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Stodart, Robert Mackay (1879–1956)

by A. L. Lougheed

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Robert Mackay Stodart is a minor entry in this article

James Stodart (1849-1922), merchant and politician, was born on 15 September 1849 in Edinburgh, son of James Dickson Stodart, accountant, and his wife Maria Louisa Margaretha, née Meincke. The family migrated to Melbourne in 1855 and 1856. Educated at Scotch College, James worked with Holmes, White & Co. and then Turnbull, Smith & Co., leading mercantile businesses. He followed Robert Murray Smith to the New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agency Co. as its accountant, but left in 1876 to set up his own business as a general merchant in Brisbane. An agent for the sugar refiners and distillers (Robert) Tooth & Cran, James became one of its directors after it merged with the Millaquin & Yengarie Sugar Co. On 22 October 1878 he married Elizabeth Henrietta Noble Gair at Toorak, Melbourne, with Presbyterian forms.

Winning the seat of Logan in the Queensland Legislative Assembly, Stodart held it from 1896 to 1918: he served in government (1896-1903 and 1908-15) and in Opposition (1903-08 and 1915-18). Stodart was chairman of committees in 1911-15. He held broad liberal views and favoured Federation, moderate protection, closer settlement and immigration of 'the yeoman class'. He opposed the indiscriminate introduction of Pacific islanders, wanting them restricted to tropical industries and segregated from large population centres. In his electorate, where he owned a sugar mill, he enthusiastically supported the establishment of the co-operative Farmers' Industrial Association.

He helped to establish the Mackay Coffee Estates Co. and was president of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce (1911-12) and a director of the National Mutual Life Association of Australasia Ltd. A foundation member of the Royal Geographic Society (Queensland branch), he was vice-consul for Sweden (from 1906) and consul (1913-22). He was, as well, grand master of the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Queensland. Survived by two sons and a daughter, Stodart died at his Ascot home on 20 June 1922 and was buried in South Brisbane cemetery.

His son Robert Mackay Stodart (1879-1956), soldier and businessman, was born on 14 September 1879 in Brisbane. From Brisbane Grammar School, he entered business. In October 1897 he enlisted in the Queensland Mounted Infantry. Promoted lieutenant in 1898, he served in the South African War and was awarded the Queen's medal with three clasps. Robert was a captain in the 13th Light Horse Regiment from 1903 and military adjutant in 1907-11; promoted major in 1908, he commanded the 13th L.H.R. from April 1912. Transferred to the 2nd L.H.R. in July, he was promoted lieutenant-colonel in 1913 and continued to command this regiment until 1921.

During World War I Stodart had served at Gallipoli from May to September 1915 in charge of the 2nd L.H.R. Although wounded on 6 June, he remained on duty until evacuated on 15 September. From Egypt on 3 March 1916 he embarked for home medically unfit. He commanded troops on sea transports until 15 April 1917 when his appointment in the Australian Imperial Force was terminated.

On the retired list of the Australian Military Forces with the rank of honorary colonel from April 1921, Stodart commanded the 1st Cavalry Brigade in Brisbane and became a full colonel in 1935. He was aide-de-camp to the governors-general Sir Isaac Isaacs and Lord Gowrie in 1935-40. Appointed an honorary brigadier on 1 May 1940, Stodart became Queensland member of the Joint State Council, Voluntary Aid Detachments, and chairman of the Compensation Board, Northern Command. During his military career he was appointed chevalier of the Order of Vasa and commander brother of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

In the inter-war years Stodart had taken over his father's business and was much involved in public affairs. On 4 July 1912 he had married Adele Madelene Abercrombie at the Anglican Church of St Mary the Virgin, Brisbane. Survived by three daughters, Stodart died at his Coorparoo home on 29 June 1956 and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • Alcazar Press, Queensland, 1900 (Brisb, nd)
  • Australian Defence Department, Official Records of the Australian Military Contingents to the War in South Africa, P. L. Murray ed (Melb, 1911)
  • G. H. Bourne, Nulli Secundus, the History of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, A.I.F. (Tamworth, NSW, 1926)
  • Brisbane Grammar School Magazine, Nov 1922
  • Brisbane Courier, 21 June 1922.

Citation details

A. L. Lougheed, 'Stodart, Robert Mackay (1879–1956)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/stodart-robert-mackay-9236/text15167, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 19 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

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