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Bagot, Charles Hervey (1788–1880)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Charles Hervey Bagot (1788-1880), by unknown photographer, c1880

Charles Hervey Bagot (1788-1880), by unknown photographer, c1880

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 17890

Charles Hervey Bagot (1788-1880), soldier, pastoralist and mineowner, was born on 17 April 1788 at Nurney, County Kildare, Ireland, the youngest son of Christopher Bagot, landed proprietor, and his wife Elizabeth, née Clibborn. He saw active service after 1804 with the 87th Regiment in South America, Cape Colony and India. Promoted captain in 1815 he married Mary, the eldest daughter of M. S. J. MacCarthy, paymaster-general at Port Louis, Mauritius. He retired in 1819 on half-pay to Ireland where he was employed by several landowners as agent. To provide openings for his sons he migrated with his wife and five children to South Australia in the Birman, in charge of 224 emigrants, and landed at Adelaide in December 1840. He had been commissioned by Sir Montague Chapman to select and manage a special survey. He chose several sections, and in return received 1500 acres (607 ha) on the River Light which he called Koonunga, working it at first in co-operation with the Dutton brothers.

In 1842 Bagot's youngest son, Charles Samuel, discovered an outcrop of copper ore on the site of what became the Kapunda mine and soon afterwards Francis S. Dutton did likewise. An 80-acre (32 ha) section was secured in 1844 at 20s. an acre, Dutton receiving a quarter share which he soon sold in London. Bagot controlled the mine until 1857. He then floated a company in London which worked it until flooding and low prices made it unprofitable in 1877. Bagot took shares in many other mines but none of them succeeded like the Kapunda, which produced minerals of an estimated value of £800,000.

He was a nominee in the Legislative Council in 1844-51, member for Light in the part-elective council in 1851-53 and after responsible government held a seat in the Legislative Council in 1857-59. In 1846 he toured the colonies in eastern Australia. He went to England and Ireland with his wife in 1853-55 and on their return they built Nurney House at North Adelaide and made a home for the widow and five children of their son Christopher (1817-1853). On their next journey to Europe, Mrs Bagot died in Cairo on 17 January 1860; Bagot went on to Europe and the United States, and settled in London, where among other activities he published The National Importance of Emigration (London, 1863). In 1864 he returned to Adelaide and next year was elected again to the Legislative Council; he resigned in 1869.

As a politician his wide store of practical information proved invaluable. He won early distinction for sharing in the opposition to Lieutenant-Governor Frederick Robe's imposition of a royalty on minerals. He also led the opposition to state aid for churches and thereby fell out with many Anglicans. This led him to take a prominent part in the establishment of the Congregational Church at North Adelaide in 1864. He later became patron of the Total Abstinence League and supported a host of philanthropic movements. Sincere and firm in his views, he was always ready to listen to opponents but not easily shaken. In old age his intelligence remained undimmed. He died at Nurney House on 29 July 1880.

Of Bagot's children, Mary (b.1818) married William Jacob of Moorooroo, Charlotte (b.1824) married Captain William Maturin, Edward (b.1822) founded the firm of Bagot, Shakes & Lewis which later merged in Goldsbrough, Mort & Co., and Charles (b.1828) became a barrister in London and was knighted when he retired as a commissioner in lunacy.

Select Bibliography

  • F. S. Dutton, South Australia and its Mines (Lond, 1846)
  • C. H. Bagot, A Holograph Memoir (Adel, 1960)
  • S. B. Dickinson, ‘The Structural Control of Ore Deposition in Some South Australian Copperfields’, Bulletin (Geological Survey of South Australia), no 21, 1944, 64pp.

Citation details

'Bagot, Charles Hervey (1788–1880)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/bagot-charles-hervey-1730/text1903, published in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 31 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

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