HUNT Family of South Australia - 1
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The HUNT Family of South Australia (formerly of Northamptonshire, U.K.)
By way of introduction to this genealogical study we may consider the question; why do we wish to embark on such an enterprise in the first place? Some of the answers may be couched in prosaic terms, others poetic; but surely, however we couch them, the foremost drive is curiosity about our forebears; who they were, what they did, the times and conditions under which they lived and the challenges they faced.
Curiosity seems part of the human condition and in general terms may be considered the reason why we survive as a species. We seek answers to problems that threaten our existence and discover and preserve those features which enhance or prolong it.
Curiosity may lead us to study objects/subjects allied to matters which touch upon our own existence, our place in the world, our niche in the continua of time and family. The study of family is therefore possibly the most personal and absorbing of studies when seeking answers to the intriguing question: “Who am I?” This curiosity should not be regarded as self-indulgent, self-obsessed, a luxury, but a valid motivation for study, particularly of family and the conditions under which they lived and indeed shaped the family’s destiny.
There is a thought that goes something like this:
"A family will always have history whether we choose to heed it or not".
Should it remain as hazy recollections, anecdotes, faded names on gravestones, entries in official registers, blurring images in photographs, artefacts? I think not.
However, much worse pertains when that history is never part of one’s consciousness and worst of all when it exemplifies a lack of interest in one’s heritage. The family deserves more than these remnants, lack of curiosity or manifest indifference.
By studying them we honour their memory and contribution to the making of family. Insofar as we accept strengths and failings in ourselves we accept their strengths and failings. As we research and recall their existence we grant them a degree of immortality as we may understand that term. In our imaginations they live again. Some of their contributions will bring a smile to our faces, will allow us to exalt in their victories, sometimes heroic ones. Others we will find distressing, embarrassing and saddening but we can’t change any of these, they all remain in the immutable pages we call “history”.
On a more poetic, perhaps trifle twee level, we can say that family leave their footprints in the drifting sands we call “time”; waiting for us to brush away that sand and retrace those steps; discover, absorb and relive in our imaginations their lives and times. In this way we offer them a degree of respect, immortality and a presence in our day-to-day existence.
House of Names.com records that HUNT is an Anglo-Saxon name.
The name was originally given to a hunter. The HUNT surname is derived from the Old English word hunta, which means hunter.
First found in Shropshire the Hunts held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest of 1066 A.D. Early records of the name include Humphrey le Hunte, who was the Feat of Fines of
Sussex in 1203; and Ralphe Hunte, listed in the Assize Rolls of Yorkshire of 1219.
I/ The Saxons were an aggregate of Germanic tribes which occupied the north of Germany and along with the Angles, a neighbouring or perhaps overlapping German tribe, entered Britannia during the period called the Dark or Middle Ages from about the fifth century onwards (the period following the collapse of the Roman Empire; the saeculum obscurum). Paradoxically the modern province of Saxony, not to be confused with Old Saxony, was not a Saxon homeland but assumed its title through being ruled at one point by a Saxon duchy.
II/ One relatively recent invention that did much to standardise English spelling was the printing press. Before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name HUNT has appeared include Hunt, Hunter, Huntar.
III/ Feat of Fines or perhaps Feet of Fines was an early form of conveyancing. Initially it appears to have been a form of resolving civil disputes but became a method of transferring freehold property. The agreements were the final accord or fine. The term feet was derived from an agreement being prepared in triplicate on parchment when two replications of the agreement were prepared side-by-side and a third was written underneath hence at the feet of the other two. The three original statements were then separated. The third copy or feet was very likely filed with the Feat of Fines.
(cf., web page “Some Notes on Medieval English Genealogy”).
IV/ Assize Rolls were a hand list for the king and were evident around the time of Kings, John and Richard I. (to help with raising revenue or conscription for military service? It possibly saw, if not the beginnings, an accelerated growth of a civil service?)
George HUNT (1806-1874) married Elizabeth PRATT (1814-1881) in December 1833. They arrived in South Australia on 21.11.1849 on the barque, “Ascendant” from London via Plymouth, starting their voyage on the 18.8.1849
(family history sa.info; SA passenger lists).
The couple appears to have had seven children with the first five born in the U.K. The names of the children, in descending order of age: William Thomas, Elizabeth, John Chapman, George, James Edward Yeomans, Martha Ann and George Harry (this last “George” presents as a bit of a mystery in that it gives two of the children the same first name. However from the sketchy records there appears to be some support for this assertion and for the time being this name remains as an unresolved matter in the family history. Perhaps it should have been “Harry George” in the official records).
A number of the above are interred, including the migrant parents, at Magill Cemetery in Adelaide, South Australia. They are buried under the names of HUNT, CAMPION, COLLIVER, EMERY, LAPTHORNE, and PEARCE.
(author’s note: the area now known as Magill was founded by two Scots who subdivided the land in 1838 naming it the village of “Magkill” which included the cemetery and a chapel as part of the development. The chapel was never built but the cemetery eventuated and was donated to the Methodist Church in 1878 (City of Burnside Resident Information).
Speculating further on the second George in the family list, consultation was sought with genealogist, Graham Journay who is adamant that George Harry was the son of George HUNT and Elizabeth PRATT and has suggested a number of explanations why there may have been two children of the same name. He advised that while it was uncommon, this was not so in northern Scotland; secondly, sometimes a sickly child’s name would be repeated down the line but this was not so common; a third possibility is that one of the two Georges was someone else’s child taken up by the family. For example exnuptial children of daughters were sometimes taken on by their mothers and often shared a same first name with other children.
Adding to the mystery here, none of the possibilities raised by Graham would appear to apply because the family was not from northern Scotland, at least directly; all the children appear to have been healthy including the first George in the family list; and the one daughter, Elizabeth, who came close to fitting the exnuptial birth theory was hardly old enough to have conceived (given when menses usually started in girls during the 1800s she would have been merely eleven or twelve years). This latter theory cannot be ruled out however.
There is some suggestion, relayed by Claude HUNT to his daughters that the HUNT family did come from Scotland originally because Inverness was mentioned as a geographical location of this line of the HUNT family. However it is difficult to accept that this early possible Scottish link would have carried the northern Scotland practice of repeating forenames.
It seems that the older George was certainly the son of George HUNT and Elizabeth PRATT in that he is mentioned as the fourth of the family born in the United Kingdom and his name appears in the passenger manifest of the "Ascendant" along with the older, and one younger, HUNT children.
The HUNTS settled in the Adelaide hills.
The Adelaide Hills Council Historical Town Information (AHCHTI) cites the following: “In 1868 (Wikipedia nominates 1858 and this date seems the more likely) George Hunt, senior, subdivided his land and created the township of Ashton in the Adelaide hills. The district’s early population was sparse and most probably centred on the South Australia Company, judging from the early name of Company’s Tiers.”
(Wikipedia suggests that “Ashton” is derived from the word “aesctun” which means ash free town.)
Continuing the AHCHTI quote: "How many George Hunts, at this period, hailed from the same area of Northamptonshire?" There was the one who farmed at Third Creek and was responsible for Ashton’s genesis (named after his origins in an English country town). (author’s note: Third Creek drains through Magill, Tranmere, St Morris, St Peters etc into the Torrens catchment and the Adelaide plain towards the coast. These suburbs are significant for the HUNT family.)
There was his son, George, who prospered as a draper and in the 1880s bought the impressive Tranmere House which stands near the Tranmere Bowling Club.”
