Biographies of the Early Aldermen

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Thomas Galvin

Councillor/Alderman in 1867-July 1877, Treasurer for several years including 1873 to 1876

He and his wife Lucy lived in Hordern Street near Prospect Street from 1863 until his death. He is listed in Sands Directory as a shoemaker but the Municipal Jubilee Souvenir (p.117) mentions he kept a hotel ‘up’ and opposite from the Post office (where Ryan’s butcher shop was in 1912). He ran a very perfunctory advertisement offering himself as a candidate for O’Connell Ward and was elected in over Councillor Robert Dunlop in February 1867.

He attended the deputation to Premier Robertson in August 1868 about the proposed library, which would become the first Free Library in the colony and the third in Australia. And it seems he was the one who suggested that Council invite Henry Parkes to become its patron.

He joined with Mayor Henry Munro and Martin Gibbens in the joint-committee to inquire into Thomas Holt’s plan for water supply from Cooks River held at Newtown Council Chambers on Saturday afternoon 19th September. Holt proposed replacing the 1838 dam over the Cooks River and excavating a channel up to Camden Street where a siphon would draw it upwards. They reported back that the plan was not a desirable one to adopt.

There was a running antagonism with Henry Munro. There was jockeying between them as to who would get on to the committees at beginning of 1869 and ‘proceedings of a painful character took place’ immediately following a meeting in the chambers on the 10 February 1870. Galvin took exception to Munro being elected as Chairman of the Works Committee even though he was absent. Two meetings later Munro stated his belief that ‘the committee, as at present constituted, would not work amicably together, and his principal object in wishing to see an alteration in its members was, if possible, to prevent a recurrence of proceedings of such a painful nature’. Munro and the minutes were reticent about it as ‘he had no desire to make more public than was necessary the circumstance he alluded to, as the matter was already too well-known throughout the Borough’. Galvin expressed regret but said that it took place after the committee had concluded business. Fresh elections for the Works Committee were held and Galvin was not included.

He was active on Council for eleven years except when he requested three months leave of absence in consequence of illness in September 1869 and again in May 1875. Alderman Galvin was made Chairman of the Works Committee in March 76, after Henry Munro left Council. He attended Council until 15 May 1877. Two meetings later Mayor Smith noted that the official returns produced by the Registrar-General’s department suggested Newtown had an abnormally high death rate. Thomas Galvin died within the next month, in July 1877.

His widow Lucy lived on in Hordern Street until 1883. His son Thomas Charles Galvin worked as a carpenter and builder, living in Sarah Street until the 1880s when he moved to Illawarra Road Marrickville adjoining the Schwebel stone quarry and Thomas Holt’s ‘Warren’.

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