Alexander Elder founded the well-known mercantile firm of Elders Limited, later Elder, Smith & Co., of Adelaide. He was a partner with Frederick Dutton in a 20,000 acres (8,100 ha) pastoral lease at Mount Remarkable in 1846.
He married Mary Eliza Austin, a daughter of Rev. John Baptist Austin of South Australia, on 8 April 1847.
He was elected by the West Adelaide district to the first mixed franchise Legislative Council in 1851, but resigned his seat on 30 March 1853, leaving for England, where he headed of the firm of A. L. Elder & Co., of London, until his death in London on 5 September 1885.
Elder’s religious influence was Presbyterian.
Alexander Elder’s brother Thomas philanthropy is everywhere evident in South Australia, not least at the University of Adelaide. 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 also 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.
Sir Thomas Elder
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