Name: John George Gough
Given Name: John George
Birth: 5 Nov 1848 in Melbourne, Port Phillip District
Christening: 31 Jan 1849 St James C of E, Melbourne, Port Phillip District
Death: 15 Nov 1907 in Craigie, NSW
Burial: Delegate, NSW
'John George junior's life following his father's death was described as follows in the NSW Town and Country of 2 March 1889: 'The lad determined to find employment; and as a new rush, known as the 'ten mile' broke shortly afterward, he obtained his first employment there. A year later he decided to try his luck as a miner, and began work on the old 'Three Mile', known so well in the Young district. This occupation he followed with varying success for a period of twelve years. He was one of the first to try his luck at Grenfell and other gold rushes.
Change Date: 4 Jan 2012 at 15:04:21
Five years later (i.e. about 1869), finding gold-mining a precarious occupation, he abandoned it and turned his attention to the building trade, first as a journeyman and for years later as a contractor on his own account.
This proved highly remunerative, and Mr Gough has pursued it with the greatest success in Young and its neighbourhood. Among the large contracts carried out by him may be mentioned: the new courthouse Young (costing £13,000); railway station buildings Young (£14,000); Cowra railway station and water supply (£7,000), and new courthouse, Corowa (£10,000) Two years ago he took a partner into the building trade (a Mr Holworthy). They erected a large steam saw-mill and joinery works near the goods sheds, Young, and also run a brick factory. Mr Gough has always taken an active part in local politics, having been a member of the various progress committees of Young before it was incorporated.
He was also one of the prime movers in obtaining the incorporation of the borough, and was elected as one of the first aldermen. Mr Gough was one of the first to introduce steam power for sluicing purposes into the Young district... Mr Gough came forward at the late general election at the express request of the working classes, with which he has been hitherto so largely identified: and as such and as a protectionist he defeated Mr Gordon, the popular free trade candidate.'
The 'Sydney Morning Herald' reported the opening of the new courthouse at Young on 7 April 1886, noting that the contract for the construction had been taken by Mr J.G. Gough, 'a local tradesman'. 'Mr Murray, of the Colonial Architect's Department, supervised the contract'.
The Corowa courthouse which Gough built was one of the main scenes of the federation deliberations in the 1890s. John George Gough was later reported by the 'Burrangong Argus' also to have built the courthouse at Cooma. John Gough married Martha Ann Clift in 1869 who bore him eleven children between 1870 and 1892.
John Gough is also described in a book by Charles Robinson, More Precious than Gold: A History of Methodism: 'A very prominent and able member of the Primitive Methodist Church at Young was J.G. Gough, whose name appears as a prayer leader and lay preacher. A Victorian by birth, he came to Young where he proved himself to be a man of great ability. In 1866 he erected Young's first substantial court house, and the following year established the Burrangong Steam Sluicing Company, which was situated near the old Moppity Road bridge, on the western side of the current railway line. He also built a Methodist Church at Grenfell and was an alderman at Young from 1886 to 1889.'
John Gough was MLA for Young for the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth NSW parliaments, between 1 February 1889 and 3 July 1894. The NSW governments at this time were the conservative administrations of Henry Parkes and Sir George Dibbs. In 1891 Gough won his seat as a member of the Labour Electoral League, later the Labour Party, when it first made its Australian parliamentary appearance. According to a 'Sydney Morning Herald' report of 23 September 1933 entitled 'Labour Giants', at the first meeting of the Labour Parliamentary Caucus, held in July 1891 under the chairmanship of W.H. Sharp, in Sydney's old Temperance Hall in Pitt Street (since demolished), the party decided to defer appointing a leader 'until the right man should show himself'. It opted instead for a five-member leadership group, consisting of Sharp, John Gough, J.D. Fitzgerald, J.S.T. McGowen and Thomas John Houghton. The article notes that at the first Caucus meeting held thereafter at Parliament House, the Labour Party decided to support the Parkes government as it had 'undertaken to effect several reforms specified in the party's platform'.
The same article noted that only five of the original Parliamentary Labour Party members survived. The article stated: 'With few exceptions, the first Labour Party represented the natural leaders of the movement. The maritime strike of 1890 brought to the forefront a sturdy band of Labour pioneers' including such old-time stalwarts as John George Gough' (among others).
The 'Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General River Advertiser' reported on 21 February 1889 that he was 'a protectionist... in favour of payment of members, local electoral reform, a reduction in the number of members, the division of the colony into single constituencies, an elective Upper House, Chinese restriction, water conservation, irrigation, the establishment of a National Bank, amendments to the land, mining and mineral laws, but opposed to assisted immigration'. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 26 January 1889 that he was also opposed to an income tax.
The 'Sydney Morning Herald' reported on 16 June 1891 a mass meeting, attended by about 600, organised by Mr J.M. Toomey, Shearers' Union, and other labour representatives, at Young, Mr J.G. Gough 'who said he held advanced socialist views, appealed only to labour for success at the election, and said the reason he was dspised was because his hands were labour-stained. He did not want the vote of the blue blood of the disrict, or the draw-the-line mobs, preferring to secure election from his own class'.
In a letter to the 'Sydney Morning Herald' on 1 June 1892 on unemployment, he said the state has a duty not to let its subjects starve and suggested that unemployed rather than being a burden to charity, as they currently were, be set to work clearing crown land for farming and then other forms of work such as construction and blacksmithing in newly-settled areas. Against the possible objection that some of the unemployed might know nothing of this sort of work, he said 'if they are not afraid of hard work, they would soon learn'.
