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CURRIE, John Lang (1856-1935)

CURRIE, John Lang (1856-1935)

John Lang Currie (Pegasus, 1935).

John Lang Currie (Pegasus, 1935).

John Currie, son of pioneering pastoralist and College supporter, John Lang Currie (1818-1898), was enrolled at Geelong College in the first intake of students in 1861.

He appears in the Geelong College Annual Report Prize lists as John or John Lang Currie of Larra Cressy as follows:

1866 2nd, Latin, 2nd Class
1867 1st, Latin, 4th Class
1867 2nd, English Reading Speed, 2nd Class
1867 2nd, English Grammar
1867 2nd, Scripture, History 1st Class
1868 1st, Latin, 3rd Class
1868 2nd, English, 3rd Class
1869 3rd, Latin, 5th Class
1869 1st, French, 1st Class
1870 1st, Latin, 3rd Class
1870 1st, Greek, 2nd Class
1870 3rd, French, 2nd Class
1871 1st, Latin, 5th Class
1872 1st, Latin, 6th Class
1872 2nd, Greek, 4th Class
1872 2nd, Gymnastics, 3rd Class

John Lang Currie, pastoralist, died at his home, ‘Larra,’ at Derrinallum, on 27 July, (1935) after several months of gradual failing health. He was interred at Lismore. He was the eldest son of Louisa nee Johnston and John Lang Currie (1818-1898), a pioneer of Camperdown district, who in early days took up the country near the foot of Mount Elephant.

His father, John Lang Currie (senior) was one of the members of the Corresponding Committee of Geelong College when it was founded in 1861. John Lang Currie (junior) was one of the early pupils, entering in 1861 with other Western District pioneer sons, including the Chirnsides, Calverts, Stodarts, Strachans, and Campbells. In 1894, he married Lorna Mary nee Box at St Kilda and four years later in 1898 inherited the homestead part of ‘Larra’, his father’s property. He developed the property as a Corriedale Stud and maintained its Shorthorn dairy herd. He also bred thoroughbred horses which he raced in both country and Melbourne meetings. He was a councillor of the Pastoralists' Association of Victoria in 1908-23 and its vice-president in 1918-1919.

He was one of the founders of the Old Geelong Collegians' Association, its President in 1908 (the year the College again became a Public School), and one of the Old Collegians' representatives on the College Council until the day of his death. He interested himself in local government, being for twenty-four years a member of the Hampden Shire Council from 1898 to 1922, and in 1903 and 1916 its President. He was keenly interested in horse racing, winning many races at Warrnambool and Camperdown, and in coursing, making his paddocks available always for the use of the Camperdown Coursing Club - indeed, for many years the Commonwealth Stakes was held in them.

Alexander Henderson in Hendersons Australian Families Volume 1 described his life:
'John Lang Currie, was born at Geelong, Victoria, 21st May, 1856, and educated at Geelong College. He gained experience under his father, and later entered into partnership with his brother-in-law, Patrick Sellar Lang, in the lease of 'Larra Estate' from his father; the partnership was carried on until the latter's death in 1898. In 1901 'Larra' was subdivided into two portions, 'Larra' and 'Emick', the latter portion going to Charles Sibbald Currie: while John Lang Currie retained 'Larra', the homestead portion.

He carried on the family tradition in the breeding of stud sheep, and became a noted Merino sheep breeder. His knowledge in this direction led him ro be in demand as a judge at many shows throughout Victoria.

A prominent sportsman, he owned several well known racehorses, including 'Even Time', winner of the Victoria Sr. Leger in 1909, and 'Captain White'. Coursing was his favourite sport, and for many years 'Larra Estate' occupied an important position in the coursing calendar, and here the Commonwealth Stakes were run. He was a Councillor of the Hampden Shire, which he first entered in 1898, and on which he served for twenty-four years, being President, 1903-4, 1909-10, and 1916-17.

A member of the Old Geelong Collegians' Association from its inception, he was President in 1908.

He married Lorna Mary, daughter of Henry Box, of Melbourne, and died at Larra Estate, Vicroria, 27th July, 1935.'

John Lang Currie donated the first ‘Eight-oar Boat’ to be used by the College in 1902. It was named 'Lorna Mary' after John Currie’s wife and this boat and its crew are depicted in a photograph of 1902.

In 1939, several years after John Currie’s death, Pegasus reported that his brother, Sir Alan Currie was to donate a carved bookcase to the George Morrison Memorial Library. It is not known with any certainty what happened to the Currie Bookcase. Sir Alan Currie died in 1942 and left a bequest of £1,000 for a scholarship in memory of his brother, John Lang Currie.

John Lang Currie’s brothers, William John Currie (1855-1887), and James Cedric Currie (1860-1907), also attended the College.

Sources: Pegasus September 1935 pp 61-2; Pegasus June 1939 p 12; Pegasus January 1943 p 10; Hendersons Australian Families p171; Mary Turner Shaw, 'Currie, John Lang (1856 - 1935)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, Melbourne University Press, 1981, pp 180-181.
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