HUNT Family of South Australia - 2
this is page 2 of The HUNT family of South Australia
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The HUNT Family of South Australia (formerly of Northamptonshire, U.K.)
... 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:
ANGAS, George Fife: a banker and entrepreneur who was influential in the early period of the colony, forming the SA Banking Co., and developing mercantile interests. He became, amongst other things, a pastoralist and very prominent in the development of SA.
AYERS, Sir Henry: originally a lawyer, Ayers became wealthy through mining interests and his business acumen saw him enter the Legislative Council at a young age. He served as premier on a couple of occasions and was a prominent public figure serving on boards of directors, charitable trusts and governing bodies. He was a leading figure in the Anglican Church and benefactor through charities.
BARR SMITH, Robert: businessman and philanthropist; he replaced George Elder in the mercantile and pastoral firm of Elder and Co. He married Joanna, sister of the Elders (William, Alexander Lang, George and Sir Thomas). In 1863 he and Thos. Elder became sole partners in Elder Smith and Co. The firm held considerable pastoral leases in other states as well as SA. Barr Smith was prominent in many business areas which formed the foundations of SA’s emerging economy. He refused a knighthood and was considered a quiet unassuming man.
BONYTHON, Sir John Langdon (an unusual name that appears to have had its origins in Cornwall): although perhaps not one of the first settlers he was influential in the colony in the last half of the 1800s. In terms of age he was a close contemporary of George HUNT. Bonython accumulated wealth through successful mining speculation but it is his involvement with “The Advertiser” newspaper that his name is most closely linked. He started as a reporter but eventually bought the paper becoming its editor and proprietor. He amassed a considerable fortune which was probably only rivalled by those of Thomas Elder and Barr Smith. He understood the need to maintain some independence from the social and political elite and only joined the Adelaide Club when he retired.
BRAY, Sir John Cox: a barrister and later a politician in the later 1800s and was the first native born premier of SA. Sir John Downer was an attorney-general in his cabinet.
CUDMORE: there are two Cudmores of note in the late 1800s, James Francis and Daniel Henry. They had varying successes and failures as pastoralists and James was linked in business with Sir Thomas Elder and Robert Barr Smith.
ELDER, Sir Thomas: there were in fact four Elders of note but Thomas was the one that remained in South Australia and formed the successful pastoral company of Elder, Smith and Co. Thomas was said to be a person who lived quietly and never married but his sister, Joanna, on the other hand was a noted hostess of the period. Thomas was a significant benefactor in life and also in his bequests and there are a number of institutions which bear his name.
DOWNER, Henry: was the first Downer of this SA political dynasty, coming to SA in 1838 but it is his descendants who have become notable on the SA scene. Sir John William Downer was a successful barrister and politician being at one time an attorney-general and premier in SA before entering federal politics. He was one of the inaugural senators for SA. The Downers have supported a conservative politics. John William was defeated in 1893 by an alliance of C.C Kingston and the new Labor Party led by John McPherson. He was something of a wit and was heard to say upon his defeat: “They are very clever fellows. I have great respect for the way they use either side for their purposes with absolute impartiality.” There was also Henry Edward Downer, another of Henry’s sons, who entered SA parliament in 1881 and was also attorney-general.
DUTTON, William Hampden; Frederick Hansborough; Francis Stacker: the first two Duttons were pastoralists while the third was a politician. Frederick and Francis were probably the more successful financially with Fred investing in copper mines with Alexander Lang Elder and Francis a successful politician and public official.
HARDY, Arthur: listed as a pastoralist, barrister and quarry-owner, Arthur was thought to be one of the richest men in Adelaide at one stage but when the depression struck in 1886 he was found to be living beyond his means and his debts amounted to 40,000 pounds and his estate was assigned to a trustee for his creditors. Not one to languish in his fate but unable to regain his financial independence he kept up his appearances as a doyen of the legal profession, even in his nineties riding his tricycle to the Glenelg station to catch the train to his Adelaide office.
HARDY, Thomas: vigneron; was very successful and expanded his interests in wine to the extent that he took his sons into partnership to become Thos. Hardy and Sons. He served on a number of wine and agricultural committees in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
HAYWARD, Sir Edward Waterfield: described as a businessman and philanthropist. While a twentieth century man it is perhaps significant to note his family links. He married Ursula Barr Smith who was the daughter of Tom Elder Barr Smith who was the son of Robert Barr Smith and Joanna Lang (nee Elder). He, with his brother, became joint managing directors of John Martin’s, a department store. But his master stroke was acquiring the franchise for Coca-Cola and founding Coca-Cola Bottlers (Adelaide).
SMITH, Samuel; the Hill Smiths are fifth generation vignerons with Samuel, the first Smith working for a period as a gardener for George Fife Angas. He purchased some land which he called “Yalumba” and the rest is well known to us as a famous wine brand. How they became known as the Hill Smiths is still unknown to me. The first Smith to be known by the name Hill Smith was Sidney who along with Thos. Hardy, Hugo Gramp and Charles Hawker was on the ill-fated flight that crashed taking their lives in 1938.
KIDMAN, Sir Sidney: George and Elizabeth Kidman had a son, Sidney (born mid 1800s) who established the largest pastoral empire the world has ever known. It is hard to estimate what influence Sidney had on the growing colony but a rodeo staged in 1932 to celebrate his 75th birthday was attended by nearly 50,000 people so he must have had some celebrity status in the SA community.
KINGSTON, Charles Cameron: was the younger son of Sir George Strickland Kingston. Charles was a barrister and politician and premier of South Australia and played a part in the establishment of federation. He was something of a contradiction in his public stance on issues. He was a strong advocate of the White Australia policy and an opponent of Chinese immigration but sought the extension of the franchise to women, introduced an arbitration and conciliation Act, and progressive land and income taxation although these would have made him rather unpopular with the cluster that gathered around John Downer. Charles had something of a notorious private life. The brother of Lucy May McCarthy (Lucy later became Charles’ wife) opposed Charles’ admission to the bar on the grounds that Charles had seduced Lucy (author’s note: he probably had bedded Lucy as claimed). Charles and Lucy had no natural children but adopted a son who it is believed was an exnuptial son of Charles.
MAGAREY, Thomas: miller and pastoralist. A severe man he served in both the House of Assembly and the Legislative Council. He was a joint proprietor of the “Observer” and the “Register”.
MICHELL, George Henry: a fifth generation wool processing and exporting company which George founded in 1870. The company later became known as G.H. Michell and Sons.
MORPHETT, John: was a land agent who could be considered one of the first people to take up land in the new colony. He was one of the original promoters of the South Australian Jockey Club along with Henry Ayers, Thomas Elder, H.B. Hughes, Philip Levi, John Crozier and R.C. Baker. He served as Local Colonial Representative for the Secondary Towns Association. He purchased some choice blocks of land and returned a good profit for himself. He was also elected a director of the SA Railway Company.
MORTLOCK, William Ranson: grazier and with purchases and leases he established Yalluna station which his family were to hold for 100 years. He was to build a large fortune. He entered public life and represented Flinders in the House of Assembly. His son William Tennant succeeded to his father’s estates and represented Flinders also.
PENFOLD, Dr Christopher Rawson: physician who set up practice at Magill. He was a believer in the medicinal benefits of wine and when he came to Australia he planted vines in 1844. Initially he produced fortified wines such as port and sherry. It is uncertain what else he contributed to the developing colony.
RYMILL, Henry Way: it is uncertain what influence Henry had on SA politics and social history but his grandmother married Sir Samuel Way who was Chief Justice in SA and historic Rymill House still stands resplendent in East Terrace.
