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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Richard Southwell

Born: 1855; Died: 1933; Married: Amelia Smith

Richard was the son of Thomas Southwell and his second wife Mary Croxton of 'Parkwood'. He selected his nearby property Brooklands in June 1877, cleared some land, found a spring, and built his first home.

In 1900 Richard was growing wheat, oats and other crops. He won several prizes in ploughing matches, at the Cricketers' Arms Hotel and elsewhere. His first win in 1873, was for boys under eighteen.

On 14th June 1882 Richard married Amelia Smith (the daughter of Edward and Mary Smith of Old Weetangera) at Weetangera Methodist Church. Their nine children were all born at Brooklands – three dying as infants.

'One of Richard's winter jobs was to drive his rabbit cart four or five times a week from Wallaroo to Queanbeyan railway station. Along the way he'd pick up rabbits the local boys had trapped overnight and left hanging on the fence for him. He'd keep score and take them to the train that would carry them to the freezing works at Bungendore. Then he'd come home again – that's a fair sort of day's work, I reckon. He gave money to the kids and keep a bit for himself, I suppose. He did that for a lot of years.' [Kingsley Southwell, grandson]. It was reported that he purchased 26,000 pairs from trappers in 1907.

In 1916 when E G Crace resigned from Yarrowlumla Shire Council Richard was elected to the vacancy. He was succeeded in turn by his youngest son Cedric in 1933. Both men were JP's. A 'great reader with a general knowledge of current events', in 1882 he donated two acres of his land for the building of Wallaroo school (renamed 'Brooklands' in 1890) which served local needs until 1911. Cedric was the last pupil, and had to ride to Hall, which had just opened, to finish his schooling.

Richard and Amelia were loyal members of the Wattle Park Methodist Church (established the year they married), where he was a member of the Church Trust and a Steward for many years. They held prayer meetings at their home as well as hosting pleasant Sunday evenings around the harmonium.

Both died at home – Amelia in 1927 and Richard 1933, and both are buried at the Weetangera cemetery.

Richard Southwell - In Memoriam

In the passing of Richard Southwell the church at Wattle Park has lost another of its great pioneers. Born in 1855, he was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Southwell, of "Parkwood," and his early years were spent in that historic home, which, as a centre of spiritual energies, will ever be sacred to Methodism. After his marriage to Amelia Smith in 1882, Mr. Southwell moved to his own home at "Brooklands," where he lived until the time of his death.

Richard Southwell was a man of peaceful and retiring disposition. His friendliness endeared him to all, his high moral principle won the respect of all. His religious life found expression in a sweet reasonableness, a high sense of honour, and a helping hand to all around. For 17 years he served as a Shire Councillor, being held in the highest esteem by men of all creeds as one who could be trusted and whose advice it was safe to follow. In the church at Wattle Park he was most regular in attendance at worship, holding strong convictions that the Lord's Day is essential to the spiritual well-being of the community. His very presence in the congregation afforded uplift to the preacher, for it was known that he was not an appreciative hearer only, but a doer of the Word. As a steward and trustee, he served his church faithfully and well, and his Christian influence at Wattle Park will abide through the years.

His health was failing for some months before the end which came somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly. He had borne his clear testimony, "I, know whom I had believed." The body was conveyed to Wattle Park Church for a short service, which was largely attended, prior to the interment in Weetangera Cemetery, where other Methodist worthies have their resting place. A memorial service was conducted by the Rev. W. H. Cheetham, the preacher taking for his text "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." The lesson read was the favourite chapter of the deceased, Hebrews 4. He is survived by three sons and three daughters, also 19 grandchildren. His son, Mr. Cedric R. E. Southwell, has been elected to his place on the Shire Council.

[Methodist, Saturday 23 September 1933, page 15]

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