Looking at a picture of John Crookes, you would hardly find him an inspiring figure.
Yet if you knew him, you would be impressed. He was one of Launceston's finest.
A modest and sensible man, who treated everyone with respect and put philanthropy and the community above his personal interest.
Coming from County Tyrone in Ireland, he arrived in Hobart Town in 1832, before moving to Launceston in 1837 to join Henry Reed's trading company.
By 1864 the firm had become Crookes & Hudson, one of the largest in Tasmania.
Crookes was one of the founders and leading supporters of the movement against transportation and for self-government.
As part of this, he spoke publicly and passionately about the need for free trade between the colonies and how government jobs should be given to locals, rather than making nepotistic appointments in England and sending those officers out here on fat salaries paid for out of our taxes.
He was intelligent and gave a famous example of soap to illustrate a point: "A person commences the manufacture of soap, and not being able to get sufficient tallow here he imports it from Port Phillip. For this he has to pay a duty of 15% on its being landed here; and if he sends his soap back to Melbourne for sale, he has to pay another duty of 5 or 10% there, making about 25% duty upon the article - whilst British soap is admitted duty free."
A modest and sensible man ...
He also told of the day a bale of leather landed on the Hobart wharf after being manufactured in Tasmania, sent to England because the government here wouldn't buy it, purchased in London by the British government and sent back here for the Convict Department.
He was elected as an Alderman in the famous election of 1853, when every person elected was a member of the Anti-Transportation League and became an MHA in 1857.
It was as an MHA in 1866 that Crookes most vividly showed the man he was.
It came about that Sir Richard Dry had returned to parliament and was expected to become Premier.
However Sir Richard refused to serve unless ex-Premier Tom Chapman was in the position of Colonial Secretary.
Sir Richard was ill and frail. His role would be as the face of the government and to maintain its support.
This was when Crookes stepped up announcing he would resign his seat, if the good people of Launceston would elect Tom Chapman in his place and ensure his sacrifice was not in vain.
And they did!
Just four years later, Crookes was speaking at a public meeting when he collapsed and died. Thus passed one of our best.