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Sir David Roy McCaughey (1898–1971)

by G. P. Walsh

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Samuel McCaughey

Sir Samuel McCaughey (1892-1955) and Sir David Roy McCaughey (1898-1971), graziers, were born on 27 November 1892 and 2 October 1898 at Coree station, Jerilderie, New South Wales, third and fourth children of David McCaughey (d.1899), a grazier from Ireland, and his native-born wife Lucilla Louisa Blanche, née Gell. Sir Samuel McCaughey was their uncle. Educated at Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Victoria, and at Jesus College, Cambridge, Samuel returned to Coree in 1914. Back in England, he was commissioned in the Royal Field Artillery on 13 September 1915. He served with the 46th Battery, 1st Divisional Artillery, on the Western Front and was promoted lieutenant in 1917. At the Scottish National Church, Chelsea, London, on 3 February that year he married Victorian-born Eleanor Una McKellar; they were to have four daughters and a son.

Home again, in 1919 McCaughey bought the remaining portion (65,000 acres, 26,305 ha) of Coree from his uncle's estate, and purchased the 9000-acre (3642 ha) Tongala estate (originally part of Coree) as a settlement for his wife. Coree merino stud (registered in 1922), based on Haddon Rig blood, and Coree Pastoral Co. Pty Ltd (formed in 1938) became noted for their high quality rams and merino clip. In 1952 Samuel and his brother Roy gave 24,000 acres (9713 ha) of Coree to the nation for pastoral research and training, in memory of Samuel's son and a nephew, both killed in World War II. The McCaughey Memorial Institute was run as a commercial enterprise by a trust administered by Roy, Sir Henry Manning and J. P. Abbott. Survived by his daughters, Samuel McCaughey died of leukemia on 29 January 1955 at Manly and was cremated with Presbyterian forms.

Like his brother, Roy McCaughey was educated at Geelong Grammar. He sailed for England in April 1917 and served with the Royal Field Artillery. On his return, he bought Coonong from his uncle's estate in 1919 and began improving its Peppin merino stud, established in 1907. In 1924 he purchased the famous sire Wanganella 9.1 (Ballymena) from the Austins' Wanganella stud at Deniliquin for a world record price of 5000 guineas. Coonong merinos, noted as heavy wool cutters, were soon sold throughout Australia. They topped the Melbourne wool sales 'for the day' in 1937, 1938 and 1947. Another of McCaughey's ram purchases was Uardry 4.312, for which he paid the top price of $11,550 at Sydney in 1966.

A further profitable venture was the establishment (1925-26) of the Coonong Beef Shorthorn stud at Borambola Park, near Wagga Wagga. Regular infusions of imported blood from Scotland (including a 3600-guinea junior stock bull in 1951) kept his Shorthorns at the pinnacle of the breed in Australia: between 1916 and 1953 Coonong won more Beef Shorthorn championships in Sydney than any other stud, including ten senior championships. At the stud's dispersal sale in 1959, 173 head realized £112,397, the top eight bulls averaging £1375.

On 28 March 1944 at Potts Point, Sydney, Roy McCaughey had married with Presbyterian forms Gwendoline Patricia Camille North-Hunt, née Whelan, a 40-year-old widow. In 1951 he and his wife gave a Commonwealth Jubilee singing scholarship (valued at £500 per year) for study overseas; they were selected to host (at Coonong) an intended visit by H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh. In 1955 Patricia McCaughey published Samuel McCaughey, a biography of Sir Samuel.

Roy McCaughey was a director (1928-58) and chairman (from 1950) of the Commonwealth Wool & Produce Co. Ltd. When the firm merged with Elder Smith & Co. Ltd in 1958 and Goldsbrough Mort & Co. Ltd in 1963, he chaired the New South Wales board until 1970. A director (1959-64) of the Bank of New South Wales and a council-member (from 1962) of the New South Wales Sheepbreeders' Association, he belonged to the Australian and Union clubs (Sydney) and the Melbourne and Australian clubs (Melbourne). With James Ashton and others, he was a trustee of Sir Samuel's estate. He was appointed C.M.G. in 1956 and knighted in 1963.

Tall, solidly built and hospitable, Sir Roy hated personal publicity. His collection of paintings included works by Sydney Long, Sir Arthur Streeton and Penleigh Boyd. According to an old friend, he 'never had a cross word for anyone, but he wouldn't stand any nonsense. The men at Coonong all thought the world of him'. Survived by his wife, he died on 13 September 1971 at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, and was cremated. His estate was sworn for probate at more than $1 million. He bequeathed $500 to each man in his employ.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Massy, The Australian Merino (Melb, 1990)
  • Pastoral Review, 16 Mar, 16 July 1949, 16 Apr, 16 Dec 1953, 16 Feb, 16 July 1955, 17 June 1970, 19 Oct 1971
  • People (Sydney), 5 July 1950
  • Corian, June 1972
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Aug 1950, 12 Mar, 13 Dec 1951, 4 Apr 1972, 24 June 1995.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'McCaughey, Sir David Roy (1898–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 16 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


2 October, 1898
Jerilderie, New South Wales, Australia


13 September, 1971 (aged 72)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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