WAY, Sir Samuel James: he came to SA in 1853 where the rest of his family were residing. He was admitted to the Bar in 1861. He was elected to the House of Assembly in 1875 and became attorney-general in Boucaut’s ministry. When Chief Justice, Sir Richard Hanson died suddenly in 1876 Samuel replaced him. Three of his colleagues disapproved of such a move and he was ostracised at least in private by two of them. In his own way he was a reformer with his support of the Destitutes Act in alleviating the plight of boys on a rotting hulk that was used as a reformatory training ship and the servitude of unmarried mothers forced to work over washtubs and mangles. He served in many public roles such as vice-chancellor and later chancellor of the University of Adelaide despite holding no tertiary qualifications. He was a prominent Methodist and Freemason. He married at the age of 62 years a widow, Katherine Gollan formerly Blue, nee Gordon, Henry Rymill’s grandmother.
WYATT, Dr William: arrived in SA shortly after it was proclaimed a colony. He was a surgeon, public servant and something of a naturalist. He was also called a botanist in some historical accounts and his interest in plants may have had something to do with matters that would assist his medical practice. He took significant roles in the scientific community of SA, in education and aboriginal welfare although in the latter two roles he faced much frustration and was pleased to relinquish these responsibilities eventually. He acquired much land in the course of his life and at his death with no successors he left his widow in comfortable circumstances. Much of the estate was left in various annuities and trusts. However the greater part of his city and suburban property was invested in the Wyatt Benevolent Trust which exists to this day to “benefit people above the labouring class who may be in poor or reduced circumstances”. This may be considered an unusual specification by today’s standards but at the time it was probably felt that these were the deserving poor who through no fault of their own had fallen on hard times.
There are other names that could be added to this list such as John Reynell and Edmund Bowman but what is supplied above will suffice to give a flavour of the society of the colony from its beginnings and early development.
The families that could be said to have made a small smudge on the page of SA history by comparison include of course those of Hunt, Brusey, Raggatt, Scrymgour and some other family names mentioned in this narrative.
Quite a number of those listed formed the “agristocracy” eg. Angas, Dutton, Elder, Barr Smith and Michell families. The accumulation or addition of wealth was land-based, agricultural and the industries allied to those pursuits.
It could also be said that the influence of families and wealth were assisted through business alliances, marriages (Elder and Barr Smith; Wilson [political dynasty of Sir Keith a son of Elizabeth Bonython followed by his son Ian]; Hayward and Barr Smith). These served to reinforce/maintain/cohere the social status and alliances of succeeding generations of these families into the twentieth century. It could be said that Ian Bonython Cameron Wilson along with Alexander John Gosse Downer are the last in the line of the political dynastic families.
Other ways of securing and insulating the social and political elite were through Adelaide Club membership, schools attended, certain suburbs, church/religious affiliations and probably locations of particular churches at that, membership of particular sports clubs and associations and probably through exclusive societies such as freemasonry.
As can be seen from the thumbnail sketches above not all individuals were unqualified successes in the accumulation of wealth and influence, Arthur Hardy being a case in point. James Francis Cudmore also came unstuck even though at various points he took on as partners in his pastoral pursuits Thos. Elder and Robert Barr Smith.
The legacy of these families lives on in the names of streets, suburbs, parks, towns, statues/busts, wineries, public buildings, buildings and institutions attached to the University of Adelaide eg Bonython Hall, Elder Conservatorium and Barr Smith Library and even steam locomotives. More generally there is the Mortlock Library, Rymill Park and township of Angaston. A number of these families were to build or inhabit mansions which were built in particular suburbs such as North Adelaide, Walkerville, Gilberton, Medindie, Unley Park, Myrtlebank, the Adelaide hills, but more on this later.
One is left guessing as to the position and influence that other family names might represent in SA and particularly those that built their wealth from scratch in the new colony. Names such as Cooper, Harris, Scarfe, warrant further investigation though it would appear for instance that George HUNT showed little interest in public life or joining the establishment families e.g., through seeking membership of the Adelaide Club etc or place himself in a position to enter public life which probably would have involved hob-knobbing with the influential people of the time to get himself recognised and building a backing amongst the voting elite. He seemed to confine his attention to the business, the Methodist Church, his family and the development of Tranmere.
As suggested earlier George would have been conscious of the names cited above and their influence in the community. However it is not clear that he sought their society or even wished to be part of it. It is noted however that his son-in-law engaged C.C. Kingston as his barrister when he was accused of malfeasance/defalcation and his daughter Edith retained Sir Walter James to submit her petition to the divorce courts. Both these lawyers were prominent and influential in their respective communities of South Australia and Western Australia.
The Adelaide Club warrants some further mention. A number of the establishment families listed above founded this club in 1863 although it is difficult to discover which ones. However we can be reasonably certain that some of the names above featured significantly in its founding. The club was modelled after the exclusive gentlemen’s clubs of Britain where a kind of honour system was used not requiring the members to sign any chits but requiring staff to know the members. The club is reckoned to have a membership of about a 1000 at present but it is not known what size the membership was in its earliest days.
It would be reasonable to say that the club membership once rivalled and perhaps exceeded the power and authority of the parliament which was located diagonally opposite on North Tce. Actually one suspects that the personnel in both spheres were interchangeable and that the club was the unofficial parliament where many of the decisions were made and later ratified in the “people’s house”.
While the club membership’s historical influence on political matters has been diminished with the advent of a better educated community and the proliferation of pressure groups representing a range of sectional interests demanding a stake in the state’s development and wealth, it is still probably the case that prominent locals use the venue to cut deals in the world of business and finance.
There is a stark reminder that establishment families and those they have permitted to join the Adelaide Club still hold some sway in South Australia and that the classless society is not yet with us. Albert Bensimon, a well-known businessman owning the Shiels jewellery store chain, the face of the company in advertisements announcing “No Hoo Haa!” and a prominent member of the Jewish community applied for membership of the Adelaide Club in 2005 and 2006. He was asked to withdraw his application, a diplomatic way of saying your application will not be successful. On the face of it Albert’s credentials would seem to meet this exclusive men’s club’s membership criteria (whatever they are). However as the club has no accountability to the public, the reasons for Albert’s rejection is not known to the wider community.
Albert is believed to have applied a second time with the same result.
I guess there is a question here: why would Albert seek to become a member of a club which didn’t want him as a member?
Would George HUNT applying for membership of the club be dealt a similar fate? Quite possibly.
However there is reason to look more widely at gentlemen’s clubs or exclusive associations and what they represented by way of the British class system and its importation to South Australia.
There is a tale told which perfectly exemplifies the British way of “managing” families and individuals who threw up challenges to the class system which up to that point was based upon nobility, birth, landholdings and the class barriers that supposedly should not be crossed.
A functionary at the court of Edward VII was asked where the king was. The haughty courtier replied that he was out sailing with his grocer. At first glance one might deduce that the monarch had the common touch (a man of the people) but not necessarily so. The grocer was Sir Thomas Lipton who had a beautifully appointed yacht “Erin” and an even more beautifully appointed fortune from his tea and grocery chain. Even for Lipton, so Wikipedia suggests, as a self-made man he was no natural member of the British upper class and the Royal Yacht Squadron only admitted him shortly before his death despite (or perhaps because of) him enjoying the favour of both Edward and George V.
A footnote to the Lipton tale is that he was a man who understood the power of attention-grabbing advertising. His modern parallels are Richard Branson of the Virgin Brand and on a smaller scale, Albert Bensimon. Flamboyant, ostentatious, grandiose Lipton may have been but it took him places while probably offending the upper classes who would have regarded his antics as crass and vulgar even as their agrarian based incomes were gradually becoming insufficient to sustain their lifestyles and the middle-classes was being given a healthy free kick at the class and wealth system courtesy of the accelerating industrial revolution.
