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Slade, William Ball (1843–1938)

by S. J. Routh

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

William Ball Slade (1843-1938), stud breeder, was born on 5 December 1843 at Yeovil, Somerset, England, son of John Slade, solicitor, and his wife Mary, née Penkivil. Educated at Sherborne School, Dorset, after some legal training Slade in 1861 migrated to Sydney where his elder brother was practising as a solicitor.

After pastoral experience in New South Wales and Queensland, on 1 March 1873 Slade married Sophia Thompson (d.1923) at St Mark's Church of England, Warwick, Queensland. That year he became manager and a partner in Glengallan, Warwick, with C. H. Marshall. John Deuchar had established notable Shorthorn and Merino studs there, and between the droughts of 1872 and 1902 Slade developed the Shorthorn stud to over one thousand pedigreed females, one of the largest in the world.

The Merino stud had such prestige that Slade maintained it as a 'closed' flock until 1916. During that time he developed a heavier-fleeced flock, with wool that was stronger, of greater length and often brighter. He kept another line of Merinos of Vermont strain, separate from the Glengallan foundation stock, and also bred Lincolns. He exported stud Merinos to the Cape of Good Hope in 1888, a connexion long continued.

Despite his prestige as a stud-breeder, Slade's greatest achievement was to transform Glengallan from a traditional pastoral stud property to one where intensive cultivation of lucerne and other fodder supported not only the stud stock but also wethers bought for fattening from western properties. Meticulous in supervision, analysis, and record-keeping, he was praised by contemporaries as the best manager on the Darling Downs. Under the Queensland Agricultural Lands Purchase Act of 1894 the Glengallan partnership restored its capital and recouped drought losses in three major subdivisions between 1895 and 1904, when the partnership came to an end.

Meanwhile Slade was acquiring properties near Warwick (for example, The Glen) and at Gore, towards Inglewood (Ashgrove), on his own account and that of his family. He had retained 5000 acres (2024 ha) at East Glengallan, but in 1912 that property was subdivided, with the elder son Oswald Carey Slade (1882-1956) continuing to manage the Merino stud. The other surviving son, Adrian Ernest (1887-1973), was also manager or proprietor of properties as the family bought and sold stations near Gore, Longreach and Pratten: in the 1920s his Glenbar Shorthorn stud won many awards.

Though for some years resident in Brisbane, Sydney, Gore, and finally near Pratten, W. B. Slade was celebrated as the archetypal Anglo-Australian patrician of Warwick. He was patron, office-bearer and benefactor of show societies, his church, Masonic Lodge and the Warwick branch of the Royal Society of St George. His name is now best remembered by the Slade School, Warwick.

Slade's great avocation was cricket. He three times took five wickets or more against New South Wales or Australian elevens between 1875 and 1877, donated Slade Park to the Queensland I Zingari Cricket Club, and always enthusiastically promoted the game. In 1932 he was appointed C.B.E. Survived by two sons and a daughter, Slade died in Warwick General Hospital on 18 April 1938, and was buried in Warwick cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • G. A. Brown, Sheep Breeding in Australia (Melb, 1890)
  • G. E. Evans (compiler), ‘The Garden of Queensland’ (Toowoomba, 1899)
  • M. H. Ellis, The Beef Shorthorn in Australia (Syd, 1932)
  • D. B. Waterson, Squatter, Selector and Storekeeper (Syd, 1968)
  • C. E. Olsen, The Annals of Slade School (Warwick, Qld, 1976)
  • W. Torrens, Queensland Cricket and Cricketers, 1862-1981 (Brisb, 1982)
  • Pastoralists' Review, 15 May 1906, 15 Jan 1912
  • Dalgety's Review, 14 Dec 1928
  • Brisbane Courier, 1 Jan 1932
  • Warwick Daily News, 19 Apr 1938
  • Glengallan papers (State Library of Queensland)
  • Slade newsclippings books (State Library of Queensland).

Citation details

S. J. Routh, 'Slade, William Ball (1843–1938)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/slade-william-ball-8451/text14859, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 29 November 2014.

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

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