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Edwin Tooth (1822–1858)

by G. P. Walsh

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TOOTH BROTHERS: Robert (1821-1893), Edwin (1822-1858), and Frederick (1827-1893), merchants, pastoralists and brewers, were born on 28 May 1821, 28 August 1822 and 14 February 1827, the first, second and fourth sons of Robert Tooth (b.1799), hop merchant of Swifts Park, Cranbrook, Kent, England, and his wife Mary Ann (d.1845), née Reader; they were nephews of John Tooth, merchant and brewer, born in 1803 at Cranbrook, who had arrived in Sydney in the Bencoolen in 1828 and received a 2560-acre (1036 ha) grant in County Durham. John acquired numerous cattle runs and set up as a general merchant and commission agent in Spring Street, Sydney. In September 1835 with Charles Newnham, an experienced brewer from Kent, he opened the Kent Brewery on a 4½-acre (1.8 ha) site on the Parramatta Road; Newnham withdrew from the partnership in 1843. John over-extended his pastoral ventures and became bankrupt in 1848, paying 9d. in the pound; the brewery was mortgaged for £30,200. He died of dropsy at Irrawang near Raymond Terrace on 1 October 1857, survived by his wife Elizabeth (d.1858), daughter of John Newnham, brewer and timber merchant, whom he had married at Cranbrook on 22 March 1830, and by four sons and five daughters.

The merchant and brewing firm of R. and E. Tooth began on 1 September 1843 when John leased the brewery to Robert and Edwin who had arrived in the Euphrates on 5 August 1843. On 15 April 1844 he agreed to lease it to the brothers for nine years for £4000 a year. Frederick joined the partnership about 1853 and R., E. and F. Tooth became R. and F. Tooth & Co. on 2 January 1860 when J. S. Mitchell became a partner. In 1850 Robert with Thomas Mort and F. Mitchell, financed Charles Ledger to bring alpacas from Peru. In 1852 with John Edye, James Alexander and (Sir) William Montagu Manning, Mort, J. Croft and Edwin, Robert formed the Twofold Bay Pastoral Association which acquired some 400,000 acres (161,876 ha) on the south coast and Monaro; Kameruka was the head station. Threatened by (Sir) John Robertson's land bills they bought as much land as possible in their own names and disbanded in 1860. Robert was in London in 1853-55; in the 1850s with Mort, Thomas Holt and others he speculated in buying pastoral properties. With Edwin and Mort he was a shareholder in the unsuccessful Great Nugget Vein Gold Mining Co. of Australia. In August 1857 he chaired a meeting of publicans in Sydney which raised the retail price of spirits, wines and beers; colonial ale was fixed at 4d. a pint.

In 1850 Robert was active in the anti-transportation movement. From May 1856 to February 1857 he was a member of the Legislative Council. A large squatter with about 600 employees, in January 1858 he stood for the seat of Sydney Hamlets in the Legislative Assembly, advocating free selection of land at £1 an acre without auction, tramways instead of expensive railways to bring produce to market and an elective Upper House. He lost, but represented Sydney in the assembly in 1858-59. Questionably claiming to have disposed of all his runs except one on the Queensland border and opposing Robertson's land bill, Robert stood for West Sydney in December 1860 but again was defeated.

Tooth then concentrated on his business interests in the colony and in England. Their London house, R. & F. Tooth & Mort, 155 Fenchurch Street, acted also as agents for Smyth's Sydney Marine Assurance Office and the Peak Downs Copper Mining Co. He became a committee-man of the Society for the Suppression of Cattle Stealing in 1861 and of the Agricultural Society of New South Wales. He was a partner of Robert Cran, F. F. Nixon, (Sir) Robert Lucas Tooth and Frederick under the style of Tooth and Cran until March 1872 at Yengarie near Maryborough, Queensland, and in the Wide Bay and Burnett districts. From 1865 they experimented with meat preserving at Yengarie and in 1870 won a prize at the Intercolonial Exhibition, Sydney. In the mid-1860s Robert still nominally held the Lachlan and Wide Bay runs he had leased in the 1850s; he had added Jondaryan and Irvingdale, almost 300 sq. miles (777 km²) on the Darling Downs and some twenty-eight runs, amounting to 700 sq. miles (1813 km²), in the Maranoa District of Queensland.