Actually the middle-class was itself stratified into upper and lower with the professions, industrialists and merchants occupying the upper and shopkeepers, other small time merchants and trades the lower. One suspects the stratification was based largely on one’s wealth and the perceived status of one’s occupation.
The early colonists brought some interesting features unique to the social development of South Australia and Adelaide in particular. Particularly, the founding “parents” of the colony imported a society which soon developed a stratified system along with class barriers as suggested by other authors such as Peter Ward of the “Weekend Australian”. There is no sense that any of the British aristocracy actually arrived here, at least not by choice or with heraldry and so the social structure was based more on wealth, land holdings and political influence than on noble titles.
However it seems that the lack of titled families was quickly rectified with South Australian society soon populated with knights of the realm and the occasional life peerage (baronetcy) eg. Samuel Way.
The founding families which could be called the “establishment” came mostly from the wealthy sections of the middle class of Britain and either had wealth derived from large land holdings or had skills necessary for the development of the new colony. They arrived in South Australia and proceeded to prodigiously augment their wealth through agricultural pursuits or as young professionals obtaining land grants which gave them some strategic advantages and of course utilising their specialist skills in surveying, law, medicine etc.
These families would possibly have been regarded by the British establishment as nouveau riche and possibly treated if not with some disdain, some suspicion perhaps in similar vein to Lipton’s treatment. Having been treated as such, the establishment families of the new colony would therefore have felt that they knew how to deal with the emerging nouveau riche in the colony, such as George HUNT.
Peter Ward in his “Weekend Australian” article, entitled “The Top 100 Homes, Australia’s Most Expensive Houses; 100 Top Sales since January 2001” which mentions Tranmere House, states that in the first European century 1836-1936, Adelaide had a highly stratified society in which sarcasms such as “The Duttons spoke only to Barr Smiths and Barr Smiths spoke only to God” had meaning. When old families didn’t live in North and South Adelaide, summering in the hills and settled in Medindie and Gilberton to the North and Unley Park to the South.
Some acknowledgement of a stratified society still exists. When Kym Bonython died in 2011. The Advertiser in reporting on his life and contribution to the community of Adelaide described him as being born into the “gentry” of Adelaide.
Ward continues: “North and South Adelaide continue their 166 year, two urbane “urbs” as distinct from suburbs with some 50 houses well within the million dollar club.” (The accompanying photo to the article is of Tranmere taken, it would appear, in the 1980s)
It would seem that a “born to rule” mentality had entered the colony.
To those addresses in the 1930s were added the eastern foothills garden suburb of Springfield, overlooking the plains. That pattern continues there and their satellites.
While there may be some debate with Ward about which suburbs rated in the first 100 years the general sentiment expressed plucks a resonant chord.
Did the stratified society of South Australia rely for its existence on more than one’s wealth and essential skills in the development of the colony? Well, quite possibly. Without having done a thorough search of the religious affiliations of the establishment families one suspects that they had links to the mainstream protestant faiths, particularly Church of England and these affiliations would have added respectability to the families.
Furthermore attendance at particular suburban churches, attending certain church schools would have given new generations a network of personal contacts, and grounding in the expectations of the status and roles that they would be called upon to occupy and perform in society. These venues along with others would have offered the opportunity to establish relationships which would later translate into business partnerships, marriages etc. Adding to and reinforcing these relationships would be membership of the Adelaide Club, the South Australian Cricket Association.
As indicated by how people travelled to the colony, the social stratification was firmly established before people left Britain with the establishment families travelling in cabins, the hoi polloi in steerage. It is quite possible that the wealthy colonists recruited employees who travelled on the same ship.
It could be said that the social stratification of the first 100 years still exists in a milder form to this day. While many of the establishment families have vacated their mansions along with their perceived standing in the community a new set of nouveau riche have moved into the desirable suburbs and filled the physical and social vacuum. Contemporary comments such as “eastern suburbanites get a nose-bleed if they travel further west than David Jones” remind us that class is not dead. (David Jones is a department store in Rundle Mall once purveying superior and exotic merchandise).
Broughton’s comments on the HUNTS and Tranmere could be construed as indirectly acknowledging the class system of Adelaide. The reference to grandiose pretensions and running a city store could be, as indicated previously, a bit of a putdown. Merchants or as I understand it, the term was “in trade” probably meant no matter how financially successful you were, owning and operating a city store did not elevate one in the eyes of those who were regarded as the arbiters or more exactly the founders of the social class system in South Australia.
On the face of it there seems to be something of a contradiction or inconsistency in how the unwritten rules applied. For instance Robert Barr Smith was a merchant, although being a merchant of primary produce seems to indicate that farming and industries allied to it held a pre-eminent status and were something that “gentlemen” did. His wife was an Elder and hence a member of the agristocracy (families who made, sustained and added to their fortunes through primary production/agriculture [animal husbandry or horticulture] or services to it). Their son Tom Elder Barr Smith later joined the firm of Elder, Smith and Co., in the 1880s.
The Reader’s Digest 1974 article p.80 is quoted here:
“Australians first began to build mansions in the 1850s, when gold brought sudden wealth, but most of Australia’s large houses were built in 1870s and 1880s. In the country the wool kings competed to construct lavish homes. In the cities, the mansions were built by merchants who wanted to entertain their new rich friends on an extravagant scale.”
While the article refers principally to Victoria, South Australia was no different in this respect.
Did Broughton apply terms such as “grandiose”, “fanciful” to places such as Carclew, Carrick Hill, Avenel House, Birksgate, Woodley, Mount Lofty House etc. It seems not.
Would Broughton have applied such terms to Martindale Hall which reputedly was completed in 1879 for the astonishing sum, for the time of $72,000? Almost all tradesman who worked on the hall came from England and returned when it was finished (Flinders Ranges Research page). Or Carrick Hill where the young Edward Hayward and Ursula Barr Smith during their year long honeymoon acquired much of the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteen century panelling, doors, staircases and windows from the demolition sale of Beaudesert, a Tudor mansion in Staffordshire, England (Government of SA, Arts SA publication). An innovative architect and family friend, James Irwin, incorporated these pieces into the design of Carrick Hill.
However some of the homes Broughton covered in her series of articles add to the history of local families. In fact we are further offered a snooper’s guide into the social and political structure of Adelaide and more generally South Australia.
Birksgate was built by Arthur Hardy and was later the home of Sir Thomas Elder. Thomas never married and the house passed into the Barr Smith family (Tom’s sister, Joanna, married Robert Barr Smith). This house was subsequently demolished and replaced with a housing estate. Woodley was once called Glen Osmond Villa, taking its name from Osmond Gilles, its first owner and the first colonial treasurer and subsequently the home of Sir Cedric Stanton Hicks (1892-1976) professor of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Adelaide in the middle of the twentieth century. He was a non-commissioned officer in WWI and held the rank of brigadier during WWII. Finnisbrook was home to the first premier of South Australia, Boyle Travers Finnis and was believed to be designed by Sir George Kingston, father to a later premier of South Australia and lawyer, Charles Cameron Kingston. Carclew was built in North Adelaide by the Bonython family and today houses an art centre. Mount Lofty House was also another of Arthur Hardy’s residences. It is now part of the Mecure hotel chain.
Carrick Hill was owned by Edward Hayward and first wife, Ursula. The land was given to the couple by Ursula’s father, Thomas Elder Barr Smith. It is an imposing residence and was bequeathed to the people of South Australia. It is now used for community activities and weddings.