(author’s note: the bowling club stands upon land which was once part of the Tranmere estate which according to the Adelaide newspaper “The Advertiser” of Monday 5 June 1916 covered about 67 acres and was originally selected under land grant by Mr. David Wylie … who arrived in Adelaide, South Australia, in 1838 and named it Tranmere after a place of the same name near Liverpool - “Trans” (across), “Mere” (a sea) … Later the property was acquired by the late Mr. G. Hunt who planted it as a garden and built the large residence, “Tranmere”.)
Incidentally “The Advertiser” played a significant role in the life of George as it was the primary vehicle for advertising his drapery business of Hunt, Corry and Co., and reporting on other matters pertaining to the family. For instance, “The Advertiser” of Monday 15 May 1911, reports that Mr. George Hunt who was well known as senior partner in the firm of Hunt, Corry and Co., drapers, died at his residence, “Tranmere”, Magill on Saturday evening. He was 65 years of age… and was in business latterly with the late Mr. Corry opposite the Arcade. Mr. Hunt retired in 1897.
“The Observer, Adelaide” May 20, 1911 p.39 printed an obituary which reads:
Mr. George Hunt, of Tranmere, Magill, died at his residence on Saturday evening at the age of 65 years. He was born at Ashton, Northamptonshire, and arrived with his parents when he was only three years old. His father took up land, and subdivided and named Ashton, in the Mount Lofty Ranges. The son assisted him for several years, but before he had attained his majority he entered into the drapery business in Adelaide. Forty years ago he launched out on his own account, and afterwards went into partnership with the late Mr. Corry. The firm of Hunt, Corry and Co., had four large shops opposite to the Adelaide Arcade, and was one of the most prosperous in Rundle street (sic). Mr. Corry died in 1895, and Mr. Hunt carried the business on for another two years, when he retired and built the mansion at Magill known as Tranmere, which is surrounded by a magnificent garden.
The deceased enjoyed a spotless reputation for business integrity, and his enterprise extended to branches in Northam, Albany, Esperance Bay, and Perth, Western Australia. He was a prominent Methodist. For 20 years he was an office bearer in the Pirie street (sic) church, and was associated with the choir, and for the last 29 years had been identified with the Kent Town church, of which he was a trustee.
Mr. Hunt was twice married, and a widow survives him. The children of the first marriage now living are: Mrs. A. Scrymgour and Mrs E. Cocking, and the surviving members of his second family are Mrs. F. Wilson, Mrs A. Campion, Miss Hunt (author’s note: probably Mabel Gladys), and Master Claude Hunt.”
[author’s note: it would appear that George HUNT “acquired” Tranmere in the early 1890s (c.f., the date above with the AHCHTI which cites 1880s) as his daughter, Edith Guthrie HUNT on the occasion of her wedding in 1890 (see newspaper article on pp 7-8) returned to her parents’ residence at “Hazelholme”, St Peters which is thought to be at 89 Payneham Road. (Number 89 is now called “Dechert House” and is the consulting rooms for four surgeons and a dietitian: source; Denise Schumann, Cultural Heritage Adviser for the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters). “Acquisition” therefore of “Tranmere” would have been in the 1890s. From the above we can deduce that George built the house known as “Tranmere” rather than acquired it as suggested by the AHCHTI.]
Attention is drawn to 1891 as being the point at which Tranmere, the estate, was acquired. There is an advertisement (actually appearing over several weeks) which seems to assist with dates and its acquisition. In “The Advertiser” of 14.12.1891 for instance, there is notification of the auction of Tranmere to be held on the 17.12.1891. The advertisement lists 53 acres for auction. (It is thought that Tranmere was closer to 67 acres. The discrepancy between the two figures remains unresolved at this stage). Peter Matthews, a family researcher, offers that the big land boom of speculative activity was at an end and so the sale was probably the result of someone having to liquidate assets including Tranmere to meet debts. In all likelihood it was bought by George at a bargain price.
AHCHTI, delving into English history, reports that there was another George. “In London, Benjamin Disraeli’s Chancellor of the Exchequer was George Hunt from a well-known family at Wadenhoe, a stone’s throw across the River Nene from the village of Ashton. It poses intriguing questions about the family background of the man who started the Adelaide Hill’s town. By the early 1880s there was a store, post office, church, Rechabite Hall and scattering of homes. Now Ashton, a small hamlet, relies largely on apples and pears for its livelihood…”
George HUNT, the draper, the fourth child of George and Elizabeth, is of particular interest to my wife’s family. He married twice, first to Elizabeth Fea GUTHRIE (1846-1875) and subsequent to her death, Eliza Ann BRUSEY (1854-1912). (Elizabeth seems to have died from complications arising from the birth of her son, Clarence and Eliza possibly from a cerebral haemorrhage).
He had eleven children by his two wives and his youngest child, Claude Leslie HUNT was my wife’s grandfather.
Claude was born in 1894 coincidentally the year that Mary Lee, a campaigner for women’s rights obtained the vote for women in South Australia.
Claude in turn had three daughters by his wife, Mabel Annie RAGGATT.
They were: Zadel Claudia, Patricia Laurel and Claudia Barbara. (Mabel Annie appears to have had five, possibly six children by her first husband, Herbert (Bert) CONWAY: Herbert Charles Archibald ?? (died five days after birth), Mabs (Mabel Teresa Alice) who may have died from a botched induced abortion, Mia (Marie Genevieve), Herbert Vincent ?? (died within the first five days of birth), Desmond and Bonnie (Bonaventure).
More detail is furnished about Mabel Annie in the RAGGATT family history.
(N.B. Bert CONWAY died in 1921, possibly from tuberculosis).
Incidentally 1912, the year of Eliza Ann’s death, was the year that Sir Douglas Mawson led his first Antarctic expedition.
George’s and Elizabeth Fea’s first child was Edith Guthrie HUNT and there is a record of her wedding cited in a document held by the author suggesting that it was reported in a local newspaper called the “Quiz and Lantern” dated 21 November 1890. It reads as follows:
“Miss Edith Hunt, eldest daughter of George Hunt of St Peters married to A.G. Scrymgour (author’s note: Albert George S.) of the Public Works Department. The wedding took place at the Kent Town Wesleyan Church on Wednesday (19 November 1890). (Whoopza daizi, Rootschat source questions this date and records the wedding as occurring a week earlier on the 12.11.1890 which appears to be the correct one. The date of 12.11.1890 was later confirmed in a copy of the couple’s marriage certificate).
The church was very tastefully decorated with flowers and arches. The bride looked charming in a lovely dress of white pongee silk, profusely trimmed with inches of the same material and with orange blossom. She carried a beautiful bouquet.
Bridesmaids were Misses Lily (author’s note: Lillian), Ethel, Blanch (sic) and Hilda Hunt (author’s note: two sisters and a two half-sisters of the bride) and Miss Smith, who were prettily attired in dresses of cream and coral pink nun’s veiling and carried baskets of flowers and floral designs in the shape of horseshoes. Mr Fred Leak was best man, with Mr Wm Gunn and Master Arthur Hunt (author’s note: Edith’s half brother who died aged 26 years in 1906) as groomsmen. Curiously it seems that there were four bridesmaids and three groomsmen.
After the ceremony the bridal party and guests returned to the bride’s residence, Hazelholme, St Peters, where the breakfast was laid out.
After disposing of the usual toasts, the party adjourned to the St Peters Town Hall, where they were joined by a large number of friends, and the small hours of the morning were reached before the company dispersed. (author’s note: the St Peters Town Hall’s foundation stone was laid in 1885 so the hall was a mere five years old when Edith and Albert had their post wedding party there).
A large number of beautiful presents were laid out, including a handsome clock from the old members of the Austral Cricket Club, with whom the bridegroom was for many years associated. The happy couple leaves for a trip to Melbourne and Sydney.”
(There was a publication called The Lantern in the mid to late 1800s.
