Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Andrew Plummer (1812–1901)

by L. J. Peel

This article was published:

Andrew Plummer (1812-1901), medical practitioner and agriculturist, was born on 25 November 1812 at Dalkeith, Midlothian, Scotland, son of William Plummer, butcher, and his wife Sarah, née King. Educated for the medical profession at the University of Edinburgh (L.R.C.S., 1832; M.D., 1834), he practised in Edinburgh and probably London before he arrived in Victoria on 31 May 1853. In July he settled at Sandridge and 'at once got into an extensive and lucrative practice'. He also entered into public affairs and was elected chairman of the relief committee formed after the Sandridge fire in 1854; he was elected to the Melbourne City Council, and in 1862-64 served as mayor of Sandridge after it separated from the City of Melbourne. From 1854 Plummer held such appointments as magistrate, deputy-registrar of births and deaths, officer for celebrating marriages, electoral returning officer, public vaccinator and medical officer in charge of various prison and reformatory hulks and training ships in Hobson's Bay. He also joined the naval brigade of the Victorian Volunteer Force.

In December 1857 Plummer began to buy land at Gisborne and by 1880 owned 1089 acres (441 ha) on the edge of the township. At Wyabun Park in the 1870s he bred longwool sheep, particularly Lincolns, which he exhibited with success at local shows, but in the early 1880s disposed of his stud and concentrated on mixed farming. He was a member of the West Bourke and Kyneton Agricultural Societies, and the Gisborne Roads Board. In 1871 he was elected to the inaugural Council of the National Agricultural Society, and later became a trustee and was president in 1882 and 1884-90. Plummer's involvement with the National Agricultural Society in the 1880s, and his support for J. L. Dow, led to further offices. In 1883-89 he was chairman of the Council of Agricultural Education, the Board of Agriculture and the board of inquiry on tuberculosis in cattle. He was a member of the royal commission on vegetable products and of five other commissions appointed to organize Victoria's representation at various international exhibitions.

With a friendly disposition and later a large white beard, Plummer was very popular. His energy and organizing ability enabled him to take part in public affairs as well as maintaining a large medical practice (M.D., Melb., ad eund., 1867). Wyabun Park, 'one of the fancy farms of the colony', was run by an overseer according to detailed written plans by Plummer. In Edinburgh he had married Mary Nairne Ker; they had a daughter and two sons: James Ker Beck who became mayor of Port Melbourne in 1885 and 1889, and William Andrew. When he migrated to Victoria Plummer left his wife and daughter behind. On 3 October 1871 at St James's pro-Cathedral he married Mary Jacques who came from Newton Barry, County Wexford. He died at his elder son's home in Port Melbourne on 22 July 1901 and was buried in the Anglican section of the Melbourne general cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • W. Thomson, Typhoid Fever: Its Cause and Extent in Melbourne (Melb, 1878)
  • Land Tax Register, Victoria Government Gazette, 9 Dec 1880
  • National Agricultural Society of Victoria, Journal, 15 Jan 1886
  • Mildura Cultivator, 1888-89, centennial exhibition issue
  • Argus (Melbourne), 23 July 1901
  • Gisborne Gazette, 26 July 1901
  • K. P. J. Barley, A History of Two Victorian Farmers' Organizations: The Royal Agricultural Society and the Chamber of Agriculture (M.Agr. Sc. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1952).

Citation details

L. J. Peel, 'Plummer, Andrew (1812–1901)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 19 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Andrew Plummer, 1880s

Andrew Plummer, 1880s

Leader (Melbourne), 31 August 1889, p 10

Life Summary [details]


25 November, 1812
Edinburgh, Mid-Lothian, Scotland


22 July, 1901 (aged 88)
Port Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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