Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Pottie (1832–1908)

by J. C. Beardwood

This article was published:

John Pottie (1832?-1908), veterinary surgeon, was born at Old Kilpatrick, Dumbartonshire, Scotland, son of Michael Pottie, veterinary surgeon, and his wife Margaret, née McDougal. He trained at the Royal (Dick) Veterinary College in Edinburgh where he obtained the Highland and Agricultural Society's certificate and on 21 April 1858 was registered as a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. After practising in Renfrew with a brother he arrived in Sydney about 1860 in charge of a valuable consignment of horses sent by the British government. He decided to settle in Sydney and by 1861 had set up a veterinary practice on the corner of Elizabeth and Bathurst Streets. Later John Pottie & Sons moved to 232 Castlereagh Street.

In November Pottie accompanied three commissioners on an inspection of cattle infected with pleuro-pneumonia. In evidence to a Legislative Assembly select committee on the slaughter of cattle under the Cattle Disease Prevention Act he recommended the inoculation of all working bullocks. On 13 March 1862 at the Congregational Church, Woollahra, he married Eliza Allen (d.1907) from Belfast. In that month he became an inspector of cattle for Sydney and next year also a sheep inspector. He was consulting veterinary surgeon to the government and often advised the chief inspector of stock; he was also veterinary surgeon to the New South Wales police. From the 1870s with the approval of the inspector-general of police he experimented with processed stock food and claimed that no police horses died from sickness. In 1890 he wrote to Sir Henry Parkes urging the use of his sheep-licks to control worm infestation. In 1894 he warned Parkes of the loss to the wool industry from internal worms and the destruction of native grasses and salt bush, and asked him to 'insist on the appointment of a competent gentleman to look after our grass preservation'.

In 1872 he had published The Horse in Health: And its Diseases; Their Nature, Symptoms, and Treatment and in 1886 Pottie's Guide in Cases of Difficult Foaling and Calving. In 1881 he was a founding member of the short-lived Australian Veterinary Medical Association. He advertised widely and practised until 1908. He also had an absorbing interest in astronomy. Pottie died from heart disease on 18 August at Pittwater Road, Manly, and was buried in the Waverley cemetery with Presbyterian rites. He was survived by three sons and two daughters. In 1973 John Pottie & Sons was managed by his grandson Bruce Pottie.

Select Bibliography

  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, New South Wales), 1862, 5, 244
  • Henry Parkes letters (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Citation details

J. C. Beardwood, 'Pottie, John (1832–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 16 June 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

Life Summary [details]


Old Kilpatrick, Dumbartonshire, Scotland


18 August, 1908 (aged ~ 76)
Manly, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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