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Dadswell Family History

Generation 10
Herbert Eric Dadswell (1875-1968)

On this page:
Ancestors of Herbert Eric Dadswell
Herbert Eric Dadswell's story
Key family dates
Further information

Ancestors of Herbert Eric Dadswell

Robert Doudeswell 1560 > Robert Doudeswell 1606 > Edward Dodswell 1659 > Edward Dodswell 1679 > Robert Dadswell 1711 > Robert Dadswell 1773 > Charles Dadswell 1817 > Charles Frederick Dadswell 1847 > Herbert Edward Dadswell 1875 > Herbert Eric Dadswell 1903

Herbert Eric Dadswells's story

Herbert Eric Dadswell (known as Eric, and pictured below) was the only child of Herbert Edward and May (Walton) Dadswell, a Sydney family. He studied science at Sydney University where he was awarded a degree at the age of 22, followed by a master's degree when 24.
Eric Dadswell
In between those achievements he was selected as one of the first overseas research students of the newly-established Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR, later to become the CSIRO) and he travelled to the United States for 2 years at the US Forestry Products Laboratory in Madison, Wisconsin.

It was there that he met a biochemist named Inez Margaret Williams, and on 4 June 1928 they married at River Falls, Wisconsin, the town where Inez was born. Eric and Inez sailed back to Australia in 1929 and family stories tell of an awkward arrival. On the wharf was a process server alleging breach of promise of marriage between Eric and a Sydney girl. Inez, with support from Eric's father, reportedly found 500 pounds to settle the matter.

From there developed an extraordinary career in Australian forestry and wood science.

For a short time Eric worked at the Australian Forestry School in Canberra but in 1930 the school was transferred to the headquarters of the CSIR Forest Products Division in Melbourne and there Eric took over the running of the Australian wood project, an ambitious task to document Australian timbers and their qualities. These investigations into the anatomy, chemistry, identification and use of wood became his life's work.

Under his direction, the Melbourne team did pioneering work on the wood anatomy of Australian wood species, particularly eucalypts, and resolved major issues in identifying commercially-imported wood species.

The work was published in several CSIR Bulletins and was brought together by Eric in 1941 in a Doctorate thesis at Melbourne University, titled 'Structure, identification and properties of Australian timbers.'

During World War Two, he worked in the New Guinea Forests Unit to help army engineers and Forests Unit personnel to recognise and select the most suitable timber species to use as bridges and in harbour and other engineering works.

Following the war he rose steadily through the ranks of what had become the CSIRO (the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) and he became the Chief of the Division of Forest Products from 1960 until 1964.

Widely respected for the depth of his knowledge, he lectured at North American universities and in 1955 was Walker-Ames professor of forestry at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

The Australian Dictionary of Biography lists, among his achievements, being an Australian delegate at international congresses, on forestry as well as forest products. An office-bearer in learned and technical societies, he was a foundation member (president 1950) of the Australian (and New Zealand) Pulp and Paper Industry Technical Association, and a council member (president 1962) of the Royal Australian Chemical Institute. For his contribution to forest products research, he was awarded Queen Elizabeth II's coronation medal in 1953.

In his later years he was also happy in the garden and when trout-fishing. His social life revolved around his family and professional colleagues, and he was a host to many visitors from overseas. He died suddenly on 19 December 1964 at his home in East Ringwood, Melbourne, survived by his wife Inez and their two adopted sons Gordon and Bruce. Inez had, over the years, continued her own academic career at Melbourne University, making a study of aboriginal food practices and habits.

Eric Dadswell's name still remains synonymous with Australia's eucalypt wood anatomy and Australia's largest wood collection, which is one of the world's important timber resource collections.

This 10-generation Family Chart shows the development of this Dadswell family (PDF file).

Key family dates

Herbert Eric Dadswell
b 5 Mar 1903
d 19 Dec 1964
married
4 Jun 1928
at River Falls, USA
Inez Margaret Williams
b 22 Oct 1899
d 19 Jul 1984
Children -
1. Gordon b 1946
2. Bruce b 1948

Further information

Information on Herbert and May Dadswell (generation 9, parents of Eric Dadswell)
Eric Dadswell biography - Australian Dictionary of Biography
Eric Dadswell biography - Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions
Dadswell Memorial Wood Collection - CSIRO
Dadswell Wood Collection - Australian National University
FridayOffcuts Newsletter - Partnership saves the Australian Wood Collection
Timberbiz Feature - Presentation of wood specimen collection to the University of Melbourne’s Creswick campus


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