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William Dawson Grubb (1817–1879)

by M. J. Saclier

This article was published:

William Dawson Grubb (1817-1879), attorney, politician and entrepreneur, was born in London, son of William Grubb and his wife Hannah, née Rockliff. In March 1832 he arrived in Van Diemen's Land in the Sovereign with his sister Maria Susanna and her husband Henry Reed. He worked briefly in the business of his brother-in-law and then returned to England to complete his studies and read law. While there he married Marianne, daughter of Joseph Beaumont of Molgreen House, Huddersfield, Yorkshire. He returned to Launceston in 1842 and was admitted a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court, and with Henry Jennings set up a partnership which continued until the latter moved to Melbourne. Apart from his successful practice, Grubb's main business ventures were in timber and mining. He built a sawmill at Pipers River in partnership with William Tyson; a private Act was passed in 1855 to permit the building of a tramway to the junction of the Launceston-George Town Road at Mowbray but before the line was completed the timber market had failed and the project did not succeed. Similarly his investments in mining were often unfortunate and he was reputed to have lost over £50,000 in timber, gold, coal and railway investments. However, the New Native Youth and Tasmania gold mines were profitable and appear to have compensated largely for his losses in other directions: the Tasmania mine was said to have paid dividends of over £700,000 by 1900. Grubb represented Tamar in the Legislative Council from 1869 until he died aged 62 on 8 February 1879. He was survived by three sons and two daughters.

His eldest son, Frederick William, was born in 1844 at Launceston. Educated at Horton College, Ross, he was articled to his father and to the Hobart firm of Allport, Roberts & Allport. In 1867 he went into partnership with his father and carried on the practice alone from 1874 when his father retired; in 1884 he disposed of it to W. Martin and F. C. Hobkirk. In the Legislative Council he succeeded his father as member for Tamar in 1879 and in 1881-1911 represented Meander. He also carried on his father's interest in investment: in mining as a director of the Western Silver Mine, Zeehan, and in the pastoral industry managing Bengeo merino stud at Lemana until replaced by his son Percival Beaumont. In 1871 Frederick married Alice, daughter of Edward Archer, Northbridge, Longford; they had a son and a daughter. Alice died on 14 October 1877, and on 3 December 1879 he married her cousin Isabel Madeline, daughter of Joseph Archer; they had one daughter. He died at Launceston on 28 April 1923.

Select Bibliography

  • Cyclopedia of Tasmania, vol 2 (Hob, 1900)
  • Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), 10 Feb 1879
  • Examiner (Launceston), 30 Apr 1923
  • correspondence files under Grubb and Reed (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

M. J. Saclier, 'Grubb, William Dawson (1817–1879)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 24 June 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

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

William Dawson Grubb (1817-1879), by J. W. Beattie

William Dawson Grubb (1817-1879), by J. W. Beattie

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001125880310

Life Summary [details]


London, Middlesex, England


8 February, 1879 (aged ~ 62)
Tasmania, Australia

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