Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hubert East (1862–1928)

by A. L. Lougheed

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Hubert Fraser East

Hubert East (1862-1928) and Hubert Fraser East (1893-1959), drapers, were father and son. Hubert was born on 19 April 1862 at Ballyfarnon, Roscommon, Ireland, son of Henry East and his wife Margaret, née White. Educated at public schools, he was apprenticed to a Sligo draper in 1878-82 and then worked at Athy, County Kildare, until 1886. On 2 March that year at Sligo, he married Margretta Esther Greet and in June sailed from Glasgow in the Cloncurry for Queensland. Employed in various Brisbane drapery houses including Edwards & Chapman and Allan & Stark, he made a lifelong friend of a fellow employee Frank McDonnell. In November 1901, financed by Peter Murphy, a publican, he joined McDonnell in forming the new drapery house, McDonnell & East. They ran the company jointly as managing directors and occupied the chair alternately until East died on 26 May 1928. He was buried in Toowong cemetery and left an estate valued for probate at £14,959.

Hubert Fraser was born on 2 June 1893 in Brisbane and was educated at the Brisbane Normal School and privately. He and a brother joined the firm as shop assistants about 1908. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915, joined the Army Service Corps and served as a driver in motor transport from 1917 until his discharge in February 1920. He returned to McDonnell & East and, on the death of his father, joined the board, sharing the role of managing director and chairman with McDonnell's son. The firm proved remarkably successful and became one of Brisbane's major retail stores. It is the one major Brisbane store which has not succumbed to take-over from Sydney or Melbourne. East became the first president of the Brisbane Retailers' Association in 1933-37.

His deep involvement in the welfare of returned soldiers after World War I gained him award of the C.M.G. in 1937. He served as president of the Queensland branch of the Returned Soldiers and Sailors' Imperial League of Australia in 1923-30 and as vice-president in 1933-34. He was a foundation member of Legacy when it was formed in 1929 and active during its early years. During World War II he served as chairman of the Blinded Soldiers' Committee and as vice-chairman of the appeals committee of the Queensland Patriotic and Australian Comforts Fund (Queensland Branch). He was also prominent in other patriotic organizations and was vice-president of the Queensland Blinded Sailors and Soldiers' Association.

Fraser East devoted a large part of his life to helping others and especially former servicemen who were experiencing immense problems as a result of their wartime service. His major recreations were golf and tennis. A keen supporter of band music for many years, he was patron of the Queensland Band Association.

On 30 October 1930 at Toowong he married Enid Jeanette Howes; they had one son and two daughters. After an illness of several months, East died of cancer on 20 November 1959 in the Mater Private Hospital, Brisbane, and was cremated. He left an estate valued for probate at £32,458 in Queensland and £1016 in New South Wales.

Select Bibliography

  • M. G. Macdougall, Notable Men of Queensland 1950 (Brisb, 1950)
  • Syd Stock Exchange, Research and Statistical Section, Company Review (McDonnell and East), 18 May 1971 (copy held ANU Archives, Canb)
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 21 Nov 1959.

Citation details

A. L. Lougheed, 'East, Hubert (1862–1928)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 19 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]


19 April, 1862
Ballyfarnon, Roscommon, Ireland


26 May, 1928 (aged 66)

Cultural Heritage

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