Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

Francis Murphy


Member of Parliament, councillor, pastoralist

Personal Photo 1

Sir Frances Murphy was a well-known member of parliament for over twenty years, lived in Abbotsford for over a decade, and was chairman of the first Collingwood Council.

Originally a doctor, Murphy pursued pastoral interests after arriving in New South Wales. He and his young family moved to Port Phillip in 1846 and took over the Tarawingee run in the Ovens Valley. In the early 1850s he moved into Mayfield, the riverside house built by Georgiana and Andrew McCrae in the 1840s. Although the owner Charles Nicholson had partly subdivided the nine-acre block by this time, the property remained a commodious gentleman’s house in substantial grounds.

He was a member of the Victorian Legislative Council from 1851 to 1856 and again from 1872 to 1876; between these, from 1856 until 1871, he was the Speaker in the Legislative Assembly. He was knighted in 1860. Despite his busy life in the wider world, Murphy was very involved in Collingwood doings. He chaired the first Collingwood Council elected in 1855 (there was no mayor at this time), was a member of the volunteer militia group known as the East Collingwood Rifles, laid the foundation stone of the Christ Church Denominational School in Abbotsford, and donated funds to such worthy causes as the Simpsons Road Ragged School.  He was involved with fund-raising events for the Collingwood Library and campaigned for a Mechanics Institute as one of a local committee. He was on the board of the Collingwood, Fitzroy and District Gas Company, and was invited to social events with other riverside dwellers such as the Childers at St Helier’s and the Orrs at Abbotsford House.

Murphy was Chairman of the Central Road Board from 1853-56, a role which came in for much criticism, even ridicule, in the pages of The Age and The Argus. The Yarra Pollution Prevention Bill was introduced into the Legislative Council in 1855 and there was bitter debate between two factions both in the House and in local communities. John Pascoe Fawkner was in favour of factories while Murphy led the anti-pollution faction, no doubt influenced by the proximity to his home of Richard Goldsbrough’s woolwashing works and other noxious industries.

Mrs Murphy was kept busy looking after her large family. She employed a governess at Mayfield to teach her daughters lessons including music and French. Late in 1865 Murphy advertised Mayfield to let. The description lists a drawing room 24 feet by 21 feet, dining room 27 feet by 18 feet, breakfast room, five spacious bedrooms as well as the usual functional rooms, stables, coachhouse, garden and orchard. Murphy finished his days in a mansion in St Kilda Road, his wife surviving him until 1906.

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
1809 Cork, Ireland
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
Agnes Cruickshank Reid 1839 Goulburn NSW 3 sons and 6 daughters survived him
Home Addresses
Home Street Home City Status of Building
Church Street Abbotsford Demolished
Church Lodge
Death Date Death Place Cemetery
30 March 1891 Melbourne Boroondara

Hibbins, A short history of Collingwood; Barrett, The inner suburbs; Cummings, Bitter roots, sweet fruit; Barrett, The civic frontier; The Age; The Argus.
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Photo of Mrs Murphy

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