MACARTHY, Thomas George
Brewer and philanthropist.
A new biography of Macarthy, Thomas George appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Macarthy was born in London in 1833, the son of Thos. Macarthy, a Catholic florist, and of Ann Elizabeth, née Grout, a beautiful and distinguished Quakeress. Macarthy was attracted to the Victorian goldfields in the early 1850s, later settling at Geelong. He crossed the Tasman to the Otago diggings in 1865, and from there followed the rush to the West Coast where, after some success on the various goldfields, most notably at Reefton, he established a small brewery at Charleston. In 1877 he bought a brewery in Wellington and, in 1883, a second. From this start he expanded his business interests into many fields, becoming manager-owner of the barque Weatherfield, with which he traded between London and New Zealand ports. He was a member of the board of directors of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Co., becoming its chairman in 1897. He was also a director of the Wellington Opera House Co. Macarthy took an active interest in the Industrial Exhibition (1896–97), making himself responsible for its financial success, and was also for some years president of the Wellington Racing Club. On 28 April 1897, at St. Mary's of the Angels, Wellington, he married Mary Ellen Fitzsimons, daughter of an old West Coast settler and 40 years his junior. His best man was John Plimmer, the self-styled “Father of Wellington”.
After her marriage, Mrs Macarthy devoted much of her time to charitable work. Macarthy gave liberally to charities during his lifetime, but always insisted that the gifts be anonymous. A rare exception to this rule was a donation in 1910 of £500 to the Children's Hospital. He died at his Boulcott Street home in Wellington on 19 August 1912.