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Glyde, Lavington (1823–1890)

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

Lavington Glyde (1823-1890), accountant and parliamentarian, was born at Exeter, England, son of Jonathan Lavington Glyde. One of his brothers became a Dissenting minister at Bradford and another a partner of Sir Titus Salt at Saltaire. Educated at Exeter and Denmark Hill School, London, Glyde studied accountancy and the wool trade in Yorkshire and in the Agincourt arrived at Port Adelaide in July 1850. He brought a fair sum in cash and a sixty-day draft on the Bank of South Australia, mostly on behalf of relations in Yorkshire. Within a week he lent all his cash at high interest, he tried to borrow on the draft but the manager, Edward Stephens, refused so bluntly that Glyde waited till it matured and promptly transferred his account to the Bank of Australasia. To his agencies and money-lending he soon added wool-buying and an export-import business on his own account. Later he included wheat and wine to his speculations and even invested in copper-mines once he modified his extreme caution.

A Congregationalist, Glyde attended Clayton Church and became active in public affairs. In the 1850s as 'A Looker-on' he wrote for the press a series of articles delicately satirical in vein. He supported John Howard Clark in founding the South Australian Institute and served for many years on its governing board. He became a director of insurance companies and chairman of many building societies. Well read and intelligent he never courted public favour but retained his independence. A stalwart Liberal with a strong conservative cast he represented East Torrens in the House of Assembly in 1857-60, Yatala in 1860-75 and Victoria in 1877-84. From the outset he was notable for his grasp of constitutional procedures and specially for his competence in financial issues. In 1858 he served on the select committee on taxation and in a 'protest report' advocated the total abolition of distillation laws. In evidence to a select committee on the Real Property Act in 1861 he complained that the commissioner's powers were too great particularly on mortgaged land. In 1863 he represented South Australia at the intercolonial conference in Melbourne on uniform tariffs and then became treasurer in Francis Dutton's eleven-day ministry in July. He was then appointed commissioner of crown lands and immigration under (Sir) Henry Ayers until July 1864. He held the latter portfolio under John Hart for a week in 1865 and under Ayers from May 1867 to September 1868 and again from October to November. He constantly opposed any interference with wool-growers either by the Pastoralists' Association which, he claimed, 'wanted to turn the colony into one vast sheep run', or by government regulations, although in 1867 as commissioner he had to arrange relief for drought-stricken graziers.

Glyde's greatest work was as treasurer under Arthur Blyth in 1873-75 and John Bray in 1881-84. Always a severe critic of government expenditure he closely watched the raising of South Australian loans in London. He fearlessly fought the National Bank in London and forced it to repay with interest a five-year accumulation of unwarranted surcharges for floating loans. The total sum was not large but assured British investors of the colony's budgetary care. In Adelaide he was denounced as pessimist and alarmist and lost his seat in the assembly. For years he fought the muddle and extravagance of departments raising and spending their independent revenues and by 1884 succeeded in consolidating the colony's funds under parliamentary control even though the change gave the colony the first land and income taxes in Australia.

Glyde's wife Mary Ellen, née Hardcastle, died on 16 December 1869. On 20 July 1870 at Clayton Church he married her widowed sister Alice Phoebe Kepert. Although marriage with a deceased wife's sister was legalized next year in South Australia, Governor Sir James Fergusson called it 'indecent' and refused to invite the Glydes to a ball at Government House. However, Glyde was gazetted an Honorable in 1875. After resigning from the assembly in March 1884 he visited England with his family. His object was to promote the Talisker mine at Cape Jervis but it suffered heavy losses after he returned to Adelaide. He was accountant to the Insolvency Court in 1885 until he died aged 67 at his home in Kensington, Adelaide, on 31 July 1890. He was survived by his second wife and several children mostly under 21. His estate was valued for probate at £1326.

Select Bibliography

  • Frearson's Weekly, 1 Oct 1881
  • Bulletin, 2 Sept 1882
  • Observer (Adelaide), 4 Aug 1883, 24 May 1884, 2 Aug 1890
  • CO 13/127.

Citation details

'Glyde, Lavington (1823–1890)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/glyde-lavington-3623/text5583, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 28 November 2014.

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

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