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Beaumont Arnold Moulden (1849–1926)

by Elizabeth Kwan

This article was published:

This is a shared entry with Frank Beaumont Moulden

Sir Beaumont Arnold Moulden (1849-1926), lawyer and politician, and Sir Frank Beaumont Moulden (1876-1932), solicitor and mayor, were father and son. Beaumont was born on 19 October 1849 at Southwark, London, son of Joseph Eldin Moulden, solicitor, and his wife Margaret Perkins, née Hinton. Migrating to South Australia with his parents next year, Moulden was educated at J. L. Young's Adelaide Educational Institution. He was articled and admitted to the Bar in 1870, following his father's interests rather than his own, which were in chemistry. He joined his father in what became the well-known firm of Moulden & Sons.

Beaumont was a tall, large man of powerful voice—'a dominant figure in any room where people … gathered'—who showed 'almost fanatical insistence' on his point of view, good manners and punctuality, even on fishing trips. In politics he 'placed principle before popularity'; perhaps this explains his mixed success. Despite many attempts, he was a member of the House of Assembly only in 1887-90 and of the Legislative Council in 1903-12. Yet during that time he was a founder, and president for nine years, of the Australasian National League, the major opponent of the recently formed United Labor Party.

While a member for Albert in the South-East, he saw through the Intercolonial Debts Act (1887), which other colonies copied, to deal with debtors absconding across borders. In 1889 he was attorney-general in Cockburn's ministry but resigned next year in protest against the proposed progressive land tax. Later, as council-member for Central District, Moulden opposed the proliferation of wages boards, further land taxation and forced closer settlement—'class legislation of a vicious and dishonourable character'. But he supported the 1911 Act allowing women to practise as lawyers.

Moulden embraced commerce and mining, being chairman of Broken Hill South Silver Mining Co., director of Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australia Ltd and other mining interests, managing director of Haussen and Co., and local chairman of the Commercial Union Assurance Co. For years he travelled to Melbourne for fortnightly company meetings. He was a member of the Adelaide Club from 1902 and had been a volunteer soldier. Like his father, Moulden pursued municipal affairs, and in 1891 was mayor of St Peters. His five visits to England and Europe extended these interests: in 1886 he was admitted to the Livery Company of Farriers and to freedom of the City of London; in 1900 he was awarded the grand star of the Primrose League of England, a leading conservative organization.

Moulden had married Anna Mary Cramond on 25 September 1872; they had four children. He died on 20 December 1926 and was buried in North Road Anglican cemetery.

His second child Frank Beaumont was born on 25 June 1876 at Norwood, Adelaide. Educated at the Collegiate School of Saint Peter and the University of Adelaide, he was articled to his father, admitted to the Bar in 1897 and joined the family firm in 1900.

Moulden gave twenty-eight years to Adelaide's government. He was a popular councillor in 1904-13, an alderman in 1913-19 and 1922-32, and mayor in 1919-21. Chairman of the council's parliamentary and by-laws committee in 1905-24, he modernized regulations for traffic control.

Although interested in sport and motoring, Moulden was not strong physically. Rejected for active service in World War I, he worked for soldiers, their dependants and the allies. On 10 April 1918 he married a widow, Deborah, Lady Hackett, whom he had met while skiing at Mount Kosciusko. Next year he became consular agent for France in South Australia and was honoured by the French government for his war work. As mayor, encouraged by his wife, particularly during the Prince of Wales's visit, he began a period of 'unique hospitality which had never been … imagined in South Australia'. Young, pretty and charming, Deborah Moulden welcomed her new social opportunities; 'Bay' was quiet and retiring. He was knighted in 1922. In 1929 he became an officer brother of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. He also belonged to the Adelaide Club.

Moulden continued legal work, though with increasing ill health, and was a company director. After a cerebral haemorrhage he died on 8 April 1932. His colleagues praised his courteous friendliness, logical mind and hard work. Having no children, he helped to raise his wife's five and the three of his late brother. Moulden was buried in North Road Anglican cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • H. T. Burgess (ed), Cyclopedia of South Australia, vol 1 (Adel, 1907)
  • Associated Publishing Service, The Civic Record of South Australia, 1921-1923 (Adel, 1924)
  • Register (Adelaide), 30 May 1912, 21 Dec 1926
  • Chronicle (Adelaide), 25 Oct 1919
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 9 Apr 1932
  • Australian National League (Liberal Party) records (State Records of South Australia)
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Elizabeth Kwan, 'Moulden, Beaumont Arnold (1849–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 20 June 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]


19 October, 1849
London, Middlesex, England


20 December, 1926 (aged 77)
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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