Silver medal awarded to Mary Jane Cosgrave for her act of bravery on 13 September 1885 (Royal Humane Society of Australasia case number 431). That Sunday afternoon, Mary, aged 10, was with her younger brother Denis. They were attempting to cross a log over a creek in the township of Alexandra, in the Upper Goulburn Valley. Mary was guiding her brother over the fast-flowing water, swollen by recent heavy rain. He panicked and fell in, and she managed to scramble to shore. Seeing him still in the water, she bravely dived back in, and the two children clung together as the water swept them away. The current carried them towards a bridge, where Mr B. Smith raised the alarm. Mr P. Synnot, who was riding by, rushed his horse into the creek. He struggled in the deep, fast-flowing water, but managed to secure Mary and pass her to bystanders. Denis disappeared into the rushing water. His body was recovered the following day, half a mile from the log crossing. Sympathy was expressed to his parents, and calls were made for the log crossing to be replaced by planks and a handrail. Mary remains the youngest recipient of the Royal Humane Society's silver Clarke medal.

The Clarke medal was established through a grant to the Humane Society by Sir William Clarke in 1881. It was awarded in gold or silver.

Physical Description

Silver medal, 39 mm diameter. The obverse features a woman in ancient Greek clothing placing a wreath on the head of a kneeling male beneath the Southern Cross. The reverse provides the name of the winner, Mary Cosgrove the date 1885 on the reverse within a wreath.

Obverse Description

Woman in Ancient Greek clothing standing at left placing wreath on head of young man kneeling at right below Southern Cross; around, VIRTUTE PARATUM

Reverse Description

At centre within olive wreath AWARDED / TO / Mary J Cosgrave / 13th / Sept. 1885; around, ROYAL HUMANE SOCIETY OF AUSTRALASIA INSTD. A.D. 1874 (the name of recipient and date are engraved)

Edge Description



The Clarke medal was established through a grant to the Humane Society by Sir William Clarke in 1881. It was awarded in gold or silver. The Royal Humane Society of Australasia was founded in 1874 as the Victorian Humane Society. In 1882 it became 'The Royal Humane Society of Australasia', the first federal institution in Australia. The first object of the Society was to bestow award upon people who risked their lives to save others; the second object was to assist receipients who were disadvanted or disabled as a result of their brave actions, or to assist their surviving dependents. For many years the Society was located in the Old Customs House, Flinders Street. -South Australian Numismatic Journal. Vol.7 [2]. April 1956, p.13.

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