovereign = a gold sovereign coin, equivalent to £1 (one pound)
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