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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
William Plummer

Born: 1852; Died: 1886; Married: Did not marry

William Plummer was the first of three children born to Levi Plummer and his wife Frances Ann [Gutteridge]. Frances also had an older daughter, Mary Ann, from a previous marriage. Mary Ann married David Boon in 1860. William’s two other siblings were Francis (‘Fanny’) and Elizabeth (‘Eliza’). Fanny married Donald Murty in 1877 and made a home at 'Gledeswood'.

From the local newspapers we learn that William played cricket for the Ginninderra side, and was a successful participant in Ploughing matches, also serving on the committee of the Canberra and Ginninderra Ploughing Association. He is recorded as attending a meeting of the Free Selectors Association in 1881, and chairing a meeting of the Association in 1883.

In his short life William also became an active worker for the Methodist church. According to Winch ‘on 18 March, 1874, at Weetangera… the minister was requested to see Brother W. Plummer and arrange with him with reference to becoming an exhorter’. ‘Exhorters’ was the title for a probationary priest. From this it is evident that the local preachers were out-going and not slow to seek out and recruit likely candidates. At the next meeting Plummer was accepted as an Exhorter. He filled this first probationary role for three years before moving into the next grade, when on 21 July, 1877 he was ‘received on trial’. During this second stage he was expected to preach and pursue whatever course of study was specified to prepare him for accreditation.

In 1878 he was referred to the next Local Preachers’ Meeting and finally on 1 October, 1879, was received as fully accredited. Five years from start to finish is a long time for any aspirant to prove himself. Sadly in William Plummer’s case his untimely death, a result of a shooting accident in 1886, cut short a life of outstanding service to the Church’.

The Queanbeyan Age reported on the incident in the following terms:

Last night Mr EB Percy came breathless into town and reported to the police and Dr Fitzpatrick that he had been the accidental cause of shooting Mr William Plummer. The accident occurred on Queanbeyan Hill. Plummer was brought to his house at Mr WE Percy’s in Rutledge St in agony. Dr Fitzpatrick came quickly but at once saw that no human skill could save him. Percy was carrying his gun over his shoulder back to front and Plummer was walking ahead. Apparently the hammer caught in something discharging the gun into Plummber’s back. At the inquest the verdict was that William Plummer came to his death from being accidentally shot on 17th instant by a gun carried by Edward Benson Percy and exonerated Percy from blame.

The Age also reported on the funeral:

Report of William Plummer’s funeral. The remains were taken to his sister’s residence at Wattle Park. The funeral went from there to the Weetangera Cemetery. The pall bearers were Sidney Kilby, James Kilby, John Southwell, Albert Southwell, Henry Southwell and W Mandary. The funeral was largely attended.
[Queanbeyan Age 22 May 1886]

<b>Obituary. William Plummer<b>

The late Mr William Plummer was a young man of much talent and promise…he was a son of the late Mr Levi Plummer who also met with a violent death. The widowed mother still survives. The deceased, son of well to do farmer, until recently followed agricultural pursuits. He will be remembered as an oft-times winner of prizes and more than once the champion cup and belt at ploughing matches in the annual ploughing contests of the now difficult Ginninderra and Canberra Ploughing Association. Some years back he was given the status of local boy preacher in the Wesleyan Church. Mr Plummer offered his services to the Department of Public Instruction and was under training for the profession of public school teacher at the time of his decease. For some time he was secretary of Ginninderra Branch of the Land and Industrial Alliance. He was buried at Weetangera. [Queanbeyan Age 20 May 1886]

William Plummer brought the ‘Band of Hope’ to Wattle Park in 1883 to combat the attraction of the local public houses. He also worked to establish a Sunday school at Weetangera and is recorded as a Class Leader in December 1884, with a class of 14. (a Class Leader was a teacher at Sabbath School).

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