And South Australia, past and present for the future reports that in 1882 the Adelaide Punch was taken over by the Lantern. Quiz founded in 1889 was a satirical, social and sporting journal which absorbed the Lantern and continued to 1930.)
This marriage was not to last. Unlike contemporary “no fault” divorce laws, the laws at that time required “grounds” for divorce; desertion and adultery being two prominent “grounds”. It seems that Albert George violated his legal and moral commitments on both counts although the deed of separation that the couple signed seems to have clouded judgement in the matter.
Michael Barber, a Scrymgour family researcher, has uncovered some divorce court reports in the “West Australian” newspaper in the years 1914 and 1915. It appears that the marriage had failed before 1906 at which point the couple parted under a deed of separation. The deed appears to have become a legal bone of contention in subsequent proceedings.
The reports in the “West Australian” are quoted here in chronological order:
Wednesday 13 May 1914: DIVORCE COURT, UNDEFENDED CASES.
Several petitions for divorce were dealt with by Mr Justice Northmore in the Supreme Court yesterday and in each case there was no appearance for the respondent. Edith Guthrie Scrymgour applied for the dissolution of her marriage with Albert George Scrymgour on the grounds of desertion and adultery. Sir Walter James, K.C. who appeared for the petitioner, stated, that the parties were married on November 18 1891 at Kent Town South Australia and there were two children, a girl and a boy, now aged about 18 years and 15 years respectively. In July, 1906, the husband and wife, who were then living in Western Australia, parted under a deed of separation, the respondent agreeing to make certain payments. These were continued until August 1909, since when no money had been received by the petitioner. Evidence was given by the petitioner in support of the application and she stated that at the “time the deed of separation was drawn up the respondent was living in adultery with another woman”. His Honour said that the circumstances surrounding the separation were somewhat peculiar in as much as the relationship of the respondent with the other woman seemed to have been connived at by both parties. The hearing of the petition was adjourned till the following morning.
The second to last sentence in the above report quoted from His Honour is cause for some surprise. One would have thought that adultery was clear cut whether or not the petitioner was aware and “connived”, as alleged so read on.
Thursday 14 May 1914: DIVORCE COURT.
In the Divorce Court yesterday morning Mr Justice Northmore dealt further with two petitions for dissolution of marriage, the hearing of which had been adjourned on the previous day. In the case of Edith Guthrie Scrymgour against Albert George Scrymgour, the application was dismissed on the ground that the petitioner had, when she had become party to a deed of separation and agreed to accept maintenance money, connived at the adultery which she had alleged against the respondent. His Honour’s ruling seems somewhat strange in that, deed of separation aside, Albert George had disregarded and contravened the conditions of the marriage contract when he had chosen to live with a woman not his wife. He was also in breach of his marriage vows although this is likely to be more a moral issue than a legal one. But not being familiar with the Marriage Act or its equivalent in Western Australia at the time I am not able to question the judgement further. It would appear from the judgement that the deed took precedence over other factors that might be thought relevant to apportioning responsibility for the breakdown of the marriage and issuing a divorce decree. Any actions subsequent to the split, such as the deed of separation, appear to have reduced the onus on the court to attribute or apportion responsibility for the separation and in fact to make any further determination in the matter. This situation obviously worked against the petitioner seeking to conclude the matter, with the court claiming that in accepting maintenance payments, she was conniving in the adultery. One would hardly have thought that Edith was doing anything of the sort but merely trying to ameliorate the impact of the marriage breakdown on herself and the children by being party to the deed and accepting maintenance payments.
However the following year the matter again came before the court.
Friday 14 May 1915: DIVORCE COURT, UNFINISHED CASES.
The May sittings of the Divorce Court were continued yesterday before Mr Justice Rooth. Scrymgour vs Scrymgour. Edith Guthrie Scrymgour petitioned for a divorce from Albert George Scrymgour on the ground of desertion. She was represented by Sir Walter James K.C. The petitioner stated that she married the respondent in 1890 in South Australia. There were two children of the marriage. At one time her husband admitted misconduct with a Mrs Green. Witness tried to put an end to this relationship, but did not succeed, and in 1906 a deed of separation was drawn up. The respondent had practically deserted her, simply visiting her occasionally for meals. For a time the respondent was keeping a home for Mrs Green, in North Perth. In 1907 the petitioner returned to South Australia. The respondent in August 1909, stopped his payments under the deed of separation. He was still living with Mrs Green, and since 1909 witness and her children had been kept by her parents. Since the death of the parents she had been living on a legacy.
Sir Walter stated that the petitioner brought an action for divorce in May last year on the ground of adultery, but Mr Justice Northmore held that the separation deed was a bar. The decision, however, was without prejudice to the petitioner’s right to apply for a divorce on the ground of desertion. He maintained that desertion had taken place in 1909, when the respondent refused to pay maintenance. The respondent had disregarded the deed by living with the petitioner after the execution of the deed, and the Court should therefore disregard it.
His Honour: “it seems that the respondent, by paying maintenance, had set the deed up again.” The hearing was then adjourned to enable further witnesses to be called.
An unusual situation to say the least. However by December of 1915 the matter was resolved in the sense that a divorce was granted.
Wednesday 8 December 1915: DECREES ABSOLUTE.
Applications for decrees absolute were granted in respect of the following suits…Edith Guthrie Scrymgour (petitioner), Albert George Scrymgour (respondent)…
It is not possible to assess what went awry with the marriage and it would be easy to label Albert George a cad but relationships are complex matters so a fair judgement cannot be reached. We have the armchair opportunity of looking back over events that occurred 100 years ago but given that there were five years between the marriage and the birth of the first child we are left with the question of whether intimacy in the relationship was wanting or there was an issue of fecundity. Given that we are not aware of any miscarriages before the birth of their son, Leslie, a lack of intimacy seems the more likely and could have been a significant issue, the reasons for which are not for us to know.
However there is a little more to Albert George than just this matter and these tend to suggest that he was subject to temptations in the presence of which he suspended the usual scruples that regulate behaviours within a civil society. He pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 1892, not long after he married. “The Advertiser” newspaper reported on some sittings in the criminal jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in which Albert was implicated. His case is reported as follows:
Friday 5 August 1892: SUPREME COURT - CRIMINAL SITTINGS.
Mr Justice Bundey presiding: on Thursday Albert George Scrymgour pleaded guilty to a charge of embezzling 26 pounds, the property of Her Majesty’s Government. The Hon. C.C. Kingston Q.C., appeared to defend.
Mr. Kingston called evidence as to the character borne by the prisoner. His Worship the Mayor of Adelaide, said that he had known prisoner for 20 years and he had always borne the very highest character. Similar testimony was given by the Rev. F.W. Cox, Mr. H. Hampton, and Mr. G. Hunt the last-named being his father-in-law. He said he was an honest young man and a kind and loving husband. Mr Kingston said he invited his Honour’s most careful consideration of the prisoner’s case. No sadder case had occupied the attention of the court for a long time past than that in which his Honour was now asked to perform the concluding act. Prisoner was a young man under 30 years of age, only lately married, whose exemplary conduct was testified to by witnesses with whom he was brought into daily contact during his official life. He did not call the latter because his honour had their evidence on the depositions, but their evidence in brief was that Scrymgour had been 14 years in the public service, was a faithful clerk , and he regretted to have to add who in a moment of temptation had yielded and had applied to his own ends money which should have been handed over to the government. Mr. Peter Whitington, who gave evidence in the court below, stated that prisoner had always been correct in his accounts up to this unfortunate lache. Then Mr. John Mann, Secretary to the Commissioner of Public Works, had stated that the amount of the deficiency was left at the office by the prisoner on the day following that on which it was taken. As against the yielding to a sudden temptation he asked his Honour to set, 14 years of faithful service to the employers whom he had wronged in a weak moment, the fact that there was no attempt at concealment, and that reparation was made within 12 hours of the time the deficiency being discovered. The money was returned on the following morning and prisoner had left the colony under the impression that nothing more would be heard of the matter. When he found that this was not the case he returned of his own free will and gave himself up to the police in order that his case might be considered by the proper authorities. He asked that the provisions of the Act dealing with first offenders might be applied in this case and he left the matter in the hands of his Honour.
