Frederick Moses Claxton

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Frederick Moses Claxton was elected Mayor of the City of Ballarat for 1872/3, 1876/7, and 1882/3. He was a member of the Ballarat Water Commission in 1880. He was President of the Ballaarat Mechanics' Institute from 1872 to 1875.[1]

He died on 13 March 1888.


A fountain, known as the Claxton Fountain, was erected by public subscription in the Botanical Gardens in 1890. Positioned outside the fernery, the fountain was erected in recognistion of Claxton's dedication to Lake Wendoutee and the Ballarat Botanical Gardens. The fountain features a white marble bust of Frederick Claxton set onto a cement rendered base with pressed cement dolphins. The whole is set on a basalt plinth in a rendered brick pond which is surrounded by a low cast an wrought iron fence. It was restored and reopened in 2017.[2]


Yesterday afternoon the mortal remains of the late Cr F.M. Claxton, J.P., were con signed to their last resting-place in the Ballarat Old Cemetery. The occasion was one for mourning in the city, and, as far as out ward semblances could go the citizens signi fied the deep respect they entertained for the memory of the deceased gentleman, and their sorrow at his death. Flags were flying at half-mast in all directions, and all the business places along the route taken by the procession were closed from the time the hearse left the deceased gentleman's late residence until it entered the gates of the Cemetery. Lieutenant-Colonel Sleep, J P. (who, with Major Williams, represented the officers of the Militia) acted as marshal of the procession, and made his arrangements ad mirably. From about half-past 1 o'clock the fire-bells in the City and Town tolled every minute—a token of respect as unusual as it was well deserved. At the house the City and Town firemen headed the procession, and Captain M'Donald (B.C.F.B.), Captain Trotman (B.F.B.), Lieutenant Crannage (B.F.B.), and Messrs R. Sharpe, Nuzuni, and Drasey (B.C.F.B.) bore the coffin to the hearse. The case that contained the remains of the lamented citizen was of polished black wood. It bore on a plate on the lid the following inscription:—“ Frederick Moses Claxton, died 13th March, 1888; aged 55 years and 6 months. Attached to the lid were also a silver Masonic emblem (a compass and square) and a silver shield affixed by the City Fire Brigade, bearing an engraving of a fireman's helmet, a ladder, and branches. Numerous beautiful wreaths, some of which had been sent from Mel bourne, were also laid on the top of the coffin, on which also rested a fireman's helmet. Following the hearse were two mourning coaches for the relatives of the deceased gentleman, and two private car riages, bearing the mayor (Cr Smith, M.L. A.) and the members of the City Council. Then came the mayor (Cr Theos. Williams, J.P.), and the councillors of the town of Ballarat East, the chairman and members of com mittee of the Hospital, Benevolent and Orphan Asylums, Mechanics' Institute, and Water Commission. Private vehicles and cabs, of which there were a large number, brought up the rear. The mournful proces sion wended its way slowly from Webster street, along Drummoud street, down Sturt street to Armstrong street, thence to and down Dana street, and so to Christ Church Pro Cathedral. CHURCH SERVICE Here the coffin was met by the church officials, and a procession was formed in the following order:—The verger, the choir, the vestry, the churchwardens, the mayor and city councillors, the clergy, and Bishop Thornton. The firemen whose names are given above acted as coffin-bearers both to and from the church. The latter was crowded to excess during the service, which was conducted by Bishop Thornton and Archdeacon Julius. After prayer and the usual solemn chants, the bishop read as a lesson a portion of the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians. Archdeacon Julius then delivered a funeral addiess. He remarked that many there present had watched the life of their dear de parted friend from almost the beginning, and they knew him better than he (the speaker) did. Then there were some who had only known him in the last few years of his manhood. They had now alike gathered to look on his completed life, and with hearts wounded and sore, they looked on the casket that contained his mortal remains, and asked what kind of a life it had been. How should they judge that ? By the death bed scene? Some died in the fulness of Chris tian hope; some in the dulness and weariness of severe pain and agony; and some were fairly overwhelmed by the deep waters of the river of death. He believed, if his dear friend could be consulted, he would not have him (the speaker) say of him that he was a great and good man, but would rather have him speak of him (the departed) as of a sin ner who had oft wandered and strayed, yet with his whole heart and soul had trusted in God through Jesus Christ. Through these trappings of distress the grand Easter morn ing was shining. The beautiful cross placed upon the coffin was not an empty sign, but was an emblem of a life that had been one of sorrow, and yet an emblem of a hope that lifted men’s hearts from earth to heaven, and pointed their hopes and affections to another world. God saw their late friend as a sin ner, but, he (Archdeacon Julius) sincerely hoped, as one who had found mercy and for giveness for his sins. What was Mr Claxton to them? A very good and true friend. There was not one pre sent but loved him. He had witnessed many changes of fortune, but had never been lifted up with pride. He had learned to respect Mr Claxton even more in sorrow and adversity than in the days when he was well-to-do. He was loved, also, as a city father. The other city fathers were there, so that he spoke as one who loved Mr Claxton to those who loved him. He was a veritable father of the city; he had stirred himself and others up to do their best for the good of the city. He was, too, always on the right side—that of the weak against the strong. His death left a veritable gap, and who would till it? Now that he was gone, they would re-call his kindliness and love to all, his thoughtfulness for the poor, and, better than all, his tender love for his own home and his own kith aud kin. His body now lay in the old church that he had helped to build, and that he loved so well; a church of which he said to him (the speaker), “Pray God I may never see it pulled down.” And he never would. He prayed that their dear friend might rest peacefully. Then, turning to the coffin, in which lay the mortal remains, Archdeacon Julius said—“ Dear brother, faithful friend, farewell !We all loved you very much. You are now about to be carried to your long home, followed by the love and affec tion of all who knew you. Yet we must not think of you as lying here, but as being in the land of rest, happiness, and glory. Never shall I forget when I led thy old mother, bent and feeble aud tottering, to thy bedside, hardly expecting that you would know her. You at once turned and said, 'God bless you, dear.’ That poor old mother went away from that bed side with a joy that no wealth could give or purchase for her. ‘He said “ God bless you,’ ” was all she could say. And I say, ‘ God bless you and give you peace, and make us all worthy to follow in thy steps.’” Many eyes were moistduring the archdeaeon’s toucliing address, and at its conclusion several in the congregation were audibly sobbing. Bishop Thornton then advanced to the front of altar and pronounced the benediction. During the service the choir, under the able leadership of Mr George Herbert, R.A.M., led the singing very effectively. As the coffin was borne down the aisle and out of the church Mr Herbert played the Dead March in “Saul” in a most impressive manner. MASONIC SERVICE After leaving the church, the procession marched along Lydiard, down Mair street, and along Camp street to the Masonic Hall. Here the coffin was borne to and from the hearse by Brs T. H. Lawn, Charles, W. Irwin, D. Wilson, G. Lovitt, and Simpson. There was a very large gathering of the brethren, including most of the F.M.’s of the district. The imposing ceremony of the order was conducted by the W.M. of the Yarrowee Lodge (of which the deceased gentleman was a member), Br J. M. Bickett. P.M. Br A. Gray marshalled the Masonic portion of the procession, which joined in with the general body at the close of the service. A very old P.M.(Br C. Dyte) carried the Bible. Amongst the prominent Masons in attendance were several Past District and Provincial Grand officers. Most of the officers and 12 of the Companions of the Yarro wee Chapter were present. The P.Z. (Br A. Nevett), in the unavoidable absence of the M.E.Z. (Br Batten), presided over the Chapter. THE PROCESSION which had meantime been enlarged by the addition of a number of cabs and other vehicles containing friends, headed for Sturt street. It was now led by Bulch’s Model Brass Band, which played the solemn and majestic “ Dead March” from “Saul” in a most effective manner. Broken and muffled peals were also being rung on the Alfred bells whilst the cortege was in motion adding greatly to the solemnity of the pro’--«ledings. Mounted constables patrolled the streets to keep the route clear, but their task was a very easy one from the willing ness with which all people respected the desire of the authorities. The streets were lined with thousands of spectators, and there would doubtless have been very many more to witness the procession had not the rain which had threatened all morning, fallen very heavily whilst the mournful train of vehicles wended its way slowly up Sturt street and along Drummond street to the Old Cemetery. Here a space had been roped off for the relatives and friends of the deceased, and for those who were to take part in the last sad rites. On reaching the enclosure, the Masonic bearers again took possession of the coffin and bore it to the grave. The Hon. W. C. Smith, M.L.A., mayor of the City; Mr Theos. Williams, mayor of the Town; Mr J. Noble Wilson, chairman of the Water Commissioners; Cr John Hick man, president of the Benevolent Asylum; Mr Alex. White, president of the Hospital Committee; Mr E. P. Date, president of the Mechanics’ Institute; Mr G. Perry, town clerk; and Mr H. A. Nevett acted as pall bearers. Here the grandly solemn service of the Church of England was read by Archdeacon Julius and Bishop Thorn ton. This having been concluded, the usual impressive burial rite of the Free masons was performed, P. M. Br J. M. Bickett continuing to preside. There was also a choral service rendered very effectively by a number of the brethren. The earth was then closed over the mortal re mains of our late esteemed citizen, and a few wreaths were placed on top of the mound of earth.[3]

