Death of Mr. William Mingis French

The Tumut Advocate and Farmers & Settlers' Adviser

19 July 1910

A Tumut Pioneer of The Fifties.

On Monday, 11th inst., at 7 p.m., after an illness of short duration (in which he had been attended by Drs Mason and Browne), there passed away to join the vast majority one of our oldest pioneers, at the ripe old age of 77 years, the cause of death being senile decay.

The son of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel French, he embarked with his parents from his native heath, Scotland, in 1840, for Sydney, and thence migrated to Brungle, when he was 7 years of age.

His father  secured the position of principal shepherd for Mr. De Salis, who then occupied a very large ranch on Brungle, and the subject of our obituary there learned his first object lesson in the pastoral life of the then wild country on the south-eastern slopes.

His mother died at Brungle, and later his father married the widow of Mr. Samuel Piper.

In his youthful prime, when the Ovens diggings was the Eldorado of the day, our lost one, went over to try his luck, and, being successful, returned to Tumut and married Miss Emma Haydon, daughter of Mr. J Haydon (one of our first wheelwrights), and sister to Mrs James Carr, a well-known and respected old identity.

He then turned his attention to farming an portion 65, of 45 acres, ph of Mondongo, co Buccleuch, then owned by Mr. Thomas Piper sr. and now Mr. F Davis's.

After working this for a time with good results, he took advantage of the Robertson Land Act and selected a holding and turned his attention to gold mining and copper seeking in and around there and at Eurongilly. T

his lasted for some time, and later he came to Bombowlee Creek and purchased Portion 80, of 20 acres, Parish of Killimecat (previously taken up by a man named Donnelly, a ferruminator of the early days).

He there started in the blacksmith, gunsmith and wbeelwrighting line; but eventually a fire occurred and he was burnt out.

He then repaired to his selection at Brungle Creek, and worked for some time at the McAlpine Copper Mine in about 1878, and gold mining at Bondo and other places, finally anchoring at his son's (French Bros) extensive property at Brungle, where he in his old days retired in seclusion, and this was where he died peacefully.

He was a quiet, peaceable, irreproachable old citizen, a good conversationalist and one who could recount with absorbing interest the trials, tribulations and adversities our first settlers had to encounter when the "dusky denizens of the bush roamed the forest wild," speared cattle, held periodical corroborees, and kept the settler in a perpetual state of terrorism.

His family consisted of three sons, viz: Messrs William, Robert (Brungle) and Henry (Cootamundra), and four daughters, viz: Mrs. Joseph Hibbens, Mrs. William Lowther, Mrs. Kebblewhite and Mrs. McDonald.

His wife predeceased him some years ago, and his children surviving are left to mourn the loss of a fond and affectionate father.

His remains were interred on Tuesday last in the Church of England portion of the Tumut old cemetery.

The cortege was a long one, consisting of 34 vehicles and numerous horsemen, the occupiers showing a last tribute of respect to the departed.

Mr. Jas Elphick was the undertaker, and Revs W D Kennedy and R E Davies officiated at the grave.

We tender the bereaved ones our deepest condolence.

Life's but a pathway to the tomb,

Death is the portal wide,

Through which fair Eden's sweet perfume

Is wafted o'er the tide.