Royal Reels: Gambling


The Queensland postcard has a printed ‘ONE PENNY’ QV stamp of Queensland which is cancelled by an unframed MACKAY/ A/ NO 15/ 92/ QUEENSLAND. It was addressed to E.S. Rawson Esqr, The Hollow, Near Mackay (Figure 1).

The reverse has a printed message: Mackay, 12th November, 1892. Dear Sir, The presentation to Mr. W. Robertson, to which you are a subscriber, will take place on Monday, 21st November, at Diehm’s Hotel, at 8 p.m. Trusting to see you on that occasion. Yours sincerely, Neil McArthur. There was an illegible ms. added (Figure 2).

Edmund Stansfield Rawson was born in Yorkshire on 24 April 1845 and died in London on 4 August 1911. A letter was received by Mr. Wm. Robertson from Mr. Charles C. Rawson, announcing the death of his brother, Edmund Stansfield Rawson, which occurred in London after nine or twelve months’ illness. The name of the Rawson brothers is closely associated with the early history of Mackay right back in fact to the first days when settlement was taking place. It was sometime in the late sixties when the two brothers Edmund and Charles sold out their interests in Tenningering station on the Burnett, and coming to Mackay took up “The Hollow” station, Mirani.

While conducting this property as a cattle station, they opened a butchery at “The Hermitage” opposite the hospital. Mr. J.C. Binney was their manager, and he assisted by the brothers erected the Hermitage building with the steep roof on the property opposite the Hospital. In 1872 and ’73 Edmund Rawson conducted the butchery in partnership with the late Robert Martin of Mandarana, and in 1874 Mr. Martin’s interest in the partnership was taken up by Mr. Frances Meynell.

His brother Charles having left to reside in England, Edmund Rawson subsequently engaged in commercial pursuits in Mackay, in partnership with Mr. Stewart, as general commission and shipping agents. It was while conducting this business (1883) that he built the wharf and store on the site of the eastern end of the present Adelaide wharf, which was known right into the nineties as “Rawson’s wharf.” During his residence in Mackay, the he was largely interested in the management and success of public institutions. In 1882 and part of 1883 he filled the office of Mayor of Mackay, a position he subsequently resigned.

Some time in 1893 an effort was made to form the Hollow property into a limited liability company, for the purpose of subdividing and selling or letting the lands for sugar growing, the intention being to have a sugar mill in some central part of the estate but owing to adverse legislation in connection with the recruiting of Polynesian labour for the plantations and the bank crisis at that time, the effort failed. A picture of The Hollow is seen in Figure 3.

Shortly afterwards (1894) Edmund Rawson joined his brother in England, and entered into partnership with a Mr. Clayton, commenced business in Cockspur Street, as general agents. He remained in London ever since. Edmund Rawson leaves a wife and three daughters. Both the Rawson brothers were married to sisters, the misses Harrison, the daughters of an English clergyman. Edmund Rawson was an undergraduate of Cambridge University, and a man of singularly refined and artistic instincts, endowed with a most lovable disposition, and with considerable literary and artistic abilities. Indeed the contributions from his pen on local topics in years gone by, especially on humorous subjects, were always looked forward to and keenly appreciated, by not only his circle of intimates, but also the community generally.

Edmund Rawson was 66 years at death, and although such a span of years has elapsed since he left Mackay, quite a number of residents still remembered his sterling abilities, for within half an hour of the news being received in town, the flags at the principle business houses and the Town Hall were fluttering at half-mast, a last tribute to one who had led an honourable career, and had helped to shape the destinies of this town and district. A picture of Edmund is seen in Figure 4.

This paper was extracted from a website of the Mayors of Mackay.

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