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Hoare, Benjamin (1842–1932)

by Cecily Close

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Benjamin Hoare (1842-1932), by unknown photographer

Benjamin Hoare (1842-1932), by unknown photographer

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24216109

Benjamin Hoare (1842-1932), journalist, was born on 22 July 1842 at Tyler's Hill, Buckinghamshire, England, eldest child of Richard Hoare, bricklayer, and his Catholic wife, Mary Ann, née Bluff. In 1855 the family arrived as assisted immigrants at Portland, Victoria, where they rented a small farm. Educated in English parish schools (one Anglican, one Catholic), Hoare received further instruction privately in Australia. He adopted the Catholic faith and at 15 joined the Portland Chronicle.

After moving to the Hamilton Spectator in 1861, he left in 1865 for Adelaide where he worked as a printer on the Advertiser. In 1869 he published two poetic works, The Maori and Figures of Fancy, and achieved his first editorship with the Gawler Bunyip. He returned to Victoria and in October 1871 joined a co-operative to establish the Geelong Evening Times with Horatio Rowcroft as editor and manager. However, co-operative membership fell away, leaving an increasing burden of work to Hoare, and when Rowcroft also left Hoare formed a partnership with William Bell and Mrs Ann Knight, whose daughter Maria he married on 24 October 1877 at Geelong with Catholic rites. The partners expanded the Times, converting it to a morning daily with Hoare as editor, and founding the Evening Star, edited by Bell in 1879. Hoare also founded and edited the Colac Reformer.

His policy avowedly 'constitutional', Hoare opposed (Sir) Graham Berry in his quarrel with the Legislative Council in spirited and partisan style, attacking both Berry and David Syme as 'this pair of traitors to the commonweal'. His reply to criticism of Bell in the Geelong Advertiser, recognized as Hoare's by its liberal quotation from Shakespeare (he was a keen amateur Shakespearean actor), brought a libel suit upon both from which they escaped in February 1886 with a farthing's damages. In April James Bell replaced his father as Hoare's partner but disputes soon arose over money and control of staff, and legal hearings dragged on until 1890.

Hoare joined the editorial staff of the Daily Telegraph in 1886 and moved to Melbourne in February 1888. In 1890 he became leader-writer on the Age. Always sympathetic to the 'unlock the lands' movement, having queued as a 'poor pressman' in Hamilton to obtain his father's selection, by the 1860s he had changed from a free trader to a protectionist; he eventually came to support Berry's land tax and attempt to reform the Upper House: all requisites for an enduring association with David Syme. The Age's policies and quarrels were henceforth to be his own, on secular matters at least, his leaders being sometimes marked by 'brutal force'. In the late 1890s he served as secretary of the Protectionists' Association and in 1904 celebrated protection (and Syme) in his book Preferential Trade. After World War I he wrote pamphlets for the Progressive and Economic Association, condemning Bolshevism and the One Big Union. He had retired from the Age in May 1914 but continued writing weekly articles until January 1921.

In Geelong Hoare had supported state aid for Catholic schools and in Melbourne quickly became prominent in church affairs as first vice-president of the Catholic Young Men's Federation. He helped to found and edit the Catholic Magazine (later Austral Light) and wrote articles for these and church newspapers, also pamphlets for the Australian Catholic Truth Society. In 1909 he received the Cross 'Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice' for services to Catholic literature and for federating the Young Men's societies. In 1911 he moved the establishment of an Australian Catholic Federation in Victoria and was elected to its provisional committee and later to its council. When, during the federation's campaign against impure literature, he attacked John Norton's Truth Hoare faced another libel suit. This and his counter-suit, both seeking £5000 damages, extended over 1913-14 before a private settlement, favourable to Hoare, was reached.

Hoare had worked for his Church in close consultation with Archbishop Carr; in 1916, however, he found himself in profound disagreement with Carr's coadjutor Dr Mannix, then publicly opposing conscription. His denunciation of Mannix in the Age in February 1917 both ended his association with the Australian Catholic Federation and caused his dismissal from the executive of the Australian Catholic Truth Society. Unrepentant, Hoare expounded his pro-British views in War Things that Matter (1918).

In old age Hoare stood aside from controversy, in 1927 producing the Jubilee History of the Melbourne Harbor Trust and his reminiscences, Looking Back Gaily. Colleagues attested to his good nature, courtesy, and alertness. Maria Hoare had died in February 1901. On 9 April 1902 at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, he married Emilie Tuite who also predeceased him. Hoare died on 9 February 1932 at East Melbourne, survived by five of the nine children of his first wife, beside whom he was buried in Eastern cemetery, Geelong.

Select Bibliography

  • W. R. Brownhill, The History of Geelong and Corio Bay (Melb, 1955)
  • I. Hebb, The History of Colac and District (Melb, 1970)
  • Catholic Press, 8 Sept 1900, 17 June 1909
  • Colac Reformer, 27 July 1878, 19 Nov 1879
  • Age (Melbourne), 16 Feb 1917, 10 Feb 1932
  • C. E. Close, The Organisation of the Catholic Laity in Victoria 1911-1930 (M.A. thesis, University of Melbourne, 1972)
  • Victoria Supreme Court records, 1885-90, 1913-14 (Public Record Office Victoria)
  • Archer papers (University of Melbourne Archives)
  • Higgins papers (National Library of Australia)
  • Alfred Deakin papers (National Library of Australia)
  • Mackinnon papers (State Library of Victoria)
  • David Syme papers (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

Cecily Close, 'Hoare, Benjamin (1842–1932)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hoare-benjamin-6689/text11537, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 25 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

View the front pages for Volume 9

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