John Hart (South Australian colonist)

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Captain John Hart
John Hart (Australian politician).jpg
Born (1809-02-25)25 February 1809
Died 28 January 1873(1873-01-28) (aged 63)
Adelaide, South Australia
Nationality British

Captain John Hart (25 February 1809 – 28 January 1873) was a South Australian politician and a Premier of South Australia.

Early life[edit]

The son of journalist/newspaper publisher John Harriott Hart & Mary née Glanville, John was born on 25 February 1809[1] probably at 23 Warwick Lane off Newgate Street, London. At Christ Church, Greyfriars (London), John was baptised. At 12 years of age he first went to sea, visiting Hobart, Van Diemen's Land (now Tasmania, Australia) in September 1828 in the Magnet. In 1832 Hart was in command of the schooner Elizabeth, a sealer operating from Tasmania and visiting Kangaroo Island and Gulf St Vincent. In 1833 he took Edward Henty to and from Portland Bay. In 1836 he was sent to London to purchase another vessel, and returning in the Isabella took the first livestock from Tasmania to South Australia in 1837. On the return voyage the Isabella was wrecked off Cape Nelson and Hart lost everything he had. Early January 1838 he was "on the River Murray near Mount Hope" (perhaps the Lachlan near Hillston) and foresaw the great thoroughfare it would become in the second half of that century.[2] He went to Adelaide and John B. Hack sent him to Sydney to buy a vessel in which he brought stock to Portland Bay. Some of this stock he successfully brought overland to South Australia. Hack also gave Hart two acres (0.8 ha) of land in Adelaide. In 1839 he managed a whaling station at Encounter Bay.

In January 1843 Hart sailed to England in command of the South Australian Company's ageing barque Sarah and Elizabeth, delivering it to London for sale. Aboard as a passenger was the explorer John Hill, from whom Hart had just purchased Section 2112 at Port Adelaide, in partnership with Jacob Hagen. In December 1843 Hart returned to Adelaide in command of the barque Augustus of which he was part owner with Jacob Hagen and Hagen's brother. Among the passengers was the artist George French Angas.

After another voyage to England he gave up the sea in 1846, and settled near Port Adelaide, where he joined with H. Kent Hughes as merchants Hughes and Hart then, as Hart & Company, established large and successful flour mills. His flour mill at the Port was regarded as one of the best, and "Hart's Flour" commanded the highest prices in Australia.[3]

He was a member of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society and its president from 1858 to 1859.

He became interested in copper mining, and some imputations having been made of underhand dealings in connection with leases, challenged inquiry. A select committee completely exonerated Hart stating that his conduct in every particular had been that of a strictly honourable and upright man.

John Hart was the first president of the Port Adelaide Football Club.


Hart took an interest in public affairs, in 1851 was elected to the Legislative Council. Hart resigned in 1853 to visit England and was re-elected the next year. In 1857 Hart became a member for Port Adelaide in the first House of Assembly. He was Treasurer of South Australia in the Baker ministry which lasted only a few days in August 1857, and held the same position in the Hanson cabinet from 30 September 1857 to 12 June 1858 when he resigned. Hart was chief secretary in the short-lived first Dutton ministry in July 1863, and was Treasurer in the first and second Ayers ministries, and the first Blyth ministry from July 1863 to March 1865. Hart became premier and chief secretary from 23 October 1865 to 28 March 1866 and from 24 September 1868 to 13 October 1868. Hart was member for Light from May 1868 to April 1870.[4] He was premier and Treasurer from 30 May 1870 to 10 November 1871, his last term of office.

One newspaper obituary gave the opinion that Hart had been unfairly criticised in several of his decisions (and had been subsequently vindicated) and should have been given credit for the Overland Telegraph Line rather than Sir Henry Ayers.[5]


Hart died suddenly on 28 January 1873 while presiding at a meeting of the Mercantile Marine Insurance Company, leaving a widow and a large family.[3]


Hart was created C.M.G. in 1870.


John Hart married Mary Gillmor Kathrine Todd ( – 15 February 1876) fourth daughter of Charles Hawkes Todd (and sister of Robert Bentley Todd) on 12 May 1845, (making Charles Todd a nephew);[5] among their two sons and five daughters were:

  • Elizabeth Sarah Hart (9 March 1846 – 3 June 1908) married Henry Brook Dobbin (ca.1840 – 22 July 1873) on 3 July 1867
  • Margaret Hart (14 May 1847 – 2 August 1920) married Arthur Powell; she founded St. Margaret's Home for convalescents, Semaphore.[6]
  • John Hart Jr. (16 July 1848 – 15 August 1881) married Emily Lavinia Finch ( – 5 October 1939) on 8 August 1877; he was MHA for Port Adelaide 1880–1881. He died at Wooton Lea, Glen Osmond
  • Mary Hart (9 September 1849 – 16 April 1915) married Henry Huth Walters (March 1841 – ) on 14 October 1868
  • Charles Hawkes Todd Hart (19 November 1850 – ) was manager Port Adelaide flour mill 1873, may have returned to England.[5]
  • Annie Hart ( – 1 December 1913) married Rowland James Egerton-Warburton (4 February 1846 – 1918) on 14 May 1872. Rowland was a son of Colonel Peter Egerton-Warburton.[7]
  • Katherine Hart (ca.1856 – 21 April 1904) married Algernon Arbuthnott Godwin on 9 January 1879
Hart's Mill (1855, centre) and the Adelaide Milling Company flour mill (c.1890, right) are prominent landmarks adjacent to the southern wharf of the Inner Harbour at Port Adelaide.
34°50′33.2″S 138°29′58.4″E / 34.842556°S 138.499556°E / -34.842556; 138.499556 
Glanville Hall, the family home built in 1856 by Captain Hart at Semaphore South, is now owned by the City of Port Adelaide-Enfield, and used as a function centre.
34°50′55.0″S 138°28′53.8″E / 34.848611°S 138.481611°E / -34.848611; 138.481611 

See also[edit]

Other South Australian flour millers of the period were:


  1. ^ O'Neill, Sally, 'Hart, John (1809–1873)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 6 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Romance of the World's Great Rivers". The Advertiser (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 1 August 1908. p. 13. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Heaton, J. H. Australian Dictionary of Dates and Men of the Time George Robertson, Sydney, 1879
  4. ^ "Hon John Hart Snr". Former Member of Parliament Details. Parliament of South Australia. 
  5. ^ a b c "Death of the Hon. Captain Hart C.M.G.". Kapunda Herald and Northern Intelligencer (SA : 1864–1878) (SA: National Library of Australia). 31 January 1873. p. 3. Retrieved 14 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "Romance Of St. Margaret's". The Advertiser (Adelaide: National Library of Australia). 19 November 1935. p. 9. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  7. ^ Mosley, Charles, editor. Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.A.: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd, 2003. Vol. 2, p.1675


Political offices
Preceded by
Henry Ayers
Premier of South Australia
23 October 1865 – 28 March 1866
Succeeded by
James Boucaut
Preceded by
Henry Ayers
Premier of South Australia
24 September 1868 – 13 October 1868
Succeeded by
Henry Ayers
Preceded by
Henry Strangways
Premier of South Australia
30 May 1870 – 10 November 1871
Succeeded by
Arthur Blyth