Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Alfred Henry Gardener (1831–1881)

by Ruth Teale

This article was published:

Alfred Henry Gardener (1831-1881), greyhound owner, was born at Alpheton, near Sudbury, Suffolk, England. He arrived at Sydney in May 1865. He worked until 1871 for Prince, Ogg & Co., warehousemen, and later represented Arthur & Co. Ltd, woollen and softgoods manufacturers of Glasgow, but mostly depended on private means.

Gardener devoted his life to breeding and racing greyhounds. Before his majority he had won several private matches with rejects from Lord Stradbroke's kennel. In 1871 he returned to England and had two successful seasons. Hearing that coursing had been legally recognized in 1873 in Victoria, he thought he might profitably introduce the sport to New South Wales. In 1874 he returned to Sydney with eleven valuable greyhounds and at a meeting at the Royal Hotel inaugurated, with Sir Hercules Robinson as patron, the New South Wales Coursing Club of which he was the first honorary secretary and a lifetime committee member. The first public coursing meeting was held at Bathurst on 8 May 1876 and the first in Sydney in June 1879. By the end of the 1878 season Gardener had given up coursing on his own account and trained for James Weir and George Hill junior of Surry Hills. His most notable season in New South Wales was in 1880 when, after reverses in Melbourne, he beat the Victorian dogs sent to Sydney to challenge his Hopmarket. He imported another three greyhounds from England and by 1881 had profitably put to stud all his imported dogs, whose offspring were already earning valuable stakes throughout the colony.

Gardener gave many prizes and won repute as 'the coursing patriarch of New South Wales'. He was well known on all the important courses: Sunbury near Melbourne, Woodstock, Bathurst, and Rooty Hill near Sydney. Quick tempered, he was often 'boisterous in demeanour … in the excitement of the chase'. His hints on racing and the improvements he introduced in breeding were acknowledged by local owners, particularly the sporting brothers William and George Lee of Bathurst and Walter Lamb of Sydney. He died aged 50 at Surry Hills on 28 February 1881 of typhoid fever and was buried in the Anglican section of Rookwood cemetery. Most of his estate of £1500 was left to relations in Suffolk.

Select Bibliography

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 5 June 1879, 3 Mar 1881
  • Town and Country Journal, 3 July 1880, 5 Mar 1881
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 2 Mar 1881
  • E. S. Marks, Early Coursing in Australia, 1868-1887 (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ruth Teale, 'Gardener, Alfred Henry (1831–1881)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 21 May 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]


Alpheton, Suffolk, England


28 February, 1881 (aged ~ 50)
Surry Hills, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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