Fremantle Stuff > people > Robert Mace Habgood
Robert Mace Habgood (1814 - 29 March 1876) was a merchant trader in Western Australia's colonial era. He was also a member of the Chamber of Commerce, pastoralist, significant shareholder in the Western Australian Bank, and proprietor of the Geraldine Mine.
Habgood was born in 1814, the son of Thomas Habgood of Newdegate Street, London. He had brothers William, Thomas and John Habgood , who were original signatories to the West Australian Land and Immigration Committee in 1828. William was the first of the Habgood brothers to travel to the new colony in 1830, with Robert settling a year later, at age 17. William died young from consumption, and Robert inherited his fortune.
Shortly after arriving, Habgood commenced business as an importer, and became one of Western Australia's leading merchants. He was an active member of the first Chamber of Commerce established in the colony, and was also one of the principal proprietors of the Western Australian Bank. Habgood was a successful mining speculator, and co-founder of The Western Australian Mining Company, the first mining company in the colony.
Habgood retired c. 1861 and moved to England. Having invested significantly in shipping, he established a trade route between Western Australia and London, through which he yearly exported hundred tons of ore from Geraldine Mine. He owned the vessels Chalgrove and the Zephyr, and was owner or part owner of a third, the Hawk, which was wrecked in Fremantle Harbour. Habgood also traded wool, lead, sandalwood and horses.
Habgood died at his residence in Lynton, England, on 29 March 1876, aged 63.
Habgood was recognised as one of the most influential Western Australian businesspeople in The West Australian's 2013 list of the 100 most influential.
HABGOOD, Robert Mace, b. 1814, d. 29.3.1876 (England), son of William, arr. 28.12.1831 per Egyptian from England, m. 17.2.1846 Sarah SMITHERS b. 1824, dtr. of William, who arr. 12.12.1829 per Gilmore. Chd. Sarah b. 1846, Clara Emily b. 1848, Frances Amelia b. 1850, Thomas a Beckett b. 1853 d. 1854. Lucy Alice b. 1855 d. 1855, Laura b. 1856 d. 1923, Robert Henry bp. 1852 d. 1891, lsabella Florence bp. 1858 d. 1944, Albinia Jane d. inf., Alfred Shenton b. 1863 d. 1864.
Merchant. Perth. Owned 5280 acres at Northam, leased to tenant farmers. On Bd. of Public Works 1849. Shipping Agent & went on trading voyages during 1840s. Director of WA Bank 1846: Director of Geraldine Mining Co. 1856 &owner 1868, & employed 11 T/L men at the mine 1873-5. Chairman Perth Chamber of Commerce: Estab. a steam mill in Perth. Held several Murchison Leases. His trustees auctioned his Northam land 1892. The purchaser was George Throssell. Retired to London 9.1859 but retained his interests in WA. His family returned WA 1876.
Obituary, Inquirer and Commercial News, Wednesday 7 June 1876, p. 3:
THE LATE MR. HABGOOD.
We regret to say that the intimation received by telegraph from Adelaide by the April mail to the effect that the head of the firm of Messrs. Habgood, Absolon, & Co., of this city, was dead, is fully confirmed by advices to hand by the English mail which reached us on Saturday last. There are few names connected with the early settlement and subsequent advancement of Western Australia of greater familiarity than that of Mr. ROBERT MACE HABGOOD, and few men were probably more successful than he. Arriving here about the year 1832, he shortly afterwards commenced business as an importer, and by degrees, having a good connection abroad, he became one of our leading merchants. He was a most active member of the first Chamber of Commerce established in the colony, and was also one of the principal proprietors of the Western Australian Bank, in connection with which his shrewd business habits and mature judgment were considered of the greatest value. We have said that Mr. Habgood was a successful man; he was also a liberal man, and in the exercise of his liberality he largely contributed to the advancement of the colony. Surrounded by numerous obstacles that would have caused the majority of men similarly situated to hesitate, he persevered, and was in reality the only successful mining speculator the colony could boast of. Difficulties which proved so disastrous even to companies were to him but trifles, and it was probably to this boldness of character and determination that he owed his success. Mr. Habgood retired from business and went to reside in England about fifteen years ago. There, however, he found he could not be idle, and having embarked a large amount of capital in shipping, he established a line of vessels between this colony and London, in which he yearly exported many hundred tons of ore from his Geraldine property. He died at his residence, Lynton, in England, on the 29th March last, in the sixty-third year of his age.
