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29 July 1903 Sir Thomas Elder

 29 July 1903 Sir Thomas Elder

On 29 July 1903 a statue of Sir Thomas Elder, a benefactor of the University of Adelaide was unveiled. Elder arrived in South Australia in 1854 as a partner in the firm of A.L. Elder & Company which had been established by his brother Alexander Lang Elder who came in 1839 and returned to England in 1856. Thomas soon held large pastoral leases at Paratoo, Beltana, Umberatana, Mount Lyndhurst and Blanchewater, totalling about 7000 square miles. The success of copper mines at Kapunda and Burra gave him great faith in mineral resources and the firm of Elder, Smith was one of the financiers of the Wallaroo and Moonta mines. Through this investment and the commercial pursuits of Elder Smith he became very wealthy and also a great benefactor of the colony. His donation of £20,000 for the foundation of a university in 1874 was followed by further bequests of £10,000 in 1884 for a medical school and he was largely responsible for the establishment of a Chair of Music and a scholarship to the Royal College of Music, London. He gave the Rotunda in Elder Park to the city and £2000 to Chalmers (Scots) Church and many other gifts to other institutions and charities. On his death many of these beneficiaries received more bequests to the total of £155,000 and Elder Hall was built for the University. For a quiet man he achieved great wealth in the country of his adoption and contributed generously to its enrichment.

J.J. Pascoe (ed), History of Adelaide and Vicinity, Hussey & Gillingham, Adelaide, 1901, pp.282-85.

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