Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

John Bligh Suttor (1859–1925)

by Ruth Teale

This article was published:

John Bligh Suttor is a minor entry in this article

William Henry Suttor (1805-1877), pastoralist and politician, was born on 12 December 1805 at Baulkham Hills, New South Wales, third son of George Suttor and his wife Sarah Maria, née Dobinson. He was educated by his parents and an assigned convict. In 1822 William became overseer of his father's 320-acre (130 ha) grant at Brucedale, Peel, taking it over in 1834, and by September 1838 was managing his father's 10,020 acres (4055 ha) and occupying his own 3344 (1353 ha) acres. In the 1840s these properties were let to Irish tenants. In 1845 with his father he bought Alloway Bank from John Piper and in 1852 Cangoura, an adjoining 5000 acres (2024 ha). In 1843 he had formed stations at Walandra, Lachlan River, and Beau Desert, Logan River (Moreton Bay); by 1865 he occupied over 600,000 acres (242,814 ha) on the lower Lachlan, Darling, Macquarie and Bogan rivers.

In 1843-54 Suttor represented the Counties of Roxburgh, Phillip and Wellington in the Legislative Council; he opposed the resumption of transportation, supported Caroline Chisholm and was regarded by some Catholics as their spokesman. He represented Bathurst (County) in the Legislative Assembly in 1856-59, East Macquarie in 1859 and 1860-64 and Bathurst in 1866-72. Independent and liberal, he supported manhood suffrage, freehold agricultural settlement on crown lands, local government and National education. In Bathurst he was steward of the turf club, patron of the agricultural show (in 1863-64 held at Alloway Bank), benefactor of the Anglican diocese, synodsman and warden of Holy Trinity Church, Kelso. A founding member of the Union Club, Sydney, in 1857, he was president in 1863-70.

In December 1833 in Sydney, Suttor had married Charlotte Augusta Ann Francis (1817-1879), by whom he had ten sons and four daughters. He died on 20 October 1877 at Alloway Bank, leaving goods valued for probate at £107,250, and was buried in the family vault at Holy Trinity, Kelso.

His eldest son, William Henry junior (1834-1905), pastoralist and politician, was born on 14 November 1834 at Brucedale. Educated by Dr William Woolls, at 16 he managed his father's runs, becoming an excellent bushman. By 1865 he was in partnership with his father and also occupying 64,000 acres (25,900 ha) in the Albert District. He sold these runs in the 1880s after trouble with selectors, and engaged in sheep-breeding on Curranyalpa, Budda, Tilpa and his other runs on the Darling. At the same time he entered pastoral partnerships with his brother Walter and E. U. Bowler, and with William Kite and T. C. Ashe. In July 1890 he was founding president of the Pastoralists' Union of New South Wales for some months, but by 1892 all his runs were mortgaged to the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney.

From January 1875 to July 1879 Suttor sat for East Macquarie in the Legislative Assembly as a free trader and in 1877-78 was minister for mines in J. S. Farnell's ministry. In December 1880 he was nominated to the Legislative Council; in 1889-91 he was vice-president of the Executive Council and government representative in the council in Sir Henry Parkes's last ministry: a loyal supporter of Parkes, he never sought office, doubting his abilities and facing bankruptcy. In 1894-95 he held the same offices in (Sir) George Reid's first government.

Quiet, unassuming and genial, 'Willie' Suttor often gave public readings for charities. His contributions to the Daily Telegraph were reprinted as Australian Stories Retold and Sketches of Country Life (Bathurst, 1887); for its centenary supplement (23 January 1888) he wrote an article on the pastoral industry reprinted in Centenary of Australia (Sydney, 1888), and for the issue of 22 June 1889 on 'Early Christian missions among the Aborigines' (reprinted, Sydney, 1889). He lived at Cangoura after 1873 and until 1891 was a trustee of the Bathurst Hospital, president of the Bathurst Agricultural, Horticultural and Pastoral Association, captain in the reserve rifle company, president of the Bathurst Mechanics' School of Arts, member of the public school board, warden of Holy Trinity Church, Kelso, and member of the Anglican diocesan council.

In March 1862 Suttor had married Adelaide Agnes Henrietta Bowler (d.1920), who bore him one son and six daughters. He died in Sydney on 20 October 1905, leaving assets valued at £8102 and debts of £118,188.

John Bligh junior (1859-1925), civil servant, nephew of William Henry senior, was born on 10 December 1859 at Wyagdon, Wattle Flat, fourth son of John Bligh Suttor (1809-1886) and his wife Julia Frances Nina, née Bowler (d.1901). His father, a large-scale pastoralist, represented East Macquarie in the Legislative Assembly in 1867-72 and was a member of the Legislative Council in 1881-86. Educated in Bathurst and Sydney, John junior joined the Department of Public Works on 15 December 1879 as a draftsman and surveyor. Appointed assistant engineer, western division, in January 1885 and later engineer, he introduced the first day labour system on the railways, and became an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London. In October 1903 he was appointed commercial commissioner in the east for the New South Wales government, and was stationed at Kobe, Japan. His reports on the overseas trade of China, Manchuria and Siberia, Japan, Korea, India and Burma, Ceylon, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippine Islands and the Straits Settlements were published between 1904 and 1919. His familiarity with the Japanese language and habits rendered valuable his reports to his premier in 1914-18. After retiring in June 1922 he remained in Kobe, where he died on 28 May 1925, leaving an estate of £2431 and survived by his wife, Emma Isabel Parker, née Bullough, whom he had married on 13 December 1882, and by one son and two daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • T. L. Suttor, Hierarchy and Democracy in Australia, 1788-1870 (Melb, 1965)
  • Town and Country Journal, 7 Apr, 3 Nov 1877, 11 May 1889
  • Bathurst Times, 24 Oct 1877, 27 Feb 1891, 18 Feb 1914
  • Pastoral Review, 15 Apr 1891
  • Bulletin, 6 July 1903
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 1 June 1925
  • Henry Parkes letters (State Library of New South Wales)
  • George Suttor diary (State Library of New South Wales)
  • Suttor family papers and letters (State Library of New South Wales).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Ruth Teale, 'Suttor, John Bligh (1859–1925)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 15 July 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