Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Pearse, Albert William (1857–1951)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

Albert William Pearse (1857-1951), master mariner and editor, was born on 16 April 1857 at Crouch End, London, son of Livian Benson Pearse, timber merchant, and his wife Margaret Jane, née Chambers. Educated at Lush's College, Deal, Kent, and at Islington Proprietary School, London, he spent four years in a London accountant's office before going to sea in 1875. On his third voyage Pearse deserted to the Hokitika goldfields in New Zealand, but after being apprehended he returned to sea. He served with the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co. for about seven years trading to the West Indies and South America, making several voyages with Ferdinand de Lesseps and later served with the Orient Steam Navigation Co., taking his master's ticket in 1885. In 1887 he managed a gold-dredging company on the Molyneux River in New Zealand. On 3 April 1888 at Dunedin he married Emily Mary Mills (d.1949).

In 1891 Pearse moved to Sydney and with R. E. N. Twopeny founded the Australasian Pastoralists' Review to espouse the graziers' cause in the face of militant unionism. It was renamed the Pastoralists' Review in 1901 and the Pastoral Review in January 1913. As successively manager, editor and managing director, Pearse maintained a quality journal of record in all matters pertaining to the industry. Ultra-conservative politically, 'A.W.P.' was extremely hostile to unionism, fiercely supported the propertied classes and unashamedly described his politics as 'Anti Democratic'. He wrote pamphlets on such subjects as White Australia and state-owned railways.

In 1900 and 1903 Pearse visited South America and reported that the Australian meat trade lagged considerably behind that of Argentina. Secretary of the Stockowners' Association of New South Wales and editor and part-proprietor of the Australian Meat Trades' Journal, he instigated Dr Danysz's experiments of rabbit destruction on Broughton Island (1905-08), and represented Australasian meatworks at the International Congress of Refrigeration in Paris (1908) and Chicago (1913). In 1920 he published The World's Meat Future (Sydney, 1918) describing the position and prospects of every commercial livestock-raising country. In 1922-37 he was the representative of the Port of London Authority in Australia and New Zealand.

Pearse's energy was immense and his interests varied. He was a founder of the Taxpayers' Union and the People's Reform League of New South Wales, founder in 1902 with Dr Robert Scot Skirving and later president of the League of Ancient Mariners of New South Wales, member of the Master Mariners' Association of Australia, and vice-president of Toc H (Sydney), the Missions to Seamen (Sydney), the Brotherhood of the Good Shepherd (Dubbo) and the Church of England Children's Home, Burwood. He was liveryman of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, a freeman of the City of London, a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society of London and member of the Royal Colonial Institute. In 1916-17 he served in Egypt as chief commissioner of the Citizens' War Chest Fund (Australian Comforts Fund).

A member of the Australian Club, Melbourne, and the New South Wales Club, Pearse enjoyed bridge and bowls. He published two volumes of indifferent memoirs, A Windjammer 'prentice (1927) and Windward Ho (1932) covering his extensive travels. Pearse was a strong Anglican, forthright and somewhat self satisfied, but zealous and thorough in all he did.

As managing director still of the Pastoral Review Pty Ltd, Pearse worked to within a few weeks of his death at Rushcutters Bay on 12 July 1951. Two sons and three daughters survived him: his youngest son had been killed in action in France in 1918.

Select Bibliography

  • Cyclopedia of N.S.W. (Syd, 1907)
  • Notable Citizens of Sydney (Syd, 1940)
  • Pastoral Review, 16 Mar 1908, 16 June 1917, 16 Apr 1928, 16 Nov 1934, 15 Apr 1939, 16 Aug 1951
  • Australasian (Melbourne), 27 Aug 1927
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Jan 1930.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Pearse, Albert William (1857–1951)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/pearse-albert-william-803/text13941, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 24 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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