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Alan Lindsay Wardlaw (1887–1938)

by R. A. Ferrall

This article was published:

Alan Lindsay Wardlaw (1887-1938), by unknown photographer, 1914-19

Alan Lindsay Wardlaw (1887-1938), by unknown photographer, 1914-19

Australian War Memorial, H00070

Alan Lindsay Wardlaw (1887-1938), pastoralist, soldier and parliamentarian, was born on 23 July 1887 at Rock House, Avoca, Tasmania, son of James Bennett Wardlaw, farmer, and his wife Dora Dove, née Miller. After attending state schools, he helped his mother to run a butchery at Scottsdale and later purchased an interest in a small sheep-station. At 24 he assumed management of Mineral Banks, a mixed farming property near Ringarooma, and was later regarded as one of the State's best judges of stock and a very able horseman. He served with the militia from 1907.

On 20 May 1916 Wardlaw transferred to the Australian Imperial Force as a second lieutenant and joined the 12th Battalion in France in March 1917. He was promoted lieutenant in April. Wounded during the battle of Bullecourt in May, he earned a special mention in Sir William Birdwood's corps orders. In August 1918, while Wardlaw was fighting in the front line near Amiens, one of his legs was shattered by shell-fire. It was a crushing blow to the young soldier and he considered himself lucky to live through it. When he returned to Australia in May 1919 his disability made farm life impossible; even though he had purchased Mineral Banks in partnership with H. G. Salier, he decided to enter public life.

He brought to politics commitment and zest. After serving on the local council, in May 1920 Wardlaw was elected to the Legislative Council as Nationalist member for South Esk, and represented that electorate until December 1938. He was chairman of committees in 1926-28 and held the honorary portfolio of minister for agriculture in 1932-34. He was always active in matters affecting the man on the land; probably no other Tasmanian in these years accepted more honorary offices in working for his industry or carried them out more effectively.

Wardlaw's services in government and wide knowledge of agriculture were recognized by successive Tasmanian premiers: both (Sir) John McPhee and Sir Walter Lee appointed him minister without portfolio and leader of the House—in McPhee's cabinet from June 1928 to March 1934 and in Lee's ministry in 1934. His genial manner endeared him to them as it did to most other contemporary Tasmanian politicians. Wardlaw was a man of the highest principles and an able speaker. Outside parliament his interest in public affairs was intense. He was appointed C.M.G. in 1935.

On 3 November 1925, at Launceston, he had married Olive Hart with Methodist forms. Survived by his wife and two daughters, Wardlaw died of hypertensive cerebrovascular disease on 24 December 1938 in St Margaret's Hospital, Launceston, and was buried in Carr Villa cemetery.

Select Bibliography

  • Examiner (Launceston), 27 Dec 1938
  • Mercury (Hobart), 27 Dec 1938
  • private information.

Citation details

R. A. Ferrall, 'Wardlaw, Alan Lindsay (1887–1938)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 24 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

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