Victorian Marriage Record 1856—2816.
|Guided early Hargraves expedition for gold.|
Nephew Jim Tom reminisces:
Uncle James and I only met at intervals, as upon the sale of Lachlan stations, he bought a property in Victoria and lived there until his death. He was considered by his father and brothers to be the best business man of the family and did all the financial part of their affairs. He married a Scotch lady, Marion McGaw.
John Rule [in
Cradle of a Nation] says:
James was 27 years of age, six feet tall and of robust build. His pleasant facial features belied the rough outdoor existence he endured as a stockman. James had an inbuilt sense of direction that would shame any compass or homing pigeon; a considerable asset in his line of work.
There passed away from our midst on the 7th instant, in his 77th year, an old and respected resident of the Romsey district, in the person of Mr. James Tom—one of that band of early pioneers to whose courage and indomitable industry the present prosperity and progressiveness of the colonies is largely due.
Mr. Tom was born in Cornwall in 1822. In 1823 his father and mother, together with their family, sailed for Sydney in a 300-ton brig, which was dismasted and nearly lost off St. Paul’s Island. However, they managed to gain Hobart, going round afterwards to Sydney in another vessel. They reached Sydney in December, 1823, and early in 1824 crossed the Blue Mountains for the Bathurst district. James Tom was educated at Parramatta. After leaving school he worked with his father, who had engaged in farming pursuits. Subsequently he took up a large tract of country on the Lachlan, where he remained until 1858, when he sold his station known as
Cowl Cowl, and came to Victoria. In 1859 he bought the place at Chinton on which he resided continuously up to the time ot his death, with the exception of a few years spent in Melbourne. Mr. Tom married in 1856, and leaves a widow and two sons and fo[u]r daughters to mourn his loss. Australia has progressed rapidly from the wild trackless country of the beginning of the century to the Australia of today, dotted with cities and traversed by roads and railways. The discovery of gold and the growth of that great industry was the accelerating cause of the quick transition. In 1851 took place that momentous discovery in Australian history which infused a new vigour and prosperity into a then already languishing country. On the 11th February, 1851, Edward Hargreaves, who had been mining in California and had returned to New South Wales, visited Bathurst, where he stayed at a hotel kept by a Mr. Lister, On the next day young Lister, who had previously been prospecting for gold, took Hargreaves to a spot on the Ophir Creek, and there they obtained a little gold. Then shortly afterwards James Tom, who had also been prospecting in the district, joined Hargreaves and Lister. The party set out on a ten days’ expedition, and obtained the color of gold. Nothing daunted, in the early part of March, 1841, James and his brothers William and Henry started from their home near Orange about sundown, taking with them one horse and provisions for three days, a pick, a spade, and a cradle for washing gold, which had been constructed under the direction of Mr Hargreaves, who instructed the Toms how to use it. They travelled till midnight, when they arrived at a point near Lewis Ponds Creek, about a mile above its junction with the Ophir. There they camped till morning, In the morning they commenced to wash for gold. Henry dug the earth, James carried it to the cradle, and William washed it. They continued this work until some time in the afternoon, when they collected the gold in the cradle, hid the cradle in a mountain, and started for home. Arrived at home the gold was weighed, and found to contain a little over 16 grains, A few weeks later, Messrs. J, and W. Tom, and J. H. Lister found the famous 4oz. of gold. These discoveries, in which Mr. Tom had taken such a prominent part, initiated the first of the gold rushes in Australia. Creeks and valleys over which had previously brooded a silence funereal, broken only by the strange sounds of the bush, now reverberated with the busy hum of life and the eager haste of feverish gold seekers. James Tom was a horseman of dauntless daring and courage—an intreped and accurate bushman, who travelled over a great portion of Australia. Alone or accompanied by a native blackfellow he traversed the wild weird plains of the
back blocks braving exposure and dangers from bushrangers and blacks. By the fireside many are the stories be told of dangers braved and journeys done. His journeyings now are finished—his wanderings have ceased, At the summit of a graceful hill ’midst the fields he loved so well he lies. There let us leave him. May his rest be unbroken. A kindly, generous heart has ceased to beat. A tie is broken that bound the present to the old days past I and gone.
A good man has gone where all must go.