Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hassell, Albert Young (1841–1918)

by C. W. Hassell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

This is a shared entry with John Frederick Tasman Hassell

Albert Young Hassell (1841-1918), by unknown photographer, 1898

Albert Young Hassell (1841-1918), by unknown photographer, 1898

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an21399820-45

John Frederick Tasman Hassell (1839-1919) and Albert Young Hassell (1841-1918), pastoralists and parliamentarians, were the first two of five sons of John Hassell and his wife Ellen, daughter of Charles Boucher. Their father was born in 1788, son of Francis Carolus Tennant Hassell, shipbroker and merchant, and Sarah, née Govey, of London. According to family tradition, he early joined the navy, transferred to the mercantile marine and then to the Chilean navy where he was taken prisoner by the Peruvians for about a year. He arrived in Van Diemen's Land in 1822 as first mate in the Belinda and in 1825-35 commanded ships trading out of Hobart Town, Launceston and Sydney. On the Tamar River in 1828 he was granted 500 acres (202 ha) where he ran cattle. About 1837 he returned to England where in partnership with Frederick Boucher he bought the Dawson and stocked it with merchandise. On 19 September 1838 Hassell married and a week later sailed for King George Sound. There he sold some goods and took up 20,000 acres (8094 ha) (Kendenup station). He sailed to Tasmania, sold the Dawson, the remaining cargo and his Tamar grant. In Sydney he bought sheep, cattle and farming equipment and chartered the China to carry the stock to Albany where he arrived on 6 March 1840. He drove his 850 sheep and cattle to Kendenup station and took up more land. By 1850 he had 25,000 acres (10,117 ha) freehold and 38,000 (15,378 ha) leasehold, mostly on Kendenup and Jerramungup stations. His partner Boucher had borrowed heavily from the British and Australasian Bank in London but when it failed in 1841 he assigned his assets to the bank. Hassell thus had the bank as partner in his enterprises and had a long struggle until accounts were settled. From 1840, apart from three years in England in the 1860s, he lived mostly at Albany where he had a business importing merchandise and station supplies, keeping the accounts of his properties and arranging wool shipments to England. He died on 15 August 1883, survived by his wife, five sons and a daughter.

His eldest son, John Frederick, was born in Tasmania on 24 June 1839 and his second son, Albert, at Albany on 15 November 1841. Both grew up in Albany and worked on Kendenup where J. F. became manager in 1856. In 1861-63 Albert managed Jerramungup and was the first white settler to travel overland for 200 miles (322 km) to Esperance. In 1864-78 the brothers were in partnership: J.F. ran the business in Albany and Albert managed Kendenup and, apart from two years, the other stations. From 1882 J.F. was agent in Albany for the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Co. until Fremantle became its port of call in 1900. In 1893-94 he was a nominee in the first Legislative Council under responsible government. In 1900-01 he represented Albany in the Legislative Assembly. In 1894 when the family properties had been divided, he received Kendenup and remained sole proprietor until it was sold and cut up for closer settlement after he died at Albany on 15 February 1919. He was survived by his wife Isabel, née Morison, whom he had married in 1868, and by their five daughters.

Albert Hassell won a by-election and in 1871-74 represented Albany in the colony's first part-elective Legislative Council. Under responsible government he represented Plantagenet in the Legislative Assembly in 1890-1904 and in 1897-98 was an elected Western Australian representative at the Australasian Federal Convention. He was an active member of the Plantagenet and Albany Road Boards in 1871-1910 and a justice of the peace in 1872-1918. In 1878 with his youngest brother, Arthur Wollaston (1851-1906), as partner he had leased most of the family properties. With Saxon rams imported by J.F. and careful breeding, Albert improved their flocks and in 1889 at the Paris Universal Exposition was awarded a grand prix for twenty-five fleeces and in later exhibitions in France and Western Australia won gold medals for his wool displays. Interested in horse-racing and breeding, he won the Plantagenet Cup in 1877 and 1879 and the Metropolitan (Perth) Cup with Corisande in 1879. He bred Satyr which won two Onkaparinga Cups in South Australia, and Bas Blanc which won many races in Western Australia. In 1894 he received Jerramungup in the division of the family properties. It was held by his family until 1950 when it was sold to the government for a land settlement scheme. He died in Melbourne on 20 September 1918, survived by his wife Ethel, née Clifton, whom he had married in 1878, and by three sons and three daughters of their ten children.

The success of the Hassell family depended on the co-operation of John and his sons, the whole enterprise operating as one entity. A resolute pioneer who despite depression and isolation never lost confidence in the colony, John Hassell contributed greatly to southern settlement and his name is commemorated by a highway from Albany to Jerramungup.

Select Bibliography

  • Inquirer (Perth), 22 Aug 1883
  • West Australian, 30 Apr 1886, 21 Sept 1918, 17 Feb 1919
  • Albany Advertiser, 25 May 1956
  • LSD 1/5/293 (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • correspondence file (State Library of Western Australia)
  • family records (privately held).

Citation details

C. W. Hassell, 'Hassell, Albert Young (1841–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hassell-albert-young-3908/text5869, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 19 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (MUP), 1972

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