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A Vanquished Knight "Wroth with Kilmore" [The Hon. John O'Shanassy, K.C.M.G.] from the series "Masks and Faces"
, 1874

by Tom Durkin and The Weekly Times (publisher)

lithograph (sheet: 35.2 cm x 21.5 cm)

Sir John O’Shanassy KCMG (1818–1883), politician and businessman, arrived in Melbourne from Ireland in 1839. Later the proprietor of a prosperous drapery business, he was briefly a councillor of the City of Melbourne before being elected to Victoria’s first Legislative Council in 1851. In 1854, shortly before the Eureka Rebellion, he was appointed to the commission of inquiry into the goldfields, his subsequent report finding that many of the miners’ claims were justified. He won the seat of Kilmore in the Legislative Assembly in 1856, and between 1858 and 1863 he served as premier three times. In addition, O’Shanassy acquired substantial landholdings (in NSW and, later, Queensland); was a chairman of the Colonial Bank; a trustee of the Public Library; and the founder of the St Patrick’s Society. The Pope named him a Knight of the Order of St Gregory in 1866 for his efforts in the cause of Catholic education. Though his political influence had begun to wane during the 1860s, he returned to the Legislative Assembly as the member for Belfast (Port Fairy) in 1877, making his last speech of note in 1882. His grave in the Melbourne General Cemetery is topped by a soaring Celtic cross.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2016
Accession number: 2016.5