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Allport, Morton John Cecil (1858–1926)

by G. T. Stilwell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Morton John Cecil Allport is a minor entry in this article

Henry Allport (1890-1965), lawyer and public benefactor, was born on 14 July 1890 in Hobart, second son of Morton John Cecil Allport (1858-1926) and his wife Annie, née Campbell. Henry was a great-grandson of Joseph Allport and a grandson of Morton Allport. Admitted to the Bar in 1881, Cecil became senior partner in Dobson, Mitchell & Allport and a director of several prominent Tasmanian companies; a bibliophile and author of numerous articles on the island's history, he published A Page From the Past (1924), a centenary history of the Cascade estate. He also treasured Australian paintings, books and manuscripts, building up an impressive collection which was to be inherited by his sole surviving son.

Henry was educated at the King's Grammar School, The Hutchins School and the University of Tasmania (LL.B., 1914). The legacy of rheumatic fever which he had suffered in boyhood prevented him from enlisting during World War I and he was admitted to the Bar in 1914. He joined his father's firm, practised conveyancing and commercial law, and was made a partner in 1923. At St Aidan's Anglican Church, Launceston, on 4 April 1929 he married Claudine Miriam 'Daisy' Hawker; they were to remain childless.

Stimulated from childhood by his father's interests, Allport had developed a passion for history, antiques and colonial art. He studied the work of local artists and was an authority on early Tasmanian literature. His interests were reflected in his membership of the organizing committee of the Art, Antique, and Historical Exhibition (held to raise funds for unemployment relief in Hobart in August 1931) and in his pamphlet, Early Art in Tasmania, published to mark the occasion. With his wife, he built up a diverse and valuable collection of antiques and objets d'art at Cedar Court, their Sandy Bay home. A number of their pieces were bought locally, but most were purchased on visits to England. Acquisitions included a small collection of antique glass, a selection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English porcelain, domestic silverware dating from the late Elizabethan era, and individual pieces representative of three centuries of the furniture-maker's craft. Other purchases augmented Cecil's collection of books, pictures, manuscripts and documents.

Henry Allport was golf champion (1910, 1911 and 1930) of Southern Tasmania, and club champion, captain and secretary of the (Royal) Hobart Golf Club; he was also a keen tennis player and a camping enthusiast. Vice-president (1941-42 and 1945-47) of the Royal Society of Tasmania, he lectured on art and antiques, and wrote for the Australian Dictionary of Biography. He was, as well, chairman of the Cascade Brewery Co. Ltd, deputy chairman of the Hobart Gas Co. and a founding director of Richardson's Meat Industries Ltd.

Predeceased by his wife, Allport died on 21 May 1965 at Sandy Bay. His will directed that his estate be used to establish a library 'on the lines of the Mitchell Library . . . with a small fine arts museum attached' as a memorial to the family of which he was the last male descendant. Originally housed at Cedar Court, but transferred to a permanent home in the State Library of Tasmania after the passage of legislation to alter the terms of Henry's will, the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts was opened on 27 October 1972.

Select Bibliography

  • The Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts (Hob, 1972)
  • Illustrated Tasmanian Mail, 9 June 1921
  • Weekly Courier, 8 Apr 1926
  • Australian, 23 Nov 1965
  • Examiner (Launceston), 9 June, 17 Sept 1966
  • Mercury (Hobart), 22 May, 4, 9 Nov 1965, 4, 28 Oct 1972, 26 July 1980
  • Sunday Tasmanian, 30 June 1985
  • private information.

Citation details

G. T. Stilwell, 'Allport, Morton John Cecil (1858–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/allport-morton-john-cecil-9989/text16403, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 16 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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