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Groom, Henry Littleton (1860–1926)

by Rod Kirkpatrick

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

Henry Littleton Groom (1860-1926), newspaper proprietor and politician, was born on 4 January 1860 at Toowoomba, Queensland, eldest son of William Henry Groom and his wife Grace, née Littleton. Educated at St Mary's School, Ipswich, and Brisbane Grammar School, he entered the office of the Toowoomba Chronicle which his father owned solely from 1876. Although he soon rose to become business manager, he knew the workings of the paper from front to back and could 'get things going if there was an early-morning press breakdown'. As W. H. Groom's political activities increasingly took him away from Toowoomba in the late 1880s and the 1890s, Henry became the backbone of the Chronicle enterprise. When his father relinquished sole proprietorship in November 1900 with the formation of W. H. Groom & Sons Ltd, he became a director. On his father's death in August 1901, he became managing director and administered the Chronicle until the Dunn family took over in June 1922. He contributed greatly to the country press as a whole through his presidency of the Queensland Country Press Association from 1912 to 1923.

The take-over marked the saddest day of Henry Groom's life. Although it had been W. H. Groom's express wish that the family should not sell, Henry's brother William, who was accountant at the Chronicle and held power of attorney for other family shareholders, is said to have secretly arranged the sale. Henry stayed on as business manager until June 1925.

Groom had been an enthusiastic supporter of the closer settlement policy championed by his father and unsuccessfully contested Drayton and Toowoomba in a 1904 by-election for the Legislative Assembly. On 12 July 1906 he was appointed to the Legislative Council by the Kidston ministry and held his seat until 23 March 1922. He made one major speech on closer settlement, but spoke rarely and made little impression. Politically, Henry was always overshadowed by his younger brother Littleton Ernest, a Commonwealth minister to whom he gave valuable service as a reporter on his electorate.

In early manhood Groom joined the Queensland Defence Force and rose to the rank of lieutenant in the 4th (Darling Downs) Infantry. He accompanied the Toowoomba detachment sent to the Charleville district during the shearers' strike in 1891 and retired in 1896. He was active in patriotic organizations during the South African War and in World War I was one of the principal workers for the Toowoomba Patriotic Fund.

On 30 November 1898 at Toowoomba Groom had married Marion Flora Black. Of their four children, William Henry George built up his own daily newspaper at Innisfail, while a daughter Marion Flora, known as Dolly, was also a journalist. Groom died at Toowoomba on 4 January 1926 and was buried in Toowoomba cemetery with Church of England rites.

Select Bibliography

  • Government Gazette (Queensland), 28 Sept 1889, 18 Dec 1896
  • Australasian Journalist, 15 Nov 1926
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 5 Jan 1896
  • Toowoomba Chronicle, 1 Dec 1898, 7 Oct 1899, 3 Oct 1922, 5 Jan 1926
  • Bulletin, 31 May 1923
  • Bundaberg Daily Times, 16 Aug, 2 Nov 1926
  • Groom papers (National Library of Australia).

Citation details

Rod Kirkpatrick, 'Groom, Henry Littleton (1860–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/groom-henry-littleton-6498/text11143, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 17 December 2017.

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

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