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Sir William Macarthur

Hon Sir William Macarthur was an Australian botanist and vigneron. He was one of the most active and influential horticulturists in Australia in the mid to late 1800s. Among the first viticulturists in Australia, Macarthur was a medal-winning wine-maker, as well as a respected amateur botanist and noted plant breeder.

Contents

Biography

William Macarthur was born at Parramatta in December 1800, the fifth son of John and Elizabeth Macarthur, pioneers of the Australian wool industry. He was educated in England at Rugby School, returned to Australia with his father in 1817, and assisted in the management of his estates. These estates included land controlled by the Macarthurs south along the Murrumbidgee River from Gundagai. James and William Macarthur stocked 'Nangus Station' with cattle in 1831. [1] The island in the middle of the River at Nangus is marked as one of the early goldfields and named 'M'Arthur Island'. The island is where the highly auriferous Adelong Creek enters the Murrumbidgee River. [2]

Contribution to horticulture

Title page of Letters on the culture of the vine, fermentation, and the management of wine in the cellar, 1844 by "Maro" — the pseudonym for William Macarthur.

In 1844, William Macarthur, regarded at the time as a leading Australian viticulturist, published a small volume, Letters on the Culture of the Vine, Fermentation, and the Management of the Cellar, which was widely read.[3] He was President of New South Wales Vineyard Association and had a vineyard and extensive cellars at the family estate at Camden Park.[4]

Erythrina ×bidwillii 'Camdeni' — bred by William Macarthur, was the first Australian hybrid garden plant to be published in England, in 1847.

He was a competent botanist, horticulturist and agriculturist, and his operations helped to make Camden Park celebrated. He entertained eminent scientific men who visited the Colony and bore the reputation of a cultured gentleman. He sent plants to Backhouse which are now in the Herbarium at Kew and the British Museum.

He is commemorated in the genus Macarthuria Hugel ex Endl., also in the species: Cyathea macarthurii F.Muell. and Ptychosperma macarthurii

Political life

In 1849 he was made a member of the New South Wales Legislative Council. Macarthur represented New South Wales at the Paris International Exhibition of 1855. Shortly afterwards he was knighted. After his return to Australia in 1857, he was again appointed a member of the Legislative Council, but he never took a prominent part in politics and was more at home with his pastoral pursuits having been given of stewardship of his family's landmark pastoral property Camden Park. He was also an active in club life and served as the president of the Australian Club.

He died unmarried on 29 October 1882. His estate was left to his niece Elizabeth Onslow, wife of Arthur Onslow.

References

  1. ^ Butcher, C. 2002 Gundagai: A Track Winding Back, Cliff Butcher, self-published, p.11.
  2. ^ Victoria [map] Bartholomew, John, 1805-1860. 1853 Victoria Historical MAPS MX 820 a 1853 Available [online] http://db.lib.unimelb.edu.au/mrsid-cgi/map_view.cgi
  3. ^ The Wine Industry of Australia 1788 1979
  4. ^ Parliament of NSW biographical entry

External links

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