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Martindale Hall Story: 5

Adelaide University's Story

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The University & Martindale Hall

On 7 December 1948, soon after he was diagnosed with cancer, John Tennant Mortlock married Dorothy Beech at St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide.

  • He died on 15 March 1950 in North Adelaide and was buried in North Road cemetery.

    • His South Australian estate was sworn for probate at £1,148,124.

  • He left over £73,000 to cultural organizations and charities. 

    • Subjects of the gifts, which helped give national standing to the State Library’s collections, ranged from poetry to Australian flora, thoroughbred horses to paper mills, and French fairytales to book illustrations.

  • John died childless in 1950, a few years after his marriage, and left his estate to his wife,

    • who on her death in 1979 fulfilled his wishes to bequeath Martindale Hall to the University of Adelaide and $1.8 million to the State Library. 

  • The balance, held in trust by his wife, was divided between the Waite institute and the Libraries Board of South Australia.

  • In 1986 the Mortlock Library of South Australiana was established as part of the State Library of South Australia.

 
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Blyth Agriculturist (SA), Wednesday 22 March 1950, page 4

Death of Mr. J. T. Mortlock

WELL KNOWN MINTARO PHILANTHROPIST.

 

ON Wednesday March 15, the death of Mr. John Tennant Morelock, took place at a private hospital in Adelaide, after an illness of about 14 days.

Aged only 56, his passing is a sad blow to the life of Mintaro and district in particular.

His benefactions to the area in which he lived were innumerable, and wide spread regret has been expressed by many who knew of his kind and generous nature.

The family residence at Martindale Hail, one of the architectural gems of the Georgian period, built in 1878, is one of the show places of the Mid-North.

He also had residences at Palmer Place, North Adelaide, and at Avenue Gardens, Millswood.

 

One of the chief pastoralists of South Australia his many interests covered a wide range of  activities, not only in business, but in sports, pastimes and hobbies. 

  • The hobby of orchid growing was one of his specialities;

  • also moving picture scenics of all parts of Australia and New Zealand.

  • Amongst his Pastoral interests were as Chairman of the Yudnapinna Pastoral Coy and Yalluna Pty Ltd.

 

Benefactions on a State wide basis to the University of Adelaide, the Waite Research Institute, and diversified forms of Agriculture would make a huge total, and it is not improbable that during the lifetime of his late mother and himself that the family donated close upon £75,000 to all kinds of projects.

  • A keen yachtsman, he had one of the best equipped vessels of its kind in S.A. waters and entertained a lot on trips to all sections of the surrounding coasts.

  • Racing of thoroughbreds was at one time one of his sporting outlets, and the name Yudnapinna is remembered as one of the best hurdlers and steeplechasers the State has seen in action.

At Mintaro the late Mr. Mortlock endeared himself to all sections of his native town and district.

  • Of a charming and kindly disposition he never assumed the role of Squire of the Manor, and was never happier than when out among the people or investigating land and animal husbandry problems associated with Martindale Estate.

  • Early in 1949 he was married to Miss Dorothy Beach, of Adelaide, and the widow survives.

The internment was of a private nature at North Road Cemetery, Adelaide on Thursday March 16, when the Revd. Canon Loan officiated, Messrs. George Downs & Sons were funeral directors.

Mintaroites say farewell with regret to a man of wide vision, generous and kindly nature, and a town and district identity whose magnificent

co-operation and personality will live long in memory.

Mr John Andrew Tennant Mortlock 

(Jack) had many interests.

He was an amateur film-maker – the SA State Library has some of his films in its collection, and he was an orchid exhibitor.

He was a keen sportsman.

He drove fast cars, owned racehorses and greyhounds, and spent time at Port Lincoln on his yacht Martindale – which later served in World War II.

The Australian Rules Football competition in Port Lincoln is played for the Mortlock Shield. 

But he was quite shy and bookish.

He only married late in life to Dorothy Beach, also bookish.

A  benefactor in her own right, Dorothy Mortlock was a longstanding member of the Friends of the State Library. She gave an annual donation to the Library for children's books and her support enabled the Friends to purchase many rare books. 