Martindale Hall and Avenel House were the homes of various members of the Mortlock family with the former resembling an English manor house and the latter a very substantial residence at Medindie. Charles Cameron Kingston deserves a paragraph or two in his own right as his antics and reputation would have been the subject of gossip around the time of the George HUNT family and would be of added interest to the family because he was the defending counsel in Albert George SCRYMGOUR’S embezzlement case. Charles Cameron was, as they say, a colourful character. He is, and perhaps was then known, as the promiscuous premier and with some justification it seems. Apart from the suggestion that his adopted son was in fact his biological son by an illicit affair, in 2010 Charles’ remains were exhumed and samples of tissue taken for DNA analysis to prove a point. The results of the analysis confirmed what the family requesting the disinterment had long suspected, that Charles had illegitimately fathered a grandmother of their branch of the family. There is a record of a famous riposte that Kingston made to Sir Richard Baker MLC who had described him as a coward, a bully and a disgrace to the legal profession. Kingston’s reply was that Baker was false as a friend, treacherous as a colleague, mendacious as a man, and utterly untrustworthy in every relationship of public life and promptly challenged him to a duel with pistols in Victoria Square. The duel never took place because although Kingston turned up at the appointed time so did the constabulary having been tipped off by Baker. Victoria Square was later to see Kingston receive a beating with a horse whip drawing blood when the manager of the South Australia Co., took offence at some remark that Kingston made. Ever one with the smart remark, the theatrical flourish and never missing an opportunity to put himself in the public eye Kingston told the press ‘Who can now say that I have not shed my blood for South Australia? “What a pity”, my capitalistic friends will say, “that there was not more of it”’.
Returning to the HUNT theme and particularly Hunt, Corry and Co. As you would expect, the company was the occasional victims of felons and the “West Australian”, 9 April 1896 reports that “three well-dressed men from the steamer “Bulimba” made a determined effort at ‘shop-lifting’… While one of the men went in on a pretence of buying something, the others lifted some coats which were hanging outside and ran off, Mr. Wheeldon, the manager of the store, saw the theft and gave chase, and ultimately secured the coats. Mr. Wheeldon gave one man into custody, and he is charged with being concerned with the theft.”
The business of Hunt, Corry and Co., was sold at the time that George retired. Mr. CORRY had died in 1895 and George retired in 1897. (author’s note: CORRY may have been Samuel CORRY, draper, who lived at (Rodolph? Adelphi?) Tce., Glenelg [Findmypast “South Australian Commercial and Traders Directory 1882-1883 ed. Morris, Hayter, Barry].
A little bit more about the Corry family. In “The Advertiser” 12.2.1896 p.4 is the notice of the death of Mr. James Gibson Corry aged 26 years after a short illness. On p.7 is an account of the funeral: “He was a prominent member of a number societies in North Adelaide and was universally esteemed…Mr. G. HUNT representing the firm of Hunt, Corry and Co., Messrs W.H. Sharland jun., and P. LeCornu (superintendents of the Archer Street Wesleyan Sunday School… Among those around the grave were Mrs. S. CORRY (presumably the widow of Samuel), at the North Road Cemetery.” Mr. CORRY was a nephew of Mr Samuel CORRY. Also present at the funeral were J. Craven, R. (W?) Armstrong and J. Ryan (representing the firm of Craven and Armstrong a large drapery and furniture firm in Adelaide).
The cemetery is situated at Nailsworth which is just off the Main North Road and was established in 1853.
Other members of the CORRY family are buried at the Nailsworth including Samuel, Annie Maria (probably Samuel’s wife), Thomas Edison S., Stella Havergal, Ruth Dawkins and Annie Eliza (probably children of Samuel and Annie).
The business of Hunt, Corry and Co., was sold to Wilson, Brice and Co., in early 1897.
“The Advertiser” Thursday 29 April 1897 p.1 has the following advertisement:
Your Stockings will give you greater satisfaction and cost you less if you purchase from WILSON, BRICE & CO. PLEASE NOTE THE ADDRESS — WILSON, BRICE & CO., LATE HUNT, CORRY & CO., OPPOSITE ADELAIDE ARCADE, 114, 116, 118 RUNDLESTREET
It will be noted that the address of 112 Rundle Street is not included in the business address of Wilson, Brice and Co., so there is a possibility that Hunt, Corry and Co., retained that site for a period. However “The Advertiser” 30.1.1905 has an advertisement for “Town and Country Stores” operating out of 112 Rundle Street which probably marked the end of Hunt, Corry and Co., as a business name in Adelaide.
The Charles Street frontage of the shop seems to have been taken over by an electrician. In the column “Houses and Land to Rent” “The Advertiser” Friday 28 January 1898 p.2 the following advertisement reads:
CHARLES STREET, SHOP PREMISES now occupied by Schluter, Electrician opposite John Martin’s – Hunt, Corry & Company, Charles Street
It seems that Hunt, Corry and Co., had become property leasing agents at this stage operating out of Charles Street. There were quite a number of Charles Streets extant in Adelaide but the address most likely attached to George’s leasing business was that in the central business district (off Rundle Street) which had formed the most westerly site of his drapery premises. An advertisement in “The Advertiser” 3.8.1901 seems to confirm the existence of this latest enterprise.
By 1900-1904 some of the more prominent names in drapery were Jas. Marshall and Co., J. Miller Anderson and Co., Foale’s, John Martins, Craven and Armstrong’s and The Coliseum along with other drapery firms listed in this narrative.
It is noted at this point that the larger drapery companies’ advertisements used more column inches, bolder type face, larger lettering, more artistic layout, used more openly competitive language in their presentations when nominating price and quality as compared with other drapers.
It is interesting that in Adelaide Hunt, Corry and Co., altered to become property managers while in Western Australia they seemed amongst other things to be expanding their drapery operations. The “West Australian” 19.3.1897 p.5 reports the sale of land by the National Bank at Albany to Messrs Hunt, Corry and Co., for 3000 pounds. The purpose of the purchase was to erect shops and offices including a place of business for themselves. It would appear from this article that Hunt, Corry and Co., was also becoming a property developer and owner for the purposes of leasing to other businesses even in Western Australia.
Peter Matthews (HUNT family researcher) suggests that the business was deliberately scaled back in South Australia to focus on the W.A. branches as the goldfields were producing great wealth. An alternative explanation is that there was a significant depression in the early 1890s (bank crash in 1893) which impacted on undercapitalised businesses. Industrial unrest was also developing as the depression impacted on the community as a whole. Drapery businesses would have become victims along with other merchandising operations so George may have decided it was time to leave that part of the commercial scene in Adelaide.
By the 1980s all the prominent names in drapery of the past century had disappeared. The last to go were Chas. Moore and Co., of Victoria Square, John Martins of Rundle Mall and J. Miller Anderson of Hindley Street. It seems that the days of the large drapery stores had come to an end with the advent of small “boutique” stores and large establishments like Myers and David Jones offering a more diversified range of commodities such as Manchester, furnishings, kitchen appliances, music in the forms of tapes, records and compact discs, costume jewellery, cosmetics etc under one roof.
Adding to the woes of the old style stores was the fact that tastes in apparel had changed and places like London, Paris etc were no longer the hubs of quality and fashion that they had once been. Also English, American and continental products couldn’t compete with the prices that attached to goods manufactured in countries such as Japan in the immediate post WWII era which were now being sold through new retail outlets.
From a general assessment of global, national and local trends as they may have impacted on George HUNT and other members of the HUNT family we return to the more personal accounts within the HUNT family.
