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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Dangar, Thomas Gordon (Tom) (1829–1890)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

Thomas Gordon Gibbons Dangar (1829-1890), pastoralist and politician, was born on 27 November 1829 in Sydney, son of Matthew John Gibbons, cooper, and his wife Charlotte Selina, née Hutchinson. In 1832 at Maitland his widowed mother married Thomas Dangar; the family moved to Scone where she died in 1838 and Dangar brought up the boy as his own son and gave him his name. At Scone Dangar was postmaster and later store-keeper. In December 1840 the store was held up by bushrangers led by Edward Davis and young Thomas gave evidence at the trial in Sydney. He was educated in Paterson and Singleton and later at the Sydney College. A long illness prevented him reading for the Bar.

In 1847 Dangar went to New England. He helped to form a station beyond the Condamine and then pioneered the Lower Barwon and Warrego districts. About 1850 he made his headquarters at Bullerawa on the Namoi River. By 1854 he was in partnership with William Dangar on the Liverpool Plains and later leased other runs there and in the Warrego district. He twice petitioned parliament for redress and inquiry into his disputes with the Lands Department.

In 1855 Dangar became a magistrate. In January 1865 he was elected to the Legislative Assembly for the Gwydir; his election was declared void in May because he held a government mail contract but he was immediately re-elected. He represented the Gwydir until at his insistence division of the electorate was incorporated in the Electoral Act of 1880; apart from the twelfth parliament he then represented the Namoi till his death. Unobtrusive but hard working, Dangar was a very successful 'roads and bridges' politician. He helped to procure the extension of the inland telegraph to the Queensland border. In 1873 he corresponded with Henry Parkes over the appointment of additional magistrates at Wee Waa. Although he attended parliament irregularly, he introduced seven public bills and one private, most of them on parochial matters or livestock. According to the Bulletin he was 'a kindly old man who said little but got a culvert put agin the door of every constituent'. About 1858 in letters to the press, Dangar had advocated locks on the Darling; the suggestion was then ridiculed but steamers later reached as far as Walgett.

'Tom' Dangar reputedly housed and provided for twenty-five old convicts, 'who had finished their useful life'. He left a collection of pictures, maps and books, and for his own use devised a peculiar book-plate depicting the combined arms of the only Gibbons family in Burke's Peerage and those of Charles Gordon, eleventh marquess of Huntly. Dangar died of diabetes on 4 July 1890 at his home in Cavendish Street, Petersham, and was buried in the family vault at St Luke's Church of England, Scone. He was survived by his wife Catherine Annabella, née Mackenzie, whom he had married at Wangan, near Pilliga. He left her £2800 in trust for his son, Thomas Eclipse Vivian.

Select Bibliography

  • E. M. Dangar, The Dangars from St Neot, Cornwall (Sydney, 1966)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1862, vol 4, 1075, 1869, vol 2, 161, 1873-74, vol 3, 1889
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 25 Feb 1851, 6, 20 May 1876, 21 Nov 1888, 5 July 1890
  • Town and Country Journal, 19 Mar 1887, 12 July 1890, Newcastle Morning Herald, 7 Feb 1912
  • private information.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Dangar, Thomas Gordon (Tom) (1829–1890)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 27 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

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