John died childless in 1950, a few years after his marriage, and left his estate to his wife, who on her death in 1979 fulfilled his wishes to bequeath Martindale Hall to the University of Adelaide and $1.8 million to the State Library. 

 
 
Mortlock bequests to Adelaide Uni

From J A T Mortlock at Adelaide Uni Legal and Risk

In the very highest rank of financial benefactors of the University is the Mortlock Family. 

John Andrew Tennant Mortlock (illustrated left) was in fact the first such benefactor of the Waite Research Institute after it had begun to operate:

 

In 1926 he gave £2,000 for the purchase of equipment. 

  • The gift was used in 1928 for equipping the laboratories for agricultural chemistry provided by John Melrose. 

  • Ten years later he and his mother, Rosye, jointly gave £25,000 to found the Ranson Mortlock Trust for research into soil erosion and the regeneration of pastures. 

  • £10,000 was applied to the construction of the Ranson Mortlock Laboratories at the Waite Institute and the balance of £15,000 held as an endowment providing income for the pursuit of the Trust's objectives.

Through John's influence, a station at Yudnapinna, some 400km north of Adelaide, was made available for field work associated with the Trust;

  • in 1941 he gave £1,000 to provide a residence for the officer supervising the field work and

  • in 1948 he gave another £2,000 to reinvigorate the field work which had suffered some degeneration during the war years.

 

But those gifts were minuscule in comparison with the overall value of his bequest to the University on his death in 1950. 

  • From the income of his estate £1,000 a year for fifteen years was paid to the University to support the work of the Ranson Mortlock Trust;

  • his estate provided £20,000 as The John Mortlock Medical Bequest, the income of which is applied to scientific research in the University's medical school; and

  • subject to the life interest of his wife, one half of his residual estate went to the University for the general support of the work of the Waite Institute in the fields of pastoral and agricultural research. 

  • The residual estate was valued some thirty years later, when its distribution became practicable, at $4.25 million. 

  • In the settlement, the land forming part of the estate was transferred to the University

  • nd the other assets of the estate went to the other beneficiary (the Public Library of South Australia, now the State Library).

 

John's wife, Dorothy (illustrated left), supplemented her husband's £1,000 a year with a gift of £10,000 in 1952 for the promotion of investigational work at Yudnapinna, which in accordance with her wish was named "The John Mortlock Experiment Station". 

 

In the late 1950's she began discussing the possible transfer to the University of about 400 hectares of the Martindale Station at Mintaro, which was part of her husband's estate. 

Negotiations for such a transfer were necessarily extensive and time consuming, and it was 1965 before she could formally surrender her interest and enable the transfer to the University to be legally effected. 

The land transferred had two components:

  • Martindale Hall and about 100 hectares for use as a research station by the Waite Institute. 

  • To the latter, by mutual consent, the name The John Mortlock Experiment Station was transferred from Yudnapinna.

 

In 1953 Mrs Mortlock gave £15,000 anonymously to support the work of the clinical section of the medical school and

in 1958 she began a series of annual gifts, usually $30,000, for that purpose which over the next twenty years aggregated more than half a million dollars. 

 

In 1977 she gave $25,000 for the renovation of Martindale Hall and on her death in 1979 she bequeathed to the University one-fifth of her residual estate. 

 

One half of the funds from the bequest was to be applied to the upkeep
of Martindale Hall and the other to support of the work of the Faculty of Medicine.

In 1986 the University gifted Martindale Hall to the people of South Australia to mark the 150th anniversary of the founding of South Australia.

 

Dorothy's bequest to the State Library

Dorothy Mortlock was a longstanding member of the Friends of the State Library.

  • She gave an annual donation to the Library for children's books and her support enabled the Friends to purchase many rare books.

  • With her generosity numerous significant publications were acquired, including many fine engraved editions throughout the 1970s and posthumously in the 1980s.

  • Subjects of the gifts, which helped give national standing to the State Library’s collections, ranged from poetry to Australian flora, thoroughbred horses to paper mills, and French fairytales to book illustrations

 

John died childless in 1950, a few years after his marriage, and left his estate to his wife, who on her death in 1979 fulfilled his wishes to bequeath Martindale Hall to the University of Adelaide and $1.8 million to the State Library.