His Obituary

John TEVELEIN was the first of the family to emigrate to Australia; the year Victoria became Queen and Melbourne was her Prime Minister. It is so sad that it is not until a person dies that people write good things about them. That they do when it is too late means they are missed and were making a valuable contribution to their community.  However, not all is revealed in an obituary. Publication of the obituary brings more of the story to light. And therein lies a lesson for us all.

John Tevelein

John Tevelein Profile

Here are some of the many cuttings written about John after his death that Australian cousins have kindly sent me.

John Tevelein

The Examiner, 6 September 1879 DEATH OF MR JOHN TEVELEIN.

It is our task to record the demise of another of our oldest colonists in the person of Mr John , after a residence in Launceston of 42 years. Mr Tevelein was born at Canterbury, England, in the year 1804, and after he had served his apprenticeship to the saddlery business, he was induced by very glowing representations to emigrate to South Australia in 1837. Arriving in that colony he found that he had been deceived, and that so far from being prosperous, the tradesmen there had great difficulty to keep themselves in the ordinary necessaries of life, and the deceased was wont to recount the many expedients that the residents were put to to supply the want of fresh meat. He was afterwards advised to proceed to Sydney, and left Adelaide with a number of others who were disappointed with the colony, some time in August 1837, in a vessel named Tam o' Shanter, for that colony. The vessel never reached her destination, having been wrecked on the N.E. Coast of Tasmania on the spot now called Tam o'Shanter Bay. All on board were saved, and with others Mr Tevelein came on to Launceston, and decided to try his fortune there. After working as a journeyman for a few years he joined the late Mr Stubbs in the saddlery business in Charlesstreet, and upon his partner's death carried on the concern until 1875, when he retired in favour of his eldest son. Mr Tevelein was confined to bed on 29th ult. From an attack of dyspepsia, and it was generally thought that he was getting better. But yester-day morning, whilst sitting upon his bed, preparatory to getting up to dress himself, he fell back and died. The deceased was associated with the Launceston Benevolent Society almost since its establishment, and took the greatest trouble in seeing that the funds of the charity were pro-perly applied. The work to him was a labour of love, and it will be difficult to find another to occupy the position so worthily. Associated with the late Mr Richard Green as secretary, Mr Tevelein, as superintendent, was connected with the Trinity Church Sunday-school almost from its infancy, and was deservedly esteemed and respected by his co-workers and charges. Another institution that numbered Mr Tevelein as one of its most active members, was the Launceston Workmen's Club, of which he was elected vice-president and at the last annual meeting his untiring zeal and energy in connection with that Society, was made a matter of special allusion in a vote of thanks passed to the officers for the previous year. The Independent Order of Rechabites in this town owed a great deal of its success to the active interest displayed by the deceased, who was one of its oldest and most earnest members. The deceased was a man of the strictest probity, and possessed the good will and respect of all with whom he was asssociated. His is a loss that will be greatly felt, and his place in the community will be difficult to fill. The deceased leaves a widow and twelve grown up children - six sons and a similar number of daughters. (Examiner, 6 September 1879)

THE LATE MR TEVELEIN   To the Editor of the Examiner

SIR, - In reading in your columns of the 6th inst., the account of the deceased gentleman, Mr John Tevelein, I was surprised to see that there was no mention of the family he left in Canterbury, Kent, England. The eldest Lucy Elizabeth; the second, Ann, now my wife, living in Sandhurst, Victoria, and the third, John Tevelein, now in Canterbury, Kent. - By inserting this in your valuable columns you will oblige, yours truly,
ARCHIBALD MCINTYRE
Bull-street, Sandhurst, Victoria, Sandhurst, September 19, 1879

The original cutting in The Tasmanian 13th September 1879 reads:

One more of the worthiest of our citizens has passed away suddenly from amongst us. Mr John Tevelein, a man scarcely ever known to complain of ill health died at his residence, Upper Charles street, while in the act of dressing on Friday the 5th inst aged 75 years. He had been suffering from dyspepsia for about a week previously, but it was believed that he was recovering, and he looked forward cheerfully himself, in the belief that he would be restored to his ordinary state of good health. Two or three years ago he had to undergo a painful operation by which he saved the use of one eye by the sacrifice of the other. On examination at that time the medical men declined to administer chloroform, in consequence of the state of the heart, and disease of the heart was the actual cause of death. Mr John Tevelein was born in Canterbury, in 1804, and served his apprenticeship to the saddlery and harness business there. He was one of the pioneer settlers who arrived in South Australia in 1837, whose sufferings reached near to actual starvation. Wheat was up to twenty shillings per bushel, even here in the granary of the Australias, and the immigrants to South Australia had to live on kangaroo rats, and such other "small deer" as they could capture. Mr Tevelein was provided with a good fowling. piece and ammunition, and being an excellent shot, he returned daily to the camp loaded with all sorts of game. Had he acted on the maxim that the necessity of others should be his opportunity, Mr Tevelein might have carried on a large and profitable trade when all his companions were losing but he divided all his game fairly between the company, only giving to the weakest the best of it. Finding South Australia, at that period, too inhospitable a region, he embarked with others in the schooner Tam o'Shanter for Sydney, but the vessel was driven down on the north-east coast of Tasmania, and the site of her wreck is still named Tam o'Shanter Bay. All hands - crew and passengers - were saved, and Mr Tevelein even then distinguished himself by the cheerful way in which he set about constructing means of sheltering the wretched people from the elements, providing them with food, and and cheering them up until it was ascertained that the settlement of George Town was not many miles off. Mr Tevelein eventually adopted Launceston as his home, and after working some time as a journeyman, saddler, he commenced business in Charles street with the late Mr Stubbs as partner. Unfortunately the health of Mr Stubbs failed, and he was for some years a burden on the firm. When he died, about the year 1851, Mr Tevelein paid his debts and placed his widow in a fair way of rearing her family. Mr Tevelein continued to conduct the business until 1875, when he retired in favour of his sons, John and James. Mr Robert Dowling, the now celebrated artist, having taken a fancy to the saddlery business, was apprenticed to Mr Tevelein for a few years, prior to his leaving for Europe. Though of very unassuming, retiring disposition, and not eloquent as a speaker, Mr Tevelein as a steady, intelligent worker in committee, had no equal. He was Superintendent of Trinity Church Sunday School, from its formation, and he was lay member for Trinity parish in the Diocesan Synod for many years. He was the founder of the Teetotal Society, though a Temperance Society had been formed in Launceston a few years prior to the Teetotal Society. To undertake the establishment of such an association in those days required much more determination and moral courage than would be necessary now. Most of his patrons were either occupiers of hotels or interested in their success, but he per-severed in his work, and without giving offence to any whose friendship was worth retaining. He was one of the oldest members of the Independent Order of Rechabites, having joined in 1841 the St Andrew's Tent, which was divided into two tents, the Star and the Olive Branch. He was deputed to establish tents in Victoria, and it was through his instrumentality that the Juvenile Tent of Rechabites, now numbering 120 members, was formed. He was one of the few members who never received a sick gift, and for many years he paid for his own medical attendance. In 1877 he was presented with an address and a handsome timepiece by the members of his tent, as a mark of esteem and respect. He was secretary and trustee to the old Temperance Society, which held their meetings in the Temperance Hall. Mr Tevelein was perhaps, after all, best known as secretary to the Launceston Benevolent Society, to the formation of which he gave valuable aid, acting for many years as secretary gratuitously. His intimate knowledge of all phases of human life in Launceston enabled him to convey aid to those in actual want, without wasting the funds of the society on idle and disreputable characters, physically able to work for their living. In politics he was only a partisan in favor of what he conceived to be the right, and in working for that he had a fertility of resource and genius so original that the credit of his acts was frequently reaped by others. The formation of the cavalcade to meet Mr Richard (afterwards Sir Richard) Dry, as the leader of "the patriotic six," and the subsequent triumphal march through town to the Cornwall Assembly rooms, were suggested and worked out by Mr Tevelein, with the aid of others. On principle he took a leading part in the Anti-Transportation movement, and aided by other tradesmen, held a public meet-ing in the Infant Schoolroom, which had the effect of bringing still more influential leaders to the front. He always acted on principle, and when Sir Richard Dry, a man he admired and respected, called and asked him to subscribe a guinea to the Launceston Races, he re-plied that he could not. Sir Richard hinted that it was mean to refuse, but Mr Tevelein said he could not either consistently or conscientiously subscribe to races. He was superintendent of a Sun-day School, and he could not contribute to a race fund, but he was willing to give ten guineas to wards the Church College fund, and he did this at a time when ten guineas was large contribution for any man in Launceston. As a matter of course Mr Tevelein took great interest in the establishment of the Workmen's Club, and it is owing to the sound views he, as Vice President and plain member, suggested to the commit-tee, that the working of that institution had been in every way so successful. Mr Tevelein always labored to elevate his fellow-men, and to alleviate the distress of the unfortunate. His useful career has been so worked into every movement having the moral and material welfare of the people in view, that record of it would constitute a history of Launceston for the last forty two years. He was an upright, unselfish, honorable man, and his death leaves a blank in various institutions which it will be very difficult to fill up. Mr Tevelein leaves a wife and twelve children, six sons and six daughters, all grown up and established in life, some in Victoria. In order that all of his children may be present at his interment, that has been postponed until Wednesday, when the funeral will leave his late residence, Upper Charles street, at 3 o'clock, and meet at Trinity Church at half-past 3 p.m. His remains will be interred in the Church of England Cemetery, off the Elphin Road.