Francis Ormond Statue

Francis Ormond statue, Percival Ball, Melbourne, public art

Public Art : Francis Ormond Statue

Sculptor: © Percival Ball

Description: The bronze statue of pastoralist and philanthropist Francis Ormond

Date Unveiled: The statue of Francis Ormond was unveiled by Governor, Earl Brassey, on the 7th of June, 1897 in front of a crowd of 1000 people. It was unveiled on the 10th anniversary of the Working  Men's College (later the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and currently RMIT University).

Cost: The sculpture cost £1,200 of which £200 was donated by the sculptor himself,  Percival Ball.

Cast: Robinson Brothers of Melbourne

Location: The Ormond stands outide the RMIT's Francis Ormond Building on La Trobe Street in Melbourne, Australia.

So who was Francis Ormond?  Francis Ormond was born in Aberdeen, Scotland on the 23rd of November, 1829. Ormond's father, who was a mariner, had made several voyages to Australia before he bought the barque Tuscan and sailed with his family to Port Phillip in 1841. The family dillydallied between Melbourne and New Zealand unhappy with colony issues until they finally  leased 20acres in Shelford on the River Leigh (Victoria) and built an inn called Settler's Arms or as it was often referred "The Ormonds". Francis helped with the stable and the bookkeeping and eventually learned how to manage the sheep runs. The inn was sold in 1851 and his father purchased  a small sheep station at Mopiamnum, which Francis managed until he took it completely over in 1854. When Francis discovered that most of the station hands were uneducated he started classes for them. He evenually bought 30,000acres of Borriyalloak station after selling Mopiamnum and another property.

In 1853, Ormond was made a territorial magistrate, and regularly sat on the Common Bench of towns close to Borriyalloak. He and two other wealthy land owners set up the Skipton Agricultural and Pastoral Association that put on an annual agricultrual shows.  This event helped Australian merino wool to achieve widespread fame. Ormond was also a devout Presbyterian and helped establish a parish in Skipton.

A Man Of Honour - In 1858, as a magistrate, Ormond was asked to investigate a murder which had taken place in Ballarat. At the end of the investigation Ormond concluded that the death of the man was accidental and the accused was innocent. Unfortunately his findings were not presented at trial and he was only to discover some time later in a newspaper that the accused had been sent to the Surpreme Court in Melbourne and had been found guilty by a jury. He also discovered that the man's punishment was death by hanging and it was to take place in two days. Ormond was to have none of this and immediately ordered his best horses to be saddled. He rode all night and the following day across flooded rivers to get to Melbourne to stop the hanging. He arrived in the evening before and went straight to the to the office of the Attorney-General where he was told it was too late to stop the hanging. Ormond was mortified and wouldn't leave until the  Attorney-General reviewed his findings. In the end his persistents  paid off, the Attorney General agreed to go through his documents, realised the man could be innocent and ordered a stay of execution pending a further investigation. Yes, the accused was finally found innocent and received a much appreciated pardon.

When Ormond's father died in 1875, he and his wife moved from Skipton to Melbourne. He contributed a substantial amount of money for the setting up of a  Presbyterian college at the University of Melbourne which would later officially be called the Ormond College.

when his first wife died he secretly donated £5,000 towards the construction of St Paul's Cathedral as she was a member of the Church of England.

In 1881, Ormond was appointed a member of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Education Act and was instrumental in eventually  setting up a technical college in Melbourne, despite numerous set backs. the technical college was originally named the Working Men's College but is now known as  RMIT University and is one of Australia's largest and leading universities.

When Francis Ormond died, during a trip to France, his will stated that £5000 each would be given  to the Melbourne Hospital, the Benevolent Asylum, the Orphan Asylum, Deaf and Dumb Asylum, Blind Asylum (Ormond Hall), Sailors' Home, Alfred Hospital, Children's Hospital, Geelong Hospital, Geelong Orphans' Asylum, Ballarat Hospital, Ballarat Benevolent Asylum, and £1000 each to St George's Presbyterian Church, Geelong, and Toorak Presbyterian Church, in addition to his large educational bequests.

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