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Cousins, Richard Young (1819–1886)

by Gregory E. B. Ross

Richard Cousins, n.d.

Richard Cousins, n.d.

from Australian Men of Mark, 1889, vol 2, p 115

Richard Young Cousins, grazier, politician and humanitarian, born on 17 March 1819 at Heytesbury, Wiltshire, England, was the eldest of eight children born to agricultural labourer, Richard Young Cousins Snr (1798-1857) and Kezia Dann (1796-1837). The following day Richard was christened at the protestant Church of St Peter and St Paul, High Street, Heytesbury.

Aged 22, Richard and his brother William Henry (1823-1915), both agricultural labourers were among 76 men of the same occupation to embark as bounty immigrants aboard the 611 ton Neptune which departed from Plymouth, London on 7 December 1840 under the command of Captain William James Ferris. The Neptune arrived in Port Phillip, Melbourne on 20 March 1841 where William disembarked. Richard remained aboard the Neptune arriving in Sydney on 18 April 1841.

Richard Cousins entered the employment of Wiltshire born Thomas Kite (c.1789-1876), one of the original 10 settlers of the Bathurst region in New South Wales, ultimately becoming his property manager.

Cousins married Sarah Mary Kite (1823-1900) daughter of Thomas Kite and Sarah Bayliss on 30 July 1844 at Holy Trinity Church, Kelso near Bathurst. They lived in Alma Cottage later known as ‘Kelsoville’, which was built by Kite on land adjoining his property ‘Woolstone’, and given to the couple as a wedding present. Together Richard and Sarah produced nine children.

Richard Cousins developed a thorough knowledge of country life becoming familiar with the sound practical workings of stations so that after some years in Kite’s service, he took up Beri Station (8,173 acres) near Molong where he raised sheep and cattle.

His appointment as magistrate set forth in a return to the Legislative Assembly was published on 23 January 1857.

By 1859 Cousins was Worshipful Master of the Great Western District Lodge No 904. At his unanimous re-election to the Chair in 1860 he was acclaimed for the firmness and decision of character he had manifested in his government of the Lodge during a difficult epoch in its history. On his retirement he was presented with an address and a testimonial in the form of a gold medal engraved on the reverse with the words ‘Presented…. as a token of the very high estimation in which he is held by the brethren, and in testimony of his eminent services whilst presiding as the Worshipful Master during three consecutive years – 1859 to 1862.’

A ready and vigorous speaker Cousins was persuaded to take a seat in the Borough Council and became the first Mayor of Bathurst when he was elected unanimously on 2 March 1863. In that year he oversaw bridge construction, formation and gravelling of streets, culvert and brick sewer construction, lamp construction and production of iron work for bridges. As Mayor he discharged his duties conscientiously.

He was assigned a Justice of the Peace on 26 July 1864. Cousin’s civic interest was not limited to local government.

His abiding passion for three decades was Bathurst Hospital. He filled the office of President with much zeal and ability from 1870-1885. His proposal to build a new hospital was approved in 1873 and it was largely due to his untiring exertions that the building was opened for use free of debt, on 9 November 1880 built and furnished at a cost of £12,000.

Richard Cousins had been suffering from a severe form of asthma for several months prior to his death 27 August 1886 at his residence 'Bishopscourt', Bathurst.

He was interred at his beloved Holy Trinity Church, Kelso where he held the important position of Church Officer for many years – a point that was made by The Ven. Archdeacon Campbell at Cousins’ funeral. Cousins was also instrumental in the life of the Anglican Church at Beri, which stood on Beri Homestead. That portion of land on which the church stands was bequeathed to the Corporate Body known as The Church of England Property Trust, Bathurst.

Probate on Cousin’s estate was granted on 16 December 1886 at £4,567/10/10.

He was survived by his wife and 4 sons and 4 daughters; their loss and sorrow shared by a very large circle of friends. The city of Bathurst, the committee of the Bathurst Hospital and the Church at Kelso would miss a true friend.

While Bathurst Hospital stands said Archdeacon Campbell, in his tribute to Cousins, no monument will be wanting of the zeal, energy and public spirit of the gentleman who has now passed to his rest.

Original Publication

  • People Australia, 12 January 2017

Other Entries for Richard Young Cousins

Additional Resources

  • death notice, Bathurst Free Press (NSW), 31 August 1886, p 2

Citation details

Gregory E. B. Ross, 'Cousins, Richard Young (1819–1886)', People Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://peopleaustralia.anu.edu.au/biography/cousins-richard-young-27019/text34489, accessed 5 August 2020.

© Copyright People Australia, 2012

Richard Cousins, n.d.

Richard Cousins, n.d.

from Australian Men of Mark, 1889, vol 2, p 115