Perth Gazette and WA Journal, Saturday 23 June 1838, p. 99:
MAGISTRATE'S COURT. Lieutenant King, of H. M. 21st Regiment, appeared to meet a charge of assault, at the instance, of Mr. Robert Habgood, of Perth. The complainant, previously to the case being entered into, requested to be allowed to observe, that he entertained no ill will or malicious feeling towards Mr. King, but that he appeared to protect himself from a repetition of similar violence, and to perform what he considered a public duty. The complainant here entered into a statement of his case, from which it appeared that he had an account in trade with Mr. King, the balance of which had been due for some time. To obtain this amount, he instructed Mr. Welch to call on Mr. King, and to say that it must be paid. Mr. Welch returned, and said that Mr. King had called him (the complainant) " a great pest,' or " a great dun," and that he would see him in the course of the morning. Mr. King consequently called, and said it was not convenient to pay the whole of the account, and that he (the complainant) must let it stand over. The complainant told him, as the account had been so long running, he could not let it stand over any further, and that Mr. King could not expect it, after the remarks he had made. Upon this he said, that he would pay the account at his convenience, and not at Messrs. Habgood's, and he considered the merchants and storekeepers in the Colony much too independent, but there were others who would not have acted in the shameful manner the complainant had done, and that the conduct of the complainant was disgraceful. The complainant then said he thought Mr. King a disgrace to H. M.'s Service. Mr. King seized a musket which was standing in the corner, and, lifting it, threatened to knock the complainant's brains out. The complainant laid hold of the nearest thing to him a blacking-bottle—in his defence (the recital of this circumstance created a roar of laughter in the Court), and said, "Would you strike, you blackguard?" Mr. King did not think it possible such an expression could have been used, as he was satisfied if he had heard it, not all the blacking in Mr. Habgood's shop would heve prevented him from knocking him down. The complainant : Do you admit you lifted the musket?-Mr. King : And do you allow that you lifted the blacking bottle? (Laughter.) I admit that I lifted the gun, and was within an ace of chastising the complainant ; if I had condescended to do it, I would have broken his head, as any gentleman must have done, who was told he was a disgrace to his commission. The complainant continued his statement. The musket was then dropped, and Mr. King said, if it were not for lowering himself, he would give the complainant a d---d good hiding. The disturbance was here ended, and the money due on account was paid in the course of the afternoon. After some conversation, the Magistrates ordered the Court to be cleared. In the course of a few minutes, the parties were again called in, when the Magistrates expressed it as their opinion, that both the complainant and defendant were in the wrong, and it did not appear to them in evidence which was the first aggressor. Mr. Habgood offered, as he had previously done, the evidence of his black servant, who overheard the threats and expressions made use of by Mr. King. It was decided that the case should be dismissed.
HABGOOD, Robert Henry, baptized. 3.1.1852, d. 21.6.1891, son of Robert Mace & Sarah (nee Smithers), m. 15.6.1880 (at home of bride - Maitland Brown) Blanche Mary Eliza BROWN b. 24.6.1860. dtr. of Kenneth & Mary Eliza (nee Wittenoom). Chd. Ada Florence (Perth C/E) b. 1881 d. 1938, Robert Henry b. 1883 d. 1936. Perth, merchant. Made several voyages to & from England. R. M. Habgood & Co. employed 11 T/L men at Geraldine Mines 1873-5 and a T/L bott1e-o at Perth 1876. C/E.
his grandson, another Robert Henry:
FUNERALS. The Late Mr. R. H. Habgood. On Thursday last Mr. Robert Henry Habgood died at the Northam Hospital after an illness of about a fortnight. He had not enjoyed good health for some considerable time. Mr. Habgood was a member of one of the earliest families who settled in Western Australia, his grandfather, Robert Mace Habgood, having been a well-known merchant in Perth after whom Habgood Estate at Northam was named. The late Mr. Habgood was born in Perth about 62 years ago; his father was the late Robert Henry Habgood. In his early manhood he was engaged in pastoral pursuits on the Upper Murchison for several years. After the disposal of his station property Mr. Habgood did contracting work on the Murchison goldfields and later at Goomalling. He married, at Guildford, Miss Helena Johnson, a granddaughter of two other well-known pioneer families—the Hardeys and Johnsons—who came to the then colony in the ship Tranby. About five years ago Mr. and Mrs. Habgood went to live in Northam. Deceased leaves a widow and two sons. The funeral took place on Friday afternoon in the Anglican portion of the Northam Cemetery, the Rev. J. Eakins Stannage officiating. The chief mouners were Mrs. Habgood (widow), Masters Robert and William Habgood (sons), Colonel C.H.E. Manning (brother-in-law), Mrs E. L. Taylor (sister-in-law), Mrs. W. Burges (aunt) and Mr. W. Burges (uncle). The pall-bearers were Messrs. F. M. Read, R.M., A. E. Sainsbury, Paul Mitchell, Harold Freind, F. B. Timperley and W. T. Turnock.
his eldest daughter:
HABGOOD, Sarah. dtr. of Robert Mace. m. 1st 1870 John de Mansfield ABSOLON, m. 2nd 1881 Daniel Glyn WATKINS.
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