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Joseph Bernard Reymond (1834–1918)

by M. B. Reymond and N. Reymond

This article was published:

Joseph Bernard Reymond (1834-1918), miller and politician, was born on 3 May 1834 in the village of Chabaud, near Orcières, France, son of Etienne Bernard Reymond, farmer, and his wife Elizabeth Charrière, née Rond. After graduating bachelor of letters, in 1854 he became a professor at the College of Gap and taught English. In 1856 he met Augustus Nicolas, recently returned from the Californian and Victorian goldfields with stories of new lands and gold that made Reymond dissatisfied. In October 1856 he took a year's leave and with Nicolas went to Paris and London; in the Swiftsure they reached Melbourne early in March 1857. They had brought some general goods and made a half-hearted attempt to rent a shop, but the lure of the goldfields was too strong.

In 1857-62 they prospected at Emu Flat, Ararat, Great Western, Pleasant Creek (Stawell), Ballarat and at Chiltern where Reymond met Margaret Kerr and married her at Wahgunyah on 13 August 1861. When the Lachlan gold rush started they sold their payable claim and in June 1862 went to Forbes where they built a substantial sawmill and set up in partnership as sawmillers and general merchants. Soon the population fell from some 30,000 to about 500 and they made machines to cut shingles and felloes for markets in Orange and Bathurst. About 1865, with the rediscovery of gold at Forbes, they successfully grew hay and vegetables.

In 1866 Reymond took up a 320-acre (130 ha) selection on the Lachlan River near Forbes, which he named Champsaur. He moved his family there and in 1866-70 worked it of an evening after spending the day at the sawmill. Experiments in wheat-growing in 1866 decided Reymond and Nicolas to build a flour-mill as the nearest was eighty miles away at Orange; it was completed in 1873 and Reymond installed the first reticulated water system in Forbes. Trade became slack again, so they turned to building bridges, gaols and police barracks and worked as farmers, sawyers, engineers, contractors, millers, book-keepers, engine drivers, fruit-growers and vignerons. By 1875 they had established a second flour-mill and sawmill at Condobolin later taken over by Nicolas.

Reymond established a vineyard and a very large orchard at Champsaur. In 1886 he built a substantial wooden cellar and began the commercial production of wine that has continued to the present day. In its heyday the vineyard produced between 60,000 and 80,000 gallons (272,765 and 363,687 litres) a year. In 1895 Reymond wrote an article in Agricultural Gazette of New South Wales (July-December) on phylloxera. In 1875-84 he was an alderman of the Forbes Municipal Council and was mayor in 1883-84; he had many trees planted in the town and initiated the laying out of the botanical gardens. He was largely responsible for the town's first water supply when a weir across the Lachlan River was built for £117 in 1884. In June 1901 his partnership with Nicolas was dissolved; he carried on alone until J. B. Reymond and Sons Pty Ltd was incorporated in September 1909.

In 1895-1904 Reymond represented Ashburnham in the Legislative Assembly as an independent and was the only Frenchman elected to the New South Wales parliament. In 1900 he led a deputation to Sydney that resulted in the building of Forbes Hospital of which he was one of the three original trustees. He died on 20 September 1918 at his home, The Olives, South Forbes, and was buried in the Catholic cemetery. He was survived by four daughters and three sons. His second son, Ralph Etienne Bernard, became a solicitor in 1900, was mayor of Forbes in 1904-05 and 1906-07 and served on many local organizations.

Select Bibliography

  • Forbes Municipal Council Centenary, 1870-1970: Souvenir Booklet (Forbes, 1970)
  • Country Promotion League, ‘Forbes, N.S.W.’, Immigration and Land Settlement, no 8 (Syd, 1922)
  • Forbes Times, 7 Aug 1875, 9 Mar 1901
  • Sydney Mail, 16 Jan 1897
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 23 Sept 1918
  • Illustrated History of Forbes, 1915 (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Nicolas and Reymond papers, 1866-1893 (State Library of New South Wales)
  • J. B. Reymond diaries, 1893-1915 (State Library of New South Wales)
  • letters, letter-books and papers (held by authors).

Citation details

M. B. Reymond and N. Reymond, 'Reymond, Joseph Bernard (1834–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 24 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


3 May, 1834
Chabaud, Orcières district, France


20 September, 1918 (aged 84)
Forbes, New South Wales, Australia

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