William Knox D’Arcy was born in Devonshire England in 1849 and, with his family, in 1866 migrated to Australia where his father set up practice as a solicitor in Rockhampton. Upon completing his Articles in 1872 D’Arcy was admitted as a solicitor and in 1882 joined a syndicate to develop leases owned by the Morgan brothers at Mount Morgan.
In 1886, Mount Morgan Gold Mining Limited with a capital of one million one pound shares was floated on the Stock Exchange in Sydney. D’Arcy relentlessly purchased shares until he owned 36% of the company which operated as one of the richest gold mines in the world.
As D’Arcy saw that oil would be a crucial commodity, he sent representatives to Persia to assess the prospects of finding oil and to negotiate a potential concession. In 1901 an agreement was reached with the Shah of Persia giving D’Arcy exclusive rights for 60 years to mine exploit and sell natural gas, petroleum, asphalt and mineral waxes over nearly three quarters of Persia. In return, the Shah received 20 thousand pounds cash, shares valued at sixteen percent of the annual net profits from the companies operating the concession.
Read more about this fascinating story with global implications on the Queensland Business Leaders’ Hall of Fame website.