Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplement

View articles from the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplement

Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplement

Period: Supplement 1580-1980
Names: A-Z
Editor: Christopher Cunneen with Jill Roe, Beverley Kingston and Stephen Garton
Published in hardcopy 2005


Since the inception in 1962 of the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB), sixteen volumes of the nation's premier Dictionary of historical biography have appeared in print. Contributors to these volumes have researched and written biographies of more than 10 000 individuals of significance in Australian history who died by 1980. Further volumes covering the period 1981-2000 are in preparation. This volume is a supplement to Volumes 1-16, adding more than 500 new biographies to the coverage of the series to date, and including men and women who range in time from Dirk Hartog, born in 1580, to John McKeddie, who died in 1980.

From the outset the ADB has served as an essential work of reference for scholars in the humanities and the social sciences, and as an authoritative source of biographical information available to all Australians. Nonetheless many of the volumes, particularly the early ones, were published before the explosion in Australian historical research in the 1970s and 1980s.

As a supplement to the series, this volume seeks to both capture and advance biographical knowledge brought to light by research and scholarship in recent times. Newer fields, such as women's history, Indigenous history and social and cultural history, have highlighted many names of significant individuals little known at the time earlier volumes were produced, for example, the artist Mickey of Ulladulla and the entrepreneur Maria Lord. Likewise new names of significance have been uncovered in well-established fields such as convict history, as happened when the journals of First Fleet diarist Jacob Nagle were discovered in the 1990s. Ongoing research in established fields has also made possible reassessments of individuals passed over for earlier volumes but now seen as more significant for understanding Australia's past, such as the Aboriginal warriors Pemulwuy and Tarenorerer and the temperance advocate Jessie Ackermann. In a few instances, important individuals, such as James Matra, the proponent of a convict colony at Botany Bay, Sir George Davis, the manufacturer of Davis Gelatine, and Edwin Street, who founded Streets Ice Cream, were inadvertently overlooked. In addition, some well-known names, such as the Dutch navigator Dirk Hartog and the shipwreck victim Eliza Fraser, who were previously considered outside the criteria for inclusion in earlier volumes, have been further researched.

The production of a supplementary volume is a major initiative of the editorial board of the ADB. The idea dates from 1996, when the possibility of a 'missing persons' volume was first raised at the board. The next step was to canvas opinion from a wider group involved in producing the Dictionary. In 1998 the supplement idea was referred for comment to the working parties, which received it enthusiastically. Thus, in 2000 the board formally endorsed the proposal for a supplementary volume. It was, however, evident that such a volume, although necessary, could not be accommodated within the Dictionary's publication schedule for a number of years, and that an alternative source of funding had to be found if the proposal was to proceed. It was decided that applying for an Australian Research Council grant offered the best opportunity to obtain the funding required for such an ambitious project. Jill Roe, chair of the editorial board, persuaded the board that a cross-university research team, preferably based in one city to ensure the effective management of the project, would be a sound basis on which to develop a grant application. The board endorsed this approach, and she then invited fellow board members Beverley Kingston, from the University of New South Wales, and Stephen Garton, from the University of Sydney, to join her as Chief Investigators in a grant application, which proved successful. Keys to this success were the appointment of former deputy general editor of the ADB, Chris Cunneen, as senior research associate and project manager, together with the readiness of the Department of Modern History at Macquarie University to host the project.

The volume has been five years in the making. Because its focus is on identifying notable Australians worthy of addition to the current published series, it does not attempt to cover a broad cross-section of society, as do other volumes. With, for instance, 161 women and 49 Aborigines, a far higher proportion than in earlier volumes, the entries here focus on Australians of significance previously missed, regardless of their representativeness. This also explains the lack of long entries. Early volumes have provided a comprehensive and authoritative coverage of the most notable Australians, from prime ministers to criminals: politicians, for example, warranted substantial entries of up to 6000 words. Here, the largest entries are just more than 1000 words; the smallest is 426 words.

As has generally been the practice for the ADB, entries and authors were chosen by working parties. The steering committee is grateful for the sterling work of these committees and their chairs. This volume contains 142 entries selected by the New South Wales working party, 103 by the Victorian, 76 by the South Australian, 54 by the Queensland, 43 by the Tasmanian, 39 by the West Australian and 6 by the Commonwealth. The steering committee, consisting of Chris Cunneen and the three Chief Investigators, added 41 others.

