Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

Search the Guide

To find information in this Guide please select one of the green coloured options.

To Select a Page Group when displayed, right click and select 'Open'.

Copyright Conditions Apply.

GUTHRIE, James Francis CBE (1872-1958)

GUTHRIE, James Francis CBE (1872-1958)

James Guthrie, 1890 (Footballer).

'Frank' Guthrie, 1890 (Footballer)

James Guthrie, circa 1920.

'Frank' Guthrie, circa 1920.

James Francis Guthrie, known as 'Frank', ‘wool-breeder, federal senator, and author, played a significant role in the development of the wool industry, though his parliamentary career was not noted for its prominence. He was the first Old Collegian to enter federal politics.

Born near Donald, Victoria on 14 September 1872, the third and youngest son of parents Thomas Guthrie and Mary, née Rutherford of ‘Redhome’ South Yarra and Rich Avon Estate, he was enrolled at Geelong College from 1887 until 1892'. An avid sportsman in his youth, he was a member of the 1st Football Team in 1889, 1890 and 1891 as well as the 1st Cricket Team in 1888, 1889 and 1890 and at Tennis. He was notable for topping the bowling and batting averages of the time.

His half-brother, Thomas Oliver Guthrie (1867-1962) and brother Arthur Donaldson Guthrie (1874-1932) also attended the School. Thomas Oliver Guthrie was a member of the Football Team in 1885 and the Cricket Team from 1883 to 1885. Arthur Guthrie was a member of the Football Team in 1885, and 1887 to 1889. Arthur’s six years in the Cricket Team from 1883 until 1888 are among the longest unbroken periods in the College’ history. Arthur captained the Cricket Team in 1887 and 1888, also winning the College Cup for athletics in 1887.

After leaving school, 'Frank' began his working career with Dalgety & Co in 1891, later working in textile mills in England at Bradford before returning to Dalgety’s, Geelong in 1900. By 1904 he was head valuer for Australia. He had also been valuing in New Zealand, and in Dunedin, had met and married in 1902 - Mary Isobel Wright. Not long after, he contracted anthrax in New Zealand and subsequently had his leg amputated. In 1923, he became a founding director of Federal Woollen Mills.

Guthrie, in 1920 won election to the Senate as a National Party member moving to the United Australia Party in 1931. He retained this parliamentary seat until June1938 after his defeat at election in 1937. He retained a management role with Dalgety’s until 1928. At various times he was a member of the Royal Agricultural Society Council, Geelong Agricultural Society, Geelong Chamber of Commerce, Victorian State Wool Committee, Chairman of the Wool Export Advisory Committee, and was a strong proponent of the Australian Wool Board of which he was a member from 1936 to 1945.

His involvement as a grower in the sheep industry was considerable. Not only did he have a roll in the management of his father’s interests he operated a number of properties in his own right over the years including Elcho and Coolangatta near Geelong. He had a particular interest in Corriedale Sheep-breeding and founded the Corriedale Sheep-breeders’ Association in 1914. Guthrie wrote about aspects of the industry during his life and this culminated in his ‘A World History of Sheep and Wool’ published in 1957. In recognition of his services to the wool industry he was awarded a CBE in 1946.

Guthries’ approach to both business and his interests was said to be very idiosyncratic but he retained a near passionate interest in sport all his life serving as an active member of a variety of sporting committees in racing, coursing and cricket including that of the MCC.

Sources: Pegasus May 1920 p 30; Alan Barnard, 'Guthrie, James Francis (1872 - 1958)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, Melbourne University Press, 1983, pp 144-145.
© The Geelong College. Unless otherwise attributed, The Geelong College asserts its creative and commercial rights over all images and text used in this publication. No images or text material may be copied, reproduced or published without the written authorisation of The College.