SARGOOD, Sir Frederick Thomas (1834-1903)

SARGOOD, Sir Frederick Thomas (1834-1903)
politician and public man
was born at Walworth, London, on 30 May 1834. His father, Frederick James Sargood, came to Melbourne in 1849, and became a member of the old legislative council. In 1856 he was elected to the legislative assembly for St Kilda. He founded the softgoods business at Melbourne, afterwards so well-known, and died in England in 1871. He married Emma, daughter of Thomas Rippon, chief cashier in the Bank of England, and Frederick Thomas Sargood was their eldest child. He was educated at private schools and in 1850 followed his father to Melbourne. He first obtained a position in the public works department, but in 1851 joined his father's business, and in 1859 became a junior partner in it. In the same year he joined the Victorian volunteer artillery as a private and eventually reached the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He also took an interest in rifle shooting and was one of the best shots in Victoria. In May 1874 he was elected a member of the legislative council, and in 1875 he became the first chairman of the Melbourne harbour trust. He visited England in 1880, and was appointed a delegate by the Victorian government to represent the colony before the imperial commission for the protection of British possessions abroad. He returned to Melbourne in 1882 and in March 1883 became an honorary minister in the Service (q.v.) government. In the same year when the defence department was formed, he was the first minister of defence, and carried through the reorganization of the defences which involved the change over from volunteer to militia forces. Rifle clubs were formed and the important cadet corps movement for schoolboys was also due to Sargood's efforts. In 1885 he took the additional portfolio of minister of water-supply, and held both positions until the resignation of the ministry in February 1886. He was appointed vice-president of the Melbourne centennial exhibition of 1888 and subsequently executive vice-president and treasurer. He was also president of the Melbourne chamber of commerce from 1886 to 1888, and his name stood very high in -the business world. When he joined his father's business it was a comparatively small one, but now under the name of Sargood Butler and Nichol it had become one of the largest in Australia, with branches in other cities. It was subsequently extended to New Zealand and before Sargood's death the number of employees was over 5000. When W. E. Hearn (q.v.) died in 1888 Sargood became leader of the legislative council, in which position he examined all bills coming from the legislative assembly and showed much critical ability. He joined the Munro (q.v.) ministry in November 1890 as minister of defence and of education, but withdrew when the ministry was reconstructed under Shiels (q.v.) in February 1892, because he was unable to agree with Shiels's adhesion to the "one man one vote" principle.
Though a conservative, Sargood had piloted the first factories act through the council with ability, and so far as his own firm was concerned the Saturday half-holiday had been brought in as far back as 1852. Sargood joined the Turner (q.v.) government in September 1894 as minister of defence, but about three months later again resigned on a question of principle. He took up again the position of leader of the council and had a prominent part in the federation movement. His views on the tariff prevented his being elected as one of the Victorian delegates to the 1897 convention, but at the first federal election in 1901 he was elected as one of the senators for Victoria in spite of the opposition of the protectionist press. When the senate met he was nominated for the position of president which, however, went to Sir Richard Baker (q.v.) by 21 votes to 12. Sargood, however, took a leading position in the house. He died suddenly while on a holiday in New Zealand on 2 January 1903. He was created C.M.G. in 1885 and K.C.M.G. in 1890. He married (1) in 1858, Marion Australian, daughter of the Hon. George Rolfe, M.L.C., and (2) in 1880, Julia, daughter of James Tomlin. Lady Sargood survived him with five sons and four daughters of the first marriage, and one daughter of the second.
Sargood was a man of the finest character both in business and as a politician, shrewd, energetic, and scrupulously honest. He was prominently connected with many philanthropic and religious movements. In politics he was a good speaker and debater, with a capacity for organization and a command of details, and in his work as defence minister he showed wisdom, energy and foresight.
Burke's Colonial Gentry, 1891; The Argus, Melbourne, 3 and 5 January, 1903; The Age, Melbourne, 3 January 1903; The Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903; Victoria, the First Century; P Mennell, The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Frederick Thomas Sargood — Sir Frederick Thomas Sargood KCMG, (30 May 1834 – 2 January 1903) was an Australian politician, Minister of Defence and Education in the Government of Victoria 1890–1892 and Senator in the Australian Senate 1901–03.Early lifeSargood was born in… …   Wikipedia

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