His Honour said Mr. Kingston had made an earnest appeal and with much of what he had said he agreed, because Mr. Kingston was warranted in giving utterance to what he had by the evidence. He, however had a public duty to perform and the difficulty that beset him was the fact that prisoner was in the public service. Of course he had the power to apply the Act, but he had to remember he was in the public service, and he had to be careful as regarded making a precedent. Of course were it a private prosecution the case would be different. He would however consult his learned colleague the Chief Justice to see if he agreed with the view of the case he took. It was a question as to whether he could allow public servants to take advantage of the Act. He would sentence the prisoner on Tuesday next.
Tuesday 10 August 1892, page 3:
The adjourned matter of Albert George Scrymgour was disposed of. In short his Honour said he felt that he could not apply the Act to this case, but under common law he found that he had the power to postpone sentence, and that was the course he had decided to follow. He would therefore order prisoner to procure one surety and to enter into his own recognizance to come up for sentence when called upon. It would therefore be prisoner’s own fault if he appeared before the court again.
Scrymgour then entered into the customary bond and was released.
We can conclude that Albert George’s career in the public service was now ended and that a move to Western Australia was “offered” to him for a fresh start. It is not possible to assess what effect this episode had on Albert’s and Edith’s marital relationship but certainly the issue of trust would have weighed in there somewhere as well as the public embarrassment that the HUNTS and SCRYMGOURS would have felt having their names appear on page 3 of “The Advertiser” for the worst of reasons and the need to put the matter (and the perpetrator) out of sight and out of mind as quickly as possible.
It could be that Albert George harboured some resentment at having become the recipient of gratuitous “charity” from anxious HUNTS and SCRYMGOURS which made him feel a little indebted and demeaned. This could also have coloured his relationship with Edith Guthrie. What Albert was employed doing in Western Australia is not known but he may have been employed at Hunt, Corry and Co. There is no certainty regarding this. What is known is that his son Leslie George was born there in 1895.
It seems that the marriage openly faltered around 1905. Albert George developed a relationship with Mrs Green and we can speculate that this extramarital relationship commenced before going “public” in1905. The marriage as indicated was finally dissolved in 1915 when the decree absolute was granted by the court.
It would appear that Edith and the children returned to South Australia in 1909 and moved into Tranmere with her parents and half brother Claude Leslie.
It seems that any image or reference to Albert George was expunged from the family records and all that can be offered at this stage are photos of his father and grandfather.
V/ Michael Barber relays some interesting connections with respect to the Woods’ name. Helen Catherine’s father was John Joseph Aloysius Woods. John Joseph was three times mayor of Norwood. He was very active in municipal life for some 32 years in Payneham and Norwood retiring in 1939. He was president of the National Football Council, secretary of the Norwood Football club for 20 years, played for Norwood between 1881 and 1893, was an umpire for six years, metropolitan commissioner for Boy Scouts and state commissioner for 12 months. For 29 years he was treasurer of the Norwood branch of the District and Bush Nursing Society, chairman of the Norwood High School Committee and The East Torrens Destructor Trust. John Joseph died in 1952
John Joseph’s uncle was Father Julian Edmund Tenison Woods who along with Sr (now Saint Mary of the Cross) Mary McKillop founded the Sisters of St Joseph. Fr Woods’ lesser well known interests were as a distinguished amateur scientist, explorer and writer. To learn more about Fr Woods read the book Quiet Women by T.R. Boland which is about him and the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration.
More about the Scrymgours on Barber’s website. Link The Scrymgours
Michael continues with a number of personal coincidences which have him living in Bonython, ACT, (a SA connection through the suburb’s name) for a period, living near Tenison Woods Crescent and both of his sons attended Mary MacKillop Catholic College.
A photo of herself was in the form of a postcard sent to Leslie George by his mother, Edith Guthrie 5.5.1914. She seems to be wearing a ring on her ring finger. Could this be her wedding ring? Her divorce was not absolute until December 1915 and Edith remarried in 1917.
In 1917 Edith Guthrie married Henry Charles Wilson PEARCE at Unley Baptist Church 16.4.1917. They were both 46 years. Edith’s and Albert’s children, Leslie and Lillian would have been 22 and 17 years respectively when Edith remarried. She had no further issue.
The memorandum was forwarded by Edith Guthrie (now Pearce) to the military authorities while her son, Leslie was a serving in an artillery brigade/regiment. Edith died in 1920 and Albert in Rosanna, Victoria, aged 89 years in 1946 (whoopza daizi: Rootschat;Vic. registration number 2332). Edith was buried under the name of PEARCE at Magill cemetery.
A second marriage for Edith at this time, in a church or perhaps in the minister’s study, raises some interesting questions. Mainstream churches usually frowned upon divorcees marrying and some churches observed a code whereby they would refuse to undertake solemnisation. Only in exceptional circumstances would a religious officiate. The exceptional circumstance in Edith’s case could have been that the grounds for the divorce were not attributable to her. This issue of circumstances has been canvassed already.
I depart from the HUNT family story briefly to explore the SCRYMGOUR connections and particularly Albert’s and Edith’s children and grandchildren. The main sources for this information are whoopzi daizi: Rootschat and Mike Barber.
Albert’s parents were George (William?) and Barber states mother was Charlotte Juliana Poole although my records suggest that William married a Mary (surname unknown). Albert’s and Edith’s first child was Leslie George born 3.11.1895 in Western Australia. He died 3.1.1973 in South Australia.
Leslie George (b. 3.11.1895 d. 3.1.1973) married (21.1.1922) Helen Catherine Sybil WOODS (b. 18.11.1897 d. 18.8.1970 in South Australia). The couple had a daughter, Shirley Helen born 30.9.1928, Maylands SA.
Shirley married Harold Raymond BARBER, born 20.9.1925 and had three children, Carolyn Helen, Michael David and Kerry Ann.
Albert’s and Edith’s second child was Lillian Hilda Marguerite born 5.5.1900, died 9.7.1952 possibly in Victoria. Lillian married Archibald Edway HEATH (born about 1898) on the 23.8.1922 at the Wesleyan Methodist Church, Kent Town, SA. They had one child, Elaine Edith Patricia born 6.3.1927, (Evandale?) but more likely Burnside, SA (ibid). Elaine married twice: first to Norman Henry MOSS by whom she had one child, Cheryl Elaine born 31.5.1947 in Victoria and secondly to Dean Pearce SMITH by whom she had Deanne Rosemary, born 18.4.1949 also in Victoria.
Returning to the HUNT history and George’s business, “The Advertiser” of Monday April 1 1889 lists an advertisement by Hunt, Corry & Company. Wholesale Drapers and Importers 112, 114, 116 Rundle Street and LONDON. A later advertisement in “The Advertiser” adds 118 to the business address and later still lists business branches at Perth, Esperance Bay, Albany and Northam, Western Australia (“The Advertiser”: George HUNT’S death notice in the PERSONAL column; 15 May 1911).
