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Hawker, Michael Seymour (1857–1933)

Mr. Michael Seymour Hawker, of North Bungaree, a member of one of the State's great pastoralist families, and one of the leading Merino stud breeders of the Commonwealth, died on Tuesday night at Ru Rua Hospital, North Adelaide, aged 76. He was the father of Mr. C. A. S. Hawker, M.H.R.

The famous Bungaree stud, regarded as one of the best in the country, was established by his father, Mr. C. G. Hawker, in 1841, five years after the birth of the State. Mr. Michael Hawker took an important part in the building up of this stud. His name is linked with the evolution of a distinct type of Merino, which became the basis of huge flocks in South Australia, and helped to make Australia the biggest wool producing country in the world. Today Bungaree sheep are recognised as among the largest of their type in the Commonwealth, and probably in the world. In addition to his work as a sheep breeder, Mr. Hawker was prominent to the activities of pastoralist organisations.

Personally, Mr. Hawker was held in high esteem. Other pastoralists respected him for his efforts on behalf of the industry, for his wide knowledge of sheep, and for his readiness to share the benefits of his experience. His pleasant manner made him popular both with his employees and his large circle of friends.

Mr. Hawker was born in this State in 1857, and was educated at Stubbington School, England, and in Germany. On his return to South Australia he devoted practically the whole of his life and interest to the management of the Bungaree station. His father died in 1895, and Mr. Hawker carried on the management until the six brothers then living dissolved partnership and divided the property in 1906. Mr. Michael Hawker's share was the northern run of the old station, situated near Spalding which is now known as North Bungaree.

At the time of his death he also had interests in Partacoona station, north of Quorn, McCoy's Well station, near Nackara, Mount Victor station, near Yacka, and Sturt's Meadows station, Western Australia. At one time he had a share in a station on the River Darling, and another in Queensland but disposed of these.

The extensive knowledge of sheep which Mr. Hawker gained, particularly of the types most suitable for Australian conditions, he helped to disseminate among other sheep breeders. He was an active member of the Pastoralists' Association, which many years ago became known as the Stockowners' Association. Mr. Hawker occupied positions on the council and executive of the latter association, and was president for a year. He was also a member of the management committees of the Stud Merino Sheep Breeders' Association since the inception of that body. He was associated with the Royal Agricultural Society for more than 25 years, as a member of the council and of the pastoral committee, of which he was chairman on several occasions. He exhibited some of his sheep at Adelaide and other shows.

Mr. Hawker's work on behalf of the pastoral industry often brought him into close touch with politics. He did not seek election to Parliament, but he was well acquainted with political developments, and took a deep interest in the career of his elder son especially when Mr. C. A. S. Hawker was a member of the Lyons Government.

When war began in 1914 Mr. Hawker was in Scotland, and although he was nearly 60, he offered his services to Great Britain with characteristic energy. He went to France on enquiry work in connection with missing soldiers, and for nearly two years was on the executive committee of the Parcels for Prisoners of War.

His activity then was a reflex of the spirit he showed throughout his life. Even until a brief period before his death he visited his stations, and took an active part in their management. His home life was spent mostly at Aldgate in recent years.

Mr. Hawker married Miss E. B. McFarlane, daughter of Mr. A. McFarlane, of Wellington Lodge. The widow is living with her youngest daughter, Miss A. I. Hawker, at Aldgate. Other members of the family are Mr. M. S. Hawker, jun., and Mrs. B. Needham, of Loxton. Two of Mr. Hawkers brothers are living—Messrs. Edward and Walter Hawker.

There were many expressions or regret when Mr. Hawker's death, became known in the city yesterday. Mr. E. H. Bakewell, chairman of the Municipal Tramways Trust, who was closely associated for many years with Mr. Hawker, said his passing was to be greatly regretted. "I have known him since a young man, when he was taking an interest in the management of his father's extensive property. The Bungaree stock has always been known as a high-class Merino sheep. Mr. Michael Hawker had his full share in the development of the stud and flocks. He was always attentive and diligent in his work as member of pastoralist organisations. He did not talk a great deal but what he said was definite and constructive. He was a valuable member of the community, and personally he was always highly appreciated by his friends.''

The secretary of the Stockowners' Association (Mr. E. D. H. Virgo) said Mr. Hawker's death would be a distinct loss to the pastoral and stud sheep breeding industry, with which his name would be prominently associated for all time. His work as a stud master was reflected in the wonderful sheep produced at North Bungaree. Bungaree had developed a large, fine plain-bodied Merino which had contributed considerably towards the evolution of the South Australian Merino, which was almost a distinct type.

"Members of the Royal Agricultural Society will all regret Mr. Hawker's death" said the secretary (Mr. H. J. Finnis).

Original publication

Citation details

'Hawker, Michael Seymour (1857–1933)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hawker-michael-seymour-16015/text27287, accessed 22 November 2017.

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