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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Bagot, Edward Meade (Ned) (1822–1886)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Edward Meade Bagot (1822-1886), by S. Solomon, c1860

Edward Meade Bagot (1822-1886), by S. Solomon, c1860

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 6126

Edward Meade (Ned) Bagot (1822-1886), pastoralist and agent, was born on 13 December 1822 at Rockforest, County Clare, Ireland, the third son of Captain Charles Hervey Bagot and his wife Mary, née MacCarthy. He was educated at Dr King's school in Ennis, near Limerick. In 1839 he passed the East India Co.'s civil service examination and acquired his outfit; while waiting at Portsmouth for his ship he 'was suddenly attacked with fits resembling epilepsy', and taken home. In 1840 he was surveying in Scotland when his father decided to migrate to South Australia; in the Birman they arrived in December. Next year the family settled at Koonunga where Edward planted the first garden and gained pastoral experience. When copper was discovered at Kapunda in 1843 he acted as grass-captain and accountant at the mine and ran a store and butchery for the miners. In 1850 he became a director of the South Kapunda mine.

Bagot took up on the River Murray the Murthoo run in 1846, Ned's Corner in 1854 and later Kulnine and Wall Wall. He also held the Beefacres estate on the River Torrens in 1853-64. To stock these properties he bought horses and cattle and imported Suffolk Punch sires, Shorthorn bulls and Berkshire pigs; their progeny soon began to win prizes at local shows. With thoroughbreds from New South Wales he bred many winners, including Don Giovanni, sire of Don Juan who won the Melbourne Cup in 1873. Bagot acted as secretary of the South Australian Jockey Club when meetings were held at Thebarton, and when the Morphettville course opened he was often a judge. Widely known as 'Ned', he was a zealous supporter of most pastoral and other rural organizations, particularly the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society where his business acumen, judgment of stock and clear-headed advice were greatly valued.

After the railway reached Kapunda in 1860 Bagot set up as a stock and station agent; thousands of horses and cattle, many of them overlanded from Queensland, and sheep passed through his sale yards at Kapunda. In 1888 the firm of E. M. Bagot & Co. was merged with that of James Shakes (1807-1900) and John Lewis (1844-1923).

Bagot won a contract in 1870 for constructing portion of the Overland Telegraph line. His section of 500 miles (805 km) from Port Augusta to the Macumba River, north of Lake Eyre, was finished in the allotted time and he was paid £38,000. In 1872 he leased 575 sq. miles (1489 km²), which he called Undoolya, stretching from the MacDonnell Ranges east to the Ross River. In 1873 he sold his River Murray runs and invested heavily in Northern Territory gold mines; at first they seemed promising but failed by 1876. Despite crippling losses Bagot sold his remaining stations and continued his other activities. In 1870 he had established at Thebarton a boiling-down works which in one year handled over 70,000 sheep. He also manufactured a popular extract of meat known as 'Bagots', and in 1875 added wool-washing and fellmongery to the business.

On 1 August 1853 Bagot had married Mary Pettman; she died in 1855, survived by a son. On 30 July 1857 Bagot married Anne Smith; they had six sons and six daughters. Although apparently in good health, he failed to return to his home on 24 July 1886. After a long search by friends and police his body was found in a quarry at Yatala on 2 August. A large crowd attended his burial at the North Road Anglican cemetery. He was survived by his wife, four sons and five daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • C. H. Bagot, A Holograph Memoir (Adel, 1960)
  • C. Sabine, 'The Late Mr. E. M. Bagot', Garden and the Field, vol 12, Apr 1887, pp 126-27
  • G. W. Symes, ‘James Churchill Smith's “Diary for 1872”: Some Notes on Overlanding Cattle to the Northern Territory and the Establishment of Undoolya Station’, South Australiana, vol 7, no 1, Mar 1968, pp 39-46
  • Register (Adelaide), 31 July, 3 Aug 1886.

Additional Resources

Citation details

'Bagot, Edward Meade (Ned) (1822–1886)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 23 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

View the front pages for Volume 3

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