J A T Mortlock

J A T Mortlock

J A T Mortlock

In the very highest rank of financial benefactors of the University is the Mortlock Family.  John Andrew Tennant Mortlock 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 and 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, 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.


Further reading:


Text from "The Waite Agricultural Research Institute - The First Fifty Years 1924-1974" by V A Edgeloe


For a confidential discussion about how you can support the University with a gift in your will, please contact the Development team on +61 8 8313 5800 or development@adelaide.edu.au

For more information

Jackie Morris
Senior Trusts Officer
08 8313 5804