Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Mayne, Patrick (1824–1865)

by Bernadette Turner

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

This is a shared entry with Mary Mayne

Patrick Mayne (1824-1865), by unknown photographer, 1859

Patrick Mayne (1824-1865), by unknown photographer, 1859

Brisbane City Council Library, BCC-B54-A118B

Patrick Mayne (c.1824-1865), butcher, businessman and alderman, and Mary Mayne (1826?-1889), businesswoman, were husband and wife. Born at Cookstown, County Tyrone, Ireland, son of Isaac Mayne and his wife Rose, née Mullen, Patrick came to New South Wales in the Percy in 1841. By 1846 he was at Moreton Bay, working as a butcher at the boiling down works, Kangaroo Point. On 9 April 1849 in Brisbane he married with Catholic rites Mary McIntosh. A Protestant, Mary had been born possibly on 16 August 1826 at Kilkishen, near Ennis, County Clare, Ireland, daughter of William McIntosh, soldier, and his wife Mary, née Nash; she had migrated to Sydney in the Champion in February 1842. Patrick and Mary had six children.

Mayne purchased the goodwill of a butchery in Queen Street, Brisbane, in September 1849, built a substantial enterprise, based on his shop and on rental properties including hotels, shops and houses, and speculated in land. He went surety for numerous publicans and engaged in money lending. To finance his expansion he borrowed heavily and in September 1860 consolidated his loans through a mortgage to the Bank of New South Wales for £3300. A leading Catholic businessman, he contributed to the building of St Stephen's Cathedral. Although he reportedly had little formal schooling, Patrick appreciated the value of education, as did Mary. Three of their children went to Catholic schools, but Patrick also supported the state system and in 1859 contributed £100 to the building of the National School.

In October that year Mayne was elected to the first municipal council in Brisbane. He was an alderman and a member of the finance committee for each year, except 1862, until his death, and of the incorporation committee in 1863. In February 1861 he declined to accept nomination as mayor, perhaps influenced by the anti-Irish and class prejudices that had followed his appointment in February 1860 to the Board of National Education. A moderate, Mayne was concerned with practical matters such as water, sewerage, the levelling of streets and setting rates. He opposed jobbery and endeavoured to ensure that council rates were paid and appropriately spent.

Mayne could be provoked to violence and at times clashed with the law. In 1852 he had intervened when a police constable used excessive force in taking a drunk to the watch house and in June 1855 he was fined for contempt of court when, following the trial of John and Anne Clune for assaulting William Collard, he asked Collard if he had got his blood money. John Cameron, a contemporary, acknowledged that Mayne's manners could be rough, but described him as a kindly man who privately assisted those in need.

Long-standing rumours about Patrick, the mental illness of one of his children (Isaac) and perhaps another (Rosey), and other matters were collected by Rosamond Siemon in The Mayne Inheritance (Brisbane, 1997). This claimed that at the Bush Inn at Kangaroo Point on 26 March 1848 Patrick had murdered Robert Cox, a sawyer and ex-convict, robbing him of some £350, and that it was this money that had allowed Mayne to establish himself in business in September 1849. The book alleged that he framed William Fyfe—who was tried, convicted and executed for the crime. It also asserted that Mayne suffered from a hereditary form of insanity and that some days before his death he confessed to the murder to his priest. Such claims, however, are open to challenge.

Mayne died on 17 August 1865 in Queen Street, Brisbane. His funeral was the largest to that date in the city. His wife, three sons and two daughters survived him. Mary took over the butcher shop, paid rent to his estate and traded in her own name. An executor of the Mayne estate, she managed its business interests and lent it money to ensure that, despite the commercial downturn, it remained solvent without the need to sell core assets. Although Patrick had appointed trustees, Mary largely controlled the management of the estate. She did not hesitate to use the law to protect her interests and, late in 1869, following a dispute over her meat contract, initiated a claim against the government that was finally settled out of court in February 1870. Her own sharp business practices resulted in others seeking redress from the law.

From November 1865 Mary began buying land in her own name and in March 1878 paid £2450 for Moorlands to become the family home. She had closed the butchery in 1871, but maintained other business interests, including the management of the estate's valuable city and suburban land. Mary Mayne died of coronary heart disease on 4 September 1889 at Toowong, leaving an estate valued at £15,810. Just before her death she had converted to Catholicism. She was buried in the family tomb in Toowong cemetery. Both Patrick and Mary were commemorated in stained-glass windows in St Stephen's Cathedral, Brisbane.

None of the children married. The last surviving siblings Dr James O'Neil Mayne (1861-1939) and his sister Mary Emelia (1858-1940) financed the purchase in 1926-29 of the site for the University of Queensland, at St Lucia, donated rural land at Mogill for the university, and upon their deaths willed the income from their estates to its medical school.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Greenwood and J. Laverty, Brisbane 1859-1959 (Brisb, 1959)
  • B. E. Turner, ‘The Burden of Proof’, Proceedings of the University of Queensland Historical Research Group, no 13, 2002, p 29
  • B. E. Turner, ‘Was Isaac Mayne an Insane Murderer?’, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, vol 18, no 8, Nov 2003, p 337
  • B. E. Turner, ‘Mary Mayne’, University of Queensland Historical Proceedings, no 14, 2003, pp 105 & 117
  • B. E. Turner, ‘Patrick Mayne’s Butcher Shops’, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, vol 18, no 10, Apr 2004, p 432
  • Queensland Review, vol 11, no 1, 2004
  • Moreton Bay Courier, 1 Apr 1848, p 2, 8 Mar 1860, p 2, 21 Aug 1865, p 2
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June 1848, p 3
  • Brisbane Courier, 19 Feb 1870, p 4
  • Telegraph (Brisbane), 13 Mar 1895, p 6
  • Colonial Secretary’s Office, register of letters received, 1870, 70/389 (Queensland State Archives)
  • R v William Fyfe, Supreme Crt, Brisbane, 9/6345 and Notebook of Stephen, C.J., Criminal Crt, 5 June 1848, Supreme Crt, New South Wales, CGS 7696 2/7014 (State Records New South Wales).

Citation details

Bernadette Turner, 'Mayne, Patrick (1824–1865)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mayne-patrick-13088/text23677, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 10 December 2016.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2016

Patrick Mayne (1824-1865), by unknown photographer, 1859

Patrick Mayne (1824-1865), by unknown photographer, 1859

Brisbane City Council Library, BCC-B54-A118B