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australian rowers profiles and history

John B Whitty

Mercantile Rowing Club (VIC)

J B Whitty was the President of Mercantile Rowing Club for the period 1889-1903.

In his obituary in the Mercantile Annual Report, it was noted that:

".. we greatly regret to record that death has removed a very old friend of the Club in the person of Mr J B Whitty. For some years, Mr Whitty held the office of President of this Club, and right up to his deathcontinued to take a keen personal interest in the Club's affairs, as was shown by his numerous generous acts."

He is recorded in earlier annual reports as having been a generous benefactor of the Club.

He does not appear to have been a successful rower himself.

The obituary in The Argus on Wednesday 2nd December 1914 is recorded as follows:


"Deep regret will be felt in manufacturing and business circles by the announcement of the death of Mr. John B. Whitty.

"Mr. Whitty, who was 78 years of age, enjoyed excellent health until a few weeks ago, when be suffered an attack of influenza. He remained at his home, Robinson Road, Hawthorn, until he was fit to be moved, and his medical adviser suggested that a change of climate might be beneficial. Last week he visited Albury, where the trouble reappeared. On his return to Beechworth he entered St. Anne's private hospital. On Monday double pneumonia set in and he gradually sank and died. Dr. H. F. Walker, of Beechworth, and Dr. Merrillees, of Auburn, were in constant attendance. 

"Mr. Whitty was born in Dublin, and in 1850 came to Melbourne with his parents. His father was specially commended by the British Government to the Lieutenant-Governor, Mr. La Trobe, and on the discovery of gold at the Ovens he was appointed postmaster at Beechworth. Mr. John B. Whitty lived there for several years, and subsequently came to Melbourne where he was employed (among other engagements) in a stock and station agent's office. A chance meeting with the late Mr. Fred. Lewis (they had been members of the Emerald Hill Artillery battery) led to his joining that gentleman in the manufacturing industry, then in its infancy, in connection with which their names afterwards became so well known. From a small beginning in North Melbourne, they built up the large business now carried on by the firm. Mr. Whitty retired a few years ago. He never sought popularity but his sterling qualities of heart and mind attracted to him a great number of friends. 

"He was extremely charitable, and it may now be mentioned without impropriety that there was scarcely an appeal made in these columns to which he did not cordially respond, though always anonymously. He had artistic tastes, and was particularly fond of music. For many years he was a singing member of the Melbourne Liedertafel, and in later life was always to be counted upon for support of movements to promote musical culture in Victoria. He was a bachelor. His only surviving brother is Mr. Herbert Whitty."

Andrew Guerin
August 2021


  1. Mercantile Annual Report 2014-15
  2. "DEATH OF MR. J. B. WHITTY." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 2 December 1914: 8. Web. 8 Aug 2021 <>.

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