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Lord, Robert Percy (1878–1938)

by S. J. Routh

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

Robert Percy Lord (1878-1938), sheep breeder, was born on 28 January 1878 at Gympie, Queensland, eldest of eight children of Alfred Percy Lord (d.1927), farmer, later bank manager, and his wife Catherine Annie Louise, née Hillcoat. Alfred's grandfather was Simeon Lord. Educated at Mr Marks's school, Brisbane, and in 1893 at Brisbane Grammar School, Robert entered pastoral work when his father bought Kiah Lake, near Berridale, New South Wales, in 1894. Later Robert and other family members managed or owned properties in the Narrabri and Wee Waa district.

In 1906 A. P. Lord bought Victoria Downs, 30,000 acres (12,000 ha), near Morven in south-western Queensland. Robert became manager, then a partner with his brothers, and in 1922 sole owner. At Beecroft, Sydney, on 10 July 1907 he had married with Presbyterian forms Nelse Charlotte Wicks. They had four daughters. Nelse died in childbirth in 1916. On 8 February 1921 at St James's Church of England, Toowoomba, Queensland, Robert married Ethel Violet Sefton.

Lord led the establishment of a stud merino flock on Victoria Downs in 1911. The foundation stock, of Peppin blood, was from T. Millear's Deniliquin Stud Park, with some additional rams from Wanganella Estate. Later Lord also bought rams from E. E. I. Body's Bundemar and F. B. S. Falkiner's Haddon Rig studs. He steadily reiterated his goal: to produce sheep that had plain bodies, large frames, strong backs and hardy constitutions, bred in Queensland for Queensland conditions. Victoria Downs wool was predominantly of medium fibre, but Lord was content for some to be of stronger type. The Lord brothers also set up a stud of Shorthorn cattle, with purchases of stock from about 1917 to 1921. Eventually, however, the Shorthorn stud could not maintain its place against studs in the southern Darling Downs and coastal regions.

Through the later 1920s and the 1930s Victoria Downs was regularly described as Queensland's leading merino stud. Its rams were normally priced top or second at annual ram sales in Queensland, competing against New South Wales studs. Land legislation in 1927 gave concessions that promoted the establishment of larger stud flocks in Queensland. Contemporary discussion could well have used Lord's station as a model.

When the Queensland Merino Stud Sheepbreeders' Association was formed in 1934, Lord was elected its president unopposed. The dedication and optimism of his remarks in the association's Foundation Souvenir Book (1935) offset his down-to-earth listing—at the first annual meeting—of their problems: drought, blowflies, 'dogs' and taxes.

Lord was often a vice-president or councillor of public bodies centred on Charleville, such as the Murweh Shire Council, Central Warrego Pastoral and Agricultural Association and Warrego Graziers' Association. He led the renaissance of the Morven Cottage Hospital under the Bush Nursing Association in 1929. With a neat figure, moustached, he was an enthusiastic sportsman, particularly enjoying cricket. Visitors described the friendly hospitality and good humour of the 'bright household' at Victoria Downs.

Robert Lord died of a cerebrovascular accident on 29 January 1938 in Sydney and was buried in the Anglican cemetery at Manly. His wife and children survived him. A championship trophy at the Queensland State Sheep Show was named after him. Descendants, the Roberts family, still held Victoria Downs in 2005.

Select Bibliography

  • M. J. Fox, The History of Queensland, vol 2 (Brisb, 1921)
  • Queensland Merino Stud Sheepbreeders’ Association Souvenir Book (1935 and 1983)
  • M. Roberts (ed), Morven (Morven, Qld, 1987)
  • C. Massy, The Australian Merino (Melb, 1990)
  • Dalgety’s Review, July 1911, p 57
  • Pastoral Review, Feb 1921, p 160, June 1930, p 537, Feb 1938, p 131
  • Graziers’ Review, Feb 1923, p 1153
  • Queensland Country Life, 3 Feb 1938, p 4.

Citation details

S. J. Routh, 'Lord, Robert Percy (1878–1938)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lord-robert-percy-13053/text23603, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 17 November 2018.

This article has been amended since its original publication. View Original

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

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