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Edwin Greaves (1846–1934)

by Niel Gunson

This article was published:

Edwin Greaves (1846-1934), pastoralist, was born on 25 June 1846 at Arncott, Oxfordshire, England, youngest child of John Greaves of Biddlesden, Buckinghamshire, and his wife Elizabeth, née Holt. He accompanied his mother and nine other children to Port Phillip in the Louisa Bailie to join his father who had taken up land at Nillumbik on the River Plenty. When they arrived on 12 October 1849 they discovered that John Greaves had died. Three of the older sons became prominent settlers near Melbourne; Richard (1831-1913) of Cranbourne and Heidelberg, James (1832-1919) of Dandenong, and William (1834-1919) of Lyndhurst.

After his mother's death on 26 September 1859 Edwin worked with James who established a butchery at Dandenong in 1860. In 1869 Edwin went into business at Berwick with his friend Alexander Crighton (later Crichton). In the early 1870s Edwin became manager of the extensive W. J. T. Clarke estate at Berwick which adjoined his brothers' property at Cranbourne. He bought the homestead section of the estate, since known as The Springs, in 1901. Edwin and his family established a reputation for horse-breeding especially draughthorses, trotters, Shetland ponies and his own Dandy breed of ponies. He became widely known as a judge of stud-stock. The ploughing matches of the Mornington Farmers' Society were held on the property. Although possessed of a strong community spirit, a characteristic of the family, Edwin held office only as justice of the peace. He and his brother James were described as 'broad shouldered solid men, reserved in manner but wise in all stock matters, splendid and deservedly trusted advisers to young men'.

On 30 January 1874 Edwin married Margaret McDonald, daughter of Robert White of Janefield, and had a son and a daughter. His wife died in 1876 and on 19 June 1886 he married Margaret, daughter of Charles Forrester of Brighton. Their three sons were prominent in rural and equestrian affairs. He died at The Springs on 6 May 1934.

Edwin's nephew William Clement Greaves (1866-1936), eldest son of William and his wife Margaret Elizabeth, née Payne (who claimed to be the sixth white child born in Victoria), was born on 22 March 1866 at Bittern and raised at Lyndhurst. In 1883 he took up land at Wonthaggi, but settled at Monomeith in 1887 and, in 1890, obtained the lease of the extensive 'College' lands on Western Port Bay belonging to the Council of Agricultural Education. Like his uncles he acquired the best land of the old pastoral runs in the district—Warrook, formerly a property of William Lyall in 1904, and later Caldermeade, the Macmillan estate. He was a successful breeder and judge of livestock, and served as federal president of the Australian Society of Breeders of British Sheep in 1928-32. An advocate of producer co-operatives, he was a founder and leading shareholder of Gippsland & Northern, stock and station agents. He was also chairman of the syndicate which opened up the Kyogle estate, Richmond River, New South Wales, and Merrimac, Queensland, for settlement from 1903 onwards. He was three times shire president and was a councillor of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria from 1908. He was a forceful personality and his views carried much weight: he once told Carlo Catani that one of his drainage schemes was 'public money wasted'. He supported the Presbyterian Church, maintained an Edwardian brick villa and, a methodical man, kept a diary. On 21 January 1892 he had married Mary Flora, daughter of Donald McLellan of Lyndhurst; she was a noted horsewoman. Greaves died at Warrook, Monomeith, on 2 September 1936, survived by a son and three daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • T. W. H. Leavitt and W. D. Lilburn (eds), The Jubilee History of Victoria and Melbourne (Melb, 1888)
  • H. H. Peck, Memoirs of a Stockman (Melb, 1942)
  • N. E. Beaumont et al, Early Days of Berwick and its Surrounding Districts: Beaconsfield, Upper Beaconsfield, Harkaway, Narre Warren and Narre Warren North (Melb, 1948, and 3rd ed 1979)
  • N. Gunson, The Good Country: Cranbourne Shire (Melb, 1968)
  • H. B. Ronald, Hounds are Running (Kilmore, 1970)
  • Dandenong Advertiser, 4 Sept, 16 Oct 1919
  • Argus (Melbourne), 7 May 1934
  • Gippsland and Northern Co-operator, 10 Sept 1936, 22 July 1965
  • Mrs D. N. Gunson diaries and G. Brownfield notes (privately held)
  • private information.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Niel Gunson, 'Greaves, Edwin (1846–1934)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 21 June 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

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


25 June, 1846
Arncott, Oxfordshire, England


6 May, 1934 (aged 87)
Berwick, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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