Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

William Inglis (1832–1896)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

William Inglis (1832-1896), auctioneer and stock agent, was born on 8 March 1832 in Sydney, eldest son of Scottish Presbyterian parents Thomas Inglis (1791-1874), merchant, and his wife Catherine, née Ross. Thomas had arrived in Sydney with his wife in 1830 as agent of the Australian Co. of Edinburgh and received a land grant, Craigend, at The Oaks in the Camden-Picton area. After five years in whaling pursuits and time on the Ovens goldfield in Victoria, William returned to Craigend, where on 3 March 1858 he married with Anglican rites Flora McKinnon from a neighbouring property, Montpelier. Their eldest son John Thomas (1859-1914) was born on 22 March 1859.

In 1867 William Inglis and Joseph, brother of Edward Butler, began an auctioneering and produce agency at 793 George Street, Sydney. Butler left the partnership after ten years, and in 1882 William began a 'horse bazaar' between Castlereagh and Pitt streets. Horse sales were held on the ground floor and the vehicles and harness areas were above, accessible by a ramp. (The local test of a draught horse was to pull a one-ton load from Sussex Street up Druitt Street to Inglis's bazaar.)

William Inglis always conducted auctions wearing a top hat, which became his trademark. A justice of the peace, he stood unsuccessfully as a protectionist candidate for Balmain in February 1899. In July 1895 he was banqueted in Sydney by a large number of his friends and customers and presented with a framed illuminated address. He died at his residence, Annesley, Balmain Road, Leichhardt, on 12 January 1896, survived by his wife, nine sons and three daughters, and was buried with Congregational forms in Rookwood cemetery. His estate was sworn for probate at under £38,724.

His son John, who had been taken into the partnership in 1884 and had married Australia Renwick in Sydney in 1885, took control of William Inglis & Son. In 1905 the firm bought the goodwill of T. S. Clibborn's bloodstock business, carrying out its earliest yearling sales with that firm; in 1906 it first conducted its own sale at Tom Payten's property, Newmarket, at Randwick. John died on 26 September 1914. His son Arthur Reginald (1890-1957), known as Reg, who had been born on 10 February 1890 at Drummoyne, became managing director. Newmarket was purchased in 1918 and was gradually expanded to provide stable accommodation for about 600 horses. In 1921 the firm became a limited company, and in 1934, after buying out a competitor, Henry Chisholm & Co. Pty Ltd, it became the undisputed leader in bloodstock auctioneering in Australia. Reg died on 10 December 1957. The family auctioneering tradition continued: his son John (b.1917) followed, and a nephew Reginald Stewart Inglis (b.1952) succeeded him. The catalogue of William Inglis & Co. Pty Ltd became renowned for its detail and integrity, and its yearling sale at Randwick during Easter was one of the most important in Australasia.

William Inglis's second son William (1864-1935), born on 24 August 1864, worked for his father for ten years before starting business on his own in the 1890s as an auctioneer and produce merchant in Sydney. He married South African-born Annie Elizabeth Gavey in 1894; they were later divorced. He took over Craigend in 1920 and married Linda Annie Sharp that year. Predeceased by her, William junior died on 10 November 1935; a son by his first marriage and a son and daughter by his second survived him. Craigend was still farmed by his family 170 years after the original grant.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vol 16
  • D. M. Barrie, The Australian Bloodhorse (Syd, 1956)
  • Town & Country Journal, 20 July 1895, pp 1, 11, 18 Jan 1896, p 18
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 4 Feb 1889, p 8, 13 Jan 1896, p 4, 15 Jan 1896, p 5, 11 Nov 1935, p 8
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 29 Dec 1974, p 30
  • H&H Hoofs & Horns, Summer 2005, p 36
  • private information.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Inglis, William (1832–1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 25 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (Melbourne University Press), 2005

View the front pages for the Supplementary Volume

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 March, 1832
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


12 January, 1896 (aged 63)
Leichhardt, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.