One of the intimate family stories alludes to Claude Leslie HUNT being one of the first owners of an automobile (as they seemed to be called in the early part of the twentieth century) in Adelaide and that he volunteered his vehicle to the local constabulary when they needed to travel some distance, reach a particular site quickly or chase a felon (with Claude at the wheel of course).
To state that Claude was one of the first owners of an automobile may be stretching it a bit. The Advertiser p.3, 8.12.2011 reports that registration numbers for vehicles were introduced in 1906 and that, for instance, Tom Elder Barr Smith, obtained the number 17 on the day numbers were first issued. Incidentally the number 17 has remained with the Barr Smiths for over 100 years. It is not known what registration number was issued to Claude.
There certainly was a light, humorous even mischievous side to Claude Leslie. An anecdote relayed by Zadel Claudia (his eldest daughter with Mabel) exemplifies this. When Claude and Mabs were managing an hotel in Burra there was a marsupial, probably a species of kangaroo, which was tame and ambled about the large property. Claude named it “Rossy” to which it learned to respond when called. On the occasion of visitors Claude would call “Rossy” which would hop up to him, he would reach into its pouch, take out a box of matches, light his pipe and return the matches to the pouch all the while nonchalantly carrying on his conversation with his gaping visitors.
Guggie was the nickname for Leslie Scrymgour although the basis for this nickname is lost to us. Perhaps it was derived in some way from his second name, George. It would appear that Leslie was the person who penned this card as reference is made to “Uncle Claude” although the reference to ”Uncle Arthur” is a little puzzling. The reference to a 3 and half Triumph probably refers to the engine capacity of 350cc.
The Dandies were a travelling entertainment company and it seems that Claude and Leslie were quite the young men around town. More on the Dandies in Appendix A Dandies
Claude Leslie attended Prince Alfred College at Kent Town for some two and a half years in the first decade of the 1900s. The headmaster at the time was Frederic Chapple, a distinguished teacher and visionary in curriculum development and is credited with establishing Prince Alfred College’s credentials as a premier college. He was made a C.M.G. (Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George) for his services to education and his insignia is displayed in the entrance foyer of the college.
Another family anecdote relates to Claude and his stepdaughter, Bonnie, driving past Tranmere House and Bonnie not unsurprisingly asking Claude if they could stop and look inside to satisfy a child’s curiosity about such a splendid place, it being once the family home. Claude’s response was vehement to the effect that he never wanted to set foot in the place again. Claude’s response suggests that the place evoked some painful, distressing or hostile memories.
It is the above anecdote which has given rise to the following theories about the reasons for Claude’s attitude towards Tranmere House.
One not so strong possibility is that as George’s children descended from two mothers some sibling friction may have existed between the two family sets. Or perhaps among all the siblings irrespective of mother, which may have “cut a little deep” in the young Claude’s case, being the youngest and not being able to defend himself so readily against the older children. Claude lived his formative years at Tranmere so this association with Tranmere and family friction remains a remote possibility.
A counter to that part of the friction theory involving children of two mothers and affecting Claude, in particular, is that nearly all the children of Elizabeth Fea had married and moved away before Claude was born although his half-sister, Ethel, probably still resided there until 1907 and it is likely that his half-sister Edith and her two children resided there after the breakdown of her marriage to Albert George Scrymgour from about 1909 till Tranmere was sold. Claude’s half-sister, Lillian, had died a few months after he was born. If friction did exist it would therefore have been more likely with the children of George and Eliza Ann, in other words, Claude’s full siblings.
A footnote to the above theory is that Claude appears to have enjoyed a loving relationship with Edith and it is possible that she became his guardian after the death of George and Eliza and served as a de facto mother to him as he was of similar age to Leslie, his nephew, Edith’s elder child.
As it can only be speculated as to what emotion was aroused in Claude on the occasion of his stepdaughter’s request (the stepchildren adopted the name HUNT) there are other more likely possibilities. Given the value of Claude’s parents’ estate, the large family he had by two wives (George’s widow dying in 1912 less than a year after he did), six children living at this point, complications arising from the execution of the wills may have arisen. Further indications of difficulties with the settling of the estate was the four year gap between the death of his mother and the announcement of the development of the real estate into the suburb now known as Tranmere. It is conjecture of course but a number of possibilities present themselves.
The execution of wills especially where the estate is large, can be a lengthy process at best. A further complication exists when that part of the estate which is “real” is to be liquidated for the purposes of distributing the proceeds. This may involve not only the sale but subdivision and redevelopment with all the legal/bureaucratic requirements that need to be met. There is a possibility however that the developers, Jackman and Treloar bought the property outright. This would have saved the HUNT family the difficulties cited with respect to developing the property. On the other hand there may have been some dispute over the amount that the property fetched if Jackman and Treloar did purchase the property.
Notwithstanding these issues, four years does appear to be a rather long time for resolution suggesting the following: difficulties at probate; executors having difficulty interpreting/actioning the respective wills of George and Eliza; the possible absence of a will in Eliza’s case; executors in conflict over interpretation, particularly if family members had been appointed although in this case such appointment would seem to have been unlikely; the wills being contested by beneficiaries, particularly by family members who may have disputed their share of the inheritance.
Any or all of these factors could have caused concern, conflicting views, irritation among the family members, ncluding the eighteen year old Claude.
A third theory stems from the fact that Claude, still a teenager, possibly having just left school, was living at Tranmere after his parents’ deaths and at least up until 1913. With the disposition of the estate he may have seen what was a lovely estate being dismembered and himself being forced to move elsewhere. This situation of change may have been an irritation or disturbant for him as he would have perceived that he was about to lose what was once his home (knowing no other), with its memories, a very comfortable residence at that, with an accompanying privileged lifestyle for an existence that was less certain.
Additionally at this stage it is not known where Claude next took up residence and indeed who, from his immediate family, kept an eye out for his welfare seeing that he had not yet attained his majority. It has previously been suggested that his half sister, Edith, may have filled the role of guardian.
Another theory proposed by two of Claude’s daughters that may have engendered painful associations for Claude at Tranmere is that one of his brothers is thought to have died following ingestion of creek water on the property. It is thought that the creek had been contaminated by sheep drench. This brother could have been Harold who was one year older than Claude and died in 1902 aged nine years.
A fifth theory is that Claude may have seen the plans drawn up for the internal reconstruction (destruction?) of Tranmere House with four flats being proposed by Jackman and Treloar and felt that the last vestiges of his home were being violated.
A more parsimonious theory is that Claude would have been reminded of the comfort and privilege that he had lost and that re-entering the premises would have prompted him to reflect on what he and the HUNT family had once been and enjoyed and now lost with no hope of recovery. All this would have been a little disconcerting to accept and to explain to his stepdaughter.
There is a seventh view for Claude’s seeming antipathy towards Tranmere, advanced by a contemporary family member, although less compelling given what is known. Nevertheless the theory is interesting because it reminds us of some of the taboos or prejudices existing at the time, fuelled inter alia, by religious sectarian differences, notions of class distinctions albeit subtle to the point where their existence may have been hotly debated and denied in open discussion.
Claude, at least nominally, was a protestant (his father was an office bearer of the Methodist Church, being a trustee of the Kent Town Wesleyan Methodist Church for 29 years), (as stated earlier Claude attended Prince Alfred College, a prestigious Methodist school, for part of his education) and the family would have been viewed as being of substance and holding some prominence in the Adelaide community. However he married Mabel Conway (nee Raggatt) who was a Roman Catholic (so-called mixed marriages were frowned upon), already had four children, was older than him by some seven years and may not have been perceived as meeting the subtle “class criteria” that prevailed at the time.
