Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Lord, George William (1818–1880)

by David Henry

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

George William Lord (1818-1880), by unknown photographer

George William Lord (1818-1880), by unknown photographer

State Library of New South Wales, PX*D 624

George William Lord (1818-1880), pastoralist, businessman and politician, was born on 15 August 1818 at Macquarie Place, Sydney, youngest son of Simeon Lord and his wife Mary, née Black. At W. Cape's school he became head scholar and won a medal for general proficiency. At about 20 he went to the Wellington District and began acquiring squatting runs in partnership with his brother-in-law, Dr D. Ramsay, and John McNevan. By 1850 in his own name he held Mulguthery in the Wellington District and Island in the Lachlan. In that year at Kelso he married Elizabeth, daughter of William Lee.

A childhood friend of John Robertson, Lord was elected for Bligh and Wellington to the first Legislative Assembly under responsible government; he held the seat until 1859 and then represented the Bogan until 1877. A supporter of James Martin, he was colonial treasurer in Martin's third ministry in 1870-72. From lack of 'fluency of language' Lord was the first treasurer to read a written speech when introducing the budget, a practice followed by later treasurers with advantage. In 1871 the press criticized his budget for proposing 10 per cent ad valorem duties; they were soon reduced to 5 per cent by the assembly. He was a member of the delegation to the 1871 Intercolonial Conference on border duties. As treasurer he distinguished himself from his colleagues by his regular attendance in the House. Although not outstanding among contemporary politicians his knowledge of pastoral and financial affairs won him respect and by avoiding violent involvement in party tactics he was able to do much for his electors. In 1877 he was appointed to the Legislative Council on Robertson's recommendation.

In 1861 in the assembly's select committee on tendering for runs, Lord had complained bitterly of long delays in dealing with tenders, and advocated a return to the old system of 'first occupation'. In 1862 he won several silver and bronze medals at the Sydney Wool Exhibition and wrote to James Macarthur about exhibiting his wool in London. By 1865 he had nineteen runs amounting to 672,000 acres (271,952 ha) in the Riverina. He had disposed of them by 1871 but taken up fourteen runs in the Warrego and four in the Wellington Districts on which he paid rent of over £1100. Many of his land speculations were obscure but he also owned much real estate in Bathurst and Sydney including commercial premises in Macquarie Place. He was a director of the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney in 1865-71 and 1875-80, and sometime of the Sydney Insurance Co., the Sydney Meat Preserving Co. and the Bowenfels Coal Mining and Copper Smelting Co. In 1875 Lord refused to sell land at Botany to the Sewerage and Health Board to use as a dump for night soil, as he had bought it 'in order to keep people away from me'.

A territorial magistrate, Lord was also a founding member of the Union Club. He died from softening of the brain at his home, Kirketon, Darlinghurst, on 9 May 1880 and was buried in the family vault in the Anglican section of Botany cemetery. He was survived by his wife, two sons and two daughters. His goods were sworn for probate at £90,000.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1861, 2, 922, 1866, 1, 738, 1875-76, 5, 355
  • Empire (Sydney), 20, 29 Dec 1856
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Mar, 24 Apr 1871
  • Illustrated Sydney News, 27 June 1874
  • Sydney Mail, 15 May 1880
  • Town and Country Journal, 22 May 1880
  • Truth (Sydney), 17, 24 Mar 1912, 29 June 1919
  • manuscript catalogue and newspaper indexes (State Library of New South Wales)
  • CO 201/534, 563-65, 569, 584.

Citation details

David Henry, 'Lord, George William (1818–1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lord-george-william-4037/text6417, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 19 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

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