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Stirling, Edward (1804–1873)

from South Australian Register

'The following telegram from Mr. Edward Stirling's son to the Hon. W. Milne was received in Adelaide on Tuesday, February 4:—'My father died yesterday (Sunday). Please inform friends.' The gentleman whose decease is thus referred to will be remembered as one of the pioneers of settlement in the colony. Arriving here with his cousin, the late Sir. Charles Stirling, about the year 1840, he engaged in pastoral and farming pursuits in the neighbourhood of Strathalbyn — the estate of Urrbrae, and also that of Nalpa, on Lake Alexandria, remaining in his possession up till the time of his death. In conjunction with the late Mr. Grote he was the first to attempt the pastoral occupation of the country near Mount Benson, in the South-East, but the undertaking proved eminently unsuccessful. A great number of the sheep died, and the remainder had to be brought back to Lake Alexandrina. In 1855 he decided upon turning his mercantile experience gained in the house of Messrs. Dennistoun Bros, of Glasgow, to account, and opened business in Gilbert place. During the succeeding year he and his brother-in-law, the late Mr. John Taylor, entered into partnership with the Messrs. Elder & Co., the firm then taking the title of Elder, Stirling, & Co., which it retained until Mr. Stirling's retirement some years later. It was during his connection with the Messrs. Elder that the famous Wallaroo and Moonta Alines on Yorke's Peninsula, in which he has from the first held a large interest, and in the active working of which he has had much to do, were discovered. It will thus be seen that the deceased has been personally associated with all the leading interests of the province.

Mr. Stirling's public career in South Australia was not a particularly prominent one, but it is identified with the most critical period in the political history of the colony. His first appearance as a candidate for legislative honours was in September, 1855, when he was induced to come forward to contest the election for the District of Hindmarsh, which at that time embraced an immense range of territory. His programme was a singularly liberal one, embodying the principles of the popular party in their entirety. He professsd himself an opponent of nomineeism, State grants to religion, and a friend to the extension of the franchise and to educational reform. He was defeated, but almost immediately afterwards was nominated a member of the mixed Council. In that position it devolved upon him to take part in the framing of the Constitution under which the colony is now governed. Upon the establishment of responsiible government he offered himself for a seat in the Upper House, and was returned eighth upon the poll, the number of candidates being twenty-seven. Whilst in Parliament he seldom or never took part in the debates, although in private he was a fluent speaker and was not at all destitute of ideas.

In 1865 Mr. Stirling's seat in the Council became vacant through effluxion of time, and he returned to England with his family, where he has remained ever since, his place of residence being Queen's Gardens, Bayswater, London. Some time before leaving the colony he had a slight attack of paralysis, but his general health has been good, and the news of his death will we believe be a surprise to his numerous friends here. He leaves behind him a widow— the sister of the late Mr. John Taylor— two sons— John L. and Archibald Stirling— and three daughters. We have not heard his exact age, but understand that it is between 65 and 68 years. He was a shrewd man of business but withal of a very kindly and liberal disposition, and many public movements and institutions in the colony have been benefited by his generous and unostentatious help. It will be remembered that he assisted largely in providing funds for the beautification of the Presbyterian Church at Strathalbyn, and presented a peal of bells for the tower. It may be mentioned that Mr. Stirling was a Director of the South Australian Banking Company from April, 1859, to the end of 1864. Upon reaching England in 1865 he joined the London Court of Directors, of which he was Chairman at the time of his death. This circumstance alone shows the high value placed upon his commercial knowledge and experience.

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'Stirling, Edward (1804–1873)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/stirling-edward-14777/text25939, accessed 23 June 2017.

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