James Crotty

James Crotty (1845?98), prospector, was born in Ireland. About 1879, after working on the Victorian goldfields, he went to the new goldfields in western Tasmania. In 1884 he paid £20 for a one-third interest in the most promising mine at Mount Lyell, the Iron Blow. However, the gold was difficult to extract, making progress slow and expensive.

Still a minority shareholder, Crotty became a rich investor when the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Company established that the mine contained vast deposits of copper, and opened smelters in 1896. In 1897, Crotty went to London to raise capital on the stock exchange, where he died after a brief illness. He left most of his considerable estate to the Catholic Church, enabling the completion of St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne.

Further reading: ADB 8; G Blainey, The peaks of Lyell, Melbourne, 1954.

Wendy Rimon