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Tout, Sir Frederick Henry (1873–1950)

by A. F. Deer

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

Sir Frederick Henry Tout (1873-1950), solicitor, pastoralist, businessman and politician, was born on 13 January 1873 at Calabash, near Young, New South Wales, sixth child of English parents, Samuel Tout, grazier, and his wife Sarah, née Kelly; twice widowed, Sarah had four other children. After education at Fort Street Model School and Newington College, where he played Rugby, he was articled to Sir Joseph Abbott. On 21 August 1897 Tout was admitted as a solicitor and on 8 September in the Congregational Church, Glebe, married Minnie Agnes, daughter of Francis Abigail. Entering into partnership with Macartney Abbott, Tout practised in Sydney and Burrowa until 1907 and retained an interest in the firm to 1933.

Taking over part of his father's estate near Young, Tout developed Wambanumba into a highly productive sheep- and wheat-station, and established a successful Aberdeen Angus stud. He later owned Uah (near Forbes) and other properties. Prominent in local affairs, he was chairman of the Young Pastures Protection Board and repatriation committee, president of the local branch of the Graziers' Association of New South Wales (1918-33), a member of the Burrangong Shire Council and long-time president of the hospital board.

In January 1928 Tout was appointed to the three-member Federal valuation board, formed to review land tax assessments. A council-member (1913-41) of the Graziers' Association, in 1928 he became president and served for an extended term of five years during the Depression. Conspicuous in negotiations about primary industry, he was a member of many of the association's special committees, a delegate to the Australian Woolgrowers' Council, the Employers' Federation of New South Wales and other organizations, and a State representative on the association's federal council. A founding member (1929) and chairman (1933-34) of the Australian Oversea Transport Association, he was involved in schemes to promote wool and to regulate meat exports.

Fiercely opposed to the policies of Jack Lang, in October 1931 Tout chaired a conference of the National Party, Country Party and the All for Australia League in an attempt to co-ordinate opposition to the Federal and State Labor governments. Next year he attended the Imperial Economic Conference, Ottawa, as an adviser; returning via England, he criticized marketing in that country of Australian primary products. In 1933 he became president of the Australian Economic Advisory Council, an influential group which included Sir George Allard, (Sir) Philip Goldfinch and Harold Nicholas; they opposed socialism and wanted the rehabilitation of industry to continue, regardless of political changes. Tout was knighted in 1935.

In 1922 he had unsuccessfully contested the Legislative Assembly seat of Cootamundra. As a member of the Country Party, he was president of the local electorate council, and trustee and vice-chairman (1933) of the State central council. Nominated to the Legislative Council in September 1932, Tout was elected in November 1933 to the reconstituted council for twelve years. He did not seek re-election in 1946.

From the late 1920s Tout's advice was sought by several important companies: he was a director of the Australian Mutual Provident Society, Goldsbrough, Mort & Co. Ltd, the Graziers' Co-operative Shearing Co. Ltd (Grazcos), Associated Newspapers Ltd, Expeditionary Films (1933) Ltd and the McGarvie Smith Institute. He was a local director of the Commercial Union Assurance Co. Ltd. As president (1945-50) of the Bank of New South Wales, he was concerned with post-war reconstruction and fought nationalization of the trading banks. He was a director (1938-41) of Sydney Hospital and a fellow (1939-49) of the senate of the University of Sydney.

Short and plump, Sir Frederick considered himself a '“pure merino” bushman'. Untiring in his efforts to promote primary industry, he remained courteous and never appeared hurried. He was a member of the Australian and Union clubs. His wife died in 1942 and on 28 September 1945 at St Michael's Anglican Church, Rose Bay, he married Marie Gwendoline Glennie. Survived by her, and by two sons and a daughter of his first marriage, he died in a private hospital at Darlinghurst on 4 July 1950 and was cremated with Anglican rites. His estate was sworn for probate at £127,610.

Select Bibliography

  • L. E. Gent, The Fort Street Centenary Book (Syd, 1949)
  • New South Wales Graziers' Annual, 1925-33
  • Pastoral Review, 16 Feb 1932, 15 July 1950
  • Bank of New South Wales, Annual Report, 1945-49
  • Sydney University Gazette, Sept 1950
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 31 Mar 1928, 15, 18, 20 Nov 1931, 13 Jan, 14 Sept 1932, 3 Feb, 6 Nov 1933, 31 Jan, 3 June 1935, 6 July 1950
  • Smith's Weekly, 5 Mar 1932
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 18 Apr 1932
  • G. S. Harman, Graziers in Politics: The Pressure Group Behaviour of the Graziers' Association of New South Wales (Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University, 1968).

Citation details

A. F. Deer, 'Tout, Sir Frederick Henry (1873–1950)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/tout-sir-frederick-henry-8832/text15495, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 23 December 2014.

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

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