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Fairbairn, Sir George (1855–1943)

Sir George Fairbairn, by Vandyck, 191?

Sir George Fairbairn, by Vandyck, 191?

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23386830

Sir George Fairbairn, head of one of the best known Australian families, and a leading figure in business, political and sporting circles, died on Saturday at his home in Como Ave, South Yarra, in his 89th year. He was born at Geelong on March 23, 1855, the son of Mr. George Fairbarn, who arrived in Victoria in 1839 and took up land. After his education at Geelong Grammar School and at Jesus College, Cambridge, the son went to central Queensland and became manager of Peak Downs and Barcaldine stations, his father's properties.

After 7 years of pioneer work in Queensland Sir George Fairbairn came to Melbourne and joined the late Mr R. J. Jeffray as a member of the firm of Sloane and Co, financial agents. During 1886, when pastoralists were in difficulties because of drought and low wool prices, he was manager of the Union Mortgage Co. In 1890 he turned to agriculture, and was engaged on his Lara property.

Sir George Fairbairn's political career began in 1902, when he was elected as member for Toorak in the Victorian Legislative Assembly. Four years later he resigned to contest and win Fawkner seat in the House of Representatives. He retained Fawkner until the redistribution of 1913. In 1917 he was elected as a Victorian senator, and remained in the Federal Parliament until June, 1923, when he did not seek re-election.

In 1924 he was appointed Agent-General for Victoria in London, and, filled that post successfully until his term ended in 1927. In recognition of his public services he was created a Knight Bachelor in 1926.

Sir George Fairbairn had a record of more than 40 years of continuous service on the board of the Union Trustee Co of Australia Ltd, and he was associated with the British and Foreign Marine Insurance Co Ltd, both as member of the board and chairman, for 33 years.

With the firm of Dalgety and Co he was also associated for a long period, and he was chairman of the local board of advice in Victoria. He was a director of the AMP Society and a member of the Edward Wilson (of the Argus) Trust. When the Argus and the Australasian Ltd was formed in 1936 he joined the board of directors, and his intimate and extensive knowledge of business was of great value to the company. He resigned from the board in November, 1937. He took a keen interest in the Big Brother movement, and was elected president of the National Union in 1931. Sir George Fairbairn married Miss Jessie Kate Prell in 1880, and there were 3 children, of whom only one, Mr Clive Fairbairn, survives. Sir George Fairbairn's wife died in 1921, and in 1924 he married Miss Lorna Robertson, daughter of the late Mr. George Robertson, of Corigulak, Colac. The late Mr Jim Fairbairn, who, while Minister for Air, was killed in the tragic aeroplane crash at Canberra, was a nephew. The funeral will leave St John's Church, Toorak, tomorrow, at 2.30pm, after a service by Rev Dr A. Law, for General Cemetery, Carlton. Arrangements are in the hands of A. A. Sleight Pty Ltd.

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'Fairbairn, Sir George (1855–1943)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/fairbairn-sir-george-362/text363, accessed 18 November 2017.

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