Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Thomas Ferrier Hamilton (1820–1905)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published:

Thomas Ferrier Hamilton (1820-1905), pastoralist, was born at Cathlaw, the third son of Colonel John Ferrier Hamilton of Cairnhill and Westport, Scotland, and his wife Georgina, daughter of the second Viscount Gort. Following family tradition, Thomas went to the Edinburgh Military Academy. In 1839 he arrived at Sydney in the Abberton, with his cousin John Riddell. Together they rode to Port Phillip where they took up Cairnhill in the Gisborne district. In 1845 Hamilton visited Scotland. In 1861 the partnership was dissolved with Riddell keeping Cairnhill and Hamilton acquiring Elderslie, New Gisborne, where he built his homestead and eventually owned 1536 freehold acres (622 ha).

Hamilton was a member of the Gisborne Road Board and president of the Shire Council for many years. He was made a justice of the peace and with Frederick Powlett and George Airey opened the Kilmore bench. His duties as magistrate took him on several expeditions after Aboriginals who had raided stations in the Loddon and Campaspe district and on one expedition he led a detachment of ten soldiers sent from Melbourne. At the request of the police commissioner, Captain Frederick Standish, he mediated on labour difficulties with the men employed on the Bendigo-Melbourne railway. In 1872 Hamilton was elected for Southern Province to the Legislative Council. He was particularly interested in mining legislation, extension of railways to Gippsland and free education. In 1883 he visited France as a commissioner for Victoria at the Bordeaux Exhibition and while overseas had a serious accident. On his return to Victoria he retired from the Legislative Council in August 1884.

Hamilton was an early member of the Melbourne Cricket Club and president for nine years. In a match against Richmond in 1861 he was described as 'impenetrable to the bowling though he could not hit at all'. He played against the visiting English side in 1862 and always took a great interest in the organization of local matches in the Gisborne district. He was president of the West Bourke Agricultural Society for many years. An athlete and racquet champion of Great Britain he was an early member of the Melbourne Club, serving on its committee in 1849-52 and as president in 1872. His last years were very quiet and he was practically unknown to the younger generation in Gisborne. He died on 7 August 1905 aged 85, survived by two of his five sons and six daughters. He was predeceased by his wife Elizabeth, whom he had married in 1851; she was the daughter of Sidney Stephen, a judge in New Zealand.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 3 (Melb 1905)
  • Argus (Melbourne, 8 Aug 1905
  • Woodend Star, 12 Aug 1905
  • Werribee Express, 19 Aug 1905.

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Hamilton, Thomas Ferrier (1820–1905)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 13 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]


Cathlaw, Linlithgowshire, Scotland


7 August, 1905 (aged ~ 85)

Cultural Heritage

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