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Molesworth Richard Greene (1827–1916)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published:

Molesworth Richard Greene (1827-1916), pastoralist, was born on 14 January 1827 at Dublin, the eldest son of Lieutenant William Pomeroy Greene, R.N. and his wife Anne, née Griffith. Molesworth was educated in Paris. In 1842 he went with his parents to Port Phillip in the Sarah which his father had chartered for his household, hunters, two race-horses, two bulls and a cow, a library and a prefabricated house; they arrived in December. Woodlands, some miles from Melbourne, was chosen as the site for the family's new home.

In the next years Greene gained useful experience in bush life. A 'fine young fellow' with much character, he assumed responsibility for the family when his father died in 1846. With his brother, Rawdon, he took up a run west of the Whipstick scrub near Tandara and stocked it with 300 cattle. In 1848 he bought James Moore's half of Glenmore station, near Bacchus Marsh; his uncle, Charles James Griffith, held the other half. In that year the firm of Griffith & Greene bought Mount Pyramid near Echuca and William Campbell's Mount Hope station and famous Camden flock. Greene then visited England and on his return in 1851 became engaged to Emma, sister of Rolf Boldrewood; they were married on 27 July 1854 at Woodlands.

With Frederick Darley and Robert Massie, Greene acquired Merungle station on the Lachlan. He then ventured into Queensland where with Lloyd Jones and A. T. Sullivan he took up Bulloo Downs and extended his holdings to include Tickalaro, Onepah, Dynevor Downs and others. He established an excellent Shorthorn herd and in 1899 his enthusiastic letter to the British Australasian Society on prospects in Queensland was published in London. Crippled by the long drought ending in 1902 he confined his rural activities to six dairy farms in Gippsland and Greystones near Bacchus Marsh. On this 10,000-acre (4047 ha) property he built an imposing house with a magnificent view and, supplemented by the smaller Beremboke property five miles (8 km) away, ran horses, cattle and 11,000 sheep. His flock was merino with a long-wool cross to maintain a good standard for wool, carcass and lamb production. He won renown for his husbandry, for his improvements in the conservation of water, fire-breaks, cultivation of artificial grasses, especially lucerne, and tree plantations and for his use of share-farming both at Greystones and on his Gippsland farms.

For years Greene was a justice of the peace, a trustee of the Melbourne Public Library, National Gallery and Museum, a member of the Melbourne Club and its president in 1883, and vice-president of the Pastoralists' Association of Victoria and Southern Riverina. He was chairman of directors of the South Broken Hill Mining Co. in 1916 and respected as an authority on financial matters. On the Bacchus Marsh Shire Council he was described as its 'watchdog', always reminding his colleagues of their financial responsibilities. A liberal donor he rarely refused a deserving cause and supported Trinity College and the Trinity Women's Hostel. In his youth he was a noted amateur rider with great physical strength and his nephew thought him a 'perfect marvel' at 84: 'a man who rode on the run every day; read without glasses, and was up in all the topics of the day'. He died at East Melbourne on 10 October 1916 and was buried at the Melbourne general cemetery; he was survived by a son and two daughters, one of whom married Sir William Allardyce, later governor of the Bahama Islands and in 1920-22 of Tasmania.

Select Bibliography

  • M. F. E. Stawell, My Recollections (Lond, 1911)
  • J. L. Dow, 'Large Estates Improvement in Victoria: The Greystones', Pastoralists' Review, vol 13, no 3, May 1903, pp 177-79
  • 'Pastoral Celebrities: Mr. Molesworth R. Greene', Pastoralists' Review, vol 15, no 9, Nov 1905, pp 703-04
  • Argus (Melbourne), 11 Oct 1916
  • Werribee Express, 14 Oct 1916.

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Greene, Molesworth Richard (1827–1916)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 24 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

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