Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Love, James Robinson (1836–1914)

by G. P. Walsh

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

James Robinson Love (1836-1914), merchant, was born on 22 June 1836 at Fintona, County Tyrone, Ireland, the younger son of William Love (1812-1885), shepherd, and his wife Ellen, née Robinson (1815-1882). In March 1841 he arrived in Sydney with his parents and brother as bounty immigrants in the Brothers. The family settled on the Coppabella run at Tumbarumba, New South Wales, owned by Love's father-in-law, James Robinson (d.1868). His father failed on the land and in 1850 moved to Sydney, opened a retail grocery shop at 476 George Street and in 1860-64 represented West Sydney in the Legislative Assembly. James joined his business but in October 1866 Love & Son became insolvent and was finally wound up in 1875. On 1 September William was appointed police magistrate at Gundagai.

Meanwhile James, with £200 lent him by Frederic Lassetter, had opened a wholesale grocery in a small warehouse near the corner of Park and George Streets, Sydney. He first concentrated on the city trade but in the 1870s sought country customers. In 1882 he took his eldest son Frederick into partnership moved to new premises in Bathurst Street and appointed his first country traveller. In January 1888 he took his family to England, leaving the business in charge of Frederick. Love sent three of his sons to Dulwich College and Arthur, the second son, went on to Christ's College, Cambridge (M.A., 1904). In the early 1890s competition increased in the grocery trade and the firm had to employ more country travellers. In 1895 Love returned to Sydney to assume control. He visited England again in 1896 and returned permanently to Sydney in 1899 when his sons Arthur and Kenneth joined the business.

Love's firm had begun blending and marketing packet tea under the trade name Kinkara, a corruption of Kincora, a tea estate in Ceylon. In 1897 Kinkara tea and Mother's Choice flour were registered as brand names and became widely known. Love's reconstruction of the firm was seriously set back in 1900 when his warehouse, insured for only half its value of £44,000, was destroyed by fire. He suffered a further set-back when several employees left the firm and opened in opposition. In the drought of 1900-02 the firm had to close its branch offices in Newcastle and Brisbane. In 1907 J. R. Love & Co. became a limited company.

Like his father, Love was interested in charitable work: he was a board member and vice-president of the New South Wales Institution for the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, a committee member of the City Night Refuge and Soup Kitchen and an energetic helper of the Boys' Brigade. He belonged to the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron. From 1903 he acted as Greek consul in Sydney and consul-general for Greece in New South Wales. He died at his home, Theulda, Wahroonga, on 25 August 1914 and was buried in the Anglican section of South Head cemetery. Probate of his will was sworn at £33,200. Predeceased by his wife Kassie Louise (1841-1910), daughter of Launcelot Iredale, whom he had married at Surry Hills in 1863, he was survived by four sons and an only daughter.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Brampton, J. R. Love and Co. Pty. Ltd. A Centenary History 1862-1962 (Syd, 1962)
  • New South Wales Government Gazette, 1866, 1875
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Aug 1914.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Love, James Robinson (1836–1914)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/love-james-robinson-4042/text6427, published in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 1 November 2014.

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

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