Australian Dictionary of Biography

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George Edmondstone (1809–1883)

by A. A. Morrison

This article was published:

George Edmondstone (1809-1883), by unknown photographer, 1863

George Edmondstone (1809-1883), by unknown photographer, 1863

Brisbane City Council Library, BCC-B54-A122

George Edmondstone (1809-1883), butcher and politician, was born on 4 May 1809 in Edinburgh, son of William Edmondstone, naval commissary, and his wife Alexandrina, née Farquharson. At 12 his father died and in 1832 he migrated to Sydney. Later he went to Hobart Town and after some hard times began business in Sydney. He then moved to Maitland and about 1840 he took up Normanby Plains station, but sold out early in 1842 and set up as a butcher in Brisbane, hoping to profit from trade with the newly-settled Darling Downs. He soon achieved prosperity and prominence. Although not a great speaker he was elected to the first Brisbane Municipal Council in 1859 and remained a member until 1866. As mayor in 1863-64 he had much to do with the planning of the first Brisbane bridge and the town hall. He was also involved in the conflict between the council and the government on the new Brisbane waterworks.

In the Queensland Legislative Assembly he represented East Moreton in 1860-67, Brisbane in 1869-73 and Wickham in 1873-77. He seldom spoke in the assembly and made little impression, though in 1870 in company with Theophilus Pugh, Kevin O'Doherty and Simon Fraser he tried to organize a Liberal party based largely on Brisbane. In 1877 he was appointed to the Legislative Council in an effort to secure a majority for John Douglas's Liberal government. His appointment was resisted by the administrator, Sir Maurice O'Connell, but approved by his successor, Sir Arthur Kennedy.

On 10 July 1837 in Sydney Edmondstone had married Alexis Watson Tilleray. He retired from business because of a heart complaint and died at his home in Breakfast Creek on 23 February 1883, survived by one of his two daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • G. Greenwood and J. Laverty, Brisbane 1859-1959: A History of Local Government (Brisb, 1959)
  • Queensland Express, 17 Feb 1870
  • Brisbane Courier, 24 Feb 1883.

Citation details

A. A. Morrison, 'Edmondstone, George (1809–1883)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 15 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

George Edmondstone (1809-1883), by unknown photographer, 1863

George Edmondstone (1809-1883), by unknown photographer, 1863

Brisbane City Council Library, BCC-B54-A122

Life Summary [details]


4 May, 1809
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


23 February, 1883 (aged 73)
Breakfast Creek, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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