George Renwick was born in 1811 in Glasgow, Scotland to George and Margaret Renwick. He married a house servant, Christina Condie, in Glasgow on 1 September 1836. The couple had 10 children together, two of them dying during infancy. One of their sons was the physician, philanthropist and politician, Sir Arthur Renwick.
Renwick, wife Christina and sons Arthur and William arrived in Sydney as bounty immigrants aboard the ship Helen on 21 July 1841. The family lived at 1 Kensington Street, Chippendale until 1856, when they moved to Argyle Terrace on Pitt Street, Redfern.
Renwick died on 23 June 1897 at his Pitt Street residence and was buried at Rookwood Cemetery two days later. At a meeting at Redfern Council George Renwick was described as ‘one of the pioneer aldermen of the council’.
Occupation & interests
Renwick was listed on his arrival in Sydney in 1841 as a bricklayer. Once settled at 1 Kensington Street, Chippendale, he advertised his services as a plasterer operating ‘near Tooth’s Brewery’. Renwick retired from business in 1867, and became a prominent philanthropist. He continued to concern himself with public affairs.
Renwick was a philanthropist who was involved in many community activities. He played a role in the building of the Redfern Congregational Church at the corner of Cleveland and George Streets in 1847. He was a director of the Benevolent Society for 22 years and the Institution for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind, as well president of the Randwick Asylum for Destitute Children at the time of his death in 1897. His death notice in The Sydney Morning Herald described him as ‘one of the oldest of the justices of the peace in the colony’.
Local government service
Renwick was nominated as a candidate for Redfern Ward, Redfern Council in September 1859, but was not elected as an alderman until 28 August 1860. This followed the retirement of George Ekins Crane. Renwick was an outspoken critic of the council before his election, noting: ‘the Council were not worthy of confidence, since they had acted throughout in the most selfish manner…showing that however little ability they might have for the management of the affairs of the municipality, they certainly had plenty for the management of their own’.
Renwick was chairman of Redfern Council from 1862 until 1863, and then in 1867 until he became Redfern’s first mayor in 1868. He served as mayor until 1871. Renwick retired as an alderman in June 1872, and was replaced by Alexander Wilson Douglas.
‘Death of Mr George Renwick’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 June 1897, p. 9, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14093986
‘The late Mr George Renwick JP’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 June 1897, p. 10, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14119071
‘Death of Mr. George Renwick’, The Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser, 2 July 1897, p. 2, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article126295480
Rutledge, Martha, ‘Renwick, Sir Arthur (1837–1908)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/renwick-sir-arthur-4467/text7287, published first in hardcopy 1976