Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Thomas Shadforth (1771–1862)

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Thomas Shadforth (1771?-1862), soldier and company director, was born in England, the son of Henry Shadforth, a landed proprietor. He became a lieutenant in the 47th Regiment in September 1798 and was transferred to the 57th Regiment as captain in May 1802. In 1811 he was wounded at the battle of Albuera in Spain and promoted major. About 1801 in Bermuda he had married Frances, née Hinson.

Shadforth, who had been promoted lieutenant-colonel in August 1819, arrived in Sydney with the 57th Regiment in the Mangles in February 1826, accompanied by his wife and their daughter Frances. Their eldest son Henry John Tudor, a lieutenant in the 57th, had arrived in the Minstrel in August 1825, and the second son, Thomas, who had been made an ensign in the 57th in 1825, arrived probably about the same time. Another son, Robert William, after completing his education in England, arrived at Sydney in the Sovereign in May 1835.

In June 1828 Governor (Sir) Ralph Darling appointed Shadforth president of a board to check and destroy commissariat notes in the military chest, to list those still in circulation so that they could be called in, and to destroy the plates from which they had been struck. These tasks were promptly carried out. When the 57th Regiment was ordered to India in 1831 Shadforth, then 60, decided to resign and settle in New South Wales. He bought Ravenswood, 640 acres (259 ha), at Mulgoa, and for the next thirty years was a leader in the commercial and social life of Sydney. In January 1833 he became honorary secretary of the Australian Subscription Library, established in 1826, and the precursor of the Public Library of New South Wales. In June he was appointed a director of the reorganized Bank of Australia and remained on the board until the bank failed in March 1843. In 1835 he became president of the Australian Wheat and Flour Co. and of the Australian Union Benefit Society, in 1836 deputy-chairman of the Australian Gaslight Co., and a director of the Fire and Life Assurance Co., in June 1839 a trustee of the Illawarra Steam Co. and in 1841 a trustee of the Savings Bank of New South Wales. In 1842 he was a member of the association formed to seek permission to import labourers from India.

He died at Eveleigh House, Redfern, Sydney, on 4 August 1862; his wife had died at Ravenswood on 6 October 1850, aged 79. Their son Henry became the first serjeant-at-arms of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly in 1856-60 and usher of the black rod of the Legislative Council in 1860-83; he married on 10 March 1828 Mary Anne, daughter of Judge John Stephen of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and died on 21 September 1890. Thomas became a lieutenant-colonel in November 1854 and was killed at Sebastopol in the Crimean war, leaving a widow and four daughters. Frances married on 12 May 1829 Francis Stephen, fifth son of Judge Stephen.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 12, 14, 18, 20, 21, 24, 25
  • Australian, 2 Dec 1831, 28 June 1833, 13, 17 Mar 1835, 19 Apr, 31 May, 5 July 1836, 22 Jan, 6 June, 29 Aug 1839, 18 Nov 1841
  • manuscript catalogue under T. Shadforth (State Library of New South Wales).

Related Thematic Essay

Citation details

'Shadforth, Thomas (1771–1862)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 13 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




4 August, 1862 (aged ~ 91)
Redfern, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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