Alexander McArthur

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For the Australian politician Alexander McArthur, see Laurie McArthur.

Alexander McArthur (10 March 1814 – 1 August 1909) was an Irish-born Australian and British businessman. He was a politician in both countries.

Nugal Hall, a Gothic Revival home in Randwick, New South Wales, built for McArthur

Early life[edit]

McArthur was born at Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Ireland, the son of John McArthur, a Wesleyan minister, and his wife Sarah, née Finlay. In 1830 he was apprenticed to a merchant in Omagh. He emigrated to Australia and arrived at Sydney on 24 January 1842.

Life in Australia[edit]

After starting business with a consignment from his brother William McArthur, he became a partner of William Little and James H. Atkinson. He was a devout Methodist and in 1843 he was elected to the committee of the Wesleyan Auxiliary Missionary Society of New South Wales. He was also treasurer of the Young Men's Christian Association of Sydney and a committee member of the Benevolent Asylum, the New South Wales Auxiliary Bible Society and other charities.

McArthur returned to Ireland in 1848 and in 1850 he and his brother formed W. and A. McArthur & Co. merchants of softgoods. Back in Sydney in 1851, he was very successful as a shipping agent for the export of gold. His firm built a large warehouse in Sydney and opened branches in Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland.

McArthur visited England in 1854 and 1855. After this, he became a member of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, took a share in the Australian Joint Stock Bank, and became a director of several building societies, insurance companies and mining companies. He also became a magistrate.[1]

Political career[edit]

In June 1859 McArthur was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Assembly for Newtown. He was a free trader and opposed state aid to religion. After being re-elected for Newtown in December 1860, he resigned in June 1861 when he was appointed to the New South Wales Legislative Council.[2] In 1863 McArthur went to England to take over the London business and as a result vacated his seat through absence in October 1865.

Return to Britain[edit]

McArthur was then a London merchant engaged in colonial trade and lived at Raleigh Hall, Brixton. He was a J. P. for Surrey [3] and Deputy Lieutenant for the City of London. He became a Fellow of the Imperial Institute and from 1863 a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He became a member of the Royal Colonial Institute in 1869, and also of the Victoria Institute and the British Association. From 1870 to 1873 he was a member of the first London School Board.[1] In 1874 he was chosen as Liberal Candidate for Leicester. As an "advanced Liberal", his programme had much in common with Joseph Chamberlain's 'New Radicalism' and included the assimilation of the county to the borough franchise, reform of the land laws, abolition of clause 25 of the Education Act, and legislation against intemperance.[4] He was elected Member of Parliament for Leciester in 1874. In parliament he advocated the annexation of Fiji, stricter oservance of the Sabbath and Home Rule for Ireland. He retired after holding the seat for 18 years in 1892. In 1898 his firm became a limited liability company and in 1908 was reconstituted after liquidation. McArthur died at Sydenham, London at the age of 95.

Personal life[edit]

On 19 August 1853 at Toxteth Park Chapel, Liverpool, he married Maria Bowden, second daughter of Rev. William. B. Boyce,[5] and had six sons and two daughters. His son William Alexander McArthur also became an MP.

He is buried with his family in a large mausoleum in West Norwood Cemetery.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ruth Teale; Alexander McArthur (1974). Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5. Melbourne University Press. pp. 121–122. 
  2. ^ Parliament of New South Wales
  3. ^ British Census 1881
  4. ^ R. A. McKinley (editor) (1958). "The City of Leicester: Parliamentary history since 1835". A History of the County of Leicester: volume 4: The City of Leicester. Institute of Historical Research. pp. 201–250. Retrieved 9 March 2009. 
  5. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald 22 Aug 1853, p. 3

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
John Dove Harris
Peter Alfred Taylor
Member of Parliament for Leicester
1874–1892
With: Peter Alfred Taylor 1874–1884
James Allanson Picton 1884–1892
Succeeded by
Sir James Whitehead
James Allanson Picton