From Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle, Saturday 10 November 1866:


On Wednesday morning a profound feeling of sorrow pervaded the city on it becoming known that the Hon. Robert Johnson had expired suddenly the previous evening at his residence, Brooksby, near Double Bay. The name and eminent reputation of Robert Johnson as a lawyer and a legislator, in addition to the universal estimation in which he has ever been held by not only the citizens of Sydney but the entire colony, will long survive in the memory of all who knew and appreciated his many admirable qualities. Mr Johnson, on his return from his professional duties in town, shortly, after 5 o'clock, apparently in excellent health and spirits was dressing for dinner, when he was seized with paralysis, and shortly afterwards breathed, his last.

The melancholy information was announced by the President to the Council on its assembling on Wednesday afternoon, when, on the motion of the Hon. the Postmaster-General, the House adjourned for a week in respect to the memory of so distinguished a member of their body. On the rising of the Assembly, the same night, that the House also adjourned until 7 o'clock the following day, to enable honorable members to attend the obsequies of the lamented gentleman.

The funeral took place on Thursday, afternoon. There was a large attendance, comprising members of Parliament, members of the Legal Profession, and many of our most prominent citizens. The coffin was brought to St. Mark's Church in a hearse, drawn by four horses, shortly after 3 o'clock, and was met at the gate by the Rev. Dean Cowper, the Rev. Canon Allwood, and the Rev. Mr. Saliniere, who were preceded by the choristers of the church. The chief mourners were Mr. Richard Johnson (brother of the deceased), Mr. W. J. Johnson (his eldest son) and Mr. John Binney (his son-in-law). The service in the church was performed by the Rev. Canon Allwood, in the absence of the incumbent, Rev. the Mr. Kemmis. The 39th and 90th Psalms were chanted by the choristers, the organ playing the accompaniment. The reverend Canon having read the Cor. xv. c., 20v., the coffin was taken from the trestles, and carried out of, the church to the solemn and beautiful strains of the Dead March in Saul. It was then placed in the hearse, and the relatives and friends of the deceased having entered the mourning coaches, the procession proceeded to the Randwick Cemetery, where the remains were buried.



From The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General AdvertiserSaturday 10 November 1866:

(from the Herald.)

We announce with sorrow not easily measured the loss of a fellow citizen, and a zealous and enlightened friend of his adopted country, the Hon. Robert Johnson.

The event came suddenly upon him, but for which, however, he was not wholly unprepared. For a long time pain and sickness made him familiar with man's inevitable destiny, and the loss of two brothers recently deceased had awakened the thoughts which no good man will deem intrusive, or wish to avoid. The eulogy of Mr. Robert Johnson would be best gathered from the universal expression of regret. It would be heard by a listening stranger that we have lost a man of heart-full of genuine kindness - wishing evil to no man, tempering often the rigours of law by the suggestions of mercy. Wo have perhaps known more of his inner thoughts than many in the circles to which he immediately belonged, and only on Friday last, after a discussion of the merits of the Public Schools Bill, wo had to admire the candour and generosity towards others in their faith and devotions, and the manly steadiness, independence and catholicity of his own. Mr. Johnson, as a lawyer, will be best appreciated by his numerous clients and professional brethren. He threw himself with zeal into the cause he undertook, but often his disinterested advice prevented the further exercise of his office. Many lawyers may equal him in learning. They may have acquired as full a knowledge of that wonderful and noble science in which he excelled; but few will venture to say they understood more fully the principles of justice, the philosophy of law, and the points on which a suit ought to turn. Mr. Johnson was, indeed, highly respected by the Bench and by the Bar. He claimed this regard because he was a good and useful man. But there is a sort of sympathetic affection which, when envy is absent, always attaches the members of a profession to those who do it honour. The ability of men of his class is not a dashing ostentatious talent, but a force of mind, showing its strength by its steadiness, diffusing itself over daily transactions, which reflect the light of a cultivated intellect, even when its operation is not directly seen, Wo believe that few gentlemen of the law will not feel that their profession is not richer in memories and poorer in possession from the event which has blotted the name of Mr. Johnson from the rolls. The deceased gentleman, as a member of the Legislative Council, was one of the most effective speakers and influential leaders. We believe that some men think law was only meant for lawyers, and that to expose a false principle or defective construction, while it may be corrected, is a troublesome faculty. But the greater number admired his foresight, his great clearness of perception, his regard for constitutional principles of government, his firmness in upholding them. Around his bier his political friends and enemies will gather - exhibiting equal reverence for his worth and sorrow for his death. Mr. Johnson's removal will be a loss to the neighbourhood in which he lived. He took great interest in his Church, its ministry and institutions. His opinion always had great authority on every question which concerned it, and we believe the last considerable service he rendered to his co-religionists was the ordering and passing of the bill for the regulation of its temporal affairs, No man knew better than he how to smooth difficulties or pass over them; none comprehended more clearly the reasonableness of that jealousy which shrank from the shadow of spiritual domination, or where to find the forms and phrases which would embrace the real interests and practical operation of systems.

Expressions of condolence with his household will come with more grace-not more sincerity-from other friends than ourselves, no might have hoped for longer life; but life is not to be measured always by years, nor is that event untimely always which to us seems pre- mature. He was spared the long agonies of dissolution, as sometimes endured; and the slow severance of the ties of domestic affection.

The President of the Legislative Council yesterday announced the melancholy fact in that house, and, after expressions of sorrow by several Hon. members at the sudden event, and respect for the high character of their late colleague, the house adjourned for a week.

The funeral will take place at three o'clock, this (Thursday) afternoon; the friends of the lamented gentleman will meet at St. Mark's Church, Darling Point, en route to the Cemetery, Randwick.