Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Ada Beveridge (1875–1964)

by Julie Gorrell

This article was published:

Ada Beveridge (1875-1964), Country Women's Association leader, was born on 15 February 1875 at Townsville, Queensland, third child of Frederick Joshua Wathen Beardmore, commission agent, and his wife Emily Anne, née Commins, both from New South Wales. Educated at Sydney Girls' High School (on a scholarship) and the University of Sydney (B.A., 1896), Ada graduated with first-class honours in English and became a schoolteacher. On 20 January 1904 at St James's Anglican Church, Croydon, she married a grazier James William Caldwell Beveridge. She settled into country life at the family property, Tenandra Park, Gundagai, and later moved to Billabong station near Junee.

After raising two sons (born in 1906 and 1908), Mrs Beveridge began to devote considerable time to organizations that aimed to improve the welfare of women. With her connexion Jessie Sawyer, she joined the Country Women's Association of New South Wales soon after its establishment in 1922 and founded a branch at Junee in 1926. An international vice-president (1937-40) of the Pan-Pacific Women's Association when Georgina Sweet was president, Ada attended its conferences in Honolulu (1934) and at Vancouver, Canada (1937). She was an executive-member of the New South Wales Bush Nursing Association (1938-49), the Australian Aerial Medical Services and the regional committee of the Young Women's Christian Association.

Having been a vice-president of the C.W.A. until 1937, Mrs Beveridge was State president in 1938-40. Despite a serious motorcar accident in 1939 and a bout of pneumonia next year, she pursued her presidential tasks with energy, visiting branches throughout New South Wales and travelling 14,720 miles (23,689 km) in six months. She attended interstate conferences, commuted between the C.W.A.'s office in Sydney and her country home, and represented the association's interests at local, State and national levels.

Her presidency coincided with the outbreak of World War II. As a committee-member of the Women's Voluntary Services, Mrs Beveridge toured the countryside, mobilizing country women to support the war effort. From 1939 she represented the C.W.A. on the executive of the Lord Mayor's Patriotic and War Fund, and was a foundation director and executive chairman (1940-42) of the Women's Australian National Services; she also helped to establish the Women's Voluntary National Register and the women's land section (Australian Women's Land Army). Ada lent Billabong station for their training camps and subsequently to accommodate evacuees. She was appointed M.B.E. in 1941.

When she stood as an Independent candidate for the Senate in 1943, Beveridge was obliged by the C.W.A.'s apolitical stance to 'lay aside' her former activities. Unsuccessful in the elections, she resumed leadership of the association at a local level and continued to be an active member of the branch which she had established in 1939 at Nangus, her nearest village. She was a delegate to the Associated Country Women of the World conferences in Amsterdam (1947) and Copenhagen (1951). An intrepid traveller who had flown over Alaska in 1937, she enjoyed gardening and reading, and belonged to the Lyceum, Women's and the Queen's clubs, as well as the Royal Empire Society. Following her husband's death in 1959, Ada moved to Roseville, Sydney. Survived by her sons, she died there on 20 January 1964 and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Townsend, Serving the Country (Syd, 1988)
  • Pan-Pacific Women's Association, Proceedings of 4th Conference, Vancouver, Canada, 1937
  • Australian Women's Weekly, 14 Aug 1943
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Apr 1932, 11 Sept 1934, 27 Sept 1937, 26 July, 17 Oct 1938, 4 Mar 1939, 8 July 1940, 12 June, 17 July 1941, 4 Feb 1942, 24 July 1943
  • Gundagai Independent, 10 July 1943
  • Country Women's Association of New South Wales (Sydney branch), Annual Report, 1939-40, and minutes of the Junee Branch, 1926, and Nangus Branch, 1939
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Julie Gorrell, 'Beveridge, Ada (1875–1964)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 20 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


15 February, 1875
Townsville, Queensland, Australia


20 January, 1964 (aged 88)
Roseville, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.