Tooth was a director of the Bank of New South Wales in the 1850s and 1860s (president in 1862-63) and a director of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. in 1855-63; R., E. & F. Tooth were the second largest share-holders when the company was established in 1855. A prominent Anglican layman, he was a director of the Society for the Relief of Destitute Children, a fellow of St Paul's College within the University of Sydney and an original committee-man of the Union Club. He began building his fine residence, Cranbrook, at Rose Bay in 1859 but sold it to Robert Towns in 1864. Robert retired from R. and F. Tooth & Co. in April 1872 and Frederick and R. L. Tooth carried on as F. Tooth & Co. This partnership was dissolved on 31 March 1873 when Frederick retired, Mitchell and R. L. Tooth carrying on as Tooth & Co. Most of the profit from this successful business came from importing wines, spirits and beer, as colonial beer was not widely drunk until the 1880s. Leaving issue, Robert died at Bedford, England on 19 September 1893. On 1 May 1849 he had married at St Mark's Church, Pontville, Van Diemen's Land, Maria Lisle, daughter of Captain G. B. Forster, R.N.; on 24 June 1871 he married Elizabeth Mansfield.

Edwin had pastoral interests outside his partnership with Robert until 1855; he had bought J. C. Lloyd's stations and also runs in Gippsland. He was in pastoral partnership with his father, brother Robert, Holt and Thomas de Lacy Moffatt, and was a director in 1855 as well as shareholder in the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Edwin lived in Tasmania for many years, settled in Sydney in 1852 and left the colony in December 1855. In London he lived at 29 Cleveland Square, Hyde Park, and was on the London board of the Bank of New South Wales. He died at Tutbury, Staffordshire, on 29 August 1858 and was buried in St Dunstan's churchyard, Cranbrook, Kent. In February 1844 he had married Sarah, daughter of Francis Lucas of Blackheath, Kent; they had three sons and three daughters.

Frederick was a director of the Southern Insurance Co. Ltd, the Bank of New South Wales in 1857-61, 1863-69 and 1871-74 (president 1867-68), and of the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. in 1863-64. In England he was on the London board of the bank with Edwin and lived at Park Farm, Sevenoaks, Kent. He died of apoplexy in his London residence, 4 Orme Square, Bayswater, on 20 December 1893, survived by his wife, son and three daughters. Probate of his estate was sworn in London at £343,000; he bequeathed £1800 to Sydney charities, including £500 to Sydney Hospital, and smaller amounts to charities in England. He married three times: first on 22 August 1848 to Jane Jackson of Southsea, Hampshire, England; second to Susan Frances Gosling; third to Fanny Peach on 12 June 1889 at Notting Hill, London.

The enduring legacy of this enterprising pioneer family is the Kent Brewery on its original site on the Parramatta Road, Sydney, and the famous 'Tooth's K.B.' beer. Tooth & Co. Ltd became a public company in 1888 with a capital of £900,000; in 1929 the firm took over Edmund Resch's Waverley Brewery.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vol 14
  • In the House of Lords, Between W. C. Wentworth … and Robert Tooth … (np, c1862, copy ML)
  • Tooth & Co. Ltd, The First Hundred Years (Syd, 1935), and Over a Century of Brewing Tradition (Syd, 1953)
  • A. Barnard, Visions and Profits (Melb, 1961)
  • Sydney Gazette, 24 Sept 1835
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 7 Aug, 4 Sept 1843, 2, 5 Dec 1844, 7 Aug 1857, 6, 13, 14, 16 Jan 1858, 23, 28 Nov, 8, 11-13 Dec 1860
  • Town and Country Journal, 19 Mar 1870.

Citation details

G. P. Walsh, 'Tooth, Edwin (1822–1858)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 18 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

Life Summary [details]


28 August, 1822


29 August, 1858 (aged 36)
Tutbury, Staffordshire, England

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