Four generations of Greaves boys were reared in the traditions of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria, with their decisive, authoritarian personalities earning themselves prominent leadership roles and adoration from all who knew them.
William Clement Greaves was the first of this line, described as having a ‘forceful personality’ which served him well in his varying roles on councils and community organisations, as it meant his opinions carried much weight.
Born in 1866 to William Greaves and his wife Margaret Elisabeth, William Clement was raised in Lyndhurst and later acquired some of the best pastoral land in the district. He grew into a fine judge of sheep, cattle and horses and involved himself in many agricultural organisations, serving as President of the Australian Society of Breeders of British Sheep in 1928-32, and acting as a councillor on the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria (RASV) from 1908.
The early 20th century saw the Show undergo much building work and land expansion for which William was a strong advocate. William Clement Greaves passed away in 1936, at which time his son, William Clement Greaves Jnr replaced him in the Society.
William Clement Greaves Jnr inherited his father’s decisive personality and was also described as a particularly kind and earnest man. After his election to council in 1936, he later served as vice-president of the society for six terms. In 1959, he led a journalists’ tour of Gippsland which was run by the R.A.S and allowed journalists to gain some background of the preparations for the Show. Like his father, he was involved with the British Sheep Breeders’ Association of Victoria, acting as a councillor on its federal body and serving twice as president. He also inherited his father’s judging skills, travelling most of the Commonwealth to judge livestock at many agricultural shows.
In addition to his roles on the RASV, William Clement Greaves Jnr actively contributed to his local community of Lang Lang, serving as president of the Lang Lang Show Society from 1924-26 and again in 1933-34, and his generous supply of cattle to the Lang Lang rodeos in 1943-65. For his honourable contributions to his local and wider community, he was appointed OBE in 1960 and passed away in 1973, survived by his wife, daughter and two of his three sons.
One of his sons, Mac (William LcLellan) Greaves was elected to the RASV council in 1968, serving 20 years before he was made Life Councillor in 1988. Mac’s personality, like his father and grandfather, was often described before his achievements or occupation. A chip off the old block, Mac was known for his charisma, positive attitude and forceful nature and was often described as a ‘mischievous scallywag.’ He was a well-known ladies man and was loved by almost everyone he came across.
Mac was a truly influential person in the history of equestrian events in Victoria as a respected judge Australia-wide and a pivotal persona in the formation of the Victorian Dressage Club. He served ten years as ringmaster at Melbourne Royal and was successful in starting a national show for the horse of the year. Mac passed away in 2008 from cancer and was honoured in 2019 in the Equestrian Victoria’s Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport.
The Greaves family certainly left a strong mark on the history of the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria. For their strong, likeable personalities and excellent problem solving skills, the RASV owes much gratitude to the family for their many years of formidable contributions.