William George Johnson: Tenth Mayor of Guildford 1895 – 1896

William Johnson elected mayor for the third year in succession

William commenced his next year in the grandest fashion. On Monday, the 23rd December 1895 His Excellency the Governor, Colonel Sir Gerard Smith, and Lady and the Misses Smith, stopped at Guildford, on their way to Perth. The Vice Regal party were received at the platform by Mr. W. G. Johnson J.P., Mayor of Guildford; several of the town councillors; and many of the leading residents of the town and district. After being introduced to the Governor by the Premier John Forrest the Mayor, in a few appropriate and well expressed sentences, tendered His Excellency a sincere welcome to the town, after which the following official address was read and presented:-

” To His Excellency, Sir Gerard Smith, Knight Commander of the most distinguished order of St. Michael and St. George, Governor and Commander-in Chief in and over the colony of Western Australia.-May it please your Excellency, we, the Mayor and Councillors of this municipality, representing its inhabitants, desire to accord your Excellency a most cordial welcome on this your first visit to and passage through our town, and would avail ourselves of the opportunity to assure you of our continued loyalty to Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria. Our colony at present, owing to its rich and abundant mineral resources, fostered by the wise and prudent statesmanship of our Premier, has entered on a career of prosperity; and the period of your Excellency’s administration will probably be unparalleled in its history, as very marked developments of these resources are being carried out in every direction. From your Excellency’s past public record, we feel assured your administration will be a progressive epoch in the history of the colony. We sincerely wish your Excellency, Lady Smith and family a pleasant sojourn amongst us.-Signed, on behalf of the councillors and burgesses of Guildford. W. G. Johnson Mayor.”

After His Excellency had replied, an adjournment for a short time was made for refreshments, after which the Vice Regal party, accompanied by the mayor, councillors and several of the leading residents, continued the journey to Perth. (Western Australian 28h Dec 1895)

Sir Gerard Smith (1839-1920), 12th Governor of Western Australia, was born on 12 December 1839 at Pimlico, London, third son of Martin Tucker Smith, politician, banker and director of the East India Company, and his wife Louisa, née Ridley. Gerard was educated at Eton, an ensign and lieutenant in the Scots Fusilier Regiment of Foot Guards, by purchase. Retiring from the army as lieutenant-colonel in 1874, he became a partner in the family firm, Samuel Smith, Bros & Co., bankers, of Hull, and was the principal promoter of a local railway company. He was High Sheriff of Hull in 1880, and a Liberal member of the House of Commons for High Wycombe in 1883-85. In October 1895 he was appointed governor of Western Australia in succession to Sir William Robinson. Smith and arrived in Western Australia on 23 December at the beginning of the boom which saw the Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie goldfield become one of the largest producers in the world.

In November 1896 Mayor Johnson’s position as mayor was usurped by a newcomer, Mr. C. H. Rason and that is another story….