Probate was granted to-day to the will of Frederick Moss Claxton, of Ballarat, who died 15th March. By a will dated 15th March he made J. Noble Wilson, of the Ballarat Trustees, Executors, and Agency Company, executor. His wife, Elizabeth Claxton, takes all the income of his estate for the support of herself and his daughters Rose and Ada; but should either be married before reaching the age of 21 the share goes to the other, or in default to the mother. To Harriet Doolan, a niece, is left £40, the whole property being valued at realty £1430, and personalty £4400.[4]

See also


William Duiguid Hill

Charles Collett Shoppee


Ballarat has lost one of Its greatest citi zens in the death of Cr W. D. Hill — the soul of South street. “South Street” is known throughout Australasia and overseas because of his purposeful life and labors. Living quietly and unostentatiously, seeking neither fame nor monetary rewards, Cr Hill has done more to develop pubic interest in the liberal arto than any group of citizens who could be mentioned.' It is but bare justice to his services to say that liis na tive city has. benefited incalculably by his inspirations, his industry, his optimism, and hs unwearying public spiritedness. No Ballarat citizen is more widely known — none was ever more modest and unassuming. Three times Mayor, the first to preside over united Ballarat, an active worker in every public institution, energetic in pursuit of charitable movements, he has a most enviable record of good citizenship. With the names of two other citizens who served the city before themselves, Frederick Moses Claxton, to whom the place owes its lake and gardens, and Charles Collett Shoppee, whose passion for civic improvement has left enduring monuments, must be bracketed that of William Duiguid Hill, the greatest of them all.[5]


  1. accessed 15 March 2013.
  2. The Miner News, July 2017.
  3. Ballarat Star, 16 March 1888.
  4. Ballarat Star, 13 April 1888.
  5. Ballarat Star, 16 November 1921.

Further Reading

External links

--Sallyanne Doyle 20:05, 3 February 2013 (EST)--Sallyanne Doyle 13:07, 3 February 2013 (EST);; --Clare K.Gervasoni 15:16, 7 July 2017 (AEST)

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