Thomas Elder

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Thomas Elder
Born August 5, 1817[1]
Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland
Died March 6, 1897(1897-03-06) (aged 79)[1]
Mount Lofty, South Australia, Australia

Sir Thomas Elder (August 5, 1817—March 6, 1897) was a Scottish businessman who moved to South Australia and set up the largest wool selling company in the world.[1]

Elder came to South Australia in 1854. He worked with his brother George, and then became a business partners with Edward Stirling, Robert Barr Smith and John Taylor. They spent money setting up the copper mines at Moonta and Wallaroo which made them all very rich. When Stirling and Taylor retired, Elder and Smith became Elder Smith and Company. This company became the biggest wool selling company in the world.[1]

Elder spent money buying large properties for sheep in outback South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia. Some of these included Paratoo, Umberatana, Mount Lyndhurst, Blanchewater and Beltana.[1] He had ridden camels while on holiday in Palestine, and thought they would be good for use in the Australian deserts. He brought 124 camels and Afghan people to breed camels at Beltana. These were used for the building of the Australian Overland Telegraph. Elder provided money and camels for exploration by Peter Egerton Warburton (1872-73), Ernest Giles (1875), John Ross (1874), Lewis (1875), and the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia (1891).[1]

He became a member of the South Australian Parliament Legislative Council in 1863-69 and 1871-78.[1] He became interested in horse racing and set up stables at Morphetville. He built a grand Scottish style house at Mount Lofty, which was where he died in 1897.[1]

He was a very rich man, and gave money to many organizations in South Australia. This included £26,000 for the University of Adelaide, £20,000 for mathematics and general science, £31,000 to the Medical School, and £21,000 to the School of Music.[1] In his will he gave £10,000 to the Presbyterian Church, £4000 for the Church of England cathedral, £4000 for the Methodist Prince Alfred College, £25,000 to set up a Working Men's Home, and £16,000 to the hospital.[1]

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