In the last decade of the nineteenth century Hunt, Corry and Co., expanded significantly in WA. “The Western Australian” newspaper of 24 April 1897, on page 6, reports the calling of tenders to build two shops at Northam for Messrs Hunt, Corry and Co., of Adelaide. This expansion into WA may well have been a shrewd move on the part of the company. A number of drapery and clothing businesses has set up in the central business district and inner suburbs of Adelaide and regularly advertised on page one of “The Advertiser”. Notwithstanding Adelaide’s and South Australia’s increasing population and vibrant rural sector the competition among businesses would likely have been keen.
As “The Advertiser” archives have become readily accessible through its digital format storage, the newspapers from 1889 have facilitated the search of a number of drapery company names during the decade 1889-1900. A few of these companies traded well into the twentieth century. Some of the larger companies in 1894 were: James Marshall and Co., Chas. Birk and Co., Peter Smith and Co. (late R.N. Gault and Co.), Chas. Moore and Co., Craven and Armstrong’s, J.T. Fitch, Hunt, Corry and Co., Shierlaw and Co., Martin Bros., J. Miller Anderson and Co., F. Smith and Co.
The Aldine History of South Australia Illustrated (in two volumes1890) by W. Frederic Morrison M.A., M.D. Vol II “Sydney and Adelaide” by the Aldine publishing Company (archived in the Mortlock Library of SA) provides a biographical sketch of George HUNT and his drapery business. Page 745 records the following:
"HUNT, CORRY & CO., Wholesale and Retail Drapery Warehouse, 112-114-116-118 Rundle Street, Adelaide".
This business was established by Mr. George Hunt in June 1871. He was a native of Northamptonshire, England, and arrived in the colony as early as 1845, when only three years old, so that it will be seen he is not only an old colonist but one of the successful men of South Australia. He has resided in this city ever since his arrival, with the exception of a trip to the old country, some eight years ago, when he visited some of the principal cities and historic places, combining business with pleasure. He visited some of the best manufacturing establishments of the old world, specially some of the lace and glove factories, in which the firm deal largely. From a small beginning this business has grown to be one of the principal houses in South Australia. Owing to the increase of business Mr. Hunt took one of his old employees, Mr. Samuel Corry, into partnership some four years ago, since which time the business has been known in connection with the firm’s name we mention above. The prominent feature of this house is that the firm buy and sell for cash only. The premises are centrally situated, and are lofty, well let, and comprises four separate shops, joined by archways, and, to give some idea of the business, about fifty or sixty hands are employed in all branches in connection with which a drapery house is taken up, such as tailoring, dressmaking, etc. While Mr. Hunt was home he established a business connection in London, which is now being carried on in Moorfield Chambers, Finsbury Pavement, E.C., and through which all his importations now come. During Mr. Hunt’s visit abroad he had the pleasure of taking a cup of coffee with Arabi Pasha in Ceylon.”
The premises of Hunt, Corry and Co., occupied the area bounded by Charles Street and almost to the arcade known these days as the Renaissance Arcade which is adjacent to and east of the Richmond Hotel. (this hotel was known as the “Plough and Harrow” during the days of George’s drapery business). On old site maps of the CBD of Adelaide the drapery business occupied “acres 40 and 41”.
Two historical notes are: first that horse drawn trams were in use in Adelaide in the 1890s and one branch line extended into Rundle Street past the Hunt, Corry and Co., premises and secondly in 1894 the state parliament extended the vote to woman. It is left for us to wonder how women’s suffrage and the emergence of a workers’ party would have changed the mood in the retail industry given that many employees would have been women and were now given a legitimate voice all the way to the parliament.
Another aside to this account is that two Adelaide companies, mentioned in the family history, trade to this day: Jackman and Treloar; property developers who developed the Tranmere estate into a residential and light commercial suburb have a real estate agency at Unley and Messrs Pengelly and Knabe; funeral directors who arranged the funeral of Mrs John LAPTHORNE (Lillian Maude HUNT). (Pengelly and Knabe are now part of the Blackwell Funeral Provider Group). (author’s note: Mr. Treloar was a trustee of the Kent Town Wesleyan Methodist Church at the same time as George).
It is worthwhile recounting Lillian’s funeral. There is an article in “The Advertiser” 19 February 1895 concerning the funeral which provides some hints into the social standing of the family. It is clear the HUNTS were a well-known, if not prominent Adelaide family although it is also the case that they would not have been considered one of the “establishment” families (more on this theme later). A number of factors about the funeral attest to the HUNTS’ prominence which adds to the comments cited previously from newpapers and journals.
First, the cortege is recorded as comprising a very large number of vehicles and that they proceeded from George’s home at St Peters (the move to Tranmere had not yet been made). Secondly, that among the many tributes of affection was a beautiful wreath from the assistants of Messrs. Hunt, Corry and Co., by whom she was much esteemed (given that many of these assistants would have had only a fleeting personal association with Lillian we can assume their tribute and turn-of-phrase was code for acknowledging someone considered very important socially). Thirdly, there were two officiating clergy, The Revs. J. Haslam and T. Lloyd. Fourthly, apologies were received from many who were unable to attend. Fifthly, there is a considerable list identifying chief mourners and a further list identifying many who gathered around the grave.
Some of the people who attended the funeral are listed in the newspaper article. Chief mourners included Lillian’s husband John, the Hunt family, Mrs. Lapthorne (mother-in-law), Mrs. Leaver and Miss Lapthorne sisters-in-law), N. Leaver (niece), Mr. D. Fea sen., (probably Lillian’s maternal grandfather), Messrs. John, David and James Fea (probably cousins), Joseph and S. Emery (uncles?). Other people mentioned are Messrs. S. Corry (the partner in Hunt, Corry and Co.), R. Knowles, E. Briston, C. Hannan, F. Ochernal, R. Daws, G. Crocker Smith, V.O. and R. Cheek, R. Rowe, P. Barlow, E. Glover, W. Lapthorne, C. Ernst, Haynes and Witty, Mesdames Daws, Johnston, Rowe, Haynes, Booker and Lloyd and the Misses Thomas and Rowe.
An observation can be made with regard to the terminology and role of those involved in the funereal business compared with the same service industry today and the public expectations during and for the period following the funeral. Pengelly and Knabe at the time of Lillian’s funeral advertised their services as those of “Undertakers and Embalmers”. The term “undertaker” is probably now considered archaic and obsolete and one notes that this service industry nowadays seems to prefer the name and descriptor “Funeral Directors”. While I have not made a detailed comparative study it is my guess that in earlier times undertakers collected the body and prepared it for burial, embalmed it, provided the coffin and hearse. The funeral service would be held in a church with a religious conducting the service. The coffin would often leave from their former place of residence to the place of interment. The coffin would travel, leading a procession, to the place of burial. A “wake” at the deceased’s home or that of a close relative may follow. The family would be responsible for making the ancillary arrangements. Burial would occur within a short period following death.
Funeral directors on the other hand seem to have assumed a much wider role and will organise the funeral’s every detail if called upon. Some of the changes have been driven by occupational health and safety requirements while others have been driven by changes in client expectations and marketing considerations.
Funeral premises have cold rooms where bodies may be held, sterile rooms with stainless steel benches upon which bodies are prepared. Bereaved families are offered a range of coffins and caskets which vary in price, construction materials and elaboration. Some coffins are now made of wickerwork or even a form of cardboard.
With the advances in storage technology, bodies may be held for weeks before interment/cremation. The funeral company’s premises usually incorporate a chapel, viewing rooms and a parlour or lounge where light refreshments are served following the service. The service may be conducted by a celebrant other than a religious and indeed often by one of the funeral company’s own celebrants. At the conclusion of the service the coffin/casket may be lowered “interred” in a cavity in the chapel created by having a shallow walled section at the front or the coffin/casket is received into a hole in the front wall of the chapel screened with a curtain until the “interment” takes place with the coffin being conveyed on a moving belt.
