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“FRIEND OF CHARITY” – THE STORY OF JOHN CODY

In researching the life of the Old Paradians’ Association’s inaugural President James Kennedy, a fascinating biography of Kennedy’s successor John Cody has surfaced.

John’s 75-year existence as a cricketer, journalist, humanitarian and family man is the subject of a well-compiled obituary published in the Catholic newspaper The Advocate five days after his death on July 31, 1931.

The obituary appears to have been sourced by a Byron Bay-based Cody descendant, Nicole Cody, and included in the family trees section of ancestry.com.au

Through her own research, Nicole ascertained the following details.

John Francis Cody, son of Michael Cody and Ann Cleary, was born in Tullamore, King’s County (now Offaly), Ireland in 1856. On June 18 of that year he was baptised in the Parish of Balliboy and Killoughy, Diocese of Meath, County of Offaly (King’s) and his godparents were recorded as Tim Hanlon and Catherine Casey.

John was but a boy of three when in 1859, together with his mother and five siblings, he departed the English port of Liverpool aboard the Australia-bound clipper ship Marco Polo (pictured). On January of the following year, the Codys disembarked the Marco Polo and set foot on Melbourne soil.

On January 25, 1869, John was amongst the 200 boys who fronted up for the very first day of schooling in the building that stood behind St Francis’ Church on the corner of Elizabeth and Little Lonsdale Streets in the city. William Bloxom, William Fox (father of Bishop Fox) and John Mount (father of Frank sen.) were included in that first intake.

Fifteen years later, on April 16, 1884, John married Pauline Mary O’Callaghan in St George’s Church, Carlton. Together they raised seven sons and one daughter – Francis, William, John, Adrian, Ernest (who later gained international honours as a forward with the Australian Rugby Union team), Charles, Thomas and Eileen.

Throughout his professional career and until his retirement, John served in a variety of administrative roles in hospitals for the insane in both rural Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne.

John Cody died in Kew on July 31, 1931 and was buried in the Melbourne General Cemetery. Nine years later, his beloved wife Pauline was also laid to rest in that grave.

John’s obituary, as published in the Catholic newspaper The Advocate, is as follows:

Death of Mr. J. F. Cody

An Exemplary Layman and Friend of Charity

AFTER an extended illness, the death occurred on July 31 of Mr. John Francis Cody, at his residence at Fernhurst-grove, Kew. The late Mr. Cody was well known in Catholic and State public service circles in Melbourne, and widespread regret was expressed at his passing. He was fortified by the rites of Holy Church.

Of a charitable disposition, the late Mr. Cody manifested a keen interest in the welfare of St. Anthony’s Home, and was for several years the chairman of the committee which successfully organised fetes and other attractions in aid of the institution. An edifying member of the Sodality of the Sacred Heart, he was constant in his attendance at Holy Communion, and for a long period presided at the meetings of the Kew branch of the A.C.F., where his literary ability and knowledge of Irish and Australian history were of great benefit to the members.

On Saturday morning a Requiem Mass was celebrated by the Rev. J. J. Egan, an intimate friend and schoolmate of the deceased, at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Kew, in the presence of numerous relatives and friends. Right Rev. Mgr. Collins, P.P., presided. The interment at the Melbourne General Cemetery on August 1 was private. The burial service was read by Rev. Sylvester Keane, and a boys’ choir from the schools of the Marist Brothers in Melbourne sang “Lead Kindly Light” and other hymns at the graveside.

Rev. Bro. Emilian, Superior of the Marist Monastery at Brunswick East, represented at the funeral the Provincial of the Marist Brothers in Australia, at whose schools three of the sons of the late Mr. Cody were educated.

Journalist and Cricketer.

Born at Tullamore, King’s County, Ireland, in 1858 (sic.), the late Mr. Cody came to Australia - the fifth son of a family of seven boys and one girl - with his parents at the age of five (sic.) years. He was educated at the Christian Brothers’ College, Victoria Parade, East Melbourne, where he matriculated.

