Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Smith McPhillamy (1825–1887)

by Theo Barker

This article was published:

John Smith McPhillamy (1825-1887), grazier, was born on 15 September 1825 at Windsor, New South Wales, the fourth son of William McPhillamy and Mary Scott, who were both sentenced to transportation for seven years at the Ayr Court of Justiciary on 27 April 1816. Mary arrived at Sydney in February 1817 in the Lord Melville and William in March in the Sir William Bensley. McPhillamy became overseer for Robert Smith at Bathurst and died in 1838. Mary later married Smith whose home station was Mount Tamar. He acquired other runs before he died on 15 December 1851. Childless he left his estate to the McPhillamy children.

John worked for his stepfather as a station manager. On 5 March 1849 at Mount Tamar he married Maria Sophia, née Dargin. They lived at Bellevue until he inherited Mount Tamar and moved there. With prosperity McPhillamy devoted himself to grazing and to civic affairs. He leased part of Mount Tamar to tenant farmers and in times of adversity he not only reduced their rents but also advanced provisions, thereby winning repute for generosity. He helped to found the Agricultural Association at Bathurst and won prizes for his fine-woolled rams at the first show in 1860. Interested in politics he supported Thomas Mort for election to the Legislative Assembly in 1856. Another candidate, W. H. Suttor, carried the hostilities aroused by the election into the public life of Bathurst and virtually wrecked the Agricultural Association. In June 1859 McPhillamy won the West Macquarie seat but resigned on 6 December.

McPhillamy slowly withdrew to concentrate on his pastoral activities which continued to prosper. By 1871 he held eight runs in the Wellington District. At Mount Tamar he built a private race-course where the Bathurst Picnic Race Club held its first meeting in 1882. He died at Mount Tamar on 18 July 1887 and after a large funeral procession was buried in the Presbyterian section of the Bathurst cemetery although he had been baptized an Anglican. He was survived by four sons and three daughters. He left an estate valued for probate at over £80,000.

Select Bibliography

  • 100 Bathurst Shows (Bathurst, 1968)
  • Town and Country Journal, 20 Aug 1887
  • McPhillamy papers (McIntosh, McPhillamy & Co., Bathurst)
  • Parish records (St Matthew's Church, Windsor)
  • Bathurst Historical Society Archives
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Theo Barker, 'McPhillamy, John Smith (1825–1887)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


15 September, 1825
Windsor, New South Wales, Australia


18 July, 1887 (aged 61)
Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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