The ADB headquarters is at the Australian National University. The support and input of the general editor Dr Diane Langmore and staff, and previously of Professor John Ritchie, is gratefully acknowledged elsewhere, but particular mention must be made here of essential assistance in verifying birth, death and marriage details. Because project funding was limited, however, there has been less cross-checking of information included in entries than is usual in the ADB itself. It has therefore been necessary to rely more heavily upon individual authors for accuracy.

The 399 contributors have given unstinting support. Most of them have written a single article; however, fifty-two wrote two articles each, twelve wrote three entries, seven wrote four and three (including the Dictionary's most prolific author Gerry Walsh) provided five. David Dunstan contributed six entries, Beverley Kingston and John Lack seven each, and the top-scorer for this volume, Wendy Birman, wrote eight. Five authors, Greg Curnow, Frank Farrell, Philippa Fletcher, Joan Kerr and John D. Kerr, died after submitting their articles. We deeply regret their deaths. The steering committee is very grateful to all contributors for the free contribution of their time and research.

At the end of this book there is an index of names that appear in the Supplement and in the sixteen volumes of the ADB published to date. This will assist readers quickly and easily to find the appropriate volume and page number for the men and women, now approaching 11 000, who died before 1981 whose biographies are included in the series as a whole. This also means that those who appear in this volume end up where they rightly belong, in the mainstream.


This supplementary volume to the Australian Dictionary of Biography (ADB) was funded by a large grant from the Australian Research Council. The headquarters of the project was in the Department of Modern History, Division of Humanities, at Macquarie University, Sydney. Chief investigators represented that university as well as the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales. From the beginning, generous support and help was provided by Professor John Ritchie and Dr Diane Langmore, successively general editors of the ADB, and their staff, based in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra. Darryl Bennet, Jolyon Horner, Anthea Bundock, Edna Kauffman, Brian Wimborne, Gail Clements and Karen Ciuffetelli provided invaluable help, as did the ADB's interstate research assistants, in particular Joyce Gibberd, Rachel Grahame, Jennifer Harrison, Anne Rand and Kim Torney. However, gratitude is due to all the ADB staff in Canberra.

Heartfelt thanks are due to Robyn Arrowsmith, the Supplement's hard-working administrative officer, and to Martha Campbell and Christine Fernon whose assistance with each entry in the supplement was indispensable. Wendy Birman was indefatigable in helping with research in Perth. In the compilation of the name index, a debt is due to Hilary Kent, who edited the index to volumes 1 to 12 of the ADB (1991), which has been heavily relied upon for the name index in this volume.

Section editors and working parties are also thanked for their generous assistance, not only in choosing names, authors and word lengths, but also for general help with other inquiries. All gave their time freely and willingly. For particular advice the supplement owes much to friends such as Rob Anderson, Ivan Barko, David Carment, John Carmody, Jan Critchett, Ambrose Chong, Ross Curnow, Mel Davies, Ed Duyker, Warwick Eather, Vicki Grieves, Bridget Griffen-Foley, Ian Hancock, Matthew Higgins, Leonard Janiszewski, Carol Liston, Lorine Marsh, Tim Moroney, Heather Radi, Kerry Regan, Mark Richmond, Sue Rosen, Spencer Routh, F. B. Smith, Alan Ventress, Ellen Warne and Wendy Sutherland.

Within Australia the Supplement is indebted to many librarians and archivists; particular thanks are due to the National Library of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, ScreenSound Australia and the National Archives of Australia, all in Canberra; to the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney, the State Library of South Australia, Adelaide, the Library of Western Australia, Perth, the State Library of Queensland, Brisbane; and to the Melbourne Club, the State Library of Victoria, the Royal Humane Society of Australasia and the University of Melbourne Archives, Melbourne. Generous assistance was also provided by John Shields and the Biographical Register of the Australian Labour Movement.

Essential help in verifying birth, death, marriage and probate details has been provided by the co-operation of registrars in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory; by the General Register offices in London and Edinburgh; by the Register General, Northern Ireland, and the registrars of probate in Adelaide and Melbourne.

For other assistance overseas, thanks are due to Judith Farrington and Pamela Ayshford, London; Betty Iggo, Edinburgh; William Murphy, Dublin; and Roger Joslyn, New York; to the universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and the London Metropolitan Archives, England; the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, Scotland; and the University of Vienna and the Technical University of Vienna, Austria. We are grateful, too, to Dr Elisabeth Lebensaft of the Austrian Dictionary of Biography, Vienna; Dr Makariusová of the Czech Biographical Dictionary, and to other individuals and institutions who have co-operated with the supplement project.