He wrote the coursing notes for The Australasian under the nom de plume of “Leveret” (a young hare in its first year) for a period, and later he occupied a position with the Colonial Sugar Refining Co.

Finally, in the time of Sir Graham Berry, he entered the State public service, and after, occupying administrative positions on the staffs of the Hospitals for the Insane at Sunbury, Ballarat and Beechworth. He was appointed in 1908, secretary to the Hospital for the Insane at Yarra Bend, which position he occupied until his retirement in 1921.

As a young man, the late Mr. Cody was a noted athlete, and his cricketing skill was such that, as a member of the East Melbourne Cricket Club, he was one of the list of candidates from which the first Australian Test team was selected. At a later date he toured Victoria as a member of an Australian Eleven.

In the early eighties, playing an English Eleven at Yarra Bend, he was associated with the late Mr. Tom Horan in an opening-partnership of 101 runs, which gave the visitors some uneasy moments. Another of his cricketing recollections was his umpiring in the eighties a match between the M.C.C. Eleven and an English team captained by Lord Harris, a game in which there were some lively incidents, from which not even the umpire was omitted.

Unselfish Services.

The late Mr. Cody’s life as a Catholic layman was a record of unselfish devotion to the interests of his religion, and of unobtrusive but unremitting charity to his fellow-men and to Catholic charitable institutions.

In 1893, in association with Dr. A. L. Kenny, of Melbourne, he organised the great Cathedral Fair held at the Exhibition Building, Melbourne, and as a result of which £13,000—or more than £30,000 in present monetary value —was raised for the completion of the building of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

He was secretary of the parish committee, headed by the late Dr. T. B. Ryan, whose efforts resulted in the commencement of the building of St. John’s Church, Clifton Hill, the laying of the foundation stone of which church was the first suburban function performed by the late Archbishop Carr on his arrival in Melbourne.

In 1917 he was president of the Old Paradians’ Association. The extent of his service and charity in other directions was reflected in the number of tributes in telegrams and letters received by his relatives from convents, schools, monasteries and orphanages throughout Victoria and New South Wales.

Among others, messages of condolence were received from Marist Brothers, St. Joseph’s College, Hunter’s Hill (New South Wales), Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Abbotsford and South Melbourne; Presentation Sisters, Elsternwick; Redemptorist Fathers, Ballarat; Sacred Heart Fathers, Kensington (N.S.W.); Brigidine Sisters, Beechworth; Sisters of the Poor; St. Anthony’s Home, Kew, all of which institutions, among numerous others, had experienced and appreciated his benevolence and charity.

The late Mr. Cody was married in 1883 to Miss Pauline O’Callaghan, of a well-known Melbourne family, a sister of Mr. T. D. O’Callaghan, P.M. He is survived by his widow, six sons and one daughter. A brother, Mr. Michael Cody, formerly Governor of Metropolitan and Pentridge Gaols, died last year.

Rev. J. J. Egan’s Tribute.

On Sunday morning last, in the presence of a large congregation, the preacher Rev. J.J. Egan, made touching references to his old schoolmate, Mr J.F Cody. He was, he said, a sterling Catholic and a charitable Christian gentleman, a pattern to all, particularly the young, who would derive great spiritual benefit by emulating his saintly example. R.I.P.

 

As a lovely postscript to this story, the portrait image of the then Association Vice-President John Cody, as he appears in the inaugural committee photograph of 1914-1915 (below), has been forwarded to Nicole Cody, who until now had no image of this admirable Old Paradian to go by.


Inset: T.C. Hardiman (Treas.), E. Peppard (Vice-Pres.)

Standing: R. Rush, P.A. Matthews, C. Cantwell, W.L. Rush, H.H. Hoare

Sitting: L.P. Cosgrave (Hon. Sec. 1914), Rev. Bro. J.M. Dwyer, J.H. Kennedy (Pres.), Rev. T.B. Walshe, J.F. Cody (Vice-Pres.), M.A. Sullivan (Asst. Sec. 1914; Sec. 1915)