1884: St Mary’s Anglican Church, Sunbury, Victoria.

In the west wall above the entrance to St Mary’s Anglican Church in Sunbury, is a two light stained glass window erected to the memory of politician and 9th Premier of Victoria, James Goodall Francis. The windows depict the Old Testament characters Moses and St James Major and has the memorial text at the base:

“TO THE GLORY OF GOD AND IN MEMORY OF JAMES GOODALL FRANCIS DIED 1884”

The Church of England Messenger and Ecclesiastical Gazette for the Diocese of Melbourne and Ballarat, Vic, Thursday 5th February 1885, page 3.

“THE pretty little church of St. Mary’s, Sunbury, has recently been enriched by a memorial window, and a brass eagle, to the memory of the late Hon. J. G. Francis. The window is the gift of the parishioners, and is the work of Messrs. Ferguson and Urie, and has been pronounced by competent judges to be a most creditable specimen of the stainer’s art. It is composed of two lights, each containing three-quarter figures of Moses and St. James Major. Mr. Francis’ Christian name suggested the latter, and that of Moses is obviously significant of the upright and fearless politician. The lectern is from the celebrated firm of Jones and Willis, and is of solid brass. The modelling of the eagle is extremely natural. The pedestal bears the inscription – “To the glory of God, and in memory of James Goodall Francis, who died 23rd January, 1884. Presented to St. Mary’s Church by his widow.” It is simple and handsome, and has been greatly admired by the many visitors to Sunbury during the Christmas season. A correspondent writes to us- “our departed friend is missed more and more. His ready counsel, his large heart, and open purse made him both useful and popular. He was always accessible to “all sorts and conditions of men.” He was most regular in his attendance at divine service. He gave the local clergyman a generous and unfailing support. In the parish and in the vestry he was to the fore in every good work.

            …take him for all in all,

            (We) shall not look upon his like again.”

Photos taken 6th February 2011.

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James Goodall Francis (1835-1884)

James Goodall Francis was born in London in 1819 and emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) at age 15 circa 1835. He became a partner in a Campbell Town store and later joined the mercantile firm of Boys & Pointer in Hobart which he later brought and continued in partnership with Duncan Macpherson.

In 1847 he suffered an extensive head injury at the hands of a burglar named Peter Kenny[1] who was convicted and hung[2] for the offence in the same year. The injury caused Francis to suffer intermittently for the rest of his life. Three years after the hanging of Kenny it was found that he was wrongly convicted and executed after another man had confessed to the crime on his death bed[3].

In 1853 Francis moved to Melbourne and in 1855 was elected a director of the Bank of New South Wales. In 1856 he was elected as vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce and president in 1857. He also maintained financial interests in the Australian Sugar Company and Tasmanian Insurance Company.

In 1859 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly and continued an extensive political and business career. On three occasions he was considered for a Knighthood but consistently declined the honour[4].

His private interests as a vintner allowed him to establish a vineyard at Sunbury in 1863 where he no doubt became close friends with Sir William Clarke of “Rupertswood”.

In 1872 he was elected the 9th Premier of Victoria and held that position until 1874 when ill health, attributed to his assault in 1847, forced his retirement[5].

James Goodall Francis died at his home “Warringa” at Queenscliff on the 25th of January 1884 aged 65[6] and was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Mary Grant (nee Ogilvie 1824-1887)[7] and fifteen children and he left a sizeable estate valued at over £178,000[8].

His significant pink granite memorial at the Melbourne General reads:

“Sacred to the Memory of James Goodall Francis born 9th January 1819, died 25th January 1884.
Also his wife, Mary Grant Francis born 6th June 1824, died 18th May 1887.
What doth the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God? Micah 6:8″

The memorial stained glass window was erected in the liturgical west wall above the entrance to St Mary’s Anglican Church at Sunbury. The same church also has another Ferguson & Urie stained glass erected as the principal east window behind the chancel to the memory of Sir William Clarke’s daughter Agnes Petrea Josephine Clarke who died as an infant in early 1879.

Colonial Times, Hobart, TAS, Friday 5th March 1847, page 3.

“Peter Kenny was capitally charged with a burglary in the house of Mr. James Goodall Francis, on the night of the 11th Feb., and with cutting and wounding Mr. Francis on the left side of the head…”

Launceston Examiner, TAS, Wednesday 24th March 1847, page 4.

HOBART TOWN.- Peter Kenny, convicted of the burglary and desperate attempt at murder in the house of Mr. James Goodall Francis, in this city, and William Bennett, convicted of Murdering a fellow prisoner at Port Arthur, have suffered the extreme penalty of the law…”

The Cornwall Chronicle, Launceston, TAS, Monday 26th June 1876, page 2.

“… We well recollect one poor fellow of the name of Peter Kenny, who was hung in 1847, on the evidence of the now Hon. J. G. Francis, of Melbourne, as the man who had committed a burglary in his house and assaulted him. Yet, some three years afterwards, a man very like the poor Peter died in the hospital, and before his death, confessed that he was the man who committed the burglary for which Peter Kenny was hung…”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 26th January 1884, page 1.

“FRANCIS.- On the 25th inst., at Warringa, Queenscliff, James Goodall Francis, aged 65.”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Saturday 26th January 1884, page 5.

