Death of Edwin Gordon Blackmore 1909

From the Adelaide Advertiser, Tuesday, 23 February 1909.

Electronically Translated Text (typos corrected Apr 6, 2015 by George Ross Heath)


Widespread regret will lie felt all over Australia at the announcement that Mr Edwin Gordon Blackmore, C.M.G., Clerk of the Federal Parliaments, passed away on Saturday at Lansdown, Watta Mundra, New South Wales, at the age of 71 years, Mr. Blackmore had been granted leave of absence from his duties as Clerk of the federal Parliaments, and it was understood that he would retire at the end of the furlough. He was in failing health, and went to his estate at Watta Mundra to recuperate.

Mr. Blackmore was born at Bath, Somerset, England, on September 21, 1837. He was educated at a private school, and by the Rev. J. Richards, M.A., fellow and tutor of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He then proceeded to the King Edward VI. Grammar School at Bath, at that time the principal scholastic institution in the West of England. Prior to his arrival in South Australia Mr. Blackmore was engaged in pastoral pursuits in New Zealand, and served in the Maori war in 1863-4 as a member of the Taranaki Rifle Volunteer Corps, being present at the action of Poutoko, and afterwards at the storming of the pas (Maori forts) of Ahirahu and Kaitake. For these services he received the New Zealand medal. From 1864 to 1869 he was librarian to the South Australian Legislature, after which he became Clerk Assistant in the House of Assembly. On the retirement of Mr. G. W. De la Poer Beresford, in 1886, he was promoted to the position of Clerk of the Assembly. In the following year he succeeded the late Mr. F. S. Singleton as Clerk of the Legislative Council, with the additional title of Clerk of Parliaments. So well did Mr. Blackmore carry out his duties that in 1899 he was granted eight months’ leave of absence on full pay; He was recognised not only in Australasia, but in England, as one of the world’s leading authorities on constitutional law, so that it was not surprising that he should have been chosen to fill the position of Clerk to the Australasian Federal Convention at Adelaide, Sydney, and Melbourne, in 1897-8. and to act in a similar capacity for the Constitutional Committee which drafted the Commonwealth Bill. It was largely owing to the excellent character of the work he did in connection with these bodies that he was appointed Clerk of the Federal Parliaments. Mr. Blackmore always took a keen interest in his duties, and contributed very largely to the complete interpretations of the written and unwritten laws which govern proceedings in Parliament. Among the standard works, which came from his pen arc The Decisions of Mr. Speaker Denison, 1857-1S72;” “The Decisions of Mr. Speaker Brand, 1872-1884;” and “The Decisions of Mr. Speaker Peel, 1884-1890.” He also wrote “The Practice and Procedure of the Legislative Council,” “The Practice and Procedure of the House of Assembly,” and The Law of the Constitution of South Australia.” When Western Australia obtained its constitution and the full privileges of Parliamentary Government, Mr. Blackmore was largely instrumental in drafting the standing orders of both its Houses of Legislature. The value of his treatises on the decisions of English Speakers was recognised by the highest constitutional authorities in England and Australia, as well as by the leading newspapers and journals of both countries. In his new sphere of labor as Clerk of the Federal Parliament, Mr. Blackmore also busied himself in the work of interpreting the laws governing the deliberations of that great body. For many years he was a voluminous writer for “The Advertiser.”

The arduous work done by Mr. Blackmore while he was connected with the South Australian Legislature met with an ample reward on the establishment of Federation. The year 1901 was the most notable in his life. He acted as chief executive officer at the historic ceremony in Centennial Park, Sydney, in honor of the foundation of the Commonwealth; and the press united in complimenting him on the impressive manner in which he read the Queen’s proclamation and the letters patent of the new Commonwealth. The same day he was made a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, and hearty and numerous were the congratulations he received. Again, on October 22 of that year, there was an informal sitting of the Legislative Council of South Australia, the occasion being a presentation to Mr. Blackmore to mark his translation to the Federal sphere. The President (the Hon. J. L. Stirling) asked the recipient to consider the gift as an expression of the goodwill of those who had appreciated his services during the time he had occupied the position of clerk of the Legislative Council. He emphasised the regard which all the Council had for Mr. Blackmore, and expressed the hope that his future might be as successful as had been his past, marked as it was by diligence, earnestness, and good service. The address which was presented to Mr. Blackmore was surrounded by emblematic designs. In remembrance of  his connection with the South Australian Bushmen’s Corps a trooper was depicted; a hunting scene recalled the recipient’s connection with the hounds; a native sketch signified his association with the Poonindie Mission, of which he was a managing trustee; while a view of the old Parliament Building occupied a prominent place. Mr. Blackmore, in acknowledging the gift, said he wished the circumstances of his life had been such that when the highest post in his sphere of labor had been offered to him he could have replied, “I will dwell among mine own people.”  

Mr. Blackmore’s active connection with the Adelaide Hunt Club extended from its inception in 1869 till the time he left Adelaide to take up his appointment in Melbourne as Clerk of the first Federal Parliament. In fact, he was generally regarded as the father of the club. He rode in 1869 under the mastership of Mr. William Blackler, who brought the hounds out from England, and he was represented in the first Hunt Club Steeplechase by a Victorian horse, Launcelot/ (late Dan O’Connell), which was ridden by the Australian poet, Adam Lindsay Gordon, who came over from Victoria to take part in the meeting. Mr. Blackmore was chosen master in 1870. He won several steeplechases, and as owner, master, and secretary at different periods in the club’s history, was one of the most energetic and popular members of that body. Among the horses that are best remembered mav be mentioned Landsdown, Bluefire, Coalfire, Shiloh, and Whitefoot. Mr. Blackmore was a committeeman and trustee of the club for a great many years, and no public body will more deeply mourn his loss than the Adelaide Hunt Club, in which he was so deeply interested.

There was no more enthusiastic rowing man in South Australia than Mr. Blackmore. As a rowing theorist he had few equals in Australia. As a practical oarsman and coach of crews he won numerous successes. He was in constant communication with the leading rowing authorities in England, and thus kept himself thoroughly up to date in all developments in connection with the sport. By his voice and pen he did more than anyone else in the State to maintain the popularity of rowing, and it is a matter of keen regret to all followers of the pastime that he has passed away.

The members of the South Australian Bushmen’s Corps, through the executive committee, presented Mrs. Blackmore with a handsome silver tea set in recognition of her husband’s splendid services in connection with the organisation of the corps. Mr. Blackmore declined to receive the gift himself on the ground that the approbation of the public was sufficient reward for what he had done. The tea set bore the following inscription:- “Presented to Mrs. Edwin Gordon Blackmore by the subscribers to the fund, in recognition of the noble work rendered by her husband, as honorary secretary to the committee formed to raise the South Australian Bushmen’s Corps for service in South Africa. 1900.”

Mr. Blackmore will be remembered with gratitude by many South Australian legislators, from Speakers and Presidents down to ordinary members, for the help he gave them in connection with their Parliamentary duties. He also made many friends in other walks of life, and by all he was very highly esteemed.

Mr. Blackmore married Miss Eleanora Elizabeth Farr, eldest daughter of the late Archdeacon Farr. Mrs. Blackmore died six years ago. The deceased left six sons (Gordon, Lewis, John Coleridge, George, James, and Edwin), and one daughter, Miss Jane Blackmore.


Edwin Gordon Blackmore

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