Collingwood Notables Database
Richard Goldsbrough was a bluff and hearty Yorkshireman who became a leading woolbroker in Melbourne. He played an important role in the development of Australian wool-broking practices and his name lived on in the name of the well-known company Goldsbrough Mort and Co (later Elders Ltd) and their distinctive wool stores. His residential property TheRest bordered the Yarra at Abbotsford.
Born in Shipley in Yorkshire, Goldsbrough became a skilled woolstapler running his own business in nearby Bradford before migrating to Australia in 1847, leaving his wife Emma in Yorkshire for some years. At first he classed and repacked wool for growers and merchants, and classed sheep on properties. In 1850 he purchased Messrs J and R Bakewell’s business and became the leading broker in Melbourne, establishing the first regular auction sales of wool in the colony. His assistant and eventual business partner was his sister’s husband, Hugh Parker. In 1853 he went into partnership with Edward Row and George Kirk, forming the firm of E. Row and Co, later Row, Kirk and Co. He diversified his business interests into selling stock and stations and lending to squatters in central Victoria. With various partners, he also participated in station buying and selling on his own account.
Goldsbrough’s photos show a man bursting out of his waistcoat, and from all accounts he enjoyed life to the full. His main recreational interest (other than eating and drinking) was racing and he was a steward of the Victoria Racing Club from its inception until 1886. He was one of 18 notable Melburnians who appeared in caricatures and pen portraits in the Weekly Timesin 1874. Standing 6 foot 2 inches tall in his stockinged feet, it is hardly surprising that the caricaturist chose to represent him as John Bull, the portly, jolly and matter-of-fact national personification of England.
By 1860 Goldsbrough had moved from his South Yarra residence to Abbotsford. He owned woolworks and a house where he lived next door to Frederick Row. Whether at this time his house was already as substantial as pictured in a probably romanticised watercolour by Tibbitts in 1884 (see link below) is yet to be ascertained. Its design suggests that it was built in stages. On his death in 1886, the furniture and effects alone were valued at £3406/6/0. They included carriages, and the trappings of a gentleman’s house such as conservatory plants and a billiard table. Richard and Emma’s children had died in infancy in England; as a childless widower Goldsbrough left generous bequests to hospitals, and a number of annuities. His friends Frederick and Selina Row were left £2,000 per year, while the house and all its household effects were granted for their use during their lifetime, and then to the use of their son Richard Goldsbrough Row after both parents had died. Goldsbrough had not forgotten his origins; money was left to the poor of Shipley, and to various cousins and aunts in Yorkshire including members of the Parker family. His will covered 20 closely written pages.
Goldsbrough and his family are memorialised in spectacular fashion at Boroondara cemetery, where Emma and Richard, his sister Susannah Parker and her husband Hugh Parker rest together. In the two neighbouring graves are the remains of six members of the Row family. The Rest, by now described as number 34 Nelson Street, became a rooming house and flats around 1920 and can be seen in a 1933 photograph (see link below); Dodd and Co operated the neighbouring wool scouring works. The house was demolished between 1955 and 1960. The Carlton and United Brewery eventually covered the site and it is hard nowadays to visualise what this part of Abbotsford was once like, with the large properties and wool scouring works owned by Goldsbrough, Row, and another wool merchant, Jesse Fairchild.
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|17 October 1821||Shipley, Yorkshire, England|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Emma Hodgson, 1822-1877||6 December 1842, Halifax||Several children born in Yorkshire died in infancy|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|8 April 1886||Abbotsford, Victoria||Boroondara|
Leader; The Age; The Argus; Weekly Times; MMBW Detail Plan 1306
Richard Goldsbrough photograph
Photo R Goldsbrough from Illustrated Australian News
John Bull as a wool merchant, 1874
The Rest painting by Tibbitts