Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Arthur Male (1870–1946)

by Mary Albertus Bain

This article was published:

Arthur Male (1870-1946), pastoralist and businessman, was born on 2 March 1870 at Bridport, Dorset, England, second son of Thomas Male, accountant, and his wife Martha, née Guppy. After attending Bridport Grammar School he worked in the family rope-works. About 1890 he migrated to Perth where he worked on a farm at Guildford. In 1894 E. W. Streeter, a London jeweller with pearling interests in south-east Asia and at Broome, visited Male's employer. Streeter's vessels had been on the west coast since 1884; he had a pastoral station at Roebuck Plains and a general trading business and a butcher shop at Broome where pearling boats spent the 'lay-up' season. Male was taken on to manage E. W. Streeter's Broome pearling business with Streeter's son George. A partnership was later formed—Streeter & Male Ltd—and when George Streeter returned to London, Male became sole manager; he was a harsh employer. On 18 January 1900 at Albany he married Constance Cox from Bridport.

The pearling trade grew following the success of Japanese divers and Male was joined by his youngest brother Archie (1877-1923). By 1912 Male's partner had only a half-interest in the pastoral station and the original Broome businesses. The Male brothers also owned Hill station, between Broome and Beagle Bay; Arthur later bought Ida Valley station, between Menzies and Leonora, where cattle from the north were fattened for sale at Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie and Perth. The firm was agent for Dalgety & Co. Ltd, and the Blue Funnel Line. In 1905-14, every alternate year, Male and his wife visited England where their three eldest children were educated.

After 1918 economic conditions became less favourable; demand for pearl-shell fell and Japanese divers were staying away. Two incidents further affected Male's pastoral interests. For years he had shipped cattle to Java where a reciprocal trade developed in sugar and rice to provision the Asian indentured labour. In 1921 the Federal government prohibited importation of sugar and rice, to protect the Australian industries, so the Javanese merchants refused to purchase Male's cattle and sheep. In 1929, after an outbreak of 'pleura' among cattle in the North-West, a 'pleura line' was established running eastwards from La Grange to the Northern Territory border. Since no cattle north of this line could be sent overland to southern markets, Male could not sell his stock.

In 1905-17 he had represented the Kimberley district in the Legislative Assembly. A Liberal, he spoke infrequently in the House but showed his knowledge of the North-West; he resisted the migration of Japanese or Asians, except divers, to the area. In 1910-11 he was a minister without portfolio. From 1919 he was a member of the Broome Road Board and honorary consul for Japan from 1928.

The management of Male's Broome interests was taken over after 1930 by his eldest son A. S. (Sam) Male; Arthur retired to Perth and the Weld Club. Predeceased by his wife and survived by two daughters and four sons, he died on 20 January 1946 and was cremated with Anglican rites. His estate was sworn for probate at £29,116.

Select Bibliography

  • J. S. Battye (ed), Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vol 1 (Adel, 1912)
  • Dalgety and New Zealand Loan Ltd (Perth), Dalgety's Review, 18 Apr 1963, p 12
  • M. A. Bain, Full Fathom Five (Perth, 1983)
  • Western Mail (Perth), 24 Sept 1910
  • West Australian, 22 Jan 1946
  • Alfred Deakin papers (National Library of Australia).

Citation details

Mary Albertus Bain, 'Male, Arthur (1870–1946)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 23 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]


2 March, 1870
Bridport, Dorset, England


20 January, 1946 (aged 75)
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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