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Edward William Terrick Hamilton (1809–1898)

by J. R. Robertson

This article was published:

Edward William Terrick Hamilton (1809-1898), pastoralist and company director, was born on 26 November 1809 at Loughton, Essex, England, son of Rev. Anthony Hamilton (1778-1851) and his wife Charity, née Farquhar. His elder brother, Walter Kerr, was bishop of Salisbury in 1854-69. Edward was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge (B.A., 1832; M.A. 1835), and a fellow in 1834-42. He was admitted to the Inner Temple on 2 November 1832, but later decided to abandon law to follow 'a pastoral life' in New South Wales, hoping thereby to make enough money to enable him to return to England and live as a leisured gentleman.

In August 1839 he joined his cousin, Captain H. G. Hamilton, R.N., and a friend, George Clive, in buying the pastoral property, Collaroy, near Cassilis, from Walter Davidson. Edward, who was junior to Clive in the venture, went out to New South Wales to manage the property, arriving with his brother in February 1840. For almost fifteen years Hamilton managed Collaroy, along with other properties that he acquired. The partnership, although stormy, was financially successful after many vicissitudes. In January 1855 he returned to England, and the partnership was angrily dissolved.

From the beginning Hamilton had moved in the same colonial circles as the Macarthurs, (Sir) Edward Deas Thomson and their fellows. In July 1843 he was appointed one of the six unofficial nominees in the Legislative Council. He resigned in 1846, was reappointed in December 1848 and retired in 1850. He took little part in colonial politics and his most controversial public act was to castigate his fellow squatters because they opposed Sir George Gipps's proposed squatting regulations of 1844. In 1851-54 he was the first provost (chancellor) of the University of Sydney.

Hamilton was governor of the Australian Agricultural Co. from August 1857 to September 1898. He must be credited for most of the company's increased profits after 1857, not least because he chose capable subordinates. Hamilton retained other connexions with New South Wales: he became its representative agent in London in January 1863 and kept in touch with colonial acquaintances.

Hamilton had large intellectual powers and a high opinion of his abilities. Although not vindictive he was very argumentative. He was quick to portray himself as the victim of 'the treachery of false friends' and at times he wrote acid comments on colonial leaders with whom he associated. He was an Anglican whose views were often intolerant, and he never doubted his superiority over members of the middle class and the lower orders although his ideas were slightly 'liberalized' by his years in the colony. On 14 August 1844 he had married Ann, daughter of John Thacker, of Berkshire and New South Wales. In 1865-69 Hamilton represented Salisbury in the House of Commons and was sheriff of Berkshire in 1879. He died on 28 September 1898 at his home, Charters, Sunningdale, Berkshire, predeceased by his wife and survived by two sons and six daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 15 Apr, 2 May 1844
  • Collaroy papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Macarthur papers (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

J. R. Robertson, 'Hamilton, Edward William Terrick (1809–1898)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 17 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

Life Summary [details]


26 November, 1809
Loughton, Essex, England


28 September, 1898 (aged 88)
Sunningdale, Berkshire, England

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