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Gordon, Samuel Deane (1811–1882)

by G. J. Abbott and Martha Rutledge

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

Samuel Deane Gordon (1811-1882), merchant, pastoralist and politician, was born on 12 October 1811 at Ballynahinch, County Down, Ireland, son of David Gordon, farmer, and his wife Mary, née Deane. Educated at private schools in Ireland he arrived in Sydney about 1830. He worked in several Sydney mercantile houses before becoming a merchant. At Liverpool he had a large store by 1840 and later the agency for the Albion brewery. In the 1840s he turned to pastoral speculation and leased Banandra run, 50,000 acres (20,235 ha) on the Murrumbidgee. In 1848 he sold his Liverpool store and moved to Sydney where he set up as a wine and spirits merchant. In 1854 he was appointed a magistrate and next year became a director of the Sydney Exchange Co., the Hunter River Railway Co., the English, Scottish and Australian Bank and the Sydney Insurance Co. He was on the committee of the Sydney Bethel Union. On 22 October 1839 at East Maitland he had married Eliza, daughter of Peter Dickson of Kirkcudbrightshire; she died in 1856, leaving a son and four daughters.

Gordon first took an interest in politics as a supporter of Rev. John Dunmore Lang. He won Durham in the first parliament under responsible government and was re-elected in 1858. In 1859-60 he represented Illawarra. A conscientious member with liberal and progressive views especially on constitutional reform, education, land and railways, he supported the Cowper-Robertson faction and was a convinced free trader. In the 1860 general election Gordon was defeated but appointed on 2 September 1861 to the Legislative Council, pledged to its reform.

In the 1860s Gordon became a director of the New South Wales Marine Assurance Co. and the Australian Gaslight Co., and chairman of Mitchell's Creek Quartz Mining Co. and the Mutual Life Association of Australasia. He bought real estate in Sydney and in 1867 had a total of 460 square miles (1191 km²) in four runs on the Darling Downs, two in the Leichhardt district and six in Gregory. With Edward Flood as partner he had another 726 square miles (1880 km²) in seven runs in Maranoa and nineteen in Warrego. By 1871 he had disposed of his own Queensland stations, acquired six in the Bligh district of New South Wales, and with Flood still held five Maranoa runs and thirteen in Warrego.

A prominent Presbyterian, Gordon was a founder of St Andrew's College, Sydney, and member of its council. He was also a vice-president of the Highland Society and a member of the Victoria Club and the Linnean Society of New South Wales. He joined the committee of the Chamber of Commerce in 1867 and in the 1870s served briefly on the committees of the Benevolent Asylum, the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary and the Hospital for Sick Children, and was a vice-president of the Young Men's Christian Association and the Horticultural Society of New South Wales and a councillor of the Agricultural Society of New South Wales. He died on 24 July 1882 of brain disease at his home, Glenyarrah, Double Bay, and was buried in Rookwood cemetery. He was predeceased by his second wife Emily, née Fielding, and by five sons and two daughters. His three surviving daughters each inherited a house and, with their children, a fortune valued at £215,862.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1870-71, 1, 732
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 21 May 1842, 19, 21 Dec 1843, 15 Oct 1851, 31 Mar 1856, 1 Jan, 30 Apr 1868, 25 July 1882
  • Empire (Sydney), 23 June 1856
  • Bulletin, 9 May 1881, 29 July 1882
  • Town and Country Journal, 29 July 1882
  • Illustrated Sydney News, 5 Aug 1882
  • manuscript and newspaper indexes under S. D. Gordon (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

G. J. Abbott and Martha Rutledge, 'Gordon, Samuel Deane (1811–1882)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gordon-samuel-deane-3638/text5661, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 26 September 2017.

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

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