He was a strong proponent of protectionist and Australian nationalist and republican views. But he seems to have fallen out with the Labour Party. According to his obituary in the Grenfell Record (23 Nov 1907), he declined to sign the party's pledge in the 1894 election - i.e. to accept caucus decisions - 'for conscientious reasons', 'even though he favoured nearly every plank in their platform'. He was defeated in the election by John Christian Watson, later to become Australia's first Labor Prime Minister.
John Gough married Martha Ann Clift at Grenfell in 1869. She was the daughter of free settlers who had emigrated from Suffolk in 1853 and settled in the Young district in the early 1860s. Martha's father Joshua was a farmer and, like John Gough, was a Methodist preacher in the Young district. Martha bore John eleven children between 1870 and 1892.
Descendants recall that children at the school taunted the Gough children after their father lost his seat in Parliament with 'Goughs, Goughs, fallen toffs'.
During his time as an MLA he constructed a grand residential villa, Mildon Hall, which overlooked Young and his courthouse. The house's name was probably a reference to Mildenhall, Suffolk, where John's wife Martha Clift was born. She bought the land in 1892, and the villa seems to have been constructed around November 1893. The property was sold in April 1906 to Eliza Nesbit, wife of Hugh John Nesbit, a local fruiterer. The building was again sold in 1920, and became the core of a Roman Catholic nursing home, today known as Mount St Joseph's Nursing Home. The house has been substantially and unsympathetically altered.
According to his obituary in the Burrangong Argus of 20 November 1907, after his parliamentary career, he 'retired from our community and returned to his old love by again attaching himself to mining pursuits. Just after Wyalong rush broke out, he became associated with a large cyanide plant on that field, and from that day until his death was associated with mining ventures, seeking reward at Yalgogrin, Cooma, Yambulla and other places, the dredging plant at Craigie being one of his last investments.'
Indeed he appears to have moved around extensively in his final years. According to the Australian Heritage Places Inventory, in the early 1890s he bought the Cullinga gold mining operation near Wallendbeen in Cootamundra shire. His name then appears as the occupier of land adjacent to the Little Bog River at Quinburra near Craigie on a 1902 map. On the 1903 electoral roll, described as a mining manager, he appears with his wife and daughter Effie at Yambulla, another remote area straddling the NSW-Victorian border between Bombala and Eden. In 1906, he appears on the electoral roll at the equally remote Cowra Creek, north-east of Cooma.
He died on 15 November 1907, according to newspaper reports at his residence 'Quinburra', Craigie NSW. According to his obituary, on 5 November (his 59th birthday) '...whilst engaged at the dredging plant at Craigie, near Bombala - of which he was part-owner and manager - (he) was struck by the nozzle of one of the pipes connected with the dredge. He was taken home, and though for some time he suffered a great deal of pain, his suffering gradually eased. No fears were entertained of any fatal result, but on Friday night Death came with an awful suddenness'.
Directories from the time indicate that there were two houses in the Craigie area called 'Quinburra'. One survives - but not the house in which John Gough lived. There are ruins on John Gough's former land which is now owned by John Reed.
Also in Craigie around the same time was a John Bruce, who married Mary-Ann Roberts in 1871 in Eden. According to monaropioneers.com, John Bruce was born in NSW in 1846, the son of Edward G. Bruce and Catherine Sullivan. This Edward Bruce was the son of William Bruce, an early NSW settler unrelated to John Crawford Bruce, John George Gough's maternal grandfather.
John Gough was buried in the Methodist section at Delegate cemetery, where his headstone survives.
Adding that he was respectfully known as 'Jack' Gough to his many friends, the Burrangong Argus obituary commented on his enthusiasm for public matters, his militancy, strong determination, courageous opinions, and skills as a platform speaker, including a 'fine ringing voice' and 'command of emphatic language which he expressed fluently'. Obituaries were also carried in the Young Chronicle and the Grenfell Record.
He did not leave a will, as a result of which the Court made the following administration: '6 May 1908 By Act of Court Letters of Administration of the Estate of the said deceased were granted to Walter Livingston Gough of Craigie Engineer, a son of the said deceased. Bond in amount of £850. Sureties John Campbell of Glenmere Mila near Bombala Grazier and William Nicholson Stone of Bombala Merchant. Intestate died at Craigie 15 November 1907. Estate sworn at £655 11/2d nett.'
A reminiscence written about John George Gough by the Burrangong Argus on the occasion of the death of his widow in 1927 recalled that he was known for his jovial disposition, and was rarely seen without a cigar. It mentioned that relatives still in Young included Mrs C.J. Symons and Mrs H. Sivell (they were related to his wife). Martha Ann Gough had lived before her death at Kensington in Sydney, near her sister-in-law Martha Litchfield.
Father: John George Gough b: 1807 in Littleton, Wiltshire c: 26 Mar 1807 in West Lavington, Wiltshire
Mother: Sarah Jane Bruce b: ABT 1825 in Sydney, NSW
Martha Ann Clift b: 1847 in Mildenhall, Suffolk
7 Oct 1869
in Grenfell, NSW
- Albert John Gough b: 1870 in Homeward Bound Mine, Grenfell, NSW
- Martha Emily Gough b: 1872 in Grenfell, NSW
- Arthur George Gough b: 1874 in Grenfell, NSW
- Effie Maude Gough b: 1876 in Young, NSW
- Herbert (Hubert) Oswald Gough b: 1879 in Young, NSW
- Lillie Constance Gough b: 1881 in Young, NSW
- Oscar Augustus Gough b: 1881 in Young, NSW
- Walter Livingston Gough b: 1883 in Young, NSW
- Ruth Gough b: 1886 in Young, NSW
- Sybil Gough b: 1890 in Young, NSW
- Bruce Australia Gough b: 1892 in Young, NSW