The coffin may not be accompanied to the place of burial or increasingly, cremation. Funeral directors may also supply a bereavement counselling service.
Of significance is the shift in emphasis in the funeral service itself. In current times the service is more focussed on the celebration of a life rather than a sombre occasion with a formal liturgy, lamenting a loss and beseeching the Almighty to receive the soul of the departed. Blackwell Funerals, for instance, presently advertises in the following vein: “Slow down. Take time to celebrate a loved one’s life. We will give you that time.” (advertisement on the rear of a Torrens Transit bus, 2011).
The formal dress of funeral directors has also shifted from the days of “morning suits” and the wearing of black or dark clothing at the funeral. For example, note the White Lady Funerals (having women in the industry is a major shift in itself and with women now members of institutes or societies of embalmers) where the celebrants wear white clothing and brown Akubra hats.
A formal period of mourning has also been dispensed with when in earlier times it was expected that “widow’s weeds” or dark clothing in some cultures would be worn for a period following the death of a family member.
Who attends funerals nowadays also reflects a change in that children once would routinely be excluded from the funeral. It was thought perhaps emotionally harmful for children to be confronted so starkly with the prospect of death.
Subsequent to the above entries, an article has appeared in “The Advertiser” weekend magazine of the 28.8.2010 entitled “Till Death Us Do Party” which validates much of the above comment and adds more perspective on current practice.
A droll entry in “The Advertiser” cartoon section (2010) has a person asking a funeral director what the most important thing is he’s learned in all his years in the business. The funeral director’s reply is that life is truly priceless, death however is usually around six to seven grand (Wizard of Id).
Nothing is known about how George met and courted his two wives. To understand how he may have met Elizabeth Fea Guthrie and Eliza Ann Brusey we would need to be privy to where the respective families lived in relation to each other, who the neighbours were, the friendship group, what religious and other affiliations they had in common and so on. Given that South Australia was probably influenced by the standards and practices of Victorian Britain, courtship would likely have been a supervised affair, either with an adult chaperone or the constant presence of children from the respective families.
In the case of the courtship of Eliza Ann, the courtship would probably not have followed formal practice given that George was a mature aged widower with children.
Morbidity and mortality rates are also issues of interest, particularly when considering them against today’s corresponding data. It will be noted that death by the age of sixty or younger was common. Women were exposed to the relatively hazardous experiences associated with pregnancy, perinatal and postnatal periods. Infant and early childhood morbidity and mortality rates were also much higher than are evident these days. Many men were subject to problems which would today be regarded as lifestyle related (over indulgence in rich food/poor diet, liquor and tobacco smoking).
The HUNTS were exposed to the same pathological conditions that other people of the time faced. George’s first wife died at the age of 29 years and his son Clarence at just four months. His daughters, Lillian and Maude, seem to have died within the first year or so of marriage, possibly through complications during pregnancy or perinatal misadventure.
William Thomas HUNT’S wife Mary Ann died before the age of 30 and Chapina Elizabeth Lucy COLLIVER (nee HUNT), George’s niece, died at the age of 23 years. Her infant son, Alfred had died three months earlier.
Much could be recounted about the tragedies that beset the early colonists but the dates and comments on their epitaphs testify as eloquently as any other statements to the realities of life and death during the first 80 years or so of settlement.
Tim Lloyd writing in The Advertiser p. 67, 7.1.2012 noted that the population of South Australia in 1912 was 430,000 which was 9% of Australia’s population; in 2012 it was 7.3%. Tim further noted that deaths were 4300 but outstripped by the 12,000 births. However the first five years of life in SA were dangerous for newborns-345 didn’t make the first month and nearly 1000 didn’t make it to five years. An aside is that of the 12,000 births, 572 were exnuptial. Conception outside of marriage was probably much higher but hasty marriages were likely arranged to minimise the scandal and family embarrassment.
Another aside that Tim Lloyd adds is that older men up to the age of 68 sired children from much younger mothers, down to the age of 13.
What were the risks that people faced during this time and what has changed that has allowed us to enjoy longer life expectancies? Infections such as diphtheria, measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, tetanus were ever present. Care for women during pregnancy and following birth was limited by the medical knowledge of the day.
What changed the mortality and morbidity rates were a combination of factors such as a vastly increased knowledge of human physiology, pathogens, pathologies which translated to more effective public health measures such as access to clean water, better disposal of human waste, vaccination campaigns, public education on diet, hygiene, the importance of exercise, the risks of tobacco smoking and excessive alcohol intake.
Added to this knowledge were improved surgical and pharmacological interventions.
These factors gave rise to more effective medical diagnosis and treatments, efficient sterilisation of surgical instruments, better antiseptic conditions in homes and hospitals, the advent of antibiotics, better knowledge of diet/nutrition, risk factors to health generally; some focus on disease and accident prevention in addition to those already mentioned such as screening for early diagnosis of preventable or formerly fatal conditions (such as cancers, cardio vascular disease), blood pressure checks, better understanding of food storage and preparation, an understanding of the need to maintain oral hygiene (including regular dental check-ups) to reduce periodontal infections which up until that point put people at risk of septicaemia and kidney failure if not treated. A better management of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and so on.
A greater emphasis on safety in working environments also emerged and enshrined in legislation. This reduced markedly the risks in the workplace of injury and mortality.
Returning to the HUNTS’ story a further quote may attest to two factors; the HUNT’S standing in the community and that some of the HUNT family still occupied Tranmere in 1913. “The Advertiser” 10 March 1913 in the PERSONAL COLUMN reports that Mr. Claud (sic) L. Hunt of “Tranmere” Magill, returned by the express on Sunday, after a holiday in Sydney. It is reasonable to infer that to rate a mention in the personal column indicated that there was some community interest in the comings and goings of the HUNT family and in this instance, the teenager, Claude. A second inference is that some of George HUNT’S children continued to reside at Tranmere; these probably being Claude, his half-sister Edith Guthrie SCRYMGOUR and her two children after the death of their parents.
As we probably identify many of the phases of our lives through the people intimately associated with us, the occupations we pursue and the homes we live in this is an appropriate juncture to sketch a little more about George’s homes, Hazelholme and Tranmere House and estate.
These two homes are referred to because they are recorded as residences of George and his family. Other addresses of George, his parents and siblings are unknown at this stage although suburbs are mentioned in both South Australia and Victoria where family members were, and are, located.
As indicated on page 6, Denise Schumann, Cultural Heritage Advisor for the City of Norwood, Payneham and St Peters has suggested that number 89 Payneham Road was Hazelholme.
Hazelholme is typical of the villa style that later became known as federation architecture. The style was around in the late Victorian era from about 1890 onwards. The lounge occupies a front room off the central passage and has a bay window which supplies a wide view of what would once have been the front garden probably laid out in a set of formal garden beds. The verandah shelters the front door and the window that would have looked out from the householder’s bedroom.
Hazelholme is quite large by villa standards but it is not hard to deduce that it would have been somewhat cramped given the number of children that the HUNTS had with the first, Edith Guthrie, only moving out when she married in 1890. Given these conditions plus the HUNTS increasing prosperity and the acquisition of Tranmere estate there would have been the scope and incentive to build something a little more spacious and so the planning, construction and move to Tranmere in the middle to late 1990s.
HUNT descendants have maintained an interest in Tranmere, born perhaps of proprietorial feelings, a curiosity about what happened (the dynamic) within the HUNT family in the first two decades of the twentieth century that appears to have had a contingent impact on the destiny of Tranmere. This interest extends to its changing ownership, its phases of interior reconstruction (eg. multiple living areas ie, flats) and the subdivision of the estate.
