Australian Dictionary of Biography

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James Garland (1813–1904)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published:

James Garland (1813-1904), pastoralist and police superintendent, was born on 13 August 1813 at Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the youngest son of Thomas Garland, tenant farmer, and his wife Catherine, née Adams. He was educated by Revs J. Milne and W. Lillie, and in 1828 entered King's College, University of Aberdeen (M.A., 1832). In 1835 he bought a commission in the 99th Regiment, transferred to the 28th and arrived at Sydney in June 1836 in the Strathfieldsay. Stationed at Parramatta for a year, he sold out in 1837 and with a fellow officer, William Cadell, took up Darbalara station in wild mountain country on the Tumut River. In June 1839 Garland married Emma Broughton whom he had met when she took refuge from bushrangers with the 'Soldier Officers'. After fifty-three years of marriage Garland wrote that 'never did he cease to bless the bushrangers for sending me such a treasure'. In 1840 he sold Darbalara and lived mostly at Lachlan Vale, Appin, and in 1842 became a magistrate. In the 1840s he took up four other runs on the Upper Murrumbidgee and Hume Rivers in partnership with George Mair. In 1852 Garland held Maragle and Tooma, a total of 80,000 acres (32,375 ha). About 1855 he moved to Sydney where he set up a stock and pastoral agency in partnership with Edward Bingham to deal in squatting ventures.

In May 1856 Garland was elected to the Legislative Assembly for the Lachlan and Lower Darling but failed to live up to his maiden speed which the Empire thought afforded 'promise of considerable debating ability and decided usefulness in the conduct of public business'. In 1857 he did not seek re-election and next year visited Britain. In 1859 he was defeated for the Tumut seat.

In 1861 Garland & Bingham became insolvent and their estate was sequestrated. Although not involved in the 'reckless conduct' and 'unnecessary expenditure' of his partner, Garland honourably surrendered his private fortune. He was granted his discharge certificate in 1862 but the insolvent estate was not wound up until 1902. On 1 March 1862 he was appointed police superintendent for the north-western district, with headquarters at Tamworth under the reorganization provisions of the new Police Regulation Act, 1862. His district was infested with bushrangers including Captain Thunderbolt, and raw recruits needed careful training. 'Robberies were of daily occurrence, the mails were being perpetually interrupted, and the commercial world was beginning to lose faith in the postal means of communication'. In May 1868 when a harbourer of 'the very worst of cattle stealers and bushrangers' was appointed to the Commission of the Peace Garland protested and proceeded to make the district 'one of the most peaceful in New South Wales'. A 'just officer' to his men, he retired on 28 February 1882. He was the first president of the Tamworth Mechanics' Institute and in 1885 was appointed to the local land board. Survived by six sons and four daughters to whom he left £1300, he died on 17 November 1904 and was buried in the Anglican cemetery, West Tamworth.

Select Bibliography

  • W. F. Morrison, The Aldine Centennial History of New South Wales, vol 2 (Syd, 1888)
  • T. B. Clouston (ed), Tumut Centenary Celebrations 1824-1924 (Syd, 1924)
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 1844, 24 May 1856, 18 Nov 1904, Empire (Sydney), 26, 31 May 1856
  • Tamworth Observer, 8, 12 Apr 1882, 19 Nov 1904
  • Tamworth News, 19 Nov 1904
  • insolvency file 5328 (State Records New South Wales)
  • manuscript, printed catalogues and newspaper indexes under J. Garland (State Library of New South Wales)
  • WO 17/2320-22.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Garland, James (1813–1904)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 21 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]


13 August, 1813
Ellon, Aberdeenshire, Scotland


17 November, 1904 (aged 91)
New South Wales, Australia

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