Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Gordon, Patrick Robertson (1834–1915)

by A. A. Morrison

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

Patrick Robertson Gordon (1834?-1915), inspector of stock and brands, was born probably near Aberdeen, Scotland, son of an engineer and his wife Mary, née Lamb. Educated at a country academy and Marischal College he migrated to Victoria in 1853 to manage Peechelba station on the River Ovens for an English syndicate in which he held a share. He soon won high repute for his management, racing stud and knowledge of animal diseases. In 1864 he became metropolitan inspector of stock in Sydney where his work on the bovine pleuro-pneumonia outbreak attracted further notice and won him an invitation from the Queensland government to draft a diseases in sheep bill. In February 1868 he became chief inspector of stock for Queensland, establishing the first stock branch (later the Departments of Agriculture and Stock, and of Primary Industries).

As Queensland then had no parliamentary draftsman, Gordon had to draft his own bill. His greatest achievement was the Brands Act in 1872, which established a new system of stock brands, won him world fame and the additional post of registrar and chief inspector of brands. Other notable measures for which he was responsible were the first Marsupial Act, 1877, the Meat and Dairy Act, 1893, and the Diseases in Stock Act, 1896, after a tick infestation which Gordon was prominent in defeating. In 1875 he had induced the government to inquire into the decay of native grasses. In 1889 on his advice the government secured the services of Drs Germont and Loir of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and an effective vaccine against bovine pleuro-pneumonia was discovered. Gordon also advocated innoculation of cattle and tubercular tests as well as closer liaison between officers seeking to improve animal health. He was prominent in the campaign against scab and endeavoured to encourage the production of mohair. He appeared to his contemporaries as the driving force behind his whole department.

In addition to his departmental reports Gordon published several pamphlets. After he retired from the public service on 31 December 1903 he wrote many articles for the Queenslander and Courier under the pseudonym of 'Jumbuck'. He also had a large share in the discussions leading to the formation of the National Agricultural Association (Royal National Association) and with Gresley Lukin and John Fenwick organized its formal launching at a public meeting in June 1875, presided over by the governor, William Cairns. A capable violinist, Gordon also helped to found the Brisbane Musical Union and was its secretary for many years. At Sydney on 13 May 1868 he had married Emily Florence Roberts. He died at Sandgate, Brisbane, on 28 August 1915, survived by three sons and four daughters of their thirteen children. His death certificate gave his age as 85 and at marriage as 34; when he retired in 1903 his age was officially given as 69.

Select Bibliography

  • A. L. Clay, ‘Patrick Robertson Gordon’, Australian Veterinary Journal, vol 35, no 7, July 1959, pp 318-22
  • Brisbane Courier, 30 Aug 1915
  • Queenslander, 4 Sept 1915
  • Queensland Country Life, 28 May 1959.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

A. A. Morrison, 'Gordon, Patrick Robertson (1834–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gordon-patrick-robertson-432/text5659, published in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 21 April 2014.

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

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