Richard Stoddart did not die a lonely death. He was surrounded by friends, with, presumably, no thought that his life was about to be cut short.
The son of Thomas and Mary McKinlay, Richard was born in Scotland on 16 September 1859 and his birth registered at Fala and Soutra.1
I am unsure when he arrived in Australia, however, in the years 1891 to 1893, Richard is mentioned as a prospector in the Copeland area.2
Presumably these ventures were not successful as in 1906, the year of his death, he was working at the Chatham Limestone Quarry, near Taree and living at Mrs Scrivner’s boarding house.3
On the evening of June 7 1906 he attended a ball at the Belmore Hall when he suddenly collapsed while dancing. Being pronounced dead by Dr Gormley, his body was removed to the Fire Brigade Building to await a coronial inquest. The coroner found the cause of death to have been heart disease.4
Local identity “Hawkeye” memorialised Richard in a poem published in a local newspaper.5 However, with no known relatives in NSW, his few possessions were sold by auction at Taree Court House6 and the headstone on his lonely grave (easily missed) at Woola Cemetery was erected by his friends and workmates.
Author: Penny Teerman
1 Find My Past – Scotland Births and Baptisms 1564 – 1950
2 NSW State Archives – Auriferous Leases
3 Wingham Chronicle Saturday 9 June 1906 Pg 7
4 Manning River Times Wednesday 13 June 1906 Pg 2
5 Manning River Times Wednesday 27 June 1906 Pg 4
6 Wingham Chronicle Saturday 30 June 1906 Pg 7