Counter to this theory is the fact that both of Claude’s parents were dead when he married (at about 28 years), Tranmere had long passed out of the family’s hands and at least six out of ten siblings and half siblings were dead so opposition to the marriage would have been fairly limited.
It should be restated that all these are theories and none may have hit the mark.
However from the family recollections Claude’s and Mabel’s relationship was a love-match and the grandchildren that had the benefit of their grandparents’ presence, recall them with great affection.
It seems that Mabel brought much to the relationship besides companionship and further motherhood. She was both industrious and skilful, being adept at preserving produce, dressmaking (turning the proverbial sow’s ear into a silk purse eg., drapes into an elegant evening gown for her daughter), millinery and needlecraft.
Her daughter, Zadel, recalls that her mother (Mabs) during WWII, while Zadel was at work, sewed an elegant off-the-shoulder evening gown out of pink dyed mosquito netting and calico for her to attend a ball that evening.
The family photo albums have pictures from the weddings of her daughters, with accompanying bridesmaids in beautifully and intricately crafted gowns. Some of these gowns produced by Mabs, displayed a high level of skill in needlecraft and particularly dressmaking.
Daughter, Patricia’s gown is noteworthy. It is tastefully draped with bunches of grapes manufactured from satin draped from the left shoulder down the front requiring intricate stitching and the shaping of each grape reflecting many hours of painstaking work.
Claude for his part pursued a career as an hotelier and was the licensee at hotels in Burra, Belair, Wilmington, Burra and the Edinburgh Castle at Mitcham.
It is perhaps of some relevance to the defiance theory to note that Claude and Mabs are interred together in the Roman Catholic section of the North Brighton Cemetery marking perhaps Claude’s final statement of severance from his family’s religious heritage; preferring to be interred with his wife who died some 22 years earlier of colon cancer.
It is thought that the ashes of daughter/stepdaughter Mia (Marie Genevieve) are interred with them.
Another family story which may or may not have a bearing on the state of the family relationships (i.e., time rather than family friction causing the attenuation of the family relationships) is the report that Claude attended the funeral of a family member and only two people were present; Claude and the former family coachman, apart from the officiating parties. The report adds that the deceased relative was quite elderly and may in fact, have outlived most other family members and contemporaries. Four people more or less fit this description, although Claude’s aunt, Martha Ann JOHNSTONE is the most likely. Claude’s Aunt Martha (nee HUNT) died in 1937 at the age of 86 years. The more remote possibilities are three of Claude’s sisters: Blanche (died 1931, aged 54 years); Hilda (died 1939, aged 58 years); Mabel (died 1946, aged 60 years). Blanche is the second most likely, dying without issue.
(Martha married William Craig JOHNSTONE 11.12.1870 and they had three children; Elsie, Percy and Waldo. William died 21.8.1894. Percy married Constance Alweine Augusta DEGENHARDT. I make mention of this link because Constance’s family may have a descendent (James DEGENHARDT) who was part of the ground crew of 3 Squadron, RAAF, in North Africa during WWII. Zadel’s husband, Sqd. Ldr., John Frederick HOWELL-PRICE was a pilot in 3 squadron).
Matthews reports that reference is made to Percy Emerson JOHNSTONE in the execution of wills and probate. The “West Australian” of 19.1.1912 under the heading Probates and Administration states “George Hunt, late of Magill, South Australia, gentleman to Eliza Ann Hunt and Percy Emerson Johnstone 2003 pounds 10 shillings.” Why this notice is in the “West Australian” and an amount bequeathed to Percy gives reason to speculate that Percy was involved in the expansion of Hunt, Corry and Co., in W.A. and was accordingly recognised by George in his will, being not only George’s nephew but also involved in the business.
The HUNT family grave sites and those related by marriage at the Magill Cemetery include the following with inscriptions on the headstones starting more or less with the earliest interments (inscriptions are quoted here because of the quaint style redolent or the time):
Affectionate Remembrance of
JAMES E. Y. HUNT
WHO AFTER A TIME OF INTENSE SUFFERING WAS KINDLY REMOVED BY THE ANGEL MESSENGER APRIL 7TH 1869
Also MARY ANN
wife of WILLIAM HUNT WHO IN OBEDIENCE TO THE HEAVENLY SUMMONS, BADE US GOOD BYE May 8th 1871 aged 29 years
(author’s note: Mary Ann nee THOMPSON, first wife of William Thomas HUNT, the eldest child of George and Elizabeth of Northamptonshire)
The HUNTS that were the original settlers (George and Elizabeth) are in graves 627-628.
The headstones record the following:
THIS TABLET IS ERECTED IN AFFECTIONATE REMEMBRANCE OF GEORGE HUNT WHOSE SPIRIT WINGED ITS FLIGHT FOR A HAPPIER SPHERE AUGUST 22 1874
ELIZABETH HIS WIFE WHO FIRM IN THE FAITH PEACEFULLY RESIGNED THIS LIFE,April 30th 1881 aged 67 years
Although this whimsical style of inscription was continued with Elizabeth Guthrie HUNT’S, Clarence’s, Lillian’s, Eliza Ann HUNT’S (which reads, “GOD’S FINGER TOUCHED HER AND SHE SLEPT) and George’s epitaphs the subsequent family inscriptions tended to record just the name of the deceased and the date of death. This change may have reflected a wider change in the community towards having less elaborate statements; cost may also have influenced the preference for briefer statements.
Actually George’s (the draper) epitaph is interesting in that it departs from the messages of optimism, the acceptance of life after death and in James Edward Yeomans HUNT'S case, an expression of relief from suffering.
George’s inscription quotes two lines of verse attributed to Longfellow: “Oh for the touch of a vanished hand and the sound of a voice that is still”. These lines tend to provoke a profound sadness at the loss of a close companion and the wish for a return to life as it once was.
Note: a curious occurrence is a second James Edward Yeomans HUNT [the son of John Chapman HUNT and Elizabeth (nee Emery)] with the same first names as the son, James of George and Elizabeth is recorded as being born in 1870, a year after the first James Edward Yeomans HUNT died in 1869. This second James Edward Yeomans moved to Victoria. The family records in South Australia have no further account of him except that he married Louisa LYONS in 1891. However recently the Victorian branch of the HUNT family, having seen this narrative on familytreecircles have offered some further information about him and his father John Chapman HUNT from whom they are descended.
In another site are buried ELIZABETH HUNT (nee Emery) who died at Norwood April 28th 1889 aged 48 years and Lucy [author’s note: CHAPINA ELIZABETH LUCY nee HUNT, George’s (the draper) niece] the beloved wife of A.G. COLLIVER died May 30 1887 also ALFRED GEORGE infant son of above Feb. 22 1887. It is reasonable to infer that complications of the birth e.g., infections of which there were many varieties proved fatal to Lucy and Alfred.
A third site is quite large measuring 5.6m x 4m. The epitaph inscriptions bear the names of eleven HUNTS:
ELIZABETH HUNT (nee GUTHRIE); CLARENCE GEORGE HUNT (infant son of ELIZABETH and GEORGE HUNT (the draper). It is
deduced that perinatal complications eg infection proved fatal to mother and son; LILLIAN MAUDE LAPTHORNE (nee HUNT, aged 22 years); ELIZA ANN HUNT (nee BRUSEY), second wife of George); MAUDE WINIFRED JARVIS (nee HUNT aged 19 years); GORDON ALFRED JARVIS (infant son of MAUDE and ALFRED PERCIVAL JARVIS) again perinatal complications? HAROLD GORDON HUNT; ARTHUR GEORGE HUNT (son of GEORGE and ELIZA); HILDA FLORENCE CAMPION (nee HUNT); EDITH GUTHRIE PEARCE (nee HUNT previously married to ALBERT GEORGE SCRYMGOUR). (plots/graves/niches 415-416). GEORGE HUNT.
