• Full Name:
    Mr Thomas Sutcliffe Mort
  • Role:
    Lay prescriber
  • Occupation/s:
    Merchant, shipbuilder, wool broker
  • State:
    New South Wales
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:

 [1816 - 1878]


Thomas Mort was born at Bolton, Lancashire, England. He worked for a while in a warehouse in Manchester before travelling


                           TS Mort and his wife Theresa

                          Photographed about 1847

to Sydney, arriving in Australia in 1837. In Sydney he worked for a while as a clerk and salesman for a mercantile firm. Unfortunately that company came upon financial difficulties and collapsed. Although at that time the colony as a whole was in the doldrums, he decided to set out to start in business on his own account. He "worked so hard that he soon laid the foundation of a large and lucrative business".


Thomas Mort was involved with the establishment of many business enterprises - wool sales, railways, gold-mining, steam vessels, the construction of Mort's Dock and ironworks, the cultivation of sugar, cotton and silk, copper and coal mining - including being a pioneer of the technique for freezing meat for export.


In early 1857 he returned to England for a period. At Mort's farewell dinner prior to his departure, many of Sydney's luminaries gave glowing reports regarding the man, including Chief Justice Alfred Stephen: "It would be difficult to specify one public undertaking, having for its object the advancement of religion, or benevolence, or the promotion of the interests of the colony, which Mr Mort has not aided - by his purse, or his advocacy; almost invariably by both." In another report it was said that " He is a man to be valued in any community - a man of generous impulse, of strong foresight, of self-directed energy, and of an originative spirit of enterprise - just the kind of man to be a social architect in a rising colony."


Later, upon the opening of Dr Brereton's Turkish Baths in Sydney, Mort said that it was during his time in England that he had derived benefits from the use of the Turkish Bath. He stated that he had met Dr Brereton in the north of England and learned from him the value of the Turkish Bath, tried it, and had received great benefit. While some authors have stated that the location of these baths were in Bradford, those baths were not established until a much later period. Instead, I believe that the baths used by Mort were in fact located in Manchester, where in 1857 England's first such baths were opened at 24 Broughton Lane. In September 1857 it was reported that Mort had obtained an introduction to the Chairman of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. He was, therefore, in the right place at the right time to be one of the first people to use these Baths, and he became enamoured with the baths and the experience.


Also according to Mort, it was due to his meeting with Dr Brereton that he induced the doctor to emigrate to Sydney. When Mr Mort and his family returned to Australia in 1859, he was aboard the "Dover Castle". Also aboard the ship were Dr Brereton and his wife.


Although Mort was in England at the time of the establishment of the Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary in 1858, upon his return he was nominated for and elected to the Dispensary’s committee. He served on the committee for three years and was appointed as its president in 1861.



                         T S Mort's Statue, Macquarie Place, Sydney

                                                       Photographed about 1900-1910

Mort was an enthusiastic landscape gardener, establishing a "beautiful place [which] he made for himself at Greenoaks, Darling Point, near Sydney, out of two or three sandhills." He also established a rural settlement or estate named Bodalla which became a pioneer of Australian dairying practices. Years later, while staying at this property, he caught a severe cold, which turned into pneumonia and proved fatal. According to one report his death was the result of illness contracted in ministering to the needs of one of his workmen.He died 9 May,1878 and was buried on the following day in the spot previously chosen by himself for that purpose, near the Bodalla Home Farm.


Mort was said to be "the greatest benefactor the working classes in this country ever had".


One of his obituaries, in the Sydney Morning Herald, stated that "the secret of his popularity is to be found in the history of his endeavours to advance the welfare of his adopted land, both socially and materially, and in the genuine benevolence and amiability of his disposition, which endeared him to all with whom he came in contact, and ensured him the affection of even the humblest of his dependents."


As an example, Mr Mort was the founder of Christ Church school in Pitt Street, and paid for the building out of his own pocket. According to Mr Angus Cameron, M.P., who had been educated at that school, Mr Mort had "put his hand in his pocket, and for the head boy and girl in that school, every year, he placed the sum of 5 pounds in a bank to lie there and accrue with interest until such time as they were 21 years of age."


Also, Mr Alfred Allen stated that "he had known Mr Mort get up in the middle of a cold dismal night at Comerang [Thomas Mort's homestead], go to a little medicine-chest, and then go away to a farm to administer a little homœopathic dose and speak a work of sympathy to the poor."


There is a statue of Thomas Mort at Macquarie Place, Sydney. When the statue was unveiled on 10 June 1883, five years after his death, one of his contributions to society for which he was remembered was his involvement with, and support of, the Sydney Homœopathic Dispensary.


See also the reference to Thomas Mort in the Australian Dictionary of Biography.


© Barbara Armstrong

  • Created:
    Tuesday, 22 March 2011
  • Last modified:
    Sunday, 10 August 2014