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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edkins, Edward Rowland (Rofley) (1840–1905)

by Zita Denholm

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

Edward Rowland Edkins (1840-1905), pastoral manager, was born on 10 January 1840 at Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England, the youngest son of Thomas Oliver Edkins, stationer and sometime mayor, and his wife Louisa, née Winton. When his father died, Edkins migrated to Victoria with his mother and other members of the family; they arrived in 1852. In the late 1850s Edkins began droving and about 1862 was reputed the first to take cattle across the Burdekin River when he drove some 4000 head from New South Wales to stock Bluff Downs, Mary Vale and Wando Vale runs for Robert Stewart, Glen Walker and others. In 1864 he learned in Victoria how to inoculate cattle against pleuro-pneumonia and was employed to inoculate stock on runs near Rockhampton. In 1866 he and his brother Henry ran the boiling-down works at Burketown for the Scottish Australian Co. Ltd, and perfected a technique of curing beef for markets in Batavia and Singapore.

On 26 October 1867 at Emerald Hill, Victoria, Edkins married Edwina Marion, daughter of Dr Walter Huey (1797-1843) of Launceston, Tasmania, and his wife Alethea, née Martin. With his bride he made the long trip from Melbourne to Burketown where he managed Beamesbrook station for the Scottish Australian Co. and where the first two of his eight children died and in 1871 his wife's brother Edward, on leave from India, was fatally speared. In 1872 Beamesbrook was abandoned and Edkins with his family and 12,000 cattle went to manage Mount Cornish station, the western lease of Bowen Downs. Under Edkins's management the station's Shorthorn herd became one of the best known in the colony but drought from 1898 to 1902 reduced the cattle from 36,000 to 1300, despite artesian watering improvements made in 1891-96. Deciding not to restock, the company sold the property to the New Zealand and Australian Land Co. and Edkins went with his wife to Sydney, where he was pastoral inspector for the Scottish Australian Co. Descendants are still in the Longreach district.

In the 1880s and 1890s with Frank Hann Edkins had taken up Lawn Hill in Queensland, and with other partners held Roxborough, Katandra and Dunrobin. He was a justice of the peace from December 1869, and a member until December 1902 and six times chairman of the Aramac Divisional Board. He named several district features and the town of Muttaburra, which he intended to be Mootaburra. He died at Drummoyne, Sydney, on 14 August 1905 and was buried in the churchyard of St Thomas's, Enfield. He was survived by his wife and six children.

Select Bibliography

  • D. S. Macmillan (ed), Bowen Downs, 1863-1963 (Syd, 1963)
  • Reminiscences of Edwina M. Edkins (manuscript, privately held).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Zita Denholm, 'Edkins, Edward Rowland (Rofley) (1840–1905)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 28 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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