Australian Dictionary of Biography

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James Richmond (1834–1923)

by Martha Rutledge

This article was published:

James Richmond (1834-1923), sheepbreeder, was born on 1 November 1834 at Southdean, near Jedburgh, County Roxburgh, Scotland, son of Rev. John Richmond, Presbyterian minister, and his wife Catherine, née Mitchell. He was educated at Madras College, St Andrews, and entered United College, University of St Andrews in 1849. Missing out on a cadetship in the Indian army he decided to take up sheep-farming in Australia and on 17 December 1851 sailed for Melbourne in the Wellington which ran aground entering Port Adelaide. He worked for A. Scott on Mount Buninyong in the Portland Bay District and Warracknabeal in the Wimmera, and then became a partner of William Halliday in several stations.

In 1860 Richmond visited Scotland where on 3 September 1862 he married Margaret Hunter (d.1877), who bore him a son and two daughters. After his return in 1863 he built a house, Southdean, in Toorak, Melbourne. He was a member of the Melbourne Club and the Australian and Union clubs in Sydney. By the mid-1860s he owned two runs, Coreen and Pimpana, near Corowa, New South Wales, and found that big, plain-bodied, medium-woolled merinos were the best paying and hardiest. He was a sheep director for Corowa in the 1870s.

In 1873 he bought Haddon Rig, 271,000 acres (109,671 ha) on the Macquarie River near Warren devoid of improvements. Between visits to England in 1875, 1877 and 1878 he built a 66-stand woolshed, fenced the property, and put in many tanks and dams before he stocked it with sheep. In 1876 he began to convert it to freehold. In 1882, planning to breed his own rams, he founded a stud with 30 Peppin Rambouillet merino rams and 1900 aged ewes bought from Austin and Millear at Wanganella. He later paid high prices for another 8 rams and 2500 stud ewes from the same stud and in 1884 paid 410 guineas for the champion Wool King. He avoided the popular Vermont strain. From the 1880s he also owned Gingie with E. Scott. Although Richmond never lived at Haddon Rig, visiting it only for classing and shearing, he chose capable managers; later the stud became famous. Richmond exported some frozen meat and suggested in 1881 that the company should set up in London its own shops, with a cold store, 'for the sale of Australian frozen meat only'.

A member of the New South Wales Commercial, Pastoral and Agricultural Association, Richmond was an enthusiastic supporter of the Pastoralists' Union, and a member of the Pastoralists' Association of Victoria and Southern Riverina which he represented on the Pastoralists' Federal Council of Australia. He opposed the 1890 shearing strike and refused to shear on union terms. Despite a guard of 30 policemen at the homestead the Haddon Rig woolshed was burnt with some 2000 ewes. Richmond brought shearers from New Zealand to complete shearing. In 1910 Richmond was deeply satisfied when Sir Samuel McCaughey bought all the sheep Haddon Rig could sell him. In September 1916 he sold Haddon Rig to F. S. Falkiner's son; Gingie was sold at the same time.

Visiting England again in 1886-87, Richmond returned there to live in 1893 and came to Australia for the last time in 1895. An elder of St Columba's Church, London, he rented Monzie Castle, Perthshire, Scotland, where he indulged his love of shooting. About 1918 he bought Kincairney House, Perthshire, where he did much for the Red Cross and nursing. He died there on 6 August 1923 and was buried at Caputh. He was survived by his second wife Mary, née Leslie, whom he had married on 17 June 1880, one of their two sons and their four daughters. Richmond's third son was killed in action in World War I and a grandson at Gallipoli. His second son George bought Mogila, Goodooga, New South Wales, in 1908, now the home of Richmond's grandson, James.

Select Bibliography

  • 75 Years Progress at Haddon Rig (Syd, nd)
  • New South Wales Sheepbreeders' Assn, The Australian Merino (Syd, 1955)
  • R. M. Brennan, Across the Black Soil Plains (Warren, 1972)
  • Pastoral Review, 15 Sept 1894, 13 Sept 1923
  • letter-books and diaries (privately held).

Citation details

Martha Rutledge, 'Richmond, James (1834–1923)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


1 November, 1834
Southdean, Roxburghshire, Scotland


6 August, 1923 (aged 88)
Kincairney, Perthshire, Scotland

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