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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Vincent, J. E. Matthew

< The Dictionary of Australasian Biography

Vincent, J. E. Matthew, F.R.G.S., is chief commissioner for Messrs. Chaffey Brothers' Australian irrigation colonies, and has been engaged during the last four years in making known to the public in Great Britain and elsewhere the highly favourable conditions which Australia presents as a fruit-producing country and the peculiar advantages for high-class colonisation which are afforded by the colonies which he represents. These were recently founded (although now very remarkably developed) by the well-known brothers Chaffey, now merged into the company of Chaffey Brothers, Limited. Mr. Vincent himself resided, from considerations of health, for some nine or ten years in Australia, nearly the whole of the settled portion of which he has visited, and where he devoted himself to promoting agricultural development in connection with the sugar industry of Queensland on a system of co-operation amongst the whites which he designed in order to dispense with the necessity for coloured labour. Springing from an old family of yeomen in Dorsetshire, Mr. Vincent was educated at Christ's Hospital. Subsequently he was articled to the editor of the Sherborne Journal, one of the oldest newspapers in the west of England. Marrying the daughter of R. J. L. Witty, C.E. (an inventor of note), his wife co-operated with him in much subsequent journalistic and other public work, embracing the establishment of several Liberal journals in Warwickshire, one notably which he started in advocacy of rural and agrarian reform, and which, as the organ of the National Agricultural Labourers' Movement of 1872, had a weekly circulation of some seventy thousand copies, and was frequently mentioned in the House of Commons and the leading papers of the day in connection with the land question. Mr. Vincent, among much other public work, initiated and convened the first thoroughly representative National Farm Labourers' Conference at Leamington in 1872 (under the presidency of Mr. George Dixon, M.P.), which brought out Joseph Arch as the national champion of the interests of his class, also Sir Baldwin Leighton, Bart., as the earliest advocate of the "three acres and a cow" system, and has since led to important political results. Advocating the nationalisation of the land and being strongly opposed to strikes, Mr. Vincent seceded in 1875 (after three years of arduous work) from the Labourers' Union, of which he was honorary treasurer, and started a national scheme, under the presidency of Professor F. W. Newman, for acquiring land to furnish farm labourers, on a self-helpful basis, with small holdings and allotments, but had to relinquish his connection with it on account of impaired health.