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Charles Richmond John Glover (1870–1936)

by Valmai A. Hankel

This article was published:

Charles Richmond John Glover (1870-1936), by unknown photographer

Charles Richmond John Glover (1870-1936), by unknown photographer

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B55002

Charles Richmond John Glover (1870-1936), lord mayor, public benefactor, businessman and book collector, was born on 3 May 1870 at Richmond, Surrey, England, son of Charles Peter Glover, publican, and his wife Hannah, née Shortland, who were holidaying in Britain. His father had migrated to Adelaide in 1855 and his mother in 1859. Together they took over the Plough & Harrow Hotel in Rundle Street. Charles was educated at Prince Alfred College in 1882-87 and then qualified as a pharmaceutical chemist, having been articled with F. H. Faulding & Co. For six years from 1898 he was a sharebroker on the Adelaide Stock Exchange. On 17 May 1900, at St John's Church, Adelaide, he married Elizabeth Maude Hannam. In 1903 the Plough & Harrow (later Richmond) Hotel was transferred to him and on his mother's death in 1913 he inherited half her estate of £32,000.

Glover had begun a career on the Adelaide City Council in 1906. He was an alderman from 1909 to 1917 when he became mayor. In 1919 he became Adelaide's first lord mayor, a position he also held in 1923-25 and 1930-33, when he retired. His period as a civic father saw the development from a geometric village to a consciously beautiful city. Glover held ex officio positions on numerous civic bodies including the board of management of the Adelaide Hospital, the Metropolitan County Board, the Botanic Garden Board and the Municipal Tramways Trust. He was active in a bewildering variety of charitable, philanthropic, public utility, cultural and sporting bodies. In 1919 he initiated and donated part of the cost for the War Memorial Drive on the northern banks of Torrens Lake and he presented three children's playgrounds to the city. He was a patron of many local sporting clubs. Hardly a day passed without meetings. His business positions included chairman of directors of the Imperial Building Society, and director of the Bank of Adelaide, the United Insurance Co. and the South Australian Gas Co.

Glover visited England in 1891, 1904, 1921 and 1933. He published in the church paper 'A brief history of the Church of St John the Evangelist, Adelaide, 1839-1909' and A History of the First Fifty Years of Freemasonry in South Australia, 1834-84 (1916). He had been a devoted Freemason: after being deputy, in 1909 he was elected grand secretary of the Grand Lodge, a position he held until 1936.

After his purchase in 1914 of St Andrews, a spacious mansion in North Adelaide, Glover developed his library and ethnological collection. He specialized in books on Australasia and the South Sea, largely acquired between 1912 and 1934, keeping thorough records of his purchases from Australian booksellers and on his overseas trips; he had his own bookplate. The greater part of his library, one of the major Australian collections, was sold at auction in Melbourne in 1970. Many of his Aboriginal artefacts had originally been collected by Charles Chewings on his travels between Alice Springs and Newcastle Waters, and by George Aiston, protector of Aboriginals. Glover ceased acquiring ethnological material about 1920. Most of it was sold by auction in Sydney in 1970.

Of medium height, bespectacled, and with dark hair that receded early, Glover was a meticulous hoarder of receipts, invitations, menus and ephemera invaluable to historians. He maintained detailed inventories of his furniture, pictures and other possessions. He is privately remembered as being generous, considerate, tolerant, a very good employer, and one who conducted all his duties honourably and thoroughly. But this quiet person of high ideals, who embodied the concepts of duty and civic responsibility, was never formally honoured for his assiduous service to his State. Survived by his wife, a son and a daughter, he died of cancer on 27 October 1936 and was buried in the family vault in West Terrace cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at £27,737. An oil portrait of Glover by Alfred Gant is in the Adelaide Town Hall where his son John also served as lord mayor in 1960-63.

Select Bibliography

  • Universal Publicity Co., The Official Civic Record of South Australia (Adel, 1936)
  • Adelaide City Council, Annual Report, and Notice Papers, 1906-36
  • Year Book of the City of Adelaide, 1919, 1924
  • Australian Book Review, Oct 1970, p 325
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 28 Oct 1936
  • Glover papers, PRG, 310 (State Records of South Australia).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Valmai A. Hankel, 'Glover, Charles Richmond John (1870–1936)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 29 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (Melbourne University Press), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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