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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Mosman, Hugh (1843–1909)

by G. C. Bolton

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

Hugh Mosman (1843-1909), mine owner, was born on 11 February 1843 at Mosman's Bay, Sydney, eldest son of Archibald Mosman and his wife Harriet, née Farquharson. Educated at The King's School, Parramatta, he was one of the many young men who, attracted to Queensland in 1860 by the pastoral boom, found themselves penniless after the slump of 1866 and contraction of the northern and western pastoral frontier. Like other broken squatters he turned to prospecting, basing himself on the newly-discovered Ravenswood field. With George Clarke and James Fraser, Mosman prospected the country west of Ravenswood late in December 1871. There his eleven-year-old Aboriginal servant, Jupiter, found promising traces of gold at a place which Mosman named Charters Tors (Towers) in honour of the mining warden, W. S. E. M. Charters. The find was reported in January 1872 and stimulated a rush which founded north Queensland's richest goldfield. Mosman's life was easy from that time onward. Between 1872 and 1886 he floated or participated in several reefing companies.

In 1882 Mosman lost his left forearm in a premature explosion of dynamite but the accident did not affect his activities. He was one of the social lions of Charters Towers and the main street was named after him. Although politically well connected (one sister married Sir Arthur Palmer and another Sir Thomas McIlwraith) he kept out of public life until June 1891 when he accepted nomination to the Queensland Legislative Council. His speeches were few, conservative and unremarkable and he resigned in January 1905. His great enthusiasm was the turf and his highlight was the winning of the Queensland Turf Club Derby with Balfour in 1902. After many months of illness his placid and comfortable life ended at Toowong on 15 November 1909. Unmarried, he left an estate of more than £70,000 to his relations. Jupiter, the discoverer of the riches of Charters Towers, was patriarch of the Charters Towers Aboriginal reserve when he died in 1945.

Select Bibliography

  • W. F. Morrison, The Aldine History of Queensland, vol 2 (Syd, 1888)
  • W. Lees, The Gold-Fields of Queensland (Brisb, 1899)
  • Port Denison Times, Jan-Mar 1872
  • Ravenswood Miner, Jan-Mar 1872
  • Brisbane Courier, 23 Jan 1882, 16 Nov 1909.

Citation details

G. C. Bolton, 'Mosman, Hugh (1843–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 28 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

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