Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Town, Andrew (1840–1890)

by D. G. Bowd

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

Andrew Town (1840-1890), stud-breeder, was born on 7 March 1840 at Richmond, New South Wales, son of William Town, squatter, and his wife Mary Ann, née Durham, both of whom were born in the colony. He was educated at the Church of England School, Richmond, and at Rev. Matthew Adam's Presbyterian school at Windsor. In the 1860s with his father he held three runs on the Liverpool Plains and one in the Bligh District. On 8 July 1863 at Richmond he married Emma Susannah Onus, a member of an old Hawkesbury family; he lived on the corner of Windsor and Paget streets, Richmond, where much of his stud was housed; he also had extensive stables at Clarendon.

Interested from an early age in racing and breeding, in 1868 Town inherited his father's sire, Tarragon, winner in 1866 of the Australasian Champion Stakes at Flemington after a dead heat with John Tait's Volunteer. In 1871 Rosebud carried his colours of red jacket and black cap to victory in the Metropolitan and Sir William dead-heated in the Doncaster Handicap. In 1878 he won the Australian Jockey Club St Leger Stakes with Cap-a-pie. The previous year he had bought Hobartville where he bred pedigreed Hereford, Devon and Ayrshire cattle, Berkshire pigs, draught and carriage horses, ponies and trotters as well as his celebrated thoroughbred racehorses. Without equal as a judge of horse-flesh, he had 130 blood and 40 draught mares and imported many mares and stallions. His sires included colonial-bred Maribyrnong and the unbeaten Grand Flaneur. His most successful mare was The Fawn whose yearlings sold for a total of 12,701 guineas; her colt Segenhoe by Maribyrnong was sold to James White for 2000 guineas. In 1882 Town imported the much-travelled American trotting stallion, Childe Harold, in whose memory Harold Park, Sydney, is named.

From 1879 he held annual yearling sales 'under the oaks' at Hobartville with Thomas Clibborn as auctioneer. They reached their zenith in the 1880s: special trains were run from Sydney for the racing fraternity; Governor Carrington often attended with his suite; free luncheon and liquid refreshments were provided for all in a huge marquee seating 300. In 1886 ninety-two pedigreed thoroughbreds, trotters and draughthorses realized over 13,000 guineas.

A magistrate from 1866, Town was a councillor of the Agricultural Society of New South Wales, sheep director for Windsor in 1873-89, a trustee of St Peter's Church of England, Richmond, a director of the original Richmond Bridge Co., a committee-man and judge of the Australian Jockey Club, a founder of the Hawkesbury District Agricultural Association and president in 1879-89, founding chairman of the Hawkesbury Race Club in 1882-89 and judge of the Sydney Turf Club, the Hawkesbury, Warwick Farm and Canterbury Park race clubs.

A lavish host, large-hearted with warm sympathies, Town was no businessman; late in 1889 his mortgagees William Alexander Long and George Hill junior foreclosed. On 4 January 1890 the Hawkesbury Race Club and the A.J.C. held a complimentary race meeting for him at Randwick and £1830 was donated to his wife 'for her sole separate use'. Heart-broken at the loss of his patrimony and Hobartville, Town died of typhoid fever at Rockdale on 10 February and was buried in the family vault at St Peter's, Richmond. He was survived by his wife, four sons and six daughters. The Bulletin claimed that if 'all men connected with horse racing were as straight and true as was Andrew Town the turf would indeed be the sport of Kings and not a mere spider's web'. However, his liabilities exceeded his assets, valued for probate at £91,233, by over £15,000; £84,714 was owing to Long and Hill. Town's portrait is in the Hawkesbury Museum at Windsor.

Select Bibliography

  • W. F. Morrison, The Aldine Centennial History of New South Wales, vol 2 (Syd, 1888)
  • N. Gould, The Double Event (Lond, 1891)
  • D. M. Barrie, The Australian Bloodhorse (Syd, 1956)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Jan, 11 Feb 1890
  • Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 4 Jan, 15 Feb 1890
  • Bulletin, 15 Feb 1890
  • V. Cox, Hobartville, N.S.W. (State Library of New South Wales)
  • newspaper cuttings, vol 92 (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

D. G. Bowd, 'Town, Andrew (1840–1890)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/town-andrew-4740/text7871, published in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 19 April 2014.

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

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