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Renard, Jules (1833–1898)

by Gillian Marsden

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Jules Renard (1833-1898), wool-broker and merchant, was born at Verviers, Belgium, son of Clement Renard, wool-merchant, and his wife Marie Josephine, née Lennarz. The family later moved to Antwerp, where the sons were trained for wool trade. Educated at the Athénée and Ecôle Supérieure de Commerce, Antwerp, Renard won a scholarship enabling him to gain business experience in a foreign country and he went to London.

In 1852 he went to Australia in charge of stud Rambouillet sheep for S. P. Winter of Murndal, near Hamilton, Victoria. He remained some years in the Western District, gaining experience and contributing his technical knowledge of the wool industry. He is reputed to have helped control scab in the area and contracted to build sheep dips. Later he overlanded stock, drove wool teams and was a wool-buyer in Sydney for a short period, before joining Gustave Beckx & Co. in 1862. About 1865 he set up his own wool business and in 1867 with his brother Arthur formed Renard Bros & Co. in Melbourne, with branches in Antwerp, London, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide. They bought wool in Melbourne and Sydney for export and also imported goods. Renard advocated sending Australian wool to the Antwerp sales rather than solely to London. In 1874 his company, with the backing of Winter and other Western District growers, made the first shipment of wool direct to Belgium, opening a new market to Australian wool and general trade.

In 1870-95 Renard was Belgian consul in Melbourne, after which he took over his company's Sydney business, and was granted the title honorary consul for life. His services to Belgium, including regular trade reports to Brussels on Victoria, were recognized by his appointment to chevalier of the Order of Leopold on 4 February 1878 (officier, 1892). A commissioner for the Melbourne International Exhibitions of 1880 and 1888, and for the Bordeaux Wine Exhibition in 1882, Renard also represented the Belgian government when he accompanied Sir Henry Parkes to Belgium that year.

Well above average height, Renard was handsome as a youth but became very heavy in old age. On 22 February 1866 at Richmond, Victoria, he had married Fanny, daughter of William Hardcastle, a wool-merchant and staunch Congregationalist, who had migrated from Bradford, Yorkshire. She died of cancer on 25 November 1897; her long illness had signalled Renard's gradual retirement from public and business life and absorption in literature and religion, but he remained a member of the Chamber of Commerce and read a prescient paper on 'Long Distance Telephony' to the conference of Australasian Chambers of Commerce in Sydney in May. He died of pneumonia, aged 65, on 27 August 1898 at Stavelot, Glebe Point; although apparently Catholic by birth, he was buried with his wife in the Congregational section of the Waverley cemetery. Seven children survived them. All three sons, educated in Melbourne and Belgium, were trained for the wool trade and the eldest, Clement William, Melbourne partner of a Bremen-based wool firm, was appointed permanent acting consul on 4 January 1893.

Select Bibliography

  • W. A. Brodribb, Results of Inquiries and Correspondence During the Year 1874, in Regard to the Wool Trade (Melb, 1875)
  • Renard Bros & Co., Antwerp Versus London as a Market for Australian Wool (Melb, 1875)
  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • A. Barnard, The Australian Wool Market, 1840-1900 (Melb, 1958)
  • Melbourne Church of England Grammar School, Liber Melburniensis (Melb, 1965)
  • Hamilton Spectator, 16, 26 Sept 1874
  • Winter-Cooke papers (some copies, State Library of Victoria)
  • State Library of New South Wales printed catalogue under Renard
  • private information.

Citation details

Gillian Marsden, 'Renard, Jules (1833–1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/renard-jules-4466/text7285, published in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 24 October 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

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