Boyd, Benjamin (DNB00)

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BOYD, BENJAMIN (1796–1851), Australian squatter, second son of Edward Boyd of Merton Hall, Wigtonshire, by his wife, Jane, eldest daughter of Benjamin Yule of Wheatfield, Midlothian, and brother of Mark Boyd [q. v.], was born at Merton Hall about 1796, and, after being in business as a stockbroker in the city of London from 1824 to 1839, went out to Sydney in 1840-41 for the purpose of organising the various branches of the Royal Banking Company of Australia. Acting on behalf of this company, he purchased station property in the Monaro district, Riverina, Queensland, and elsewhere. At the first-named place he erected large stores and premises for boiling down his sheep into tallow. He at the same time speculated largely in whaling, and Twofold Bay became the rendezvous for his whaling ships. On the south head of the bay he put up a lighthouse for the purpose of directing vessels coming to his wharf. Another business which he carried on extensively was shipping cattle to Tasmania, New Zealand, and other markets. Boyd had also in view the making of Boyd Town, which he had founded, a place of commercial importance, by stealing a march on the government, who had made Eden the official township. He was the first, or amongst the first, to attempt to procure cheap labour in Australia by the employment of South Sea Islanders as shepherds, but the scheme proved abortive. Meantime the company grew dissatisfied with Boyd's management, and after a good deal of trouble Boyd agreed to retire and to resign all claims on the company on condition of receiving three of the whaling ships, his yacht, called the Wanderer, in which he had come from England, and two sections of land at Twofold Bay. His next enterprise was to embark with a digging party on board the Wanderer and to sail for California in 1850 at the time of the gold excitement there. He was unsuccessful in his search for gold, and was on his way back to Sydney in 1851 when his yacht touched at one of the islands in the Solomon group, known as [[w:Guadalcanal|Gandalcanar}}. There he went ashore with a black boy to have some shooting, and was never seen again. The affairs of the Royal Banking Company were ultimately wound up, when the shareholders had to make good a deficiency of 80,000l. Boyd also had large estates of his own, amounting to 381,000 acres, for which, in 1847, he paid an annual license of 80l. He was in his time the largest squatter in the Australian colonies. He never married.

[Heaton's Australian Dictionary of Dates (1879), pp. 23-24.]

G. C. B.