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Body, Eliel Edmund Irving (1881–1965)

by H. Alexander

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

Eliel Edmund Irving Body (1881-1965), sheep-breeder, was born on 30 March 1881 at Wambandry, near Warren, New South Wales, second son of Frederick Edmund Body (1838-1906), grazier, and his wife Helen Harriet, née Irving, of Lake Terramungamine station. Frederick Edmund had migrated from Devonshire in 1853 with his mother and uncle, and about 1865 took up land on the Macquarie River. In 1881 he bought Bundemar, near Trangie, and later Lake Terramungamine; he began clearing the heavily timbered country and in 1890 laid the foundations of the Bundemar flock. That year he represented Dubbo on the first council of the Pastoralists' Union of New South Wales. In 1901 his eldest son Frederick Irving founded the renowned Bundemar merino stud with 1700 Peppin ewes, and rams bought from Thomas Millear's Wanganella estate: thereafter the Body family did not introduce any outside blood. F. E. Body died at Bundemar on 28 April 1906, leaving an estate valued for probate at £102,407 deficit. The properties were administered as the estate of the late F. E. Body.

Eliel Edmund Irving, always known as 'Ted', was educated from 1894 at The King's School, Parramatta, and in 1901-02 studied arts at the University of Sydney. He returned home without a degree and enthusiastically helped to manage Bundemar. In 1914 the family bought Ardgour, Quirindi, and in 1924 a section of Buttabone, Warren, which were run as part of the stud. The sheep were classed by Charles Mallinson until he received a merino sheep appointment from the South African government in 1919. That year Body became a co-trustee of his father's estate and for many years thereafter was the guiding hand, first as studmaster, then as manager. The first famous sheep bred by Body was Sir Charles, whose progeny were sold throughout Australia and exported to South Africa and South America. Bundemar won many championships at the Sydney Sheep Show and the group prize (later the Stonehaven Cup) more often than any other stud.

From 1921 Body was a councillor of the New South Wales Sheepbreeders' Association, and president in 1925-30, 1937-40 and in 1947-49, serving almost continuously as one of its eight vice-presidents until he was made a life governor in 1960. He was also a member of its flock register committee and, in 1961, aged 80, was one of the provisional committee which set up the Australian Stud Poll Merino Flock Register. He played a leading part in negotiations with the Federal and State governments on closer settlement and the export embargo on merino rams. In 1932 he had declined Country Party nomination for the State electoral seat of Castlereagh.

Body was a keen footballer, cricketer, tennis-player, golfer and race-goer, and was a member of the Australian Club, the Australian Jockey Club and Royal Sydney Golf Club; he spent his last years in Sydney. In 1960 he was appointed C.B.E. for his services to the sheep industry. On 8 June 1965 he died at his flat at Edgecliff and was cremated with Anglican rites; he was survived by his wife Doris Elaine, née Walsh, whom he had married at St Kilda, Victoria, on 20 August 1913, and by his only son. His estate was valued for probate at £71,705. After his death the close family partnership was impossibly unwieldy, with shareholders spanning three generations: Bundemar and the other stations were ultimately sold in 1973. The phenomenal success of the stud had been due to a close-knit family effort under Ted Body's sagacious control.

Select Bibliography

  • New South Wales Sheepbreeders' Association, The Australian Merino (Syd, 1955)
  • Pastoral Review (Melbourne), July 1906, Aug 1909, Dec 1910, Aug 1925, July 1965
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Apr 1932, 20 July 1934, 18 June 1936, 28 Jan, 22, 26 June 1939, 9 Sept 1947
  • records (New South Wales Sheepbreeders' Association, Paddington).

Citation details

H. Alexander, 'Body, Eliel Edmund Irving (1881–1965)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/body-eliel-edmund-irving-5279/text8901, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 12 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

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