Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Colman, Sir George Stanley (1884–1966)

by Frank Strahan

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

Sir George Stanley Colman (1884-1966), businessman, was born on 10 May 1884 at Narrandera, New South Wales, son of George Colman, a selector from Ireland, and his Australian-born wife Mary, née Cambage. Raised as an Anglican, Stanley was educated at St John's Grammar School, Parramatta. He began his business career as a youth in 1900, in the shipping department of G. S. Yuill & Co. Ltd, Sydney, before transferring in 1905 to Yuill's Melbourne office as assistant-manager and to the Brisbane office in 1907 as manager. Next year he moved to its branch in Manila, Philippine Islands, where he managed (from 1910) the shipping, cold storage and merchandising operations.

In 1913 Colman returned to Brisbane as general manager of the Queensland Meat Export Co. Ltd; he was also general manager and director of the Australian Stock Breeders' Co. Ltd. At St John's Anglican Cathedral on 27 April 1916 he married a nurse Marion Dalrymple. In 1926 he joined the prominent, London-based pastoral and sugar enterprise, Australian Estates & Mortgage Co. Ltd (later Australian Estates Co. Ltd), as assistant general manager in Melbourne. The Australian general manager N. C. Clapperton had assured the London principals that Colman would fulfil the business duties and social obligations with 'ability and dignity'. Colman became joint general manager in 1928 and sole general manager in 1931. His executive responsibilities spread to associated companies of Australian Estates. He was managing director of Amalgamated Sugar Mills Ltd (Queensland), chairman of directors of Meredith, Menzies Co. (Melbourne), and a director of the Trustees, Executors & Agency Co. Ltd, the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd and Spicers (Australia) Ltd.

Colman held public office as vice-consul (1923-26) for Argentina in Brisbane, chairman (1930) of the Woolbrokers' Association and member of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. He sat on a committee appointed in 1932 by the assistant-treasurer S. M. (Viscount) Bruce to examine unemployment and on a royal commission appointed in 1941 by the Fadden government to inquire into hire purchase. He was, as well, a council-member of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce and served on the University of Melbourne's appointments board. As a founding member and deputy-chairman of the Business Archives Council of Australia (Victorian branch), he promoted belief in the values of historical inquiry, understanding and enlightenment.

From the late 1950s Colman's formal business commitments contracted, leaving him more time for his recreations of golf and tennis. A president (1949) of the Melbourne Club, he was also a member of the Australian (Melbourne), Queensland, Union (Sydney) and Reform (London) clubs, and belonged to Round Table. He was known to his associates and to his family as a warm, sympathetic and encouraging man. Appointed C.B.E. in 1937, he was knighted in 1965. Sir Stanley died on 4 February 1966 in East Melbourne and was buried in Melbourne general cemetery; his wife, daughter and two sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • L. Foster, High Hopes (Melb, 1986)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 5 July 1926, 1 Mar 1928, 1 Jan 1931, 11 May 1937, 30 Sept 1940, 1 Apr 1947, 15 July 1950, 12 June 1965
  • Age (Melbourne), 7 Feb 1966
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 7 Feb 1966
  • Australian Estates Co records (University of Melbourne Archives)
  • private information.

Citation details

Frank Strahan, 'Colman, Sir George Stanley (1884–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/colman-sir-george-stanley-9797/text17317, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 24 September 2017.

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

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