Australian Dictionary of Biography

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James Matthew Dunlop (1867–1949)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with William Philip Dunlop

James Matthew Dunlop (1867-1949), and William Philip Dunlop (1877-1954), merchants, were born on 15 April 1867 and 23 October 1877, in Edinburgh, Scotland, eldest and second sons of John Sym Dunlop (1844-1912) and his wife Margaret, née Munro (d.1931). Their uncle William Philip senior (d.1906) came to Australia from Scotland in 1861 and was salesman in the paper firm of Alexander Cowan & Co. Ltd. About 1867 he returned to Edinburgh and took George Murray as partner: the firm traded in Sydney as Murray, Dunlop & Co. About 1873 he and Frederick Lewis Edwards (1828-1906), law stationer and bookseller, founded Edwards, Dunlop & Co. Ltd, paper merchants and wholesale stationers, of Sydney and London.

After attending George Watson's College, Edinburgh, James Matthew arrived in New South Wales with his family in 1879 and, on completing his education at the Cooerwull Academy, Bowenfels, joined the firm. In May 1886 it became a public company: the consideration paid being £107,000 in fully paid £1 shares.

Edwards managed the London buying office while William senior and John took care of the Sydney distributing side. On his father's death in 1912 James became chairman and managing director of the Australian operations. A branch had been opened in Brisbane in the 1880s and through careful and conservative management the firm survived the depression, a disastrous fire in 1906 and paper supply and shipping shortages in World War I. Operations were extended to Melbourne in 1920 and to Perth in 1937-38.

James was president of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce in 1924-27 and of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia in 1926-27. He was also chairman of Paget Manufacturing Co. Ltd and a director of the Bank of New South Wales in 1927-30. A staunch Presbyterian, like his father, he was a director of the Burnside Presbyterian Orphan Homes for many years and generously supported the Salvation Army. Of a somewhat devout and retiring disposition, he spent his spare time mainly in farming pursuits. He died unmarried on 21 August 1949 at his home Munro Park, Sutton Forest, and was cremated. His estate was valued for probate at £191,433.

William Philip, junior, was educated at Sydney Boys' High School and at 16 joined the company; appointed a director in 1903, he was vice-chairman for thirty-seven years until 1949 when he became chairman and managing director. He was the driving force behind the growth of the firm which until 1944 concentrated on wholesale merchandising. He was fond of saying that 'Not a wheel turns inside these doors', but that year the firm bought Galwey & Co. Pty Ltd, a manufacturing stationer. Since 1959 the firm has expanded vigorously throughout Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea and has played a leading role in the development of the newspaper and printing trades; among its agencies for newsprint and other papers is Stora Kopparbergs of Sweden, the oldest known company in the world.

Dunlop was very good natured and generous, with a sense of humour; he was fond of travel, cards, reading and the theatre. He enjoyed gambling on a modest budget at Monte Carlo. Very active in tennis affairs, he was president of the New South Wales Lawn Tennis Association in 1909-10 and 1914 and was senior vice-president of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia in 1926. He later enjoyed golf and, with his brother, was a member of the Australian Club. He was honorary treasurer of the Citizens Reform Association and in 1924-50 of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children. He died on 2 August 1954 at his home at Edgecliff, Sydney, and was cremated with Presbyterian forms. He was survived by his wife Mary Josephine, née Smith, whom he had married on 20 February 1908 at the Scots Church, Sydney, and by a daughter and son (Sir) John Dunlop. His estate was valued for probate at £117,938.

Select Bibliography

  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 31 Mar, 4 Sept 1906, 16 May 1912
  • Sunday Times (Sydney), 1 Apr 1906
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July, 2 Sept 1906, 8 Dec 1922, 7 Dec 1923, 21 May 1926, 30 Mar 1935, 22 Aug 1949, 3 Aug 1954
  • Town and Country Journal, 18 Jan 1911, 20 May 1912
  • Bulletin, 23 May 1912, 1 Sept 1928
  • Smith's Weekly (Sydney), 11 Aug 1923
  • Labor Daily, 17 July 1925
  • Manning River Times, 21 May 1949
  • Edwards Dunlop & Co. Ltd, records (Sydney).

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Dunlop, James Matthew (1867–1949)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (Melbourne University Press), 1981

View the front pages for Volume 8

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


15 April, 1867
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


21 August, 1949 (aged 82)
Sutton Forest, New South Wales, Australia

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