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Greene, George Henry (1838–1911)

by Ian Carnell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

George Henry Greene (1838-1911), pastoralist, wheat-grower and politician, was born on 20 July 1838 at Collon, Louth, Ireland, fifth son of Lieutenant William Pomeroy Greene, R.N., and his wife Anne, née Griffith. In 1842 William chartered the Sarah to convey an extensive household to Port Phillip, including his sons Molesworth and George, and (Sir) William Stawell who married his daughter Mary. Soon after arriving on 1 December, the Greenes settled at Woodlands, near Melbourne. George was educated at Mr Trollope's Collingwood school, the Melbourne Diocesan Grammar School and the Richmond Grammar School; in 1855 he enrolled at the University of Melbourne. In 1858 he was one of the first five students to graduate B.A.

Greene acquired pastoral experience in southern New South Wales on Billabong station, in which he held a share, and later was part-owner of Tooma and Marogle stations. He was appointed a magistrate in 1867. On 26 July 1870 at New Town, Tasmania, he married Ellen Elizabeth (Nelly), daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Crawford. They travelled around the world for two years after selling their station interests in 1875.

On his return to New South Wales Greene bought Iandra, a 32,600 acre (13,193 ha) estate near Grenfell, in 1878 and began grazing and wheat-growing. He was a member of the Young Pastures and Stock Protection Board in 1881-84 and chairman in 1885-88. An early advocate of netting to control the spread of rabbits, he attended various conferences and, despite scepticism from his neighbours, had his property fully netted at an early date. Later he was vindicated. In 1888 Greene called the meeting at which the Young and Lachlan District Sheepowners' Association was formed, and on 9 July 1890 became a foundation member of the Pastoralists' Union of New South Wales. He favoured conciliation with the Amalgamated Shearers' Union of Australasia; unlike many other pastoralists, he was not opposed to unionism itself. In 1893 he was a commissioner for the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago.

Greene's wheat-growing gradually met with success and in 1893 he introduced share-farming, which soon proved very popular. By 1911 Iandra had some fifty share-farmers working 18,000 acres (7284 ha); with another 5000 acres (2024 ha) fallow and 20,000 sheep being run. The farmers supplied the labour and machinery, while Greene provided land cleared for ploughing, the seed and some fertiliser, and closely controlled the farming practices. In 1903 Greene was the first to grow William Farrer's 'Federation' wheat commercially.

Elected as a free trader, Greene represented Grenfell in the Legislative Assembly in 1889-91, from July to October 1894 (when he was unseated on a recount after a petition) and in 1895-98. In the House he was progressive and independent, and successfully advocated a branch railway line from Koorawatha to Grenfell. Always an ardent supporter of Federation, he was nominated to the Legislative Council in April 1899 to facilitate passage of a bill to have the Constitution put to a referendum. He was a member of the Union Club, Sydney.

As Iandra prospered, Greene in 1908 started building a village at the Iandra rail siding that became known as Greenethorpe. In 1910 he completed an ornate Edwardian mansion costing an estimated £63,000; it was built of reinforced concrete and featured towers and a mock-Tudor courtyard. He died on 22 December 1911 and was buried with Anglican rites at St Saviour's Church, Iandra. The share-farmers placed a plaque there to his memory. His estate was valued for probate at £83,937. He was survived by his wife (d.1921), three daughters and a son Captain William Pomeroy Crawford Greene, who represented Worcester in the British House of Commons in 1923-45.

Select Bibliography

  • Methodist Department of Christian Citizenship, The Landra Story (Cowra, NSW, nd)
  • M. F. E. Stawell, My Recollections (Lond, 1911)
  • W. A. Bayley, Golden Granary (Grenfell, 1954)
  • Parliamentary Papers (New South Wales), 1917-18, 1, p 190
  • Agricultural Gazette (New South Wales), 19 (1908)
  • Pastoralists' Review, 15 Jan 1912, p 1151
  • F. S. Piggin, ‘NSW pastoralists and the strikes of 1890 and 1891’, Historical Studies, 56, Apr 1971
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 2 Aug 1894, 12 Nov 1910
  • Town and Country Journal, 13 Apr 1889
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 23, 25 Dec 1911
  • Grenfell Record, 29 Dec 1911
  • information from the National Trust of Australia (New South Wales).

Citation details

Ian Carnell, 'Greene, George Henry (1838–1911)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/greene-george-henry-441/text11091, published in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 18 September 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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