Goldsborough, Richard (DNB00)

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GOLDSBOROUGH, RICHARD (1821–1886), colonial wool trader, was born at Shipley, near Bradford, Yorkshire, in 1821. He was apprenticed as a boy to a Bradford woolstapling firm, and at twenty-one years of age started as a merchant in a small way in the same town, purchasing the clips of graziers in the neighbourhood, and sorting the wool for the manufacturers. He became interested in Australia, from its capacity of producing wool, and at length determined to emigrate. He first went to Adelaide, and finally settled in Melbourne in 1847. In 1848 he commenced business in a small weather-board building. He succeeded rapidly, and ultimately erected the large stores by the Market Square in Melbourne. While building his operations were much disturbed by the excitement which followed the gold discoveries. In 1853 he went into partnership with Edward Row and George Kirk, and the new firm transacted a large and lucrative business in buying and selling stations and stock, as well as immensely expanding Goldsborough's wool operations. From 1857, however, he concentrated all his energies upon wool. In 1862 he erected buildings at the corner of Bourke and William Streets, Melbourne, having a floor space of over five acres. Under the joint management of Goldsborough and Hugh Parker, his brother-in-law, the business continued to develope rapidly, and in 1881 the house was amalgamated with the Australian Agency and Banking Corporation, when the consolidated concern became a limited liability company, with Goldsborough as chairman of directors. The company began with a capital of three millions, and prospered exceedingly. The Sydney business of Goldsborough & Co. became scarcely less extensive than that of the Melbourne house.

Goldsborough found the entire wool export of Melbourne in 1848 some thirty thousand bales, and in the last twelve months of his life his own firm sold more than twice that amount in Melbourne alone. His company had also worked up a great connection in the grain trade, and carried on immense operations in skins, hides, tallow, and other station produce. Their periodical property sales became an important Australasian feature.

Goldsborough always refused to have any hand in political matters, but subscribed liberally to institutions and charities. It was said that he would have been as little likely to make a bad bargain as attempt a platform speech; but he was held in high esteem throughout the colonies as well as in Yorkshire, which he several times revisited. He was a great encourager of horse-racing in Australia. He died in Melbourne on 8 April 1886.

[Memoirs in Australian papers; article on the Australian Wool Trade in Bradford Observer, May 1884; Heaton's Australian Dict. of Dates.]

J. B-y.