Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Bedggood, John Charles (1847–1911)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

John Charles Bedggood (1847-1911), businessman, was born on 28 February 1847 at Hoxton New Town, London, son of Daniel Bedggood, bootmaker, and his wife Eleanor, née Rowe. He came to Victoria in the Janetze in 1854 with his parents. His father set up a boot factory in Richmond and as his business expanded also imported English footwear. In 1864 he took his three sons, Thomas, Edward and John, into partnership and in 1873 a new factory was built in Judd Street. John became travelling salesman for the firm and was for some years a familiar sight on the Victorian goldfields. In the mid-1870s the retirement of Daniel, the death of Edward and Thomas's withdrawal from the firm left John the only Bedggood partner until 1893 when he was joined by his son, Daniel Thomas.

By the late 1870s competition between merchant and manufacturer and between manufacturers in the trade was intense. Bedggood blamed the protective duties for the great increase in local competition, and in an endeavour to find an outlet for Victoria's overproduction he became 'as conversant with every town in Victoria as [he was] with Bourke Street'. He made several trips annually to most Tasmanian and South Australian towns and often visited central New South Wales and New Zealand, surviving shipwreck on one trip to that country. In 1894 new machinery from England and America was installed and shoemaking methods were revolutionized. In 1899 a new factory was started in Jolimont and the firm also had a warehouse in Flinders Lane. Bedggoods secured the contract for supplying boots to the bushmen's contingent in the Boer war.

Bedggood, a radical in his youth, became more conservative as success was achieved. However, as an executive member of the Employers' Union in 1890 he expressed the view that 'in this country, where there was plenty for all, he preferred to see short hours and a share and share alike principle'. With his considerable business genius Bedggood was also said to be kindly, charitable and straightforward. He was for many years a member of the Camberwell Independent Church and enjoyed fishing and gardening in his retirement. He died after a short illness at his home, Corona, Camberwell, on 30 September 1911, survived by his wife Annie Mary, née Cockes, and by two daughters and a son.

Select Bibliography

  • Royal Commission on the Tariff, Report, Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Victoria), 1883, 2 (S50)
  • Australian Storekeepers & Traders Journal, 30 Nov, 23 Dec 1910
  • Age (Melbourne), 2 Oct 1911
  • Bedggood & Co. records (Australian National University Archives).

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Bedggood, John Charles (1847–1911)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bedggood-john-charles-2963/text4313, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 22 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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