Sir Thomas Elder (1818-1897) was a Scottish-Australian pastoralist, highly successful businessman, philanthropist, politician, race-horse owner and breeder, and public figure. Amongst many other things, he is notable for introducing camels to Australia. He gave generously to religious, educational and philanthropic organisations.
His philanthropy is everywhere evident in South Australia, not least at the University of Adelaide. (refer to biographical details of W W Hughes later in this document) Note the "Elder Hall" on the opposite side of North Terrace. In 1874 he gave £20,000 to endow chairs in mathematics and general science; in 1883-97 he gave £31,000 to the Medical School, £21,000 to the School of Music and £26,000 for general university purposes. His will included bequests of £10,000 to Presbyterians, £4000 to Anglicans for their cathedral and £4000 to Methodists for their Prince Alfred College. He left £25,000 for the foundation of Working Men's Homes and £16,000 to hospitals. (One pound in those times would be worth about $81 today.) A statue is near the hall named in his honour in University of Adelaide.
He regularly attended and liberally supported Chalmers Church.
The window on the eastern side, “Ascension of Christ” is dedicated to the memory of Sir Thomas Elder. The window cost £50 and was purchased by congregational subscription in 1898. It was executed by Montgomery & Grimbly, Adelaide & Melbourne.
The Scots Church Bell was a gift of Sir Thomas Elder. It came into regular use in 1858 when the spire was completed. The bell has cast upon it "J Barnard & Sons Crescent Foundry London, 1857". It weighs 130 kg and rings in F#.
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