Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Angas, Sir John Keith (1900–1977)

by R. W. Linn

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Sir John Keith Angas (1900-1977), pastoralist, was born on 30 January 1900 at Lindsay Park, Angaston, South Australia, fourth child of English-born Charles Howard Angas, sheep-farmer, and his wife Eliza Etty, née Dean, and great-grandson of George Fife Angas. Keith attended the Collegiate School of St Peter, Adelaide, and Geelong Grammar School, Victoria (1914-18), where he proved a humane house captain and became an honorary member of the junior teaching staff. In 1920 he toured Britain, driving an Armstrong Siddeley chassis, with a soapbox for a seat and no windscreen; he later designed the coachwork and had it custom-built in Adelaide. In 1922 he published Safari Days, describing two months in British East Africa during which he shot a lion which had mauled his leader. At St Cuthbert's Anglican Church, Prospect, Adelaide, on 30 April 1924 Angas married Gwynnyth Fay Good. After his father's death in 1928, he inherited Lindsay Park, the family property on which he bred sheep and horses, and ran deer.

Blessed with charm, élan and a delightful sense of humour, Angas was six feet (183 cm) tall and of impressive build, with brown hair and hazel eyes. In 1939 he enlisted in the Australian Military Forces and was posted to the 13th Field Brigade, Royal Australian Artillery. On 10 February 1942 he transferred to the Australian Imperial Force as a captain and from July was a member of the Australian Army Service Corps, South Australian Lines of Communication Area. His appointment terminated in July 1944.

Angas belonged to many and various organizations: he was president (1947-50) of the Liberal and Country League of South Australia, and was knighted in 1952; he was chairman (1952-62) of the South Australian Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, the South Australian Jockey Club, the Graziers' Federal Council of Australia (1939-40), Elder Smith & Co. Ltd, Horwood Bagshaw Ltd and Bagot's Executor Trustee Co. Ltd; he was, as well, a director on the Adelaide board of the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Society Ltd. A governor of the Anti-Cancer Foundation of South Australia and vice-president of the local branch of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, he was a councillor (1938-61) of St Mark's College and in 1961 joined the committee on the future of tertiary education, Australian Universities Commission. While president (1973-75) of the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia, he drove a late-model Holden.

Although he was a respected figurehead, Sir Keith was disposed to defend the status quo and was seldom influential on the bodies he served. Philanthropic and generous, he donated over £40,000 to the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia, of which he was president (1951-59) and treasurer. He belonged to the Adelaide and Melbourne clubs, enjoyed golf and bowls, and at the age of 65 still listed water-skiing as his recreation. Angas also painted landscapes and sculpted the horses' heads for the gateway to the stables at Lindsay Park. In 1965 he sold the property to a syndicate, led by the thoroughbred horse-trainer Colin Hayes, and moved to North Adelaide.

Recognized as one of the last Anglo-Australian gentlemen in South Australia, Sir Keith represented a type which succumbed to the rapid changes of the post-Playford era. Survived by his wife, daughter and son, Angas died on 13 April 1977 at Thorngate and was cremated, as he wished, without 'fuss or funereal pomp'. His portrait by Paul Fitzgerald is held by the family.

Select Bibliography

  • S. Nicol, Bullock Tracks and Bitumen (Adel, 1978)
  • J. Brown, Town Life in Pioneer South Australia (Adel, 1980)
  • C. and M. Kerr, Royal Show (Adel, 1983)
  • South Australian Motor, 60, no 4, July 1977
  • Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Corian, July-Aug 1978
  • Australian, 8 July 1967
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 5 June 1952, 20 June 1973, 14 Apr 1977
  • Times (London), 3 June 1977
  • Geelong Church of England Grammar School Archives.

Related Thematic Essay

Citation details

R. W. Linn, 'Angas, Sir John Keith (1900–1977)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/angas-sir-john-keith-9366/text16451, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 25 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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