James Robbie Mathers was born in Pleasant Creek [Stawell] in 1867 to James Allen Mathers, a storekeeper and former councillor. He was later to become a storekeeper in Gippsland and then at Heywood, near Portland. Following a move to Melbourne, he established a real estate business. He initially lived in Hawthorn, before moving his business to Kew where he traded as Mathers & McMillan, 136 Cotham Road, and later at 283 Burke Road. For a short time, the family resided at Landene, in Cotham Road. They were to finally move to Rosalea, in Dale Street, Deepdene.
Following the death of Cr Henry Kellett in 1924, Mathers was elected unopposed as representative of College Ward. Elected Mayor in September 1930, he convened a meeting of citizens in the Town Hall in Walpole Street to form a local unemployment relief committee. His social initiatives included handing over council-owned premises in Brougham Street, the building re-purposed as a workshop for the unemployed, who were also granted free use of the Kew Municipal Baths. The Mayoress, Jean Mathers, set to work raising funds through charity balls, and also raised funds for St Anthony’s Orphanage in Wellington Street. James Robbie Mathers died on 8 April 1945. He was buried at Box Hill Cemetery.
This rare civic testimonial is historically significant, especially locally, as it contains the signatures of all present councillors and parliamentarians representing the City of Kew as well as the names and signatures of leaders of local churches, schools, public officials and leaders of community groups.
Boxed presentation folder and correspondence presented to the retiring Mayor of Kew, James Robbie Mather, in 1931. The book is leather bound with gilt lettering on the front. The 4 page testimonial includes and hand written statements about his contribution to Kew and its civic life. Other pages are signed by councillors, parliamentarians and community leaders.