Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Wilson Anderson (1840–1917)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published:

John Wilson Anderson (1840-1917), estate agent and dairy farmer, was born on 26 March 1840 at Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland, son of Thomas Anderson, innkeeper and farmer, and his wife Mary Hamilton, née Young. After education at Girvan High School he became a farmer and a member of the Ayrshire Yeomanry Cavalry. In 1863 he sailed for Melbourne, arrived in November and was soon manager of Edward Wilson's experimental farm at Keilor. In 1868 Anderson had some months with the stock and station agents, Ryan & Hammond, before joining the Warrnambool firm, Samuel McGregor & Co., as an auctioneer. With this experience behind him, Anderson confidently entered the land speculations of the 1880s and was much sought as a syndicate partner. More land was said to have passed through his hands than those of anyone else in the southern hemisphere. He bought and resold in subdivisions Yallock estate near Terang; the Farnham survey near Koroit; the Belfast special survey; Mewburn Park, Woodlands and Heyfield estates in Gippsland; Warrnambool Downs in Queensland and Kyogle on the Richmond River, New South Wales.

Although some of this subdivision was for town lots, the greater part was for dairy farms. Anderson was an originator of the dairy sharefarming system in Victoria and by 1895 he himself owned six dairy farms and 640 cattle, using Ayrshire bulls. He owned Tower Hill Park estate, Koroit, most of which he let for dairying; he managed without friction to guide the activities of his tenants to their advantage and his own, an accomplishment which aroused admiration amongst his contemporaries. He helped to establish the Tower Hill butter factory in 1893 and was chairman of directors for many years. He was active in preparing schemes for butter export, was president of the Dairymen's Association of Victoria, often wrote articles on the dairy industry and was for forty years regarded as one of the best cattle judges in Australia.

Anderson retired from business in 1907 to revisit Scotland but retained an interest in his farms until the last year of his life. He died at St Kilda, Melbourne, on 22 October 1917. He had married Emma Flaxman, who died in 1902 survived by two sons and three daughters. Anderson was survived by his second wife Isabel Innes Suter.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Sutherland et al, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melb, 1888)
  • A. Henderson (ed), Australian Families, vol 1 (Melb, 1941)
  • Warrnambool Standard, 1 Oct 1895
  • Pastoral Review, 7, 15 Jan 1898
  • Argus (Melbourne), 23 Oct 1917.

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Anderson, John Wilson (1840–1917)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 20 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (Melbourne University Press), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 March, 1840
Girvan, Ayrshire, Scotland


22 October, 1917 (aged 77)
St Kilda, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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