HALL, Walter and Eliza

HALL, Walter and Eliza
Walter Russell Hall (1831-1911), man of business, and his wife, Eliza Rowden Hall (1847-1916), public benefactor
Walter Russell Hall was born at Kingston, Herefordshire, England, in 1831. He arrived in Sydney on 14 February 1852, practically without capital, and proceeding to the Victorian goldfields worked for some time with little success. For a time he was an agent for the coaching business of Cobb and Co. and about the year 1857 joined James Rutherford (q.v.) and others in taking over this organization in the colony of Victoria. In 1862 lines of coaches were established in New South Wales, and in 1881 a limited company with a capital of £50,000 was formed for Queensland. Of this capital Rutherford supplied £10,000 and Hall £9000. Hall did much successful administrative work in connexion with Cobb and Co., principally in New South Wales where he was in complete control, but, following the extension of the company to Queensland, he became largely interested in the Mount Morgan Gold Mining Company, and was a director of it for the closing years of his life after his retirement from Cobb and Co. in 1885. He died at Sydney on 13 October 1911, and was buried at the Melbourne general cemetery. He married in 1874 Eliza Rowden, elder daughter of George Kirk of South Yarra, who came to Melbourne in 1839, and afterwards had pastoral interests in partnership with Richard Goldsbrough (q.v.). From the time of her marriage Mrs Hall lived at Sydney and, taking great interest in social work, continually gave practical evidence of her desire to improve the conditions of people in need. In 1911 Mrs Hall, who had no children, after seeking advice, decided to make a gift of £1,000,000 to her country, to be devoted to the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion in accordance with the tenets of the Church of England, and for the general benefit of the community. A trust was formed on 24 May 1912, and it was provided that one half of the income should be expended in New South Wales, one fourth in Queensland and one fourth in Victoria. It was also provided that as far as practicable, one third of the income in each state should be expended for the benefit of women and children. Mrs Hall was able to see the operations of her trust for only a few years, as she died at Sydney on 14 February 1916. She was buried beside her husband at Melbourne.
Twenty-five years after the Walter and Eliza Hall Trust had been established it was found that during that period £233,000 had been spent on education, £181,000 on religion, £370,000 in helping women and children and £261,ooo for general purposes. At the universities of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, travelling and research fellowships and scholarships had been established, and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Research in pathology and medicine at the Royal Melbourne hospital had proved to be an important benefaction, whose work had attracted grants from other trusts and individuals. The gift made by Mrs Hall was the largest of its kind ever made by any woman in the British Empire, and will remain an enduring monument to a wise and good woman. Portraits of Mr and Mrs Hall by F. McCubbin (q.v.) are at the national gallery, Melbourne.
The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 and 16 February 1916; The "Walter and Eliza Hall Trust—Twenty-five Years in Active Operation; Wm Lees, A History of the Coaching Firm of Cobb and Co.; Trust Deed of the Walter and Eliza Hall Trust.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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