Australian Dictionary of Biography

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William Stephen Kimpton (1832–1926)

by J. Ann Hone

This article was published:

William Stephen Kimpton (1832-1926), businessman, was born on 4 October 1832 at Litlington, Cambridgeshire, England, third son of Thomas Kimpton, farmer and grain merchant, and his wife Lucy Eleanor, née Sterne. He was apprenticed to a baker but loss of the family farm and rumours of riches in Victoria persuaded him and his brother Edward to migrate; they arrived at Melbourne in the Melpomene in November 1853. William worked on the wharf and then as a baker, gaining control of the business in return for wages owed him. He established a bakery in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, prospered and in 1875 widened his activities by founding the Union Flour Mills. This step brought insolvency in 1877 but he recovered with Mortimer Rush as his partner and then Robert Chamberlain; by the mid-1880s Kimpton was on his own. After the Fitzroy plant was burnt down a new mill, equipped with the latest Hungarian roller-mill machinery, was built at Kensington in 1888. The fiscal policy of New South Wales ended Kimpton's weekly shipment there of one thousand bags of flour, so in that colony in 1892 he started a mill managed by his son. In 1902 fire again destroyed the Melbourne mill but after reconstruction and incorporation with James Gillespie & Co. Kimpton owned the largest mill in Australia. He shipped flour to Queensland, Fiji and England besides having important trade connexions with South Africa and the East.

Kimpton was an excellent judge of draught horses and personally selected those he wanted for the business. He remained active in the firm though his sons took over increasing responsibility. His major interest outside the business was the Anglican Church and for twenty-six years he was a member of the Church Association and churchwarden of St Mark's, Fitzroy. On moving to Essendon he became churchwarden of St Thomas's to which he gave a pipe organ. He was also a councillor of the Old Colonists' Association. Kimpton had married Margaret Mason of Newcastle upon Tyne; after she died he married her sister, Isabella, in 1859. He died at his home, Milverton, Moonee Ponds, on 18 November 1926. Predeceased by his wife and one son, he was survived by four daughters and his son Albert Edward who, with his grandsons Victor and Charles Leslie, continued as directors of the firm.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Smith (ed), Cyclopedia of Victoria, vol 1 (Melb, 1903)
  • Weekly Times (Melbourne), 13 July 1895
  • Australasian Baker & Millers' Journal, 30 Oct 1915, 30 Nov 1926
  • Argus (Melbourne), 19 Nov 1926
  • Essendon Gazette, 25 Nov 1926
  • private information.

Citation details

J. Ann Hone, 'Kimpton, William Stephen (1832–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 25 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


4 October, 1832
Litlington, Cambridgeshire, England


18 November, 1926 (aged 94)
Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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