Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

William Clement Greaves (1897–1973)

by Niel Gunson

This article was published:

William Clement Greaves (1897-1973), grazier, was born on 10 September 1897 at Monomeith, Victoria, third child of William Clement Greaves, grazier, and his wife Mary Flora, née McLellan, both Victorian born. The family was prominent in pastoral, agricultural and church affairs. Young Will attended Scotch College, East Melbourne, then helped to manage his father's Gippsland properties during World War I. On 7 March 1929 at St Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Geelong, he married Margaret Marion Morrison Sanderson; they settled at Caldermeade, a homestead originally built by the pioneer Alexander Macmillan which developed into a showplace with its avenue of lambertiana pines and its extensive hawthorn hedgerows.

In 1925-59 Greaves was a member of the Cranbourne Shire Council (president 1928-29, 1936-37, 1946-47 and 1954-55). His wide knowledge of the people and history of the district, coupled with his financial insight, helped to create a prosperous rural community of which he became elder statesman. His civic interests extended beyond the shire. An executive-member of the Gippsland Municipalities Association, he took a prominent role in its affairs, including sponsoring Charles Daley's The Story of Gippsland (1960). Greaves was also president of the West Gippsland Regional Committee and served on many local deputations and committees. Like his father, he was a director and leading shareholder in the Gippsland & Northern Co-operative Co. Ltd and a staunch believer in producer co-operatives.

Reared from boyhood in the traditions of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, Greaves followed his father on its council in 1937 (vice-president 1951-54), and was a prominent figure in the ring during showtime as well as a successful exhibitor. In 1959 he led a journalists' tour of Gippsland, run by the R.A.S. He was twice president of the British Sheep Breeders' Association of Victoria, and a councillor on its federal body. A regular judge of cattle, sheep and horses at shows throughout the Commonwealth, he was president (1924-26, 1933-34) of the Lang Lang show committee, and promoted and supplied cattle to the Lang Lang rodeos in 1943-65. He was appointed O.B.E. in 1960.

A kindly, earnest man, Greaves also had the decisive authoritarian bearing of the well-regulated landholder. He was superintendent (1919-59) of the Lang Lang (Presbyterian) Sunday School and a president of the Kooweerup (later Westernport) Memorial Hospital. In 1955, when he was shire president, a photograph was taken of him with his three sisters, presidents respectively of the local Presbyterian Guild, the Country Women's Association's arts and drama committee, and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Victoria. His son Mac (William McLellan) succeeded him on the shire council and was its president in 1962-63. Will Greaves continued to fatten cattle and breed Border Leicester sheep at Caldermeade until retiring to the Melbourne suburb of Oakleigh in 1967. Survived by his wife, daughter and two of his three sons, he died on 9 August 1973 at Malvern and was buried in Lang Lang cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • N. Gunson, The Good Country (Melb, 1968)
  • J. Ridgway and J. Lowden, Rodeo at Lang Lang (Kilmore, Vic, 1976)
  • Herald (Melbourne), 12 May 1959
  • Kooweerup Sun, 22 July, 5, 19 Aug 1959, 12 Sept 1962
  • Korumburra Times, 19 Aug 1959
  • Country Leader, 4 Sept 1959
  • G & N Co-Operator, 22 July 1965.

Citation details

Niel Gunson, 'Greaves, William Clement (1897–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 15 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024