The evidence of this continuing interest lies in the family collection of photographs, newspaper articles, interior development plans, real estate sales notices, visits by contemporary members of the HUNT family to the property (with accompanying photographs) and reference books which describe the grandeur of Tranmere.
Zadel HOWELL-PRICE (nee HUNT, Claude Leslie’s daughter) has a collection of newspaper cuttings and photographs. A Louise Chappell water colour of Tranmere and a framed photograph are hanging on the study wall. The photograph provides an excellent view of Tranmere’s frontage; the approach from Magill Road with its tree-lined path. (the picture would have been taken about 1912-13).
Claudia HOWELL-PRICE (nee HUNT, N.B. sisters married brothers) has a watercolour of Tranmere hanging on the wall of her passage way; it is of Tranmere in the late evening silhouetted against the night sky from the south west (from Kings Grove) and is portrayed with lights shining from some of the rooms.
Of particular interest is a copy of the original Jackman and Treloar pamphlet held by Zadel outlining the proposal for four superior flats to be constructed within the mansion.
Mention of Tranmere can also be found in the following references:
“The Advertiser” Friday December 30 page 14, 1983 an article by Nigel Hopkins entitled: “Homes ‘loves labours to a former glory’”. This article describes Tranmere’s restoration by one dedicated individual.
“The Advertiser” circa 1955 advertises that “Historic Home to be Sold - auction on September 29 - 62 years old house owned by Mrs. J. A. Clarke of Reynella – bought 1917 by Jackman and Treloar.
“Australia’s Yesterdays”: A Look at Our Recent Past’, Readers Digest Services Pty. Ltd., 1974. (the feature photograph in this article is of Tranmere)
“The Weekend Australian” April 27-28, p 21, 2002, article by Peter Ward entitled “The Top 100 Homes, Australia’s Most Expensive Houses: 100 Top Sales since January 2001”.
“Weekend Australian” June 28 1997, article titled “Where’s the maid?” in a column called Home Truths by Maurice Dunlevy. The article describes Tranmere shortly for sale.
Mike Barber has quoted the following which appears to be an official listing drawing upon a number of sources:
Tranmere House, 3-5 Kings Grove, Tranmere, SA
List: Register of the National Estate
Legal Status: Indicative Place
Place ID: 17186
Place File No: 3/03/004/0005
Nominator’s Statement of Significance: Historically, Tranmere House is significant as it is an excellent example of the mansions built by wealthy Adelaide businessmen in the 1880s and 1890s during the expansion of the residential suburbs of the city. Architecturally, the item is important because it represents the peak of late nineteenth century mansion architecture. Stylistically it is a transition from the Italianate to the Queen Anne styles. Environmentally, Tranmere House is important because it establishes and maintains the turn of the century character of the area. It is a major landmark on the eastern side of Adelaide.
Official Values: Not available
Description: This exuberant design for a mansion was obviously designed to impress and its designer appears to have been unrestrained with his choice of styles and application of embellishment. The front façade is dominated by a centre square, three level tower and with two level octagonal ones at the ends. All towers are capped by ornamental domes and spires. Constructed of rendered masonry with skilfully executed joinery and sheet metal work to spires. The interior is grand and spacious ornamentation more austere than outside. Its representation is an excellent example of the grand mansion design. A hallmark for the transition period between Italianate and Queen Anne styles.
History: not available (author’s note: this narrative provides some history)
Condition and Integrity: In need of general maintenance and repair but structurally sound.
Location: 3-5 Kings Grove, Tranmere.
Bibliography: J.T. Leaney “Campbelltown 1868-1968” Corporation of Campbelltown 1968
SAA: MRG 53/1 Assessment Books, Corporation of Campbelltown, Hectorville Ward. Boothby’s South Australian Directories 1891-2-3 E & R Jensen:“Colonial Architecture in South Australia” (Adelaide 1980)
According to Mary Broughton, Tranmere House at 3 Kings Grove was colloquially known as “Hunt’s Castle” (“The Chronicle”, July 5, 1974, p.35). It had 18 main rooms plus basement rooms and was considered one of South Australia’s biggest and most ornate residences. The veranda facings had magnificent wrought iron lacework. The house had three levels, marble fireplaces, a sweeping cast iron staircase, stained glass and five metre high ceilings. The area it covered was 3,650 square metres (this being the total floor area?).
It would appear that Broughton’s dimensions of Tranmere are at variance with one other description. “The Advertiser” Real Estate section of Saturday June 28, 1997 p.9 has an advertisement by Bernard H. Booth, real estate agent which invites enquiries. The feature article is entitled “Tranmere Mansion passes the test of time” in a column called Open House by Marie Sulda who says the property was divided into ten flats in the early 1900s but later restored. (The original plan was for four “superior residential flats” and the pamphlet, mentioned previously, was issued for that development) The “…wide sweeping cedar staircase over three levels has iron lacework panels and ceilings seven metres high…” Given that real estate agents would need to be careful with specifications this latter description is probably closer to the mark.
An advertisement for the sale of Tranmere (late 1961) which gives some idea of its size.
The surrounding grounds occupied 67 acres (or 53 acres cf. p.6). It was a substantial property by any measure and was laid out in gardens and orchards tended by a team of gardeners. The source of the following is believed to come from Eric Gunton in a publication “Gracious Homes of Adelaide”, 1983. Brookside, (the neighbouring property to Tranmere) dates back to 1841 and was bought by George HUNT in 1897. Eric writes that George later bought the neighbouring property and built the mansion called Tranmere. Eric seems to have faltered here with his facts as the evidence suggests that George owned and built the mansion well before the purchase of Brookside. Upon George’s death Brookside was sold to Joseph Guidi who was a breeder of race horses.
Before quoting further from Mary Broughton’s regular column in “The Chronicle” we examine who she was. “Mary Broughton” was the pen name of Alison Mary Dolling (1917-2006). She was a teacher and journalist who edited the women’s pages of “The Chronicle” from 1966. Dolling was also “Aunty Dorothy”, editor of the children’s pages of “The Chronicle” from 1970 until the paper closed in 1975.
It seems that Broughton in 1974 was writing or editing a series of articles on the stately homes of Adelaide. In examining these mansions she was also referencing their owners who represented in many cases the “establishment families” who arrived when, or soon after, the colony was founded in 1836.
The first of her articles in the column “Mary Broughton’s Pages for Women Readers” is dated May 17, 1974 p.28: “Australia’s Yesterdays. Colonial Mansions Then and Now”. The second article appeared on July 5, 1974: “People and Places”. However what is more enlightening is that the articles attracted some readers’ responses and they supplied first hand accounts of Tranmere, Brookside and the HUNTS.
There is a response dated October 25, 1974 p.35 to Broughton’s July 5 article by a reader who signed herself “Brigadoon”. “My dear old father died last year (1973) at age 85 years. He was the grandson of David Wylie who was first granted the 67 acres (section 273) and named it after Tranmere, Birkenhead, England where he lived (author’s note: across the Mersey River from Liverpool). Wylie’s uncle, Captain William Scott, MLC. was granted section 274 of 80 acres where he built Brookside.” Brigadoon stated that George HUNT bought Brookside as well which confirms the statement attributed to Eric Gunton.
Brigadoon proceeds to provide a literary sketch of David Wylie. “He was an M.A. graduate of Glasgow University and started one of South Australia’s first schools.” At the time of Brigadoon’s commentary (1974) the school was still standing (and still is at the time of writing this history) in the grounds of Tranmere House and her father would look over the side fence and compare it with the painting that the family held of the “Academy of Learning” which she suggested was a rather grandiose title for the little school with its wooden shingle roof. Brigadoon concluded her correspondence by saying that many of South Australia’s leading men received their training at the academy and that the school flourished from 1837 till 1852 when David Wylie died leaving a widow and large family.
