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Michael Chapman was born in 1822 at Cloyne, Cork, Ireland, son of property owner William Chapman and his wife Mary.
Chapman arrived in Sydney in 1840. He entered a partnership with Ebenezer Beaumont, initially trading as painters and paperhangers in Crown Street and later 470 George Street. On 11 December 1846 he married Catherine Shanahan. They had one son and three daughters, and their eldest daughter Mary Jane, born in 1848, married her cousin Henry Chapman.
Oil and colourman
By 1867, Michael and his brother Thomas John Chapman had a successful business as oil and colourmen. He resided at 55 Hereford Street, Glebe, in Cloyne Lodge, named for his birthplace. He also built a wooden house called Cloyne Lodge at Faulconbridge in the Blue Mountains. When this burnt down in 1888, he erected another house on the same site called Phoenix Lodge.
Magistrate, mayor and politician
Chapman was appointed a magistrate of New South Wales in 1864, and of Victoria in 1872. He was a director of the Australian Paper Company, vice president of the Board of Directors of Sydney Hospital, and a trustee of Hyde, Phillip, Cook and Wentworth parks. He was several times elected by suburban aldermen as Transit Commissioner. He was an Oddfellow for 61 years.
Chapman represented Macquarie Ward on Sydney City Council from 1 December 1860 to 30 November 1862 and from 1 December 1866 to 6 December 1900. He was Mayor of Sydney between 1871 and 1872. He was also an alderman of Glebe Municipal Council from 1866 to 1875 and from 1878 to 1893, and was mayor of Glebe from 1882 to 1884. Chapman was elected a member of the Legislative Assembly for The Glebe, on 29 August 1883, a position he held until 7 October 1885, and again from 5 February 1887 to 6 June 1891.
Chapman was an active alderman of Sydney City Council, a member of the Markets Committee, the Street Traffic Committee, and the Specifications and Tenders Committees in 1891; the Electricity Lighting Committee and the Fishmarkets Inquiry Committee in 1895; the Disposal of Refuse Committee from 1895 to 1898; the Works Committee in 1899–1900 and the Garbage Disposal Committee in 1899–1900.
Michael Chapman died at Forest Lodge on 23 February 1906 and was buried with Methodist rites. He was described as a property owner at the time of his death. His wife Catherine, aged 62, had died at Glebe in 1888.
CN Connolly, Biographical Register of the New South Wales Parliament 1856–1901, Australian National University Press, Canberra, 1983
Shirley Fitzgerald, Sydney 1842–1992, Hale & Iremonger, Sydney, 1992
AW Martin and P Wardle, Members of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales 1856–1901, Australian National University, Canberra, 1959
'Personal', Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 1906, p 11, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article14755174, viewed 6 June 2011
Peter Reynolds and Max Solling, Leichhardt: on the margins of the city, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1997
Royal Australian Historical Society Journal, vol 33, 1945, p 253
Sydney Mail, 30 November 1889