While George HUNT’S name appears on the same headstone as those of his wives, children and grandchildren, he is interred in (plot/grave/niche 381). But plot 381 backs on to plots 415-416 rendering the site a large one as indicated by the measurement mentioned in the previous paragraph.
His death was reported in the PERSONAL column of “The Advertiser” on the 15.5.1911 two days after his death at his home at Tranmere. His name is listed alongside that of his second wife, Eliza Ann in the cemetery interment list gathered by Faithe Jones (cemetery archivist) although I don’t believe this should indicate that they occupy exactly the same site as the depths of the first burials are not known. The inscriptions at the sites 415-416 while severely weathered can be deciphered with a little perseverance.
There is a question of whether George actually died at his residence notwithstanding what has been written previously in this narrative. Shanko, a Rootschat veteran, has on a CD of recorded deaths that George died in a hospital in North Adelaide. The only hospital fitting the description at the time of George’s death would be the Calvary Hospital established by the Sisters of the Little Company of Mary. This hospital was founded in 1900.
Another curious thing about the record of George’s death in Shanko’s CD is that in the section marked “Relative” no name is given although it would, one assumes, have been customary to have had his wife’s name entered in this section. In contrast to this is, at the time of Eliza Ann’s death in 1912, in the “Relative” section, George’s name is entered and that he was her deceased husband.
The Burnside Council records suggest that George was buried on the 15.5.1911 which is a mere two days after his death. While this is possible it does seem a rather hasty interment. Given George’s prominence in the business and Methodist communities one would have thought that, commensurate with his standing, some days would have elapsed while suitable preparations for his funeral were made.
These differences in the Shanko CD record, newspaper account and apparent speed of interment raise a series of questions including about the accuracy or completeness of the records to hand, or perhaps that George was known to have had a terminal illness or at least a serious health condition (and there seems some suggestion of this as he was absent due to illness from meetings of the church trust in the year before his death) which led to funeral preparations being substantially concluded prior to his death or perhaps reflecting some tension within the family at the time about how the funeral should be conducted.
On another site near the elder HUNT graves and the large HUNT site are the graves of the EMERY family with the following interred: JOSPEH EMERY and ELIZABETH EMERY (nee HUNT); MARY ELIZABETH EMERY (nee SCOTT, wife of WALTER SIDNEY); WALTER SIDNEY (son of JOSEPH AND ELIZABETH, father of CLEMENT); CLEMENT JOHN EMERY; ALICE ADA EMERY (nee GRAHAM wife of CLEMENT).
Returning to the conundrum of the “George Harry or Harry George”. The genealogical researcher, Graham Jaunay
states that a George N? HUNT married Louisa LING and this George’s father was also George.
Louisa LING is the name given in another family record as being the spouse of George Harry HUNT. The marriage certificate of George and Louisa identifies George as being a carpenter, that his father was also George and that the marriage took place at the residence of Mr. LING in Gilbert Street, Adelaide. Graham states that the nitial, “H”, looks like a lower case, “n”, on the certificate and adds that this George’s mother was Elizabeth PRATT.
However I’m still not convinced about this second George being part of the same family without the weight of additional evidence.
George’s wife, Louisa, was born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. LING is the family name linked with to the South Australian Company, Hills Industries. This company is most notable for the Hills hoist rotary clothesline and the company became exceedingly large from the middle of the 20th century onwards diversifying into a number of fields related to prefabricated steel construction, sheet metal products and other enterprises such as security installations.
Little is known about Louisa and George beyond that they married and that Louisa was a minor (19 years) at the time. It seems that they moved to Western Australia and it is possible that George died there although the date and place of death are uncertain. George’s presence in Western Australia may have had something to do with the expansion of Hunt, Corry and Co., that is if he was part of the HUNT family that forms the focus of this narrative.
The narrative now turns to Ethel who was the third daughter of George and Elizabeth Fea and another mystifying set of circumstances. “The Advertiser” 9 April 1904 has a death notice placed in it announcing that on the 8th April, at Rundle Street, Adelaide, Mary (Sissie), dearly loved wife of John Eldred COCKING, and only daughter of Mary and the late Charles PASCOE aged 39 years had died. It seems possible that this was the same John COCKING who married Ethel HUNT in 1907. However there is confusion over dates of marriage as the next paragraph outlines.
In one set of records John Eldred COCKING is stated as marrying Ethel HUNT on the 15.1.1889. However a column in “The Advertiser” 22 May 1907 reports the marriage at “Tranmere” of Ethel to John Eldred COCKING on the 25 April 1907, the Rev. Williams officiating.
Given Ethel’s birth on 21.11.1872 this would make her just sixteen if she married John in 1889. Further casting doubt on this marriage date, it is recorded that at the wedding of her sister, Edith, in 1890 the bridesmaids were named as the “Misses Lily, Ethel, Blanch (sic) and Hilda Hunt…”
Further in George HUNT’S funeral notice of 1911, Mrs A. Scrymgour and Mrs. E. Cocking are mentioned, inter alia, as family surviving. A question arises as to whether the “E” stands for Ethel or Eldred. The custom was, and still is in some quarters, where the wife assumes the full title of her husband eg. their sister, Lillian was named as Mrs. John Lapthorne in her funeral notice and the “A” in Edith Scrymgour’s name stood for Albert thus Mrs. Albert Scrymgour so in Ethel’s case above the “E” could stand for Eldred (assuming that John Eldred was addressed as Eldred).
There are good reasons for treating old records with care. Ethel is stated as having six children between 1890 and 1902. It now seems more likely that these children were the issue of John’s first marriage and were therefore Ethel’s stepchildren. Ethel, it would appear, was 35 years when she married John. She would have been regarded as an ageing spinster at the time and possibly past any expectation of receiving an offer of marriage.
John’s birth date is not listed among the records I hold but given that his first wife was 39 years at the time of her death we can assume that John was well into his forties when he married Ethel.
Adding to the theory that Ethel’s children were in fact her stepchildren it is noted that one set of family records has the Cocking children struck out with red ink which suggests that some previous researcher did not view them as being part of the HUNT family.
The church with which George had a long association viz. the Kent Town Wesleyan Methodist Church has a bronze plaque to the left of the main entrance which describes its construction:
Kent Town Wesley Uniting Church Built 1864 As Wesleyan Methodist Church, Tapley’s Hill Bluestone Construction, Transepts Added 1867, Vestries and Classrooms 1869, Lecture Hall 1874, Opening Service July 1865. First Pastor Rev. S. Ironside, Church pioneers Include Michael Kingsborough, Mayor 1870-71. Originally the Collegiate Church of Prince Alfred College
As indicated the church had the foundation stone laid for the transepts in the southern wall in 1867.
The stone reads as follows:
This Stone Was Laid, By Mrs Thomas Greaves Waterhouse, In The Year Of Our Lord 1867
George HUNT (draper) as a trustee of the Kent Town Wesleyan Methodist Church was party to the approval and purchase of the J. E. Dodd pipe organ 112 years ago (about 1898) which has recently been restored (“The Advertiser” Monday June 7, 2010).
George was a subscriber to the organ fund for the amount of 15 pounds and ten shillings which was the fifth highest amount in a lengthy list of subscribers. The largest amount was 53 pounds donated by Jas. Gartrell (who eventually had a church named after him “Gartrell Memorial Uniting Church” at Toorak Gardens). The list of subscribers made up part of the 33rd anniversary report of the Kent Town Wesleyan Methodist Church.