A correspondent signing herself “Marion”, August 16, 1974, p.188 commented that her father was the head gardener at Tranmere and added that the HUNTS kept a jersey stud and took a lot of prizes at the Adelaide Royal Show. Marion also makes reference to a magnolia tree that grew near the house and clearly was quite spectacular.
Broughton’s reply to Marion in “The Chronicle” August 16, 1974 reveals two things about herself: the perfunctory research for her articles on mansions and her lack of personal knowledge upon which to draw conclusions about Tranmere and George HUNT. Broughton writes: “…I had no idea that it’s boundaries (Tranmere’s) extended beyond the creek…Nor do I ever remember as a child seeing the magnolia tree.”
(the following section needs to be reworked/reordered to get a better flow. Also further research is required to either support or refute some of the assertions that have been made (eg search The Chronicle of 1974). Two themes have been attempted here: an outline, particularly of the political, social structure of Adelaide/SA and the use of language by various writers to reinforce the class/social structure in which the HUNT family were raised and also to compare Tranmere with some of the other mansions in the early days of the colony and I guess looking particularly at the language that Broughton used when describing these houses and their owners)
Broughton’s response to Brigadoon on page 35 is intriguing for two reasons; its descriptive content where she compares the two houses, Brookside and Tranmere and secondly her choice of language when describing its owner. Broughton says, “How different in architecture is Brookside with its plain functional lines from the fanciful style of Tranmere House. I believe the latter owed its existence to the successful business enterprise and no doubt grandiose pretensions (author’s italics) of Mr Hunt who ran a city store.”
Broughton did not appear to take the trouble to investigate the extent of George’s business interests and appears to have adopted, at least in part, a title for her series of articles on homes that was in the Readers Digest Services edition of the same year.
The dismissive/pejorative nature of Broughton’s comments in terms of the architecture of Tranmere, its owner, his occupation, his success (his beginnings were humble when he and his family first arrived in the colony i.e., his family did not arrive in the colony with any wealth), and the failure to mention that his “city store” was one of a number, not only in this state but Western Australia and had two, possibly three, storeys plus a ground floor and basement, and covered two city sections, make explicit, the undercurrent of social stratification and the language used to reinforce that stratification.
This stratification characterised Adelaide from its earliest colonial beginnings, even, one might suggest, up to the time that Broughton wrote her column. This topic will be expanded upon later but suffice to say at this point Broughton does not appear to have applied the terms “fanciful” and “grandiose” when referring to the “establishment families” (the people who travelled to the new colony in the relative comfort of a ship’s cabin and were wealthy) and to the mansions they built.
That Tranmere was ornate and grandiose could be regarded as fair comment; “pretentious” and “fanciful”, possibly, but we would have to know more about the character of George or what was in his head at the time to justifiably apply these terms. Would these terms fit other grand homes? Possibly.
Was George ignorant of the establishment families? Very unlikely.
Was George indifferent to the establishment families and their attitudes? Quite possibly. Or was George more openly and deliberately “cocking a snook” to the establishment families? Well, maybe, and if he was, it was with a flourish and like Sir Thomas Lipton mentioned later in this narrative was “going places”.
The author must reveal a prejudice at this point. The view is that architecturally, Tranmere is interesting rather than appealing. The Readers Digest Services book of 1974 (Griffin Press) says of Tranmere House that it was an elaborately turreted Edwardian pile…now divided into flats.
However this author suggests that its spires and frontage would appear to owe as much to the architecture of the Indian subcontinent than to other sources of inspiration (although not discounting the influence of British architecture on buildings on the subcontinent). If it is possible to be so, the house looks somewhat incongruous in its setting. Perhaps George was impressed with the buildings around him when he took coffee with Arabi Pasha in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). In terms of mansions its exterior bears little resemblance to anything else that was constructed then or since although the interior design would have been found in most gracious homes of the period with its central staircase, rooms radiating off the entrance hallway, wrought iron lacework and stained glass windows.
The Readers Digest Services book of 1974 in the citing above had a chapter “House and Home” and a section called “Mansions of Yesteryear” and subtitled “some castles crumble, others are converted”. As indicated earlier the feature photograph was of Tranmere in its earliest years when the grounds were still being established.
In terms of unique style it could be compared with Adare “Castle” which is situated on the banks of the Hindmarsh River at Victor Harbor. Daniel Cudmore bought the property which was once owned by Governor Hindmarsh’ family and has towers and turrets which may be said to add little to the aesthetic appearance but apparently derived its inspiration from a hotel at which Daniel stayed in Scotland.
Tranmere today and externally speaking is a shabby shadow of its first state. The grounds are unkempt and the external facades are screaming out for a coat of paint. The south face which was the front of the house with its long impressive carriage-way lined with gardens now has the Tranmere Bowling Club and tennis courts sited there. The two main gates to Tranmere off Magill Road are still to be seen and are incorporated into the southern fence of the bowling club.
Near the northern boundary of the property is an old stone and mortar building with a rusting corrugated iron roof which is probably the academy building constructed by David Wylie, the first owner of Tranmere.
Now seems a suitable point to examine what the HUNT family faced when they arrived in South Australia (SA), what enterprises the first HUNTS engaged in (where such information is available) through succeeding generations, the settlement of SA by Europeans (principally British) and more generally the social and political history of the colony during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and how these may have impacted on the HUNT family.
George and Elizabeth were not the first HUNTS to disembark in Adelaide there being a number of other families with that name from about 1838 onwards. Whether some or all the HUNTS were related the author does not know but quite possibly they were and sent reports home to family about the opportunities available in the new colony.
What follows is a somewhat loose analysis of South Australia’s European settlement when the HUNTS took up residence, with undoubted errors of fact, inference, and significant omissions.
When George and Elizabeth HUNT and their five children disembarked the “Ascendant” the colony was thirteen years old, being formally proclaimed a colony by Governor Hindmarsh in 1836. The HUNTS may rightly be considered one of the founding families. It would have been the close of spring and the beginning of summer. It is likely that they would have been impressed by the bright blue skies as opposed to the often grey skies of Britain. They may have noticed that the weather was a little warmer than they had been used to in their former homeland and the humidity a little less in SA.
They would have arrived with the palpable hope that their new home would offer opportunities that were not available to them in Britain. Visions of wealth commensurate with effort would have spurred their thinking and planning. Freedom from the strictures of Victorian Britain and the class system perhaps also would have been part of the subliminal thinking.
Landfall would have been very welcome after having spent three months at sea in what would have been the cramped conditions of steerage and indifferent food. The “Ascendant” was the twenty third ship to dock in South Australia with “government passengers”. Like many other voyages at the time, death in transit was common and seven people are recorded as dying en route to SA on the HUNT’S ship.
“Government passengers” were probably those who had assisted passage or were granted free passage because of the skill shortage in the new colony.
It can be inferred that the HUNTS arrived with little by way of possessions or finance. It would also appear that they quickly moved into the hills above Adelaide and took up land there. Given that produce was a major need for the colony and that the hills provided excellent growing conditions we can assume that the HUNTS planted orchards and possibly grew vegetables for market and prospered in a modest way.
The HUNT children soon dispersed through marriage and relocation but to this author the young George HUNT is the only child of that generation where occupation and some glimpses of home and family life seem clearly recorded.
Other family names appearing during the colony’s early development follow. These people would in the main not have travelled steerage but cabin in the ships bringing the early colonisers.
These individuals and families have been chosen because of their place in the first 15-30 years of development of the colony and particularly their shaping influences ...
... see page 2 of The HUNT family for the continuance of story