James Russell Thompson was a successful businessman from Airdrie in Scotland. He arrived in the Victorian gold-mining town of Ballarat in 1853, having previously struck gold on the Ovens goldfields. Deafness caused by his earlier career in mining prevented Thompson from becoming involved in public life in Ballarat but, dying a wealthy man in May 1886, he was able to leave significant bequests to relatives and requested that his remaining estate be put towards the purchase of statues for Ballarat's sprawling botanic gardens. A fellow Scot, Thomas Stoddart, was executor of Thompson's estate, and was able to procure for the gardens numerous monuments and statues made of Italian Carrara marble. The most notable of Stoddart's procurements was the statue of the Scottish hero William Wallace. The Ballarat Star noted that "the statue of Wallace was decided on as a compliment to Mr Thompson's love for the country he came from-an effigy of the greatest character ... in Scottish history or legend". The statue of Wallace in Ballarat's botanic gardens was unveiled and bequeathed to the city on May 24, 1889. It is one of very few outside Scotland.
Field of Research
219999 History and Archaeology not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
HERDC Research category
C3 Non-refereed articles in a professional journal
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