Dr William Evan MacFarlane (FRGS, FRAS)
1866 - 1919
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From the Cairns Post...
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Born at Chepenehe, Lifou April 5 1866
Ordained at Cheshunt College May 29 1891
Posted by London Missionary Society to Tatzukuo, Inner Mongolia 1892-1894
Graduated from Edinburgh University 1900
Served in practise with Dr Beresford in Chertsey, the Wirral Children's Hospital and the Mafeking Refugee Camp.
Took Charge of the Walsh District Hospital at Irvinebank in 1906.
Built an observatory to house a 17.8 cm Cooke Refractor (telescope) at Irvinebank, 1917.
06/08/1918- observed Nova Aquila, brightest nova since Kepler's nova of 1604 which MacFarlane named the 'Vulcan Star'. It is still known locally by this name.
Member of Royal Geographical Society
Member of Royal Astronomical Society
Cairns Post, 20 August 1919
Death of Doctor McFarlane.
----------Irvinebank's Great Loss----- A man of Sterling Worth.
Dr McFarlane is dead.
Irvinebank and Stannary Hills, with the assistance of Dr. McFarlane, had for several weeks been battling with a severe attack of influenza, which was aided by the worst of weathers. For the past week or thereabouts, the weather has been of the brightest, and the epidemic appeared to have been bested. Everyone was congratulating themselves upon having had a man of Dr. McFarlane's worth amongst them during the battle. The doctor himself was speaking of a well-earned holiday, a trip to India, as a reward and rest after this struggle.
On Thursday, however, he spoke of not feeling too well; on Friday, it was whispered that he was laid up with influenza; on Saturday, he was unable to make his bi-weekly visit to the Stannary Hills Hospital, and on Sunday he was dead. "Dead," everyone repeated, and the town was staggered.
Dr. McFarlane was a bachelor and occupied the hospital residence adjacent to the institution. Mr Reid, of the Irvinebank Mining Company Limited, called yesterday afternoon to see how he was faring, and was assured by the doctor that he was wanting nothing and doing well. The doctor expressed worry at not being able to attend the Stannary Hills Hospital the previous day, adding that he would, however, be well enough to make the visit within the coming week. Mr. Reid, upon leaving, was not satisfied, and went direct to the hospital, requesting that the matron immediately take the doctor's temperature, the intention being to call for the Herberton doctor's aid, if indications warranted it. Immediately upon Mr. Reid's departure, the doctor's attendant entered his bedroom with nourishment, to find him lying across the bed. He had apparently attempted to rise for some purpose when his heart failed.
It is hard to realise that he is dead, but it will be harder to replace him. His name was at the head of every subscription list, his time and assistance at the disposal of every thing for the betterment of the town or other worthy cause. He was a most reliable and attentive medical man, and a lavish host. He was a good doctor, a good citizen, and a good fellow. Dr. McFarlane took a keen interest of sport of all kinds, was a keen chess player, and was recently elected a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, of which he was very proud. His observatory here is numbered with the best in Australia. He leaves no relatives in Australia, and was comparatively a young man, his age being 53. He first came to Irvinebank direct from London and was never known to have previously had a day's illness during the long span he was with us.
Irvinebank, Aug 18.
The funeral was by far the largest and most impressive ever seen in Irvinebank. The cortege was of considerable distance, and the remains were followed to their last resting place by practically the entire population of the town, while residents came from Stannary Hills and other centres to pay their last tribute to the doctor's memory. Sorrow at his death was widespread and heartfelt. The coffin was hung with wreaths sent by those who had known him and revered him in life, and who mourned the death of a physician who gave his life in the service of suffering humanity. To the children he was a patron, consoler and fairy godfather. When they needed a football, sets of cricket tools, or other implements of outdoor sport, it was to the doctor they went with their requests, which were never once turned down. They marched in a sorrowing grooup fully 200 strong, and were given pride of place next the hearse, as he would have wished. Stepping behind them were men and women, old and young, who had memories of his patient interest in their well-being, his public and private generosity, and his nobility. Prominent citizens, who have been associated with the progress of the district, felt that they had lost a co-worker, as well as a friend, and by their presence paid their last sad tribute to the memory of Dr. McFarlane. The pall-bearers were Mr. J.H. Reid, managing director, Irvinebank Mining Company; Mr. John Farquhar, manager, Queensland National Bank; Cr. E. V. Borghero, chairman of the Walsh Shire Council; Mr. F. J. Robinson, president of the Walsh District Hospital Committee; Mr. James Tunnie, metallurgist, of the Irvinebank Company; and Mr T. Delugar, manager, Jack and Newell's. An impressive service was read at the graveside by Rev. St Clair. The remains were interred at the wish of Mr. Reid, in that portion of the cemetery where Mrs. Reid was laid to rest a few days ago.
© Phillip Charlier, 2001