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Christian Rowe (Dixson) Thornett (1879 - 1972)

Christian Rowe Thornett formerly Dixson
Born in No. 2, Craigend-terrace, Upper William-street South, Sydney, New South Wales, Australiamap
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died at age 93 in New South Wales, Australiamap
Profile last modified
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PARENTS. Hugh Dixson & Emma Elizabeth (Shaw) Dixson

BIRTH, 4 Feb 1879, No. 2, Craigend-terrace, Upper William-street South, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

BIRTH. DIXSON.-February 4, at her residence, Craigend-terrace, Upper William-street South, Mrs. Hugh Dixson, jun., of a daughter.

MARRIAGE. 22 Nov 1902, Abergeldie, Summer Hill, New South Wales, Australia

MARRIAGE. 22 Nov 1902, Arthur John Rowe Thornett, son of John Thornett & Marian Rowe (Sweetser) Thornett

MARRIAGE. THORNETT-DIXSON.-November 22, at Abergeldie, by the Rev. Frederick Hibberd, Arthur John Rowe Thornett, eldest son of the late John Thornett, of London, to Christian, third daughter of Hugh Dixson, Abergeldie, Summer Hill. (At Home at the Australia on Friday next, 3 to 5.)

Children: No issue

DIVORCE. Petition 1910, Annulled 1919

Divorce Court File: 245. Appellant: Christian Rowe-Thornett. Respondent: Arthur John... [2]

Reference: J 77/996/245
Description: Divorce Court File: 245. Appellant: Christian Rowe-Thornett. Respondent: Arthur John Rowe-Thornett. Type: Wife's petition for divorce [wd].
Date: 1910
Held by: The National Archives, Kew

DEATH. 26 Feb 1972, New South Wales, Australia


Christian was born into a high achieving wealthy, philanthropic Sydney family who shared a passion for collecting. Her grandfather, Hugh Dixson emigrated from Scotland in 1834 to establish a tobacco shop on George Street. After an uncertain start, the business flourished, mainly due to the American Civil War. His sons developed and expanded the business.

The eldest son Hugh Dixson (1841-1926), renowned for his philanthropic activities in Sydney in the early years of the 20th century, was particularly successful. Knighted in 1921 in recognition of his humanitarian service in Australia, Sir Hugh Dixson was also a noted horticulturalist and collector of exotic and rare plants and a board member of several influential Sydney businesses. A further connection of the Dixson family to the Museum is an important collection of mineral specimens acquired from the Broken Hill area, known as the 'Sir Hugh Dixson collection'.

Christian's mother, Lady Emma Elizabeth Dixson nee Shaw (1844-1922), was a patron of numerous charitable organisations and bestowed the bulk of her estate to the Home for Incurables in Ryde. As a connoisseur and collector of rare China, the crowning attraction of her extensive collection was a tea-service previously owned by Marie Antoinette.

Knighted in 1939 for his philanthropic activities, Christian's brother, Sir William Dixson (1870-1952), bequeathed a significant collection of pictures, Australiana including manuscripts, books, coins and stamps to the State Library of NSW. The Dixson Gallery, part of the Mitchell Library, was opened in October 1929.

Christian travelled extensively from her early 20's and was also known for her generous support of charitable organisations. A short-lived marriage to Arthur John Rowe Thornton in 1902 was annulled in 1919.

On her death in 1972, Christian's extensive collection comprising Chinese works of art, jade and embroideries, furs, jewels, silverware, Persian carpets, glassware, porcelains, furniture, period clothing jade and coins, was auctioned over 3 days with the proceeds donated to charity.

Continuing the family tradition as public benefactors, the Christian Rowe Thornett Scholarship was established in 1975 for the teaching and development of agricultural science at Sydney University. Decorative objects acquired by Christian Rowe Thornett are also included in the collections of the Art Gallery of NSW and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. [3]


  1. Christian Rowe Thornett:
  2. Divorce Court File: 245. Appellant: Christian Rowe-Thornett. Respondent: Arthur John:
  3. Amulet with Korean characters and floral motifs: Powerhouse Museum:

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