Australian Dictionary of Biography

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James Simpson Love (1863–1933)

by Anne Allingham

This article was published:

James Simpson Love (1863-1933), horse-exporter, pastoralist and philanthropist, was born on 1 February 1863 at Newtown of Fintry, Stirlingshire, Scotland, only son of John Love, provision merchant, and his wife Janet, née Simpson. During his childhood Love's father died and in 1877 his mother married the geologist Robert Logan Jack. The couple moved to Townsville, Queensland, where Jack was based. James remained in Scotland to complete his schooling until 1879 when he sailed for Brisbane.

Despite youth, inexperience and parental opposition, Love immediately joined Jack's second expedition to Cape York Peninsula. The expedition involved severe privation and conflict with Aborigines, and Jack reported approvingly on the conduct of his stepson.

After employment on Woodstock and Inkerman stations, from the early 1880s Love operated a livery stable and commission agency at Townsville in partnership with Frederick Cruckshank. On 22 December 1886 at Townsville, with Catholic rites, he married Mary Jane Gordon. In the 1890s Love began exporting remount horses to the British Army in India; this enterprise extended to South Africa in 1899-1902 and Egypt in 1914, but the enduring market was India. By the 1920s there was an annual military requirement for 2000 Australian horses in India, of which he contributed up to 700; he made regular trips to Calcutta with his consignments. Horses were purchased for export throughout northern and western Queensland, and Love acquired Egera station near Charters Towers and Butcher's Hill west of Cooktown as horse-depots. The enterprise was registered as Indian Remounts Ltd in Calcutta and as Egera Pastoral Co. in Queensland. He was well known as a judge of blood horses at shows.

Between 1906 and 1933 Love had a stake in at least fourteen pastoral properties. His business enterprises included Queen's Hotel Townsville Ltd; he lived his latter years at the hotel. His share portfolio included companies in England, Singapore, Fiji, New Zealand and Australia, and in 1931-33 he purchased the cattle properties: Dunbar, Valley of Lagoons and Gainsford.

A horse-racing enthusiast, Love was secretary of the Townsville Turf Club from 1894 to 1924, then president until his death; he was also president of the Townsville Show Society. He imported stud Shorthorn bulls and numerous Clydesdale and thoroughbred stallions. He was also sometime president of the Brisbane Club and of the Townsville Golf Club.

Over six feet (183 cm) tall, well-built and of ruddy complexion, Love was a notable athlete and boxer; obituaries record his bout in Mackay with Charles Armstrong, husband of (Dame) Nellie Melba. Of seemingly complex character, Love was described as a man of energy, enterprise and great personal charm, as a firm friend and unforgiving enemy; elsewhere as an autocrat, an iron disciplinarian, and by Indian workers as a fearsome bully.

Love died suddenly on board ship at Jetty Wharf, Townsville, on 28 November 1933, and was buried with Presbyterian forms in Townsville cemetery. He was survived by three daughters. He left most of his estate as a perpetual trust, with income from assets to be distributed annually to approved charities. The will stipulated, however, that the Roman Catholic Church or any Catholic body could not benefit. The trustees, (Sir) Arthur Fadden and Patrick Collins, declared the Love estate at £207,166 on 30 November 1938; settlement had been complicated by the wide distribution of assets, irregularities in business records, and a successful legal challenge by Love's daughters. Queensland Trustees Ltd now review applications from Church, education, medical and general welfare organizations, and make allocations, as the will provides.

Select Bibliography

  • R. L. Jack, Northmost Australia (Lond, 1921)
  • North Queensland Register, 24 Apr 1899, 14 Oct, 2 Dec 1933
  • Townsville Herald, 8 Jan 1887
  • Queenslander, 11 Aug 1906, 7 Dec 1933
  • A17126, Supreme Court files, 38, 38a, 38b of 1934 (Queensland State Archives).

Citation details

Anne Allingham, 'Love, James Simpson (1863–1933)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 29 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


1 February, 1863
Newtown of Fintry, Stirlingshire, Scotland


28 November, 1933 (aged 70)
Townsville, Queensland, Australia

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