Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John de Villiers Lamb (1833–1900)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

John de Villiers Lamb (1833-1900), merchant, pastoralist and businessman, was born on 15 December 1833 at Millers Point, Sydney, fifth son of John Lamb and his wife Emma Trant, née Robinson. He joined his eldest brother Walter in Lamb, Parbury & Co. in January 1857 and took up a cattle run on the Bulloo River. He later joined P. Roberts as partner and manager of Murroo station near Mudgee where he established 'a high-class stud flock'. With Roberts he bought and occupied Coomoo Coomoo station in the Liverpool Plains district. By the mid-1860s Lamb had vast pastoral interests: Grevilia in the Port Curtis district, 7 runs totalling some 126,000 acres (50,991 ha) in the Burnett district, 18 runs totalling 972 sq. miles (2517 km²) in the Warrego district and 13 runs in New South Wales mostly in the Albert and Warrego districts. His advice was often sought on pastoral matters; he was an examiner of applicants for inspecting sheep, chairman of the metropolitan sheep district, president of the Rabbit Destruction Commission, and in 1899 gave evidence to the royal commission on tuberculosis and other stock diseases.

Lamb's wide business interests included local directorships in English insurance companies and partnerships in pearling and mining ventures; he was also director of the North Shore Gas Co. and chairman of the Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Co. and the Australasian Mortgage and Agency Co. Ltd. In the 1890s he was a London director of the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney. He imported Shorthorn cattle and trotting horses and was a well-known horse judge. Prominent in sporting circles, he helped to found the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron in 1862, became a prominent official in the Australian Jockey Club and was renowned as an amateur whip and cross-country rider. A founding member of the Union Club, he was a councillor of the Agricultural Society of New South Wales and of the Church of England Grammar School, North Sydney. He was also an officer in the New South Wales Volunteer Corps. He lived for years at Maroomba, Chatswood, and died at Uralla, 22 Bayswater Road, Darlinghurst, on 25 March 1900. He was survived by his wife Henrietta Octavia (1839-1914), eighth daughter of Rev. Thomas Smith, whom he had married at St Mark's, Sydney, on 22 January 1859, and by two daughters and five sons, two of whom served in the South African war where one was killed. Lamb's estate was sworn for probate with assets of £7000 and debts amounting to £16,000; his debts were discharged and probate was granted on 11 March 1901.

Select Bibliography

  • Sydney Morning Herald, 26 Mar 1900
  • 'The Late Mr. J. de V. Lamb', Australasian Pastoralists' Review, vol 10, Apr 1900, p 85
  • Macarthur papers (State Library of New South Wales).

Additional Resources

  • profile, Sydney Mail, 1 January 1885, p 213

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Lamb, John de Villiers (1833–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 24 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]


15 December, 1833
Millers Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


25 March, 1900 (aged 66)
Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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