James William Abigail Jnr was born in London on 27 April 1864 and migrated to Australia as a child with his parents in 1866. His father was James Abigail Snr who also served on Newtown Council. Abigail Jnr lived in ‘Mona Villa’ next to Stanmore Public School from 1891 to 1911, when the school purchased the house to extend the playground.
He moved to ‘Ophir’ on Addison Road in 1914, to ‘Glen Carron’ in Stanton Road, Mosman in 1915, and when he died on 17 November 1928, he lived at ‘Homelea’, Balfour Road, Bellevue Hill. He was 58 when he suddenly collapsed and died, after having suffered a heart attack earlier that year. His two daughters, Doris (born 1892) and Minnie (born 1895) survived him.
Occupation & interests
Abigail was said to have initially helped his father in the family’s grocery store, but later became a ledger-keeper at the Auditor-General’s Department. Working as a storekeeper at Logan Downs station in Queensland, he moved to the Railway Department at Bathurst. For most of his adult life however, he worked as a solicitor and commissioner for affidavits from his office at 97 Elizabeth Street.
Known in the business as ‘Gentleman Jim’, he began practising as a solicitor in 1890 and his company (James W. Abigail & Co) existed until at least the 1960s. He had a reputation as a successful defence attorney and criminal advocate at the Supreme Court. By 1927 he had defended 100 capital charges, none of which had proceeded to the death sentence. His brother E. R. Abigail was also a prominent solicitor.
Abigail was the honorary secretary of the Newtown Ratepayers Association and was Premier of the Articled Clerks Association.
James William Abigail stood unsuccessfully for the federal Newtown-Camperdown seat in 1898.
Local government service
James William Abigail Jnr was an alderman on Newtown Council in 1897-98.
Biographical information for this alderman was originally researched by Mark Matheson for the Newtown Project Website.
‘The Elections’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 25 July 1898, p. 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14166484
‘Personal’, Evening News, 30 January 1928, p. 8, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article121693353
‘Sudden Collapse’, The Sun, 18 November 1928, p. 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article223244057