George and his nephew by marriage, Alfred G. COLLIVER, widower of Lucy COLLIVER (Chapina Elizabeth Lucy HUNT) are mentioned in the list of subscribers in 1889-90 to reduce the Kent Town Wesleyan Church Trust debt.
George donated two pounds eight shillings and Alfred, a guinea (one pound one shilling).
Incidentally the church records are held in the Mortlock library, Adelaide, and include minutes of the board of trustees.
A search of the trust meeting minutes for the stated length of George’s trusteeship of 29 years would place him in that office from about 1883 onwards. However there appears to be no record of his attending any meetings (or sending apologies) until 1895. Given that he was busy establishing his business in Adelaide and Western Australia and involved in at least one overseas trip his apparent absences are not surprising. A note on the 5 December 1894 has George’s name added to the trust. It seems that the efficiency of the secretariat may have been a little suspect. A typed list of people dated 1917 belatedly mentioned a number of people who were no longer to receive copies of the trust minutes as they were deceased, George’s name being one of them six years after his death.
The following list of some of the dates of meetings, George’s attendance or apologies and in some instances agenda items of special interest. (the bulk of the minutes dealt with routine payments to various functionaries of the church and building upkeep).
* 7 May 1895, George attended
* 11 February 1896, apology
* 14 April 1896, attended
* 12 June 1897, attended
* 6 August 1897, specifications for an enlargement of the organ outlined
* 21 October 1897 the new organ scheme is minuted
* 14 December Mr J. E. Dodd was requested to submit a fresh price given that many important alterations had been made to the tender of 23 July 1897
* 11 July 1898 a report on the delay in the construction of the organ being due to the fact that some of the pipes had arrived but others had not
* 3 May 1899 incandescent burners being investigated
* 11 August 1900 it was agreed to accept Mr. Dodd’s quote for organ tuning to be done on a weekly basis at a cost of 25 pounds per annum
George attended about one to two meetings a year which were held on a monthly basis from about 1899 onwards till 1908. In 1909 George attended four meetings in September and October 1909.
Stained glass windows were an agenda item with donors being acknowledged. Significant to mention that from 9 December 1909 to 17 May 1910 it was noted in the minutes that George was too ill to attend meetings. It is suspected that he had developed serious health problems which probably contributed, in part, if not totally, to his death the following year at the age of 64 years.
The next phase of this study is to identify the current generation(s) of HUNT descendents and this will be undertaken in due course.
Other names that appear in the Hunt lineage are Pratt, Bice, Brusey, Fea and Guthrie.
Names that appear through marriage to George’s, Elizabeth’s and Eliza’s children and George’s siblings: Emery, Colliver, Cocking, Jarvis, Lapthorne, Thompson, Cole, Johnstone, Scrymgour, Pearce, Wilson, Campion, Brown, Degenhardt, Hoffman, Harold Priest (to distinguish from other unrelated Priests who entered the lineage much later), Raggatt, Groves, Heath, Jackman, McNab.
This ends my contribution of facts and conjecture on the HUNTS up to the present day. What is really curious is that there are no images either photographic or painted of George (the draper) and only three of his children appear in photographs and one of his second wife. Of George’s parents and siblings there are no images that I have been able to discover. Given that photographs, particularly family portraits, may have been thought a luxury, the financial outlay would have been a bit of a disincentive. It wasn’t till George Eastman, inventor of the roll film and the ultimate easy “snapper”, the Kodak Box Brownie camera and its black and white 620 film came along that photography was placed in the hands of ordinary people and “candid” photos were taken ie. photos taken outside of the studio or formal settings.
A bit of information about the Adelaide the HUNTS were part of will provide some insight as to the nature of the place that had become their new home. The “Insight” magazine section of the “Sunday Mail”, May 8, 2011 pp.33, 40 and 41 includes a report by Liz Walsh who drew upon in large part the doctoral thesis of Lee Hammond who covered the fascinating history of the West End of Adelaide.
The section states that there was a bizarre mixture of opposites: poverty and extreme wealth, filth and cleanliness, laughter-filled parties and all-out despair. By the 1880s the City of Churches had the unsavoury reputation of having more prostitutes and opium dens per capita than anywhere else in Australia.
Figures from colonial newspapers show that by 1870 there were about 300 and 400 prostitutes working in Adelaide. That number had swelled to an estimated 700 by 1871, staggering considering the total population was 27,200. These figures placed Adelaide as the prostitution capital of Australia. Hindley, Currie, Waymouth, Franklin, Grote and Gilbert Streets were notorious for their brothels and Rosina Street was almost entirely brothels.
Author, actor and social commentator Mrs Herbert Fisher, a prickly person by accounts who wrote under the pseudonym “Thistle Anderson” published a book called Arcadian Adelaide in 1905 and claimed Adelaide had more opium dens than anywhere else in Australia. She said Adelaide with a population of 162,261 had eight opium dens.
It would be impossible for the HUNT family not to have been aware of the seamy side of Adelaide.
Hammond in her thesis attempts an explanation as to why Adelaide seemed to possess the duality of the free settlers in the City of Churches (indicating high morality) on the one hand and the subculture of booze, sex and drugs on the other.
Amongst Hammond’s range of reasons is that some middle-class women (we could suggest those that also had the benefits of an education) were considering the advantages of limiting their family sizes and in the absence of reliable contraception were severely curtailing their conjugal activity as a means of birth control. This in turn could propel some of the less scrupulous spouses into the arms of prostitutes and the concomitant subculture of grog, gambling and other “vices”.
Dr. Richard Penney in 1842 blamed a number of factors for the city’s immorality. These included “lower class of women” arriving from neighbouring colonies, the large numbers of single men in country areas and that mechanics and labourers were earning wages “beyond what was necessary”.
Mrs Louisa Clarke Wells of Semaphore, an educated woman who could play piano, speak French, enjoyed reading poetry and wrote books and pamphlets between 1887 and 1888 about her experiences after arriving in the colony in 1883. She wrote that she became a prostitute and brothel keeper when she struggled to find work and had to feed her three children and herself. She describes “I saw my poor little ones’ faces looking pale and pinched and their dear little toes sticking out of their shoes and when a man offered to supply their wants, I was the price of the barter.”
Wells wrote about her clients (although without naming them it would appear) from judges to magistrates, Members of Parliament, barristers, lawyers, merchants, doctors, butchers, bakers, bushmen down to common thieves.
However it appears that many of the prostitutes (some 42%) were from a group of 5000 Irish orphans brought to Adelaide after 1848 to cover the domestic servant shortage. But many were found to be unsuitable and were consequently left destitute and had to fend for themselves. They soon became mothers with domestic violence an accepted part of the subculture with many girls sporting black eyes and bruised cheeks when they went out on the “beat”.
This migration of orphans occurred contemporaneously with the arrival in the colony of the HUNTS.
We shall give Wells the last word on this unsavoury aspect of early Adelaide. “I protest against the pitiful injustices heaped upon the sisterhood by so-called respectable people. Freedom is the birthright of every Englishman and we as women claim it.” This narrative must be considered inchoate, so other Hunt descendents are invited to edit this narrative; correct errors, add anecdotes, in short, fill in the blanks of which there are many.
A story of family is never complete as new generations add to the saga, family members question the inclusion or omission of information and anecdotes, challenge opinions and details expressed and so on.
In the meantime I, Phillip A Priest, accept full responsibility for this account in the year 2013.
Appendix A Dandies