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Arthur Champion Groom (1852–1922)

by Leslie M. Moorhead

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Arthur Champion Groom (1852-1922), Swiss Studios, 1900s

Arthur Champion Groom (1852-1922), Swiss Studios, 1900s

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23435978

Arthur Champion Groom (1852-1922), politician and land and stock agent, was born on 26 November 1852 at Harefield, near Fingal, Van Diemen's Land, fifth son of Francis Groom, who had settled at Harefield in 1843, and his wife Matilda Emma, née Minnett. He was educated at Horton College, Ross.

In September 1872 Groom arrived in Victoria. He was managing a station, probably near Geelong, at the time of his marriage on 8 January 1877 at All Saints' Church of England, Geelong, to Gertrude Rudge; they had a daughter and three sons. About 1878 he joined William Hamilton & Co., stock and station agents. In May 1881 he took over the goodwill of the firm, retaining its name until about 1903, when it became known as Hamilton, Groom & Co. The head office was in Queen Street, Melbourne, but it operated mainly in south Gippsland and sales were held monthly and fortnightly at the firm's yards at Leongatha, Poowong, Loch, Korumburra and other townships.

As the firm's principal and a well-known auctioneer, Groom became identified with many interests in the Gippsland district. He turned his attention to politics and in March 1886 defeated the sitting member F. C. Mason for the seat of South Gippsland in the Legislative Assembly. After a redistribution in 1889 he won Gippsland West, but lost the seat in April 1892; another attempt in 1897 was unsuccessful. Groom had been involved with Sir Matthew Davies in Country Estates Ltd, an attempt to subdivide land at Neerim South. In 1889 he was a member of the royal commission on the coal industry of Victoria, which issued three reports between 1889 and 1891, and in 1890 he was a member of the Railways Standing Committee. He was also closely involved in the late 1880s in the movement towards a closer organization of rural members as a 'country party'.

Transferring his ambitions to the Federal sphere, in March 1901 Groom won Flinders in the House of Representatives. However he retired from politics at the next election in December 1903. R. A. Crouch described him as one of the few Victorian free traders in the first Federal parliament, a 'quick nervous speaker' who attended rarely, claiming that his business as stock agent was quite as important as parliament.

Groom's term in Federal parliament coincided with his part as originator and moving spirit of a venture which united a number of Gippsland landowners and businessmen in a syndicate to buy Kyogle, a property on the Richmond River in northern New South Wales. Groom became managing director and W. C. Greaves chairman of the company formed in November 1903 to make the purchase. Shareholders and buyers made large profits from the subsequent subdivision, improvement and re-sale of the land.

The success of the Kyogle venture encouraged Groom to look further north, and in 1908 he set himself up as a special agent for the Queensland government for the sale of land. In 1910 he managed a large sale at Merrimac (near Surfers Paradise). He decided to settle in Queensland, first at Rosabel station, near Arrilalah, Longreach, in 1911-14 and later at Rosabel Downs, Julia Creek.

He died on 22 March 1922 in hospital at Cloncurry, survived by his second wife Eva Rosabel, née Groom, and their three daughters and four sons, of whom the eldest was Arthur. A daughter of his first marriage also survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 3 (Melb, 1905)
  • H. Copeland, The Path of Progress (Warragul, Vic, 1934)
  • H. H. Peck, Memoirs of a Stockman (Melb, 1942)
  • B. D. Graham, The Formation of the Australian Country Parties (Canb, 1966)
  • Crouch memoirs (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

Leslie M. Moorhead, 'Groom, Arthur Champion (1852–1922)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 30 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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