George KISS (1830-1882)
Extract from Australian Men of Mark, 1888-9
"SKETCH is given in this notice of the career of a successful colonist, drawn from the old yeoman farmer class of England, whose name was for years a household word amongst breeders of horses and stock in New South Wales. It is the story of a man who made his prosperity by hard work and ceaseless activity, and it conveys an idea of what the typical emigrant or settler in these colonies was expected to be, to command success and be of use in the land of his adoption.
George Kiss was born in Warwickshire, England, in 1830. His father was a well-to-do farmer in that county, and having received a good business education, he passed through a sound practical farmer’s training under his father’s eye, and afterwards entered formally on that pursuit. While so engaged he had the good fortune to meet with a returned colonist in the person of the late Mr. Fairfax, the founder of the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, and from him he received such a promising account of the colony of New South Wales, and its resources and opportunities, that he began seriously to entertain the idea of emigration thither.
In the meantime he married – in 1850 – Miss Toward, an engaging young Scottish lady, and daughter of a Glasgow merchant. Shortly afterwards he again met Mr. Fairfax on that gentleman’s second visit home, and the question of emigration was again discussed. Since their first conversation on the subject gold had been discovered in New South Wales and Victoria, and the fame of the colonies spread throughout the English-speaking world. But Mr. Fairfax wisely advised his young friend to forego the first-formed project of gold-seeking, for something safer, and recommended him to take with him some hackney carriages and open livery stables in Sydney. The suggestion was not received favourably at first by the spirited young yeoman, but wiser counsels in the end prevailed, and Mr. Fairfax assisted him to select the kind of carriages specially suited to Australian wants.
Mr. Kiss and his devoted young wife reached Sydney in 1852, and he at once began business in Surry Hills. He was the first to introduce to general use in the colony that comfortable and convenient mode of conveyance, the hansom cab. His business supplied a want, and Mr. Kiss prospered until, when Mr. Burt’s well-known livery stables and horse bazaar in Pitt-street were sold, he became the purchaser, and in a few years attained a large and lucrative connection. His extensive sales were attended with so much success that his name as a salesman became widely known in stock circles throughout the colonies.
In the issue of the old Sydney Empire for 2nd May 1871 may be found a long account of Mr. Kiss’s first sale of thoroughbred yearlings, in which ample testimony is borne to the auctioneer’s popularity and success. From this his onward career was a most successful one. In 1875 he was elected one of the Aldermen of the Borough of Randwick, and shortly afterwards became Mayor. In 1879 the corporation of that municipality presented Mr. Kiss with an elaborate address, and tendered him a banquet on the occasion of his approaching visit to England. The leading paper in his native country greeted his visit with a glowing account of his colonial career, urging others to follow in his footsteps.
On returning to Sydney he quietly pursued his private business, and carried out his intention of making his house and grounds at " Ventnor," Randwick, one of the most attractive residences about Sydney. But as soon as his work was done, and before he had time to enjoy its fruits, he was carried off by illness, in the fifty-second year of his age. The Warwick paper before alluded to published an appreciative notice of the deceased, as an old resident of the county, and quoted at length from the Sydney Morning Herald in testimony of his successor as a colonist. We give the extract in full :-"
" Death of an Old Warwick Resident.
In our obituary of this week we have to record the death, on the 13th August last, of Mr. George Kiss, third son of the late Mr. Thomas Kiss, of Hampton Lodge, and brother of Mr. John Kiss, of Hampton-street. The deceased left Warwick about thirty years ago, and with his young wife went to seek his fortune in our great Australian colony. How far he succeeded the following from the Sydney Morning Herald of 15th August last (1882) will show :- Mr. George Kiss, who died on Sunday, at his residence, ‘Ventnor,’ Randwick, was one who had made himself by his business capacity and untiring energy a prominent position in Sydney. He was a native of Warwick, and soon after his arrival in the colony laid the foundation of the business with which his name is associated.
He took a lively interest in municipal matters, and displayed so much ability and administrative power that for two years he enjoyed the position of Mayor of Randwick, and at the time of his death was an Alderman of that borough. Mr. Kiss, in failing health, came over here last year to try what effect a change of climate would have upon his impaired health. A banquet was given him before setting out by his neighbours and friends, and hopes expressed for his recovery and safe return. He remained in Warwick all the summer months, and returned much improved, but his health again gave way, and he died in the bosom of his family in the fifty-third year of his age, and deservedly respected and esteemed by all who knew him."
Australian Men of Mark 1889, vol.2
Tagged: , George , KISS , (1830-1882)