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Jules François de Sales Joubert (1824–1907)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published:

Jules François de Sales Joubert (1824-1907), by unknown photographer

Jules François de Sales Joubert (1824-1907), by unknown photographer

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001125882639

Jules François de Sales Joubert (1824-1907), adventurer and entrepreneur, was born on 31 July 1824 at Angoulême, Charente, France, the third son of Auguste Alexis Joubert, naval officer, and his wife Rose Elizabeth, née Civadier. From a school in Bordeaux he went to the College Bourbon, Paris. In May 1839 he sailed as a passenger in the frigate Heroine. After visiting New Zealand, he went to Sydney in the Martha in 1839. In May 1837 his brother Didier Numa (1816-1881), agent of Barton Fils, wine and spirits merchants in Bordeaux, had reached Sydney in the Cova Nelly and moved to New Zealand; in December 1839 he returned to Sydney with his wife Louise (Lise), née Bonnefin, whom he had married at Kororareka on 23 November. After 1843 he settled at Hunter's Hill and became a successful merchant.

Jules left Sydney as interpreter in the corvette Aube. He returned in 1841 and became chancellor at the French consulate. A strong Orleanist he resigned in 1848 and on 27 April at St Mary's Church he married Florence Sarah Imlac, daughter of Robert Owen. Lured by copper, they went to Adelaide in 1849 where Joubert invested in land and buildings. In February 1850 his infant daughter died and on 16 April Florence died of typhoid fever with their three-week-old son. Next year Joubert was imprisoned for debt. In 1852 he went to the Mount Alexander goldfield in Victoria, soon contracted to build government quarters and then ran a store at Sawpit Gully (Elphinstone). Late in 1853 from Sydney he victualled the French forces annexing New Caledonia and in mid-1854 sailed with a cargo for Madagascar.

At Christ Church, North Adelaide, on 27 February 1855 he married Adelaide, née Levi. They settled at Hunter's Hill where Joubert had been buying land since 1847. He started contracting and with some seventy artisans from Lombardy built many stone houses in the area. In the early 1860s both Jouberts were active in moves to sell the Field of Mars common and use the proceeds to build bridges over the Lane Cove River at Fig Tree and the Parramatta River at Gladesville. They also petitioned for the incorporation of Hunter's Hill. Jules was first chairman of the council in 1861-62 and Didier first mayor in 1867-69. Jules started a ferry service and in 1865 was chairman of directors of the Parramatta River Navigation Co. but in December 1866 he was declared insolvent. His nephew Numa was later proprietor of the Hunter's Hill and Lane Cove River ferries.

A member of the Agricultural Society of New South Wales, Joubert was honorary secretary in 1867 and later paid secretary. Artistic and volatile, he revitalized the society, moved the annual show from Parramatta to Sydney and enlarged it to include non-agricultural exhibits. The 1870 show was held in the society's new building in Prince Alfred Park. He also edited the society's Journal. In 1874 he sought united colonial representation at the 1876 Philadelphia Exhibition. In 1878, as secretary to the New South Wales commission, he organized the exhibits for the Paris Exhibition where he arranged French participation at the 1879 Sydney Exhibition. He was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honour for having sent £12,000 to French flood victims in 1875 but on his return found himself excluded from the commission for the exhibition which he had conceived and organized. In July Henry Parkes confirmed John McElhone's questions in the Legislative Assembly that Joubert and Edward Combes had 'shipped out private property as returned exhibits'. In August after prolonged infighting Joubert was dismissed as secretary by the Agricultural Society for misleading the council.

Joubert left Sydney in disgust. With Richard Twopeny he ran exhibitions in Perth in 1881 and Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1882. In India for most of 1882-83 he organized the Calcutta Exhibition. In Melbourne as a theatrical agent he built the Alexandra Theatre but went bankrupt in 1887. He represented New South Wales at the 1888 Melbourne Exhibition and managed the exhibition in 1889-90 at Dunedin where in 1890 he published his reminiscences, Shavings and Scrapes in Many Parts. About 1890 he went to Tasmania where he organized exhibitions at Launceston in 1891-92 and Hobart in 1894-95. He died in Carlton, Melbourne, on 24 August 1907 and was buried in the Boroondara cemetery. He was survived by his second wife, eight sons and two daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • I. Brodsky, Hunter's Hill, New South Wales 1861-1961 (Syd, 1961)
  • Votes and Proceedings (South Australia), 1855 (21)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1861, 2, 1336, 1865-66, 3, 429, 1878-79, 1, 607, 1879-80, 1, 208
  • Australasian, 18 July, 12 Sept 1874, 5 Jan 1878, 1 Feb, 23 Aug 1879, 2 Apr, 16, 23 July 1887
  • Town and Country Journal, 17 Apr 1875
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 12 June, 21 Aug 1879, 17 Mar 1956
  • Bulletin, 20 Nov 1880, 29 Apr 1882, 26 May 1904
  • Pastoral Review, 16 Sept 1907
  • L. E. Lesser, Show Business: A History of Theatre in Victoria, 1825-1948 (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1949)
  • manuscript catalogue under Joubert (State Library of New South Wales)
  • insolvency file, 8059 (State Records New South Wales)
  • CO 201/558, 44.

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Joubert, Jules François de Sales (1824–1907)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 14 April 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

Jules François de Sales Joubert (1824-1907), by unknown photographer

Jules François de Sales Joubert (1824-1907), by unknown photographer

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001125882639

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Joubert, Jules Francois de Sales

31 July, 1824
Angoulême, Charente, France


24 August, 1907 (aged 83)
Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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