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James Symonds Hawkes (1856–1919)

Mr. James Symonds Hawkes, of Sydney, whose death is announced this morning, was at one time a well known resident at Port Adelaide. As a lad of 13 fifty years ago he entered J. L. Young's Adelaide Educational Institution, and became a successful student in geometry and algebra, and for three years was a regular prize taker. Old scholars will remember him as "Geometry Hawkes." When he left the principal highly complimented him on his proficiency in mathematics; in his experience two or three pupils had gone a little farther than Hawkes, but none had so rapidly grasped these subjects. At a little over 16 he entered the service of Messrs. Robin and LeMessurier, timber merchants. of Port Adelaide, and at 18 became the accountant. Twelve months later the owner of the business (Mr. Theophilus Robin) died, and Mr. Theodore Hack took over the management of what then became known as Robin & Hack. Mr. Hawkes remained in the service for ten years, and being a fair athlete he played every season with the Port Adelaide Football Club. His attention, however, was attracted by the silver finds at Silverton, and he threw up his occupation to become a mineral prospector. In a few months he travelled overland to Sydney, where his mathematical talents soon brought more congenial employment. For nearly thirty years he was one of the busiest civil engineers in New South Wales. His first job was superintending the erection of the well-known Hotel Metropole for the contractor, then followed superintendence over many other palatial buildings, as well as bridges, mining plants, and other engineering work, encluding various jobs for the State Government. He was the first in Australia to construct the giant cranes —used nowadays on the larger class of lofty buildings. In later years his activity became impaired by attacks of acute rheumatism, and after 1916 his complaint confined him to his home. After three years of suffering, cheerfully borne, his life suddenly ended on Friday, the 11th inst., through heart failure, in his 64th year. He was twice married, and leaves a widow, and ten children by his first wife (nee Codling), three daughters, all married, and seven sons, five of whom volunteered for active service, but two were rejected. Two of the three boys just got home, and the eldest was passing through Adelaide on Tuesday last when he was informed of his father's death. His only brother, Mr. J. H. M. Hawkes, is well known in Adealide as manager of Fowler's Lion factory, and an only sister, Mrs. E. A. Humpherys, resides at Prosect.

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'Hawkes, James Symonds (1856–1919)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 May 2024.

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