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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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White, Alfred Spurgeon (1890–1977)

by Beverley Kingston

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Alfred Spurgeon White (1890-1977), accountant, was born on 2 October 1890 at his parents' home, Yarrawonga, Stanmore, Sydney, youngest of five children of English-born parents William White, a baker from the Isle of Grain, Kent, and his wife Anna Maria, née King. William's Great Southern Bakeries at Redfern and Newtown had flourished. He served (1893-94) as president of the Baptist Union of New South Wales as did his son-in-law, the evangelist Rev. C. James Tinsley (1912-13), long-time pastor at Stanmore, and Alfred's elder brother William (1913-14, 1930-31).

Alfred was educated at Stanmore Superior Public School and Newington College. By 1915 he had qualified as an associate of the Federal Institute of Accountants and by 1929 as a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia. He established 'a reputable firm of chartered accountants' with A. T. Iliffe; other partners over the years included H. Thew, C. A. Fox and S. C. Gillmore. The firm provided accounting facilities to the Baptist Church. Both White and Iliffe served as treasurer for various church committees; White for over fifty years was honorary treasurer of the New South Wales Baptist Union's Trust Funds. On 14 April 1915 at the Baptist Mission, Blackheath, he had married Dorothy Maud Mary Field.

By his 'diligence and competence', White prospered and 'promoted and established many thriving and financially successful companies'. He was secretary to the bakers and millers Gartrell White Ltd (run by his brothers William and Clarence), and to Australian Cash Orders Ltd, a retail credit scheme pioneered by William Buckingham, a fellow Baptist. White was a founder and managing secretary of the Employers' Mutual Indemnity Association Ltd. From 1929 to 1972 he chaired Whitefields Ltd, a housing development and rental firm. He gradually acquired associated interests as chairman of Ormonoid Roofing & Asphalts Co. and Motor Discounts Ltd, and as director of Australian Home Furnishers Ltd, Sylvatone Ltd, Poole & Steel Ltd and other companies. In 1949 he joined the board of Federal Mutual Insurance Co. of Australia Ltd (which immediately began to advertise in the Australian Baptist).

White's success in housing finance carried over into his church activities: he was treasurer of the New South Wales Homes for Incurables at Ryde, of the Loan and Building Fund, and of the Aged and Infirm Ministers' Fund. In February 1972 he announced the gift of $400,000 to the New South Wales Baptist Homes Trust to provide for underprivileged children.

By the 1940s the Whites were living at a new Yarrawonga, in Woodland Avenue, Pymble, where he pursued his interest in gardening and music. They also maintained a holiday house, Thorington, at Blackheath. In 1976 after the death of their unmarried daughter Dorothy who had lived with them at Pymble, White and his wife moved to Canberra to live with another daughter, Jean Price. He died on 31 March 1977 in Canberra Hospital and was cremated. His wife and their two remaining daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • A. C. Prior, Some Fell on Good Ground (Syd, 1966)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Mar 1930, 28 June 1933, 23 July 1937, 24 Feb 1972
  • Australian Baptist, 8 Mar 1972, 20 Apr 1977.

Citation details

Beverley Kingston, 'White, Alfred Spurgeon (1890–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 10 August 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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