Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Horace Flower (1818–1899)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published:

Horace Flower (1818-1899), businessman, was born on 14 December 1818 in London, son of John Flower, merchant, and his wife Martha Deanne, née Wickham. Educated in England, he arrived early in 1838 at Sydney in the Spartan, with his brother Philip. He probably joined his brother's firm of Marsden & Flower and then the firm of Flower, Salting & Co. on its formation in 1842. He was later sent to Bradford to study the wool trade, and on his return joined Thomas Must at Portland where, as Flower, Must & Co., they traded as wool-buyers and exporters. Flower was appointed a trustee of the Portland branch of the Port Phillip Savings Bank in 1847 but two years later moved to Port Fairy where Flower, with William Rutledge and Francis Forster, trading as William Rutledge & Co., shipped to the London firm of P. W. Flower & Co. wool, tallow and later gold, and imported necessities and luxuries. The firm had shipping interests, a wine and spirits monopoly and its own wharf.

Flower was the Port Fairy agent for Lloyds of London, a trustee of the Savings Bank, prominent in establishing the hospital and fire brigade and was chairman of the Roads Board in 1860-61. He was a trustee of the Nareeb Nareeb estate and an executor of John McKellar's Knebsworth estate. As a member of the 'Syndicate of Irish Gentry' he took up the 5120-acre (2072 ha) Farnham survey and with partners in 1849-68 held several pastoral runs including Argyle, 32,000 acres (12,950 ha) near Casterton, Burrie Burrie near Dunkeld, The Gums near Penshurst and Kolonga near Bundaberg.

In 1862 William Rutledge & Co. became insolvent, a disaster for which heavy losses in grain transactions and depreciation of landed securities were blamed. The two largest creditors were Flower, Salting & Co. and the Bank of Australasia. Horace Flower accused the bank of relentlessly pursuing him and his partners, and he fought as far as the Privy Council against the local decision which placed them 'in the same category with notoriously dishonest men'; the partners paid 20s. in the £ to their creditors and in 1866 were honourably discharged from bankruptcy. Goldsbrough Mort & Co. offered Flower the management of their new Port Fairy branch, a position he held until it was closed in 1865. He unsuccessfully contested the 1864 Shire Council election but in 1865 was appointed shire secretary.

Early in 1869 Flower sold his home, Leura, and moved with his family to Melbourne. Port Fairy regretted his decision as he was loved for his hospitality, humour and wit and admired for his classical learning and unbending honour. For a time Flower was with the Melbourne office of the auctioneering firm Samuel Macgregor & Co. and he lived first in Carlton and later in Toorak. He died at his home, Englefield, on 19 December 1899, survived by his wife Amelia, née Kirby (Kirk), whom he had married in 1850, and by five sons and four daughters of their twelve children.

Select Bibliography

  • English Reports, vol 16 (1902)
  • A. Henderson (ed), Australian Families, vol 1 (Melb, 1941)
  • M. Rutledge, ‘William Rutledge: An Australian Pioneer’, Victorian Historical Magazine, vol 36, no 3, Aug 1965, pp 110-27
  • Belfast Gazette, 29 June 1860
  • Banner of Belfast, 26 Apr, 3 June, 22 July, 12 Aug, 4 Nov 1862
  • Warrnambool Examiner, 2 Feb 1864
  • Port Fairy Gazette, 22 Dec 1899.

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Flower, Horace (1818–1899)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 24 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

Life Summary [details]


14 December, 1818
London, Middlesex, England


19 December, 1899 (aged 81)
Toorak, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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