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(29 May 1822-18 December 1907 - aged 85)

Lane submitted an application to join the Expedition, and was appointed to the VEE (as a waggon driver) in Royal Park on the day of departure, 20th August 1860 (aged 38).

The original application is at the State Library of Victoria, MS13071, Boxes 2076/1-2076/5 and Boxes 2077/1-2077/4.Royal Society of Victoria, Exploration Committee Records: Applications to join the VEE received by the EC.

Lane was discharged 8th September 1860 at Swan Hill. Burke wrote cheque #1 to Lane ks for £6 13s 4d for twenty days' pay.


Feb 6th 1860

To John Macadam Esq.,

Having an earnest desire to become one of the Exploring Party, and hearing from Freeman Esq that you have the appointing and selecting of the men. I have ventured [?] to importune you with this petition, and should you deem me worthy of your patronage (after a perusal of the enclosed testimonials). It shall ever be my constant care and [?] to forward your interests attached into the enterprise.

Apologising for intruding on your valuable time,
I have the honour, to subscribe myself,
Yours very respectfully,
James Robert Lane.

PS We the undersigned gentlemen and merchants of Melbourne can recommend the petitioner, as a fit and proper person to accompany the prospecting expedition:

[7 names and signatures]

Carlisle Street West, St Kilda.

March 12th 60.

Dr Macadam,

Having forwarded to you some references and recommendations as to character &c., being at the time an applicant for one of the exploring party. I would take it as a favor if you would inform me if I am at all likely to have a chance as one of the above party.

By addressing a line to the address below.

You are much obliged.
J R Lane.

Thursday, 25 August 1904, p. 6S.

An Aged Explorer

Forty-five years ago on Monday last Burke and Wills's expedition left Melbourne to cross Australia from south to north. The fatal issue of the expedition is a matter of history. Burke, Wills, and Grey lost their lives far in the interior, and others subsequently succumbed to the hardships endured.

Of the band of 25 who set out from Royal Park on that day, only one, so far as is known, now remains alive. He is Mr J R Lane, who attained his 82nd birthday last May. Mr Lane is now hale and hearty, and judging by appearances has even now the prospects of living a long time. A few weeks ago, says The Age, he tripped at the threshold of his door and fractured his right elbow. The injury was so severe that the surgeons at the hospital considered he would never again recover the use of the limb, but his wonderful vitality rose superior to the call upon it, and already he is looking for ward to the removal of the limb from the splints.

Mr Lane came to Australia to join the Victorian constabulary force, which was then being organised. Attracted by the rush for gold, he was diverted from his purpose, and went to the diggings, where he experienced varying fortune.

When the Burke and Wills exploring expedition was planned he offered to join, and was accepted. Owing to the unwieldy size of the caravan got together by Burke it was found necessary to reduce its size, and this was done at Menindie, on the Darling, where a number of hands were sent back and stores left behind. Mr Lane left the camp to make his way back to Melbourne alone and on foot, with nothing but what he stood up in, plus a quart pot, a couple of pounds of flour, and a flint and steel in a brass case, given him by Wills. He still treasures the little case as his dearest possession, on account of its association with Wills. When returning he tried to cut a straight track back, but, failing to find water, was in a fainting condition when found by a stockman on what was then a very far back station.

Mr Lane lives at No. 14 Pitt-street, Carlton. He is a robust, healthy-looking old man, over 6ft high, with white hair and beard, the soundness of his constitution being due, the doctors say, to the temperate, careful life he has led. At the time of his recent accident Mr Lane was drawing an old age pension; now be is receiving aid from the AOF, of which he is one of the oldest members.

Thursday, 31 May 1906.
Page 6.

Mr James Lane, of Melbourne, on Tuesday completed his 84th year.

Mr Lane is said to be the last survivor of the Burke and Wills expedition party, which left Melbourne on August 20, 1860. He was engaged to drive one of the waggons, and when severing his connection with the party at Swan Hill Mr R O'Hara Burke handed Mr Lane a tinder box, which he treasures to this day.

Some months ago the case of Mr Lane was brought under the notice of Mr Bent, who arranged that he should receive a pension of 10/ per week for life. Notwithstanding the fact that he has broken a leg upon three different occasions, and an arm once, Mr Lane is hale, hearty, and contented.

Saturday, 21 December 1907, p. 13.

Burke and Wills Expedition
Only one member left

Mr James Robert Lane, who was connected with the ill-fated Burke and Wills exploring expedition as a horse driver (says The Melbourne Age), died on Wednesday, aged 85.

Mr Lane left Melbourne with the expedition, which he accompanied as far as Menindie. His services being no longer required, as it was decided to leave a portion of the plant, he started to walk back to Melbourne. He was badly equipped for the journey, taking with him only a little food and a billy of water. He met with great hardship on his journey through lack of food and water, and had given himself up for lost when he heard the sound of horse bells late one night. This gave him renewed strength, and he managed to struggleo on for a little distance, when he sank exhausted to the ground. He was found on tbe following morning by a stockman of the station which he had luckily struck - one of the then farthest north settlements in Victorla, somewhere in the vicinity of where Echuca now stands.

At one time Mr Lane owned a considerable portion of the land on which the house where he died stands, but lately he was in straitened circumstances, and depended upon an old age pension, slightly augmented by a special Government grant.

The death of Mr Lane leaves Mr Wm Brahe, the present Consul for Germany, as the only survivor of the expedition which set out from Melbourne with Burke and Wills in 1860.

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