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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Gant, Tetley (1853–1928)

by Peter Stops

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Tetley Gant (1853-1928), lawyer and politician, was born on 19 July 1853 at Manningham, Yorkshire, England, son of James Greaves Tetley Gant, solicitor, and his wife Sarah Ann, née Gaunt. He was educated at Rugby School and St John's College, Oxford, (B.A., 1877; M.A., 1879), where he rowed and played cricket for the college. At the Inner Temple he formed a close friendship with Tasmanian-born (Sir) Elliott Lewis before being called to the Bar in 1883. Next year he migrated to Hobart where he was admitted to the Supreme Court of Tasmania and in 1888 entered into partnership with Lewis. On 19 July 1882 at St John's Church of England, New Town, he married Frances Amy Roope, daughter of a well-to-do Hobart merchant, whose fine New Town residence, Wendover, was for a time the Gants' family home.

In May 1901 Gant was elected to the seat of Buckingham in the Legislative Council, a position he retained until ill health forced his resignation in August 1927. In 1904 he was appointed chairman of committees and from July 1907 was president of the council for a record nineteen years; none of his rulings was ever challenged.

Like Lewis, Gant took a deep interest in the University of Tasmania. Appointed to the university council in 1905, he succeeded Lewis as vice-chancellor in 1909 and was chancellor in succession to Sir John Stokell Dodds in 1914-24. His speeches at the annual commemoration gatherings were invariably marked by a keen desire to encourage the spread of higher education throughout the community. In 1909 he represented the university at the inauguration of the University of Queensland in Brisbane. He was a member of the Tasmanian Club from 1898 and president in 1913, the year he was appointed C.M.G. He was president of the Amateur Horticultural Society of Hobart from 1902 until his death.

Gant died on 7 February 1928 at Lower Sandy Bay. His obituarist in the Mercury described him as 'an ideal English gentleman … He had a fine personal presence, was debonair, affable and courteous in manner, liberally disposed, [and] was highly respected and esteemed by all classes'. He was survived by his daughter, his wife having died in 1926, and was buried in St John's cemetery. His estate was valued for probate at £4876.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Foster, Men at the Bar (Lond, 1885)
  • Mercury (Hobart), 20 Mar 1924, 8 Feb 1928
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 2 Aug 1927, 8 Feb 1928.

Citation details

Peter Stops, 'Gant, Tetley (1853–1928)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 30 September 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

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