“DEATH OF MR J. G. FRANCIS

It is our painful duty to announce the death of the Hon. J. G. Francis, M.L.A., which occurred yesterday at Queenscliff, at half past 6 o’clock p.m. The event was not unexpected. Mr. Francis had been gradually failing for weeks, if not months past. He had a very trying illness in March and April. His physical sufferings passed away with the surgical operations he had then to undergo, but his system, which had been strained more than once by illness, received a shock which deprived him of much of his former mental power, and nearly all his physical activity. His wife and family were henceforth always with him, and their presence could rarely be dispensed with. About six weeks ago, by the advice of Mr. Fitzgerald, one of his regular medical attendants, Mr. Francis removed from East Melbourne to Queenscliff. His case, before then, was known by Mr. Fitzgerald to be hopeless, but it was not considered necessary to acquaint the family with the fact. On Wednesday, Mr Fitzgerald was summoned to Queenscliff. He found Mr. Francis paralysed all down the left side, and insensible, Mr. Fitzgerald, before returning to town on Thursday, told Mrs. Francis that all would be over in a few hours, but his patient lingered until the third day. The news of Mr. Francis’s death reached Melbourne between 7 and 8 o’clock yesterday evening. Its immediate cause was the paralytic seizure and disease of the vessels of the brain, as well as nervous prostration from previous overwork. Mr Francis suffered for years from abscesses and other internal complaints. These ailments were cured each time they appeared, but their tendency was to leave the nervous system weaker than before. Arrangements have been made for conveying the body of the deceased gentleman to Melbourne by special train this evening. It is the wish of the family that the funeral, the time for which has not been fixed, should be strictly private…”

The Argus, Melbourne, Vic, Monday 28th January 1884, page 5.

“The remains of the late Mr. James Goodall Francis were brought from Queenscliff to Melbourne by special train on Saturday evening, and afterwards conveyed to Albert-street, East Melbourne, where the deceased for many years resided. Yesterday afternoon the funeral took place, and, in accordance with the wishes of the family, it was made as private as possible. Had a public ceremony been consented to, the remains of the late statesman would have been followed to the grave by thousands of his fellow citizens. It was, no doubt, more agreeable to the family and the mourning friends of the deceased that there should be an absence of display and popular feeling. Although no public notice was given, a considerable number of gentlemen attended the funeral, and Albert-street, in the neighbourhood of the house, was crowded with spectators. A body of mounted and foot police, under the command of Inspector Pewtreas, took charge of the approaches to the house and regulated the street traffic. They were sent by the authorities more as a mark of respect to the memory of Mr. Francis – a former Premier of Victoria – than for the purpose of preserving order, which was maintained almost without their help. The procession left Albert-street at about half-past 3 o’clock, and its line of march was along Victoria-street and Madeline-street to the cemetery gates. It was about a quarter of a mile in Length, and consisted mainly of private carriages. The burial service at the grave was conducted by the Rev. H. H. P. Handfield, of St. Peter’s Church, East Melbourne, assisted by the Rev. T. H. Goodwin, the cemetery chaplain. His Honour Mr. Justice Higinbotham; Sir William J. Clarke, M.L.C.; the Hon. James Stewart Johnston; the Hon Walter Madden, M.L.A.; the Hon David Moore, Mr. Herbert J. Henty, Mr. William H. Miller, of the Bank of Victoria, and Dr. Shields, were the gentlemen requested to act as pall-bearers. Amongst others present were the Hon. Duncan Gillies, Minister of Railways; the Hon. Alfred Deakin, Minister of Public Works; the Hon. Charles Young’ Sir Charles MacMahon, a former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly; the Hon. H. J. Wrixon; Mr. Zox, M.L.A; Mr. F. T. Derham, M.L.A.; Mr. Charles Smith, mayor of Melbourne and M.L.A. for Richmond (the first constituency represented by Mr. Francis in the Legislative Assembly); Mr. E. G. Fitzgibbon, town clerk; Dr. Youl, Mr. Alfred Wyatt, P.M.; Councillor Wilks, Mr. James England, and Mr. J. G. Burtt. The Premier, Mr. Service, who left for Sorrento on Friday, could not attend, but sent his carriage, which was occupied by Mr. Thomas, secretary to the Premier. Mr. Berry, the Chief Secretary, was also absent from town, having gone to Geelong, and Mr. Kerferd, the Attorney-General, was not sufficiently well to be present. The Bank of New South Wales, of which Mr. Francis was a director, and the Victorian Sugar Company, with which he was long connected, were both represented in the group of gentlemen who collected round the grave while the service for the dead was read. The body, enclosed in an oak coffin, covered with wreaths of flowers, was deposited in the family vault.

When the funeral procession, following the remains of the late Mr. J. G. Francis, entered the general Cemetery yesterday, the paths were overrun by a miscellaneous crowd of persons – chiefly boys and girls – whose curiosity to see what was about to be done caused pain and annoyance to gentlemen who, in mournful silence, were endeavouring to pay due respect to the memory of the dead. The line of march was broken at almost every step by the thoughtless intruders, who thrust themselves into front places, or pressed in from the edge of the path. On the hearse being stopped it was surrounded, and the staff of attendants provided by Mr. Daley, who conducted the funeral arrangements, were hampered by the uninvited crowd, whilst the pall-bearers would with difficulty get to their places. There was further crowding round the grave. What rendered the intrusion of strangers the more conspicuous was the fact most of the girls were dressed in glaring colours, in vexing contrast with the black costumes of the mourners. If the board of trustees who have the management of the cemetery, or some other body, could provide attendants, when necessary, to make it easy for the public to observe the ordinary rules of decorum, they would earn the gratitude of all who have occasion to follow friends or relatives to their last resting-place. The special body of police present yesterday had quite enough to do to control the traffic at the gates. Within the grounds there appeared to be no means of keeping line along the main walk.”

Related posts:

1880: St Mary’s Anglican Church, Sunbury, Victoria.  (The east triple light window to the memory of Agnes Petrea Josephine Clarke)

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