Death of Thomas Whitley

The Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday 3 January 1912 p. 12.

The death at Blackheath, on the Blue Mountains, on Friday last, of Mr. Thomas Whitley at the age of 81 removes another of the links with the days of the early gold-diggings and with the commercial life of Sydney in the '50's.

He was born in London in the year 1830, and sailed for Australia on October 20, 1852, in the ship Resolute, commanded by Captain Lewis. A call was made en route at the Cape, and the vessel arrived at Sydney in March, 1853.

The Resolute was subsequently wrecked at Balaclava with all hands. The brothers of Mr. Thomas Whitley George and Charles were painters of repute. Indeed, George would probably have taken a very high place had he not been cut off in his prime. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, and an example of his work is to be seen in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales.

On his arrival in Sydney Mr. Thomas Whitley went to the Ovens diggings, and on returning settled at Raymond Terrace, Hunter River, in 1855. He left there for Sydney in 1857, and in company with Mr. Burgess started business in 1860 as Burgess and Whitley.

After the dissolution of the partnership Mr. Whitley commenced business as Whitley and Co. in George-street, and retired In 1886, since when he lived at Upwick, Blackheath.

Mr. Whitley was a great lover of books, and after settling in Sydney he gradually accumulated a library of quaint out-of-the-way volumes. In the days when "Australiana" could be picked up cheaply in London he employed an agent there to buy it for him, and when at the time of the bank crisis in 1893 he disposed of this portion of his library to Messrs. Angus and Robertson the late Mr. David Scott

Mitchell acquired some of the best books now in the Mitchell Library. The deceased particularly interested himself in the history of wood engraving, and made a fine collection of examples illustrating its progress in England from the time of Bewick down to 1850. The collection contains some thousands of examples, a large proportion of them engravers' proofs "burnished" from the block, and chronologically arranged in a series of large folio volumes.

This collection he has bequeathed to the Mitchell Library.