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Sir William Lennon Raws (1878–1958)

The death occurred last month at the age of 79 of Sir Lennon Raws, one of Australia's business leaders who was closely associated with the rural industries.

William Lennon Raws was the son of the Rev. John G. Raws and was born on 8th August 1878 at Kimbolton, Hunts., England. He was educated at Harrogate, Yorks., and came with his parents to South Australia in 1895.

Starting work as a clerk, he later joined the firm of Elder, Smith and Co. Limited and in 1914 became their Melbourne manager, a position he retained until 1926. During World War I he was a Colonel in the Australian army and held the chairmanship of the Australian Metal Exchange. In 1927 he became the managing director of Nobel (Australasia) Limited and when I.C.I.A.N.Z. was formed in 1928 was the first managing director. In 1934 he succeeded Sir Walter Young as chairman of directors and up till 1946 was chairman and managing director. He remained chairman until 1948 and continued as a member of the board until December 1954. He was thus associated in the most prominent way with the foundation and remarkable growth of this company and directed its expansion towards its present position as one of Australia's greatest industrial undertakings.

Sir Lennon Raws took an active interest in the affairs of the Chamber of Commerce. He was president of the Melbourne Chamber in 1924-25, president of the Associated Chambers in the following year, and served on the council of both bodies for many years. He was awarded the C.B.E. in 1918 and in the New Year's Honours list of 1926 was created Knight Bachelor.

He retained his early connection with Elder, Smith and Co. Limited throughout his career, and only resigned from that company's head office board in 1955. Sir Lennon held directorships of some 20 other companies, was Head Chancellor of the University of Melbourne for ten years, and for some time was chairman of the University's Finance Committee.

He married Elsie Rogers in 1905, his wife predeceasing him. His family consisted of one son and three daughters.

Original publication

Citation details

'Raws, Sir William Lennon (1878–1958)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 23 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


7 August, 1878
Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire, England


19 April, 1958 (aged 79)
South Yarra, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.