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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Lefroy, Sir Edward Bruce (1887–1966)

by Wendy Birman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

This is a shared entry with Anthony Langlois Lefroy

Sir Anthony Langlois Bruce Lefroy (1881-1958) and Sir Edward Bruce Henry Lefroy (1887-1966), pastoralists, were born on 20 April 1881 and 22 May 1887 in Perth, first and second sons of (Sir) Henry Bruce Lefroy, pastoralist and later premier, and his first wife Rose Agnes, née Wittenoom, grand-daughter of J. B. Wittenoom. A. O. Lefroy was their grandfather. The boys were educated at the High (later Hale) School, Perth, and Haileybury College, Hertfordshire, England. Returning to Western Australia, Edward worked as a jackeroo on his uncle Frank Wittenoom's Boolardy station, then being managed by Langlois. In 1906 Wittenoom obtained merino ewes and lambs from the Boonoke stud in New South Wales and in 1909 Edward moved to the Midlands to develop Cranmore Park, some 10,000 acres (4047 ha) of virgin country near Walebing, his father's property. Langlois bought Coodardy station in the Murchison district in 1913 and later acquired Hillview farm at Chittering. On 26 June 1915 at the bishop's chapel, Perth, Edward married with Anglican rites Beatrice Edith Vincent.

In England, on 18 December 1915, Langlois was commissioned in the (Royal) Army Service Corps. Serving on the Western Front as adjutant, 31st Divisional Train, he was promoted captain and awarded the Military Cross. On 7 June 1919 at the register office, Kensington, London, he married French-born Callista Adèle Charlotte Emilie Courouble. Meanwhile in 1917 Edward had transferred sheep from the Boonoke stud to Walebing where they provided the nucleus of the Cranmore Park flock. A leading Australian sheep stud, Cranmore Park was also noted for its production of superior grain. In the 1920s Edward's pastoral interests expanded to include Badja station at Yalgoo and the Mount Malcolm Pastoral Co. Ltd. He aimed to improve his stock as a whole, rather than preparing individual sheep for exhibition, and his multiple-pen entries excelled at the Royal Agricultural Society of Western Australia's annual shows throughout the 1930s. In 1939 he introduced into Western Australia a technique of mulesing as a measure against flystrike; he consistently used genetic breeding to strengthen his sheep for dry conditions; and in 1949 he underwrote the visit to Australia of the Dutch geneticist A. L. Hagedoorn.

After World War I Langlois Lefroy had managed his properties from Perth. An astute businessman, he became a director (1918) and chairman (from 1944) of the West Australian Trustee Executor & Agency Co. Ltd. He also chaired the board of advice of the State branch of the Bank of New South Wales. Elected (1924) to the executive-committee of the Western Australian Pastoralists' Association (president 1936-53), he represented the State on the Australian Wool Board. In his youth Langlois had been a skilled horesman; he retained a long association with polo, and with hunting and racing. He and Wittenoom owned Coolbarro, winner of the 1930 Perth Cup, and Yaringa which won the Western Australian Derby (1935) and St Leger (1936). Langlois commanded (1940-43) the 19th Garrison Battalion in Western Australia and rose to temporary lieutenant colonel. In 1944 he chaired the State division of the Australian Red Cross Society. Tall and athletic, and distinguished in appearance, he was known as 'one of the finest members of one of the finest families'. As chairman of directors of West Australian Newspapers Ltd he handled its affairs firmly and with habitual tact.

Edward Lefroy had served on the Moora Road Board for twenty-five years (chairman 1921 and 1930-35), and been active in the Moora Agricultural Society and the Midlands District Sheepbreeders' Association. The onset of arthritis restricted his participation in sport, but he supported the Bindi Bindi Aboriginal cricket team founded by his father. Resenting the continuation of protective tariffs as the Depression deepened, he was vice-chairman (1930-33) of the State's secessionist Dominion League. He was a member (from 1929) and chairman (1934-43) of the State committee of the (Commonwealth) Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and was co-opted (1945) to the council of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization; he was also a member (1945-57) of the senate of the University of Western Australia, a board-member of the Fairbridge Farm School and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London.

The Lefroys were influential in founding the university's Institute of Agriculture. Edward donated money for research into medicine, sheep and clover. A thoughtful man of quiet demeanour, he belonged to the Weld Club, and was generally liked and respected. Langlois was knighted in 1952 and Edward in 1955. Sir Langlois died on 2 November 1958 in Perth; his wife survived him. Sir Edward died on 10 September 1966 at Colvin House, Round Hill; his wife and three sons survived him. Both brothers were buried in Karrakatta cemetery. Their estates were sworn for probate at £286,758 and $290,223 respectively.

Select Bibliography

  • G. H. Burvill, Agriculture in Western Australia (Perth, 1979)
  • Pastoralist and Grazier (Perth), Nov 1958
  • University of Western Australia, University News, 16, no 1, 1966
  • West Australian, 3 Nov 1958, 27 Mar 1978
  • Countryman (Perth), 15 Sept 1966
  • newsclippings (West Australian Newspapers Library)
  • private information.

Citation details

Wendy Birman, 'Lefroy, Sir Edward Bruce (1887–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 25 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

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