Biographies of the Early Aldermen

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John Thomas Neale J.P.

Alderman 1875 – 1877, 1883 – 1889.

Alderman Neale came from a pioneer family. His grandfather served in the first detachment of British troops at the beginning of the colony, the 102nd Regiment of Foot. He had thirteen children, one of whom was George Rodwell Neale 1800-1883, whom ‘Men of Mark’ described as a well-known engineer and wheelwright. Another may have been John Thomas Neale, the alderman’s namesake, who bought 300 acres near Mittagong with three others in 1848 to form Australia’s first iron smelting works, the Fitzroy Iron & Coal Mining Company, said to be the one of the richest mines in the world. Another may have been John Henry Neale (1828 [not right surely] 1890) a carcase butcher on the City Council in 1842-52 and 1857-59 and who operated an abbatoir at Blackwattle Swamp from the 1830s.

Alderman Neale was born to George Rodwell Neale and his wife Bridget in 1833. They were renting Elizabeth Farm in Parramatta from Edward Macarthur. He was christened at St. John’s Parramatta; his siblings were Elizabeth, William, Sarah, Henry, Charles and James.

John Thomas Neale worked in his adolescent years as a produce merchant, and on an uncle’s property in the Monaro. He returned to Sydney and married Elvira Agnes Vardy in Parramatta in 1856. They produced John G and Florence (who died aged 1) and Elvira who died in 1865 in Parramatta.

He worked from 1861 as a temporary clerk in the Colonial Architect’s branch within the Department of Works on a salary of £150 per annum. It seems he married a Hannah and they produced Edward in Sydney (who died in 1881). They were living in ‘Ada Villa’ Terrace near what is now MacDonaldtown station in the 1870s. He progressed in the Department, up to being accountant and head assistant clerk on £375 per annum.

The ‘Men of Mark’ describes him as having “a large amount of landed property” and lived on the corner of Edgeware and Camden Street in Enmore. He was elected to represent Enmore in February 1875 and served on the Finance Committee. ‘Men of Mark’ also describes him as being ‘active’ while his father had a ‘retiring disposition’. However Alderman Neale rarely initiated proposals with only 15 original motions in his first three years. He voted frequently in a bloc with Aldermen Fallick and Henderson; he almost consistently supported Gibbes. He retired in January 1878.

In June 1880 a John D. Neale (presumably another error in Council’s minutes) complained of the poor quality white metal gravel being deposited in Simmons Street.

He returned to the Council in 1883 serving on the Libraries and Lighting Committees. He supported Alderman O’Connell’s campaign against larrikins and in August 1886 he complained of the ‘bus drovers’ [check] and boys who ‘openly gamble’ on the stand at Alice Street. A bus yard and stable were located on the corner of Alice and Edgeware Streets. There were four absences from Council in 1883-84 due to illness in his family, twice in 1887 concurrent with Alderman Jolly.

The family moved to Trade Street in January 1887. He was still at the Colonial Architect’s office in 1889 at which time the Colonial Architect, James Barnet, was designing Newtown’s Courthouse and Marrickville’s Post office. His death in 1911 was recorded at Petersham.

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