Jackie Howe

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Jack "Jackie" Howe
Gravesite memorial inscription for Jack Howe in Blackall necropolis
Born(1861-07-26)26 July 1861
Died21 July 1920(1920-07-21) (aged 58)
Known forSheep shearing

John Robert "Jackie" Howe (26 July 1861 (?) – 21 July 1920) was a legendary Australian sheep shearer at the end of the 19th century. He shot to fame in pre-Federation Australia in 1892 when he broke the daily and weekly shearing records across the colonies.

Howe was born at Killarney near Warwick, Queensland. On 10 October 1892, Howe shore 321 sheep in seven hours and 40 minutes at Alice Downs station, near Blackall, Queensland. This was a faster tally than any other shearer had achieved before. In the week beforehand, Howe also set the weekly record, shearing 1,437 sheep in 44 hours and 30 minutes. Howe's daily record was beaten by Ted Reick in 1950, but Reick was using machine shears, while Howe's hand shears were little more than scissors.

According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Howe's weekly record stood unbeaten as of 2005.[1]

In October 2015, Howe's record was reported as still unbeaten after 123 years.[2]

Howe was active during the shearer strikes of the 1891 and 1894, and was a committed trade unionist. After Howe's death, Queensland Premier T. J. Ryan said, in a telegram to Howe's widow, "I have lost a true and trusted friend and Labor has lost a champion". Jackie Howe was the subject of a book, Jack Howe: The Man and the Legend, by Barry Muir, and a bronze statue, on display in Blackall.

Jackie Howe's father, Jack Howe, was also a shearer and a clown with La Rosier's circus, claiming to be the first clown to travel the Australian colonies, and was town-crier in Warwick.[3] Jackie Howe owned a pub, The Barcoo Hotel, in Blackall, Queensland. There is now a statue there of him holding a sheep.[4]


Jack Howe's gravesite in Blackall cemetery

Jackie Howe became the name given to navy blue singlet tops.[5] According to legend, this is what Jackie was wearing on the day he broke the shearing record. They are still popular today among Australian men.


  1. ^ Gibbney, H. J. (1983). "Howe, John Robert (1861? - 1920)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-03-05. Retrieved 2018-03-02.
  3. ^ "PERSONAL". Warwick Examiner And Times (4473). Queensland, Australia. 6 September 1913. p. 5. Retrieved 18 January 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ The Day the Llama Spat in Jack Howe's Hair Archived 2006-05-01 at the Wayback Machine., Queensland heritage stories on abc.net.au Archived 1997-06-13 at the Wayback Machine.. Accessed 29 April 2006.
  5. ^ Jacky Howe Archived 2011-01-02 at the Wayback Machine., entry on Australian National Dictionary Centre website. Accessed 4 June 2007.