Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Alice Gordon Elliott (1886–1977)

by A. Rand

This article was published:

Alice Gordon Elliott (1886-1977), nurse and community worker, was born on 21 August 1886 in Hobart, only daughter of William Westfold King, jeweller, and his wife Mary Ann, née Fisher. Alice was educated locally at Miss D'Emden's Private School and later returned there as a teacher. She also worked as an estate-agent's clerk before training (1908-12) as a nurse at Hobart General Hospital where she stayed on as a sister. Joining the Australian Army Nursing Service in 1913, King began full-time service with the Australian Imperial Force in September 1914. Next month she sailed for the Middle East in the transport, Geelong.

After helping to establish hospitals in Egypt, Sister King spent twelve months in hospital ships in Mediterranean waters and was mentioned in dispatches for her work. In July 1916 she was sent to England. From April to August 1917 she had charge of the theatre ward of the 3rd Australian General Hospital in France, and was then transferred to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearing Station, Belgium. As part of the operating team, she worked long hours treating heavy casualties from engagements near Passchendaele. She was again posted to England in December.

On 20 December 1917 she married Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hazell Elliott (d.1956) at the parish church, St Marylebone, London. Although she had to resign from the A.I.F. on her marriage, she continued voluntary work until she and her husband embarked for Tasmania in 1919. The Elliotts set up house at New Town. Their only child was born in 1925. Alice was a generous, serious-minded and capable woman. Foundation president (1920) of the Returned Sisters' Association and an office-bearer until 1945, she was active on the house-committee of the R.S.A.'s memorial cottage at Lindisfarne which was established in 1924 as a holiday home for working nurses. She was also a foundation member (1922), first organizing secretary and treasurer of the Nurses Club, a professional centre, agency and residence. In 1929-44 she served on the management-committee of the Girls' Industrial School, New Town. A committee-member (1945-56) of the Ladies' Harbour Lights Guild of the Tasmanian branch of the Missions to Seamen, she helped the organization's fund-raising activities. She had been appointed a justice of the peace in 1924 and from 1936 to 1952 was a special magistrate in the Children's Court, Hobart.

During World War II, as commandant of a Voluntary Aid Detachment, Elliott lectured on war-nursing and acted as liaison officer with the civil defence authorities; in addition, she trained staff and oversaw the provision of dressings for local first-aid posts. In 1956 she was appointed O.B.E. and elected a life member of the Returned Sailors', Soldiers' and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia. Elliott had joined the Field Naturalists' Club in 1918 and became a life member in 1969. She enjoyed tennis until she was over 70. Survived by her son, she died on 29 August 1977 at Lindisfarne and was cremated. The Alice Elliott Day Club at the Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart, was named in her honour in 1987.

Her brother Charles Stanley King (1889-1959) was born on 23 December 1889 in Hobart. Educated at The Hutchins School and Queen's College, University of Tasmania (B.A., 1911), he proceeded to Corpus Christi College, Oxford (M.A., 1914), as a Rhodes scholar and rowed for his college. After serving in the King Edward's Horse, he was commissioned on 5 December 1914 in the Royal Field Artillery and sent to France. On 15 December 1915 he was awarded the Military Cross for his conduct as a forward observation officer at the battle of Loos. Wounded in June 1917, he spent twelve months in hospital.

King returned to Hobart, taught briefly at his old school, and was a lecturer (1920-32) in economics and history at the university. He captained the New Town cricket team and played football for the university and Lefroy clubs. At St Columb's Anglican Church, Hawthorn, Melbourne, on 27 May 1927 he married Nancy Thurgate Hudson, a 22-year-old schoolteacher. Appointed associate-professor of history at the University of Tasmania in 1933, he was promoted to professor two years later. He retired in 1956, having been a member (1928-33, 1947-49) of the university council and acting vice-chancellor (1948). Foundation chairman (1951-52) of the Tasmanian Historical Research Association, he also served (1942-47) on the board of The Hutchins School. King was acclaimed as one of 'nature's gentlemen' who 'represented a kind of old-world courtesy'; courteous, steady and reliable, he was shy in manner and disliked immodesty and boastfulness. He died of a coronary occlusion on 26 April 1959 in his home at Montagu Bay and was cremated; his wife, daughter and one of his two sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Downie, Our First Hundred Years (Hob, 1975)
  • Hutchins School Magazine, 1945, p 56, 1947, p 40, July 1959, p 7, Dec 1959, p 21, July 1960, p 22
  • Mercury (Hobart), 2 Jan 1956, 27 Apr 1959, 31 Aug 1977
  • Department of Veterans' Affairs (Hobart), file 87/344: RGH Alice Elliott Day Club
  • Nurses Club (Hobart) minutes, 1922-70 (Royal Nursing Federation office, Hobart)
  • NS 1428/5 (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • University of Tasmania Archives
  • private information.

Citation details

A. Rand, 'Elliott, Alice Gordon (1886–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 20 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024