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Whittingham, Arthur Herbert (1869–1927)

by Dianne Byrne and Brian F. Stevenson

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

Arthur Herbert Whittingham (1869-1927), grazier and politician, was born on 20 September 1869 at Dunedin, New Zealand, son of George Whittingham, merchant, and his wife Selina, née Davidson. The family moved to Victoria about 1871 where George became a principal of Whittingham Bros, a large pastoral firm with holdings in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. Educated at Kew High School and Geelong Church of England Grammar School, in 1888 Arthur entered Trinity Hall, Cambridge, to study arts. He then enrolled in medicine at the University of London, training for more than three years at St Mary's Hospital, but his studies were interrupted by the deaths of his father and eldest brother. Whittingham returned to Australia to look after the family interests.

Having gained experience on Canally station at Balranald, New South Wales, Whittingham was sent in 1901 to manage Alice Downs, a property near Blackall in central Queensland which his father and brother John had taken up in 1878. With his brother Harold, Arthur bought the run in 1903; six years later he bought out Harold's interest. The Alice Downs merinos were sedulously and scientifically increased to some 80,000; Whittingham and his manager avoided overstocking in order to produce a high quality fleece. Periodic land resumptions—to meet the demands of closer settlement—reduced the size of the property, but Whittingham added to his holdings by buying Anthony, Anthony North, Lancevale and Westhill stations in central Queensland.

Keenly interested in the pastoral industry, Whittingham was elected president of the United Graziers' Association in 1913 and held the post for twelve years. His term of office coincided with the membership's shift from large property owners to predominantly smallholders and farmer-graziers: he used 'firm and tactful handling' to facilitate the transition. An active participant in local government, Whittingham had unsuccessfully contested the Legislative Assembly seat of Barcoo in 1907. Appointed to the Legislative Council in July 1912, he bitterly opposed Labor amendments to the land Acts and the move to abolish the council which eventually terminated his parliamentary career in 1922.

On 4 June 1913 at St John's Anglican Cathedral, Brisbane, Whittingham had married Cecile Viva Condamine Taylor. The childless couple lived at Mayfield in the Brisbane suburb of Hamilton and made their home a focus of social activity in the 1920s. Cecile was described as 'Queensland's best dressed woman'. A horse-racing enthusiast, Whittingham owned Lordacre which won the Queensland Turf Club Derby Stakes (1916) and Clairvaux which won the Brisbane Thousand (1924). He was a prominent Freemason who belonged to several clubs and associations which promoted sporting, cultural and humane interests. He was also a director of the Blackall Wool Scouring, the Union Trustee and the Australian Mutual Life and Finance companies, and for some years was consular agent for Italy.

Survived by his wife, Whittingham died of heart disease on 20 June 1927 at Mater Misericordiae Private Hospital, Brisbane. He left an estate sworn for probate in Queensland at £234,608. His widow contested the will, but his bequest to Geelong Grammar of some £100,000 remained. The school received a further $221,875 in 1972 after the death of his widow.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Fox, The History of Queensland, its People and Industries, vol 1 (Brisb, 1919)
  • Pastoral Review, 15 Sept 1910, 16 July 1927
  • Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Corian, Dec 1975
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 5 June 1913, 21 June 1927, 21, 22 June 1934
  • Queenslander, 23 June 1927
  • Truth (Brisbane), 12 Feb 1933, 24 June 1934.

Citation details

Dianne Byrne and Brian F. Stevenson, 'Whittingham, Arthur Herbert (1869–1927)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/whittingham-arthur-herbert-9087/text16021, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 15 December 2019.

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

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