George Adams (businessman)

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George Adams
George adams statue.jpg
Statue of George Adams on St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Born 14 March 1839 (1839-03-14)
Died 23 September 1904 (1904-09-24) (aged 65)
Hobart, Tasmania

George Adams (14 March 1839 – 23 September 1904) was an Australian publican and lottery promoter best known as the founder of Tattersall's.


Adams was born in Redhill in the parish of Sandon, Hertfordshire, England. He was the fourth son of William Adams, farm labourer, and his wife Martha, née Gilbey. The family emigrated to Australia and arrived on 28 May 1855.

Adams started as a gold miner in Kanoona, Queensland before working on sheep stations in New South Wales and setting up a stock dealer and butcher in Goulburn. In 1875, he swapped the trade of meat to the trade of liquor and purchased the licence to the Steam Packet Hotel in Kiama on the New South Wales south coast. He frequented the Tattersall's Club in Sydney and was a good mixer and 'a man with friends'. Three of his friends, Bill Archer, George Hill and George Loseby, purchased the O'Brien Hotel, the home of the Tattersall's club and told Adams to 'pay when you can'.

Within ten years, Adams was a wealthy man with the 'Tin Bar' replaced by the 'Marble Bar' at the O'Brien Hotel for £32,000 pounds. Tattersall's Club members subscribed to sweepstakes run on race meetings throughout Australia and eventually Adams began to include his Hotel regulars and in 1881 he ran the first public Tattersall's sweep on the Sydney Cup.

During his time in Sydney he married Fanny Franklin in 1858; she died in 1883. In 1886, he married Norah Louie Jones. Norah died in Hobart in 1913. Adams had no children with either wife.

Religious groups opposed this form of gambling and in 1892 convinced the New South Wales state government to pass laws prohibiting the delivery of letters containing sweeps. He moved to Queensland who soon introduced similar legislation and so in 1895 he moved his business to Tasmania. Six months later the Tasmanian Government passed the Suppression of Public Betting and Gaming Act prohibiting betting shops but legalising certain lotteries. This allowed Adams to find a home for the Tattersall's lotteries for the next fifty-eight years. Adams moved his home there and made Hobart home for the rest of his life.

When the Bank of Van Diemen's Land Ltd., Hobart, went into liquidation in 1893, the directors decided to raffle the bank's assets. George Adams conducted a lottery, the first in Tasmania, with 300,000 tickets at £1 each. The first prize was the bank building itself and the land on which it was built on Miller's Corner, Hobart. Second prize was Hadley's Orient Hotel, which was owned by the bank. All the other prizes consisted of a long list of bank properties in various places. Tickets were fully taken up. Its success inspired George Adams to inaugurate his famous Tattersall's Consultation.[1]

George Adams died in Hobart and was buried in Cornelian Bay cemetery under a headstone engraved 'George Adams (Tattersall)'. At the time of his death, Adams was contracted to buy more real estate in Tasmania and had intended to start business as a maltster and brewer.


The chief beneficiary of his estate was his nephew William James Adams.

There is a statue of Adams on St Kilda Road at the Tatts Group Limited head office near St Kilda Junction in Melbourne.


  1. ^ "STRANGE AND AMAZING FACTS ABOUT AUSTRALIA.". Portland Guardian (Vic. : 1876–1953). Vic.: National Library of Australia. 5 March 1945. p. 3 Edition: EVENING. Retrieved 26 April 2012.