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John Archibald (1845–1907)

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John Archibald (1845-1907), businessman and politician, was born on 15 December 1845 at Penston, Haddingtonshire, Scotland, son of Robert Archibald, coal-mine manager, and his wife Janet, née Henderson. Educated at a local Free Church school, he became a teacher with the London Council of Education for four years, then migrated to Queensland in 1863. He worked for Cribb & Foote of Ipswich until 1870, then became manager at Harrisville for J. & G. Harris. Transferred by the firm to Ipswich about 1874, he resigned in 1878 and on 21 July became clerk of petty sessions at Charters Towers. Promoted in July 1884 to police magistrate and warden at Ravenswood, he was transferred to Warwick in June 1887 and resigned from the government service on 19 April 1888.

Archibald joined W. H. Barnes in operating flour-mills on the Darling Downs and was taken into partnership; he spent five years as financial director of the firm, then sold his interests in Barnes, Archibald & Co. He formed a partnership with Samuel Crowther and in December 1895 they floated the Dominion Milling Co. Ltd. A successful businessman, Archibald joined the boards of Carricks Ltd, Queensland Trustees Ltd and the Daily Mail Newspaper Co. In 1896 he stood for Warwick in the Legislative Assembly but, having complied with a party request to withdraw in favour of T. J. Byrnes, was called to the Legislative Council next year by the premier Sir Hugh Nelson. There he opposed Federation, but showed a keen interest in mining legislation and restriction of Asian immigration. His private interests lay in the Methodist Church, Freemasonry and local government; he was mayor of Warwick in 1890 and 1897. He settled at New Farm in Brisbane about 1900 and died there on 20 May 1907 of valvular disease of the heart. His estate, valued for probate at £34 642, was left mainly to his widow Frances Amelia, née Herbert, whom he had married at Harrisville on 19 January 1872. He was survived by three sons and four daughters.

Archibald's eldest son Robert John (1874-1939) was born on 16 June 1874 at Ipswich and began his education at Charters Towers and Ravenswood. He won a scholarship to Brisbane Grammar School for 1887-89, and in 1890 became a clerk in Barnes, Archibald & Co. By 1896 he was manager in Toowoomba for the Dominion Milling Co. Ltd. When the firm became associated with the Brisbane Milling Co. in May, he was appointed Brisbane manager, and in 1902 general manager of the joint enterprise. The 1915 royal commission on the supply and distribution of wheat and flour revealed that the Archibald interests, through their branches at Brisbane, Toowoomba, Roma, Pittsworth and Maryborough, controlled two-thirds of the mills in Queensland. He became chairman of the combine in 1924 when it was joined by White Rose Flour Ltd of Sydney.

Archibald was also chairman of the Queensland Trustee Co., Finney Isles & Co. and Carricks Ltd. He held directorates in Foggitt Jones, United Provisions, Luya Julius, Solomon Islands Rubber, Manara Plantations and the Daily Mail Newspaper Co., and was on the local board of the Australian Mutual Provident Society. In 1923 he stood unsuccessfully for Ithaca in the Legislative Assembly.

Like his father Archibald was a fervent Methodist, serving as organist and choirmaster of the West End church for thirty years and on the Church's Epworth House Trust. Unlike his father, he had sporting interests in golf, bowls and motoring, and was president of the Austral Choir. He died at Brisbane on 1 August 1939. His estate, sworn for probate at £88,614, was left mainly to his wife Lilian Amy, née Merry, whom he had married at Brisbane on 9 April 1902, and to their five children.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1885, 3, 36, 1900, 2, 378, 3, 163
  • Brisbane Courier, 21, 23, 25 May 1907
  • Toowoomba Chronicle, 22 May 1907
  • Courier Mail (Brisbane), 2 Aug 1939
  • company registers, book 8 (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

'Archibald, John (1845–1907)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 15 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


15 December, 1845
Penston, Haddingtonshire, Scotland


20 May, 1907 (aged 61)
New Farm, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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