Old Tom Boyd

North Australian, Darwin

7 August 1885

Old Tom Boyd," of whom a portrait appear's on the first page of the Bulletin, died the other day at Tumut, wretchedly poor.

He was the first white man who crossed the Murray with Hume and Hovell's expedition, in 1824, of which he was the last survivor.

He was a native of Dublin, and was once a prosperous grazier, but through unavoidable misfortunes, lost everything.

Some time ago, he received a gratuity of 50 from the N.S.W. Government, but he never got the amount promised by the Victorian Minister at the Albury railway opening celebration, in June, 1883.

His last hours were passed in a miserable bark hut, under the care of his married daughter; his funeral expenses were paid by a kind-hearted Tumut friend.

The poor fellow was an honourable man, and a good specimen of the old Australian pioneer.

He had resided at Gilmore for the last 57 years, and at the time of his death was in his 88th year.

His appearance at the Albury railway festival was thus described at the time in these columns;

"At this juncture of the palaver old Thomas Boyd, the only survivor of the Hume and Hovell party who crossed the Murray in 1824, appeared on the scene.

Now for about thirty years, Old Tom, in a brown hat and sore eyes, had been roaming the country in poverty; but, at the banquet, Sir John Hay referred to him as ' my old friend Tom Boyd.' This was honour for the old man.

But what he had been kept alive for all this time was now to come. His reward now being unpacked - with care, this side up.

Tom was introduced to Lord Augustus Loftus, Governor of New South Wales, and the Governor actually gave him his hand!! Tom's surprise, when he found nothing in it, can be better imagined than described. T

his was the overwhelming honour reserved for Tom Boyd. They didn't even ask Tom to take a drink.

By the way, here are two little unauthenticated narratives about Tom and the banqueters that haven't yet got into print.

Old Tom, when he first went into the banquet hall, was put away in section two, among some upstart chronic guzzlers.

The waiters guyed him, and kept asking him: 'What did he do with the old woman?' Would he sell his coat ' 'What did he want there with his gravy eyes' 'S'pose yer came through the boards, eh, Noah? or through the skylights.'

Tom couldn't understand them 'Latin dishes;' and, as no one could explain, he cleared; and when the universal voice went up for 'Tom Boyd,' the said Thomas was found half a mile away, discussing a circus-posters, on a street hoarding.

The other anecdote consists of two statements. 'Tis said that, on Tom going up to the Governor, a subscription was started for him, and 2 15s. 9d. scooped in the space of half an hour.

Handing the money to him, the while looking suspiciously around, Lord Augustus whispered 'Here's two-fifteen nine. If you'll take my advice, you'll quietly slip out; if you don't, they'll probably borrow it back."

The other statement, which is probably the correct one, is that Tom offered a subscription himself, putting a crown in his old hat to start the affair, and then when the hat came back it was empty.

S. Bulletin.