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S.A. Northern Pioneers: Sir Thomas Elder
Title : S.A. Northern Pioneers: Sir Thomas Elder S.A. Northern Pioneers: Sir Thomas Elder
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Source : B 6912/F7
Date of creation : ca. 1870
Format : Photograph
Dimensions : 50 x 33 mm
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Portrait of Sir Thomas Elder from Lake Hope from the S.A. Northern Pioneers' composite, 1850-1859 (shown in position on B 6912/2).

Thomas Elder was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland on 5 August 1818.

His brother, Alexander Lang Elder arrived in South Australia in 1839 and would later be joined by his brother George in 1853 and Thomas in 1854. Together the brothers formed Elder & Co. This eventually became, with the addition of the partners Edward Stirling and Robert Barr Smith, Elder Smith & Co one of the biggest wool-selling firms in the world. They had large pastoral holdings in South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. Some of the South Australian properties included Paratoo, Umberatana, Lake Hope and Blanchewater.

Thomas imported camels from India and established a breeding stud at his property Beltana. These camels became an important part of Australian history as they served on the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line, in the exploration of Australia and as general freight animals before the advent of the railways and motorised transport. Elder financed exploration including P.E. Warburton and Ernest Giles. In 1891-92 he financed the Elder Scientific Exploring Expedition into western South Australia and Western Australia.

Thomas Elder was a member of the Legislative Council in 1863-69 and 1871-78. His philanthropic interests extended to the University of Adelaide, the Art Gallery of South Australia and civic areas such as the rotunda in Elder Park.

Elder was knighted for his philanthropy.

Thomas Elder never married and died at "The Pinnacles", Mount Lofty on 6 March 1897.

Period : 1852-1883
Place : Blanchewater, Lake Hope
Region : Flinders Ranges and Far North - Outback
Further reading :

Cockburn, R Pastoral pioneers of South Australia Adelaide: Publishers Limited, 1925-1927 ("Reprinted from the Adelaide Stock and Station Journal.") vol. 1 pp. 26-7

The story of the Elder Bequest / Art Gallery of South Australia Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia, 2000

[Sir Thomas Elder] Price, A. Grenfell Elder, Smith & Co., Limited: the first hundred years, [Adelaide: Elder, Smith & Co., 1940] (Adelaide: The Advertiser Printing Office) p. 53-60

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