Australian Dictionary of Biography

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George Fullerton Cleland (1852–1931)

by Lindsay Cleland

This article was published:

George Fullerton Cleland (1852-1931), wine merchant, was born on 24 January 1852 near Taunton, Somerset, England, son of John Fullerton Cleland and his wife Elizabeth, née Glen. In that year his father migrated to Adelaide with his family and became registrar-general of births, deaths and marriages for South Australia. George was educated privately and entered the employment of his uncle Samuel Davenport in 1869, working the vineyards at Beaumont near Adelaide and learning and practising vine and olive cultivation and processing. A Congregationalist, on 22 January 1878 he married Amy, daughter of Henry Giles of Giles & Smith, merchants, and granddaughter of William Giles.

In 1883 he founded the firm of G. F. Cleland & Co., based on the cellars and vineyards at Beaumont. On 27 February 1889, when it was formed into a limited company with Davenport as chairman and himself as managing director, the firm had cellars at Beaumont, Moorooroo and Adelaide. In 1890 the capital of the company was increased and a business opened at Tanunda where cellars, distillery and bonded store were built. In 1891 the firm had a paid up capital of £34,000 and assets worth £40,000. In 1893 Cleland bought the Adelaide and Beaumont businesses, carrying them on under the name of G. F. Cleland & Co. Ltd, while by agreement the Tanunda branch changed its name to the Adelaide Wine Co. Ltd and passed into the control of Elder Smith & Co. In 1897 G. F. Cleland & Sons Ltd was formed with his son Henry being taken into the business, and later his sons Glen and George (b.1909). They continued the production of wine, and particularly olive oil, from the Beaumont vineyards and always carried on the wine and spirits business and as general merchants, but from 1893 the firm became more centred on its wholesale and merchandising activities.

Cleland's active association with public affairs had begun when he was elected councillor for Beaumont ward of the Burnside District Council in June 1879; he was its chairman in 1885-94, a member of the District Council of Stirling East and first president of the District Councils Association of South Australia. He was a councillor of the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia in 1896-1923, served on its wine committee and was chairman in 1896, 1906 and 1917. He was also president of the South Australian Vigneron Association. He was appointed to the Board of Agriculture in 1905 and was an executive commissioner at the International Exhibition in Christchurch in 1906. In the Chamber of Manufactures he gave outstanding service as a councillor in 1905, vice-president in 1906-07, president in 1907-10 and past-president until his death on 10 July 1931.

Select Bibliography

  • H. T. Burgess (ed), Cyclopedia of South Australia, vol 1 (Adel, 1908)
  • Elder Smith & Co. Ltd records (Australian National University Archives)
  • G. F. Cleland & Sons papers, BRG2 (State Records of South Australia)
  • information from Royal Agricultural Society and Chamber of Manufactures, Adelaide.

Citation details

Lindsay Cleland, 'Cleland, George Fullerton (1852–1931)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 18 July 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]


24 January, 1852
Taunton, Somerset, England


10 July, 1931 (aged 79)
South Australia, Australia

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