Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Boyd, Douglas Thornley (1896–1964)

by Marjorie Waite

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

Douglas Thornley Boyd (1896-1964), grazier and wool industry leader, was born on 19 October 1896 at Prahran, Melbourne, son of William Boyd, grazier, and his wife Edith Teresa, née Thornley, both Victorian born. Douglas spent his early years at Tarrone, his father's property near Koroit, where he was tutored privately before being sent to Geelong College. He subsequently managed Tarrone and later Barooga, William's station across the Murray River from Cobram. On 27 January 1920 at Christ Church, St Kilda, Douglas married Eina Alice Florence Pennicott with Anglican rites. When Barooga was sold for subdivision he bought Woorooma East, near Deniliquin, New South Wales. In 1933 he purchased Chatsworth Park, Tabilk, Victoria, which became the family home.

Active in running his properties, Boyd demanded hard, efficient work from his men. When asked in a Riverina hotel what his boss was like, a station-hand replied: 'He's a tough bugger but fair'. Boyd enjoyed tennis and played polo with Riverina teams: the row of cups in his home testified to his prowess. He belonged to the Australian Club, both in Melbourne and Sydney. Tireless in the interests of the grazing industry, he was president (1936-37) of the Graziers' Federal Council, vice-chairman (1942-54) of the Australian Woolgrowers' and Graziers' Council, and vice-president (1937-40) of the Graziers' Association of the Riverina.

An inspiring leader of the industry, Boyd was a member of the Australian Wool Board from its inception in 1936. On returning from a trip to Europe in 1937, he reported to the board's chairman (Sir) Dalziel Kelly: 'To my mind the representation of our industry in London is long overdue. Today and in the future the primary producer will have to organise and take an active part in finding markets for his produce'. Promotional activities were developed and expanded considerably during Boyd's chairmanship (1943-53) and he fought successfully for uniform labelling of textiles.

In 1937 he had attended the conference of Australian, New Zealand and South African woolgrowers which met in Melbourne and led to the establishment of the International Wool Secretariat. A member of the Central Wool Committee in 1939-45, Boyd chaired the International Wool Publicity and Research Executive in 1940-48 and the Wool Bureau Inc., New York, in 1949-50 and 1951-52.

Although he was essentially shy and reserved, and was sometimes mistakenly seen as aloof, Boyd became a polished speaker who used his commanding voice to great effect. He gave his services generously and set high standards, both for himself and for the staff of the organizations with which he was associated. In 1951 he was appointed C.M.G. Divorced on 12 March 1951, three days later he married Marjory Mary Purbrick, née Tate Sutherland, also a divorcee, at the government statist's office, Melbourne.

Despite his vision and contribution to the industry, Boyd became the victim of wool politics and resigned on 30 June 1953, the day before the Australian Wool Board changed its name to the Australian Wool Bureau. He retired from public life and devoted himself to the management of his properties. In 1959 he sold Woorooma East and bought a small property, Deloraine, near Wallan, Victoria. Survived by his wife, and by the four daughters of his first marriage, he died of a coronary occlusion on 10 May 1964 at Deloraine and was cremated with Anglican rites. His estate was sworn for probate at £275,636.

Select Bibliography

  • J. O. Randell, Teamwork (Melb, 1976)
  • Australian Wool Board, Annual Report, 1964
  • Pastoral Review, June 1964
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Jan 1937, 30 Aug 1943, 19 Dec 1944, 11 June 1948, 12 May, 10 June 1950, 1 Jan, 21 June 1951, 1 July 1953
  • G. MacKinnon, History of the Australian Wool Board (typescript) and personal records (privately held).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Marjorie Waite, 'Boyd, Douglas Thornley (1896–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/boyd-douglas-thornley-9557/text16835, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 18 October 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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