Born at St.
Kilda, Melbourne on 14 April 1859 the son of Scottish-born Thomas Watson.
After his education at Wesley College he entered the counting-house of
“McNaughton, Love & Co” (Flinders Lane) before joining the Railway
department (1875-82). In 1882 he was selected by the Speaker of the
Legislative Assembly, Peter Lalor (Melbourne General Cemetery) to
fill the position of assistant clerk of committees and accountant and later
secretary to the Speaker (1882-88); he then rose rapidly through the service
becoming sergeant-at-arms, secretary to the Railway Standing Committee
(1890-92) under (Sir) Thomas Bent
(q.v.), second clerk assistant, clerk of private bills, and clerk of
committees. By 1902 he was Clerk of Legislative Assembly (1902-10) before
his final appointment as Clerk of Legislative Council and Clerk of
Parliaments (1910-12). Described as “capable, earnest and zealous”, Watson
published “The First Fifty Years of Responsible Government in Victoria”
(1905) (“a book which has ever since been accepted as a standard work of
reference”). In 1888 he married Kathleen née Hall and they
- Nepean Highway, Elsternwick where he died on 5 December 1912 after
suffering a breakdown some two years previously; The Age commented
that “Mr Watson was a man of ceaseless energy and industry, and it was his
devotion to his duties that undoubtedly shortened his life. He had
exceptional ability as an administrator and organiser, and these qualities
enabled him to bring the work of a large number of Parliamentary officials
under his control to its present high state of efficiency”. The Premier
William Watt (1871-1946) paid tribute to Watson’s personal qualities saying
that “he had shown unfailing courtesy and splendid energy and address. His
genial and sincere nature and warm heart had won him a deep place in the
affections of the House”, while the Governor Sir John Fuller (1864-1915) in
a letter to the Premier said that “the terribly sudden death of Mr T. G.
Watson has brought to an end the career of a singularly honourable and
faithful servant, and leaves a gap in the official Parliamentary life of
Victoria which it will not be easy to fill. Both Lady Fuller and I will be
glad if you will convey to Mrs Watson and the members of her family our most
sincere condolence, and at the same time our appreciation of the high
character and sterling qualities of the friend that we have lost”. In
a rain-drenched burial service, so high was Watson held in esteem that both
houses of Parliament adjoined for the first time in respect for an officer
(above) Thomas Watson
(Reproduced with kind permission of the
Victorian Parliament Library)
(above) Monumental Headstone (enlarge
The Argus 6 & 9 December 1912.
The Age 6 & 9 December 1912.
The Herald 6 December 1912.
“A Biographical Register 1788-1939” (Vol II).
Smith, J. (ed), “Cyclopedia of Victoria”
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