James Spring

Miller, Baker, Biscuit Manufacturer

Terms served on Council

Title Council From To
Alderman Darlington 1886 1900
Alderman Darlington 1904 1913
Mayor Darlington 1890 1900
Mayor Darlington 1904 1907
  • James Spring featured in 'Metropolitan Suburban Mayors', The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 22 April 1899, 922
  • Darlington Alderman, James Spring (The Daily Telegraph, 4 July 1894, p. 5)

Family background

James Spring was born on 4 November 1842 at Baston in Lincolnshire, England, the son of James Spring, a miller, and Jane née Pepper. He immigrated to Sydney, NSW, with his parents and siblings, arriving on 27 May 1855 aboard the ship Constitution.

At the time of the family’s arrival, the Sydney Morning Herald reported the ship contained ‘375 government immigrants, all English, principally agricultural labourers and mechanics’. It also reported the ship experienced an outbreak of smallpox with 12 cases reported and was ordered into quarantine on arrival in Sydney. According to the article, there had been 14 deaths (4 caused by smallpox) and 7 births during the 98-day voyage. The ship’s master wrote to the newspaper a month later, correcting its editors, saying there were ‘only two cases of smallpox’.

A reunion of passengers of the Constitution was conducted in May 1905. At the event, James Spring said:

Fellow-shipmates and descendants…It is a pleasure to speak to you again on an occasion so unique….I don’t believe there are any who came out in the good old ship who have done anything to be ashamed of. Lots of us came out under agreement [assisted by the government]….Out of the number on the Constitution, I don’t think you could have raised 500 sovereigns amongst the lot. (Laughter.) I know that my dear parents and myself only had eighteen pence when we got here.

Of the 375 immigrants, 27 were still living in 1905 when they gathered together at Quarantine Station, North Head to mark 50 years since their arrival in Australia. The party visited an obelisk memorial which had been erected in 1855 in memory of those passengers who died on the voyage and at the quarantine station by stonemasons F Tiddeman, J Willar, J Smith, T Grimes.

Memorial tablets were added to the obelisk and unveiled at the ceremony by the surviving passengers. Spring’s name appears at the top of the pillar. The event was arranged by a committee formed by Spring and other survivors and after the ceremony, the party boarded the steamer Cobar for a luncheon. Contrary to reports 50 years prior, at the time of the memorial service the Australian Town and Country Journal claimed there were 49 cases from the ship and 11 deaths.

James Spring married Ellen Baker (1844-1923) on 5 October 1865 at St Barnabas Church, Broadway and they had four sons and six daughters. He died on 11 December 1925, aged 83 years, at his home 5 Queen Street, Newtown. He was interred in the Old Church of England Section of Rookwood Cemetery. He left a will and an estate and assets valued at £21,492. James Spring lived at Rose Street, Darlington and 5 Quinn Street, Newtown.

Occupation & interests

James Spring worked with his father as a miller, baker and biscuit manufacturer at 21 King Street and 161 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, the latter on the corner of the former laneway, Rowe Street. Subsequently, Spring established a bakery business on the site of the Hotel Australia. In 1875, one letter received by the Council of Sydney detail a complain from James Spring of ‘eels’ in his water pipes.

Upon retirement he became associated with the affairs of the municipality of Darlington, where he occupied the position of mayor for 15 years. Spring presented the district in March 1910 with a drinking fountain and water fountain in City Road (near the old Deaf and Blind Institute) constructed of a single stone and weighing six tons and set on trachyte piers designed by architects Morrow and Du Putron.

Community activity

James Spring was a member of the Victoria Park Trust and a justice of the peace (JP). On his death in 1925 he was described as a ‘philanthropist’ and his gift of a drinking fountain and water trough to his municipality was ‘evidence of his love of animals.’

Local government service

James Spring was an alderman on Darlington Council in 1886-1900 and 1904-13. He was mayor in 1890-1900 and 1904-07.


Private collection and research compiled by descendants of James and Jane Spring.

‘Mails by the Contract Packet Boomerang’, Sydney Morning Herald, 28 May 1855, 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12969814

‘Ship Constitution’, Sydney Morning Herald, 27 June 1855, 4, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12970974

State Records Authority of NSW, Persons on bounty ships to Sydney, Newcastle, and Moreton Bay (Board’s Immigrant Lists); Series: 5317; Reel: 2469; Item: [4/4947]

Letter: James Spring, miller and baker King St, complaining of eels in his water pipes and requesting (05/05/1875), [A-00301239], City of Sydney Archives, https://archives.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/nodes/view/1103159

‘Municipal Elections’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February 1886, 8, http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/28360461

‘Alderman James Spring, JP’, The Daily Telegraph, 4 July 1894, 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article236148579

‘After 50 years’, The Australian Star, 25 May 1905, 5, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article231854492

‘Historic Gathering at North Head’, Evening News, 25 May 1905, 6, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article114054086

‘Jubilee of the Arrival at Sydney of the Ship Constitution’, Australian Town and Country Journal, 31 May 1905, 36, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71503000

‘Historic Gathering at North Head’, Australian Town and Country Journal, 31 May 1905, 36, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71503013

‘Obituary’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 December 1925, 11, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article16282346

Jubilee of the “Constitution”, Monument Australia, https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/landscape/settlement/display/22027


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