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Knox, Thomas Forster (1849–1919)

from Sydney Morning Herald

Thomas Knox, n.d.

Thomas Knox, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 15 February 1919

Mr. Thomas Forster Knox, for many years a notable personality in Sydney commercial circles, died at a private hospital at about 4 o'clock yesterday morning. Nearly a year ago Mr. Knox underwent a serious operation, after which his health became much weakened. He was in the 70th year of his age, having been born in 1849, and was the third son of the late Sir Edward Knox. His eldest brother, Mr. George Knox, died about 30 years ago and his surviving brothers are Mr. E. W. Knox, general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, Ltd., and Mr. Adrian Knox, K.C., C.M.G., There are also four sisters, Mrs. W. O. Gilchrist, and Mrs E. H. Mackay. both of whom are at present in England and the Misses Knox, of Fiona, Edgecliff. The late Mr Knox married Miss Ritchie daughter of a well-known pastoralist of the western districts of Victoria and he is survived by his wife and two sons and two daughters. His eldest son Captain Edward Knox, shortly after the outbreak of the war, went to England, where he was granted a commission in the R.F.A., and is expected home at an early date, and his younger son Mr Thomas Knox, is interested in pastoral pursuits. The Misses Helen and Norah Knox, his daughters, reside with their mother at the late Mr. Knox's beautiful home, Leura, Victoria-road, Bellevue.

There will be a funeral service at All Saints' Church, Woollahra, this afternoon, at 2.15 o'clock, after which the cortege will move for Waverley Cemetery. The late Mr. Knox possessed in a marked degree the keen intellect and business acumen which have made the name he bore amongst the most prominent of those of Australia's great commercial pioneers. His life was one of intense activity, and his abilities were devoted to the control, or assisting in the control, of a number of large commercial undertakings. He will, of course be best remembered on account of his association with the firm of Dalgety and Co., Ltd. As managing director in Sydney of this company he did most valuable work, not only in furthering the widespread interests of the firm, but in developing the pastoral and agricultural industries of the country, with which it was principally concerned. After receiving his education at the Sydney Grammar School he entered the service of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney under Sir Thomas Dibbs, who had himself been taken into the bank in 1847 by the late Mr. Knox's father, Sir Edward Knox. Here Mr. Knox spent about nine years, after which, with Mr. J. de V. Lamb, he engaged for some time in a stock and station agency business in Sydney, thus combining with the commercial knowledge that he had already acquired an intimate knowledge of pastoral and agricultural activities. This was destined to be of great assistance to him and to his company in the important position which he was before long to hold. He paid a short visit to England, and then took over the management of the Christchurch (New Zealand) branch of Messrs. Dalgety, Blackwood, and Co. of Melbourne. Later he returned to Sydney, to take over the joint management of the firm's branch here, which was established in 1877. Seven years later, in 1884, the firm was converted into the present company—Dalgety and Co., Ltd.—and he received the appointment of managing director in Sydney. In this position he remained until October, 1912, when, on his resignation, the London directors of the company offered him the chairmanship of the local board of advice. This he accepted, and still held at the time of his death.

In common with his brothers, the late Mr. T. F. Knox inherited a remarkable astuteness of mind from his father, the late Sir Edward Knox. Born of British parents at Elsinore, in Denmark, in 1819, Sir Edward, after some commercial training in London, came to Sydney in 1840. Three years later he became manager of the Australasian Sugar Co., which, 12 years later became the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. At that time it was a small concern, producing about 1000 tons a year, but under Sir (then Mr.) Edward Knox the foundation of the present vast undertaking, of which his son, Mr. E. W. Knox—the late Mr. T. F. Knox's elder brother—is the present general manager—was laid. It will be recollected, also, that for 55 years Sir Edward Knox participated in the control of the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney. The late Mr. T. F. Knox was a director of the last-mentioned company up to the time of his death, also chairman of directors of the Permanent Trustee Company, and a director of the United Insurance Company. Owing to the weak state of his health he retired about a year ago from the directorate of the Australian Gaslight Co. and the Fresh Food and Ice Co.

As his varied interests proclaim, Mr. T. F. Knox was a man of many parts. In 1885 he joined the New South Wales Lancers, with a commission as lieutenant, and with the rank of hon. major he became hon. aide-de-cump to Major-General Sir George French while the latter was State commandant in New South Wales. When Brigadier-General Finn succeeded Sir George French as commandant, in 1902, Mr. Knox offered to join his staff in a similar capacity. The offer was accepted, and when Mr. Knox retired, about a year later, with the rank of hon. lieutenant-colonel, General Finn gratefully acknowledged the great assistance which, aided by his wide local knowledge, he had rendered.

Mr. Knox did not confine his connection with the pastoral industry to the marketing of products, but was for many years actively interested in the primary industry itself. He owned an extensive property at Wyalong, in New South Wales, and also a cattle station in the Burnett district of Queensland. He was keenly interested in the last Shackleton expedition to the south polar regions, and organised a fund to instal wireless telegraphy instruments on Captain Macintosh's ship, the Aurora. He also rendered other assistance to the party by providing some of the scientific apparatus.

For some years Mr. Knox had been president of the Warrigal Club, and was also a member of the Union Club. He was a member of the Australian Jockey Club, of which his younger brother, Mr. Adrian Knox, is chairman, and he sat on the board of directors of the Carrington Hospital.

Original publication

Other Obituaries for Thomas Forster Knox

Additional Resources

  • 'Mr. T. F. Knox', Australasian Pastoralists' Review, 15 June 1896, p 190 (pdf)

Citation details

'Knox, Thomas Forster (1849–1919)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/knox-thomas-forster-574